Transforming the lives of children at mortal risk, providing them and their future generations
a productive future and eternal hope. Mission Statement (emphasis added)
One of the most disturbing realities of the abandoned or exploited child crisis is that it is almost always multi-generational. As such, it is self-propagating and constantly growing. Virtually every child who comes to us from the streets or from a situation of abuse is “simply” the most recent in a family lineage of lost children. A prostitute mother has six or eight children for whom street life, abuse, and exploitation is the norm … and then each of those children (or at least the ones who survive) repeat the cycle.
Generation after generation after generation.
I cannot tell you how many times I have heard a child, when telling the story of his or her life say, “I never knew my father, and my mother was a prostitute . . .” Even more disturbing are those who say, “I was born in the favela, I live in the favela, and I will die in the favela. I don’t deserve anything else.”
Perhaps the most important task for those of us in orphan work is to break the cycle, not only rescuing the child, but changing the trajectory for the generations yet to come.
I first met Natalie when she was 20 years old. Hers is an amazing story of hope—and Hope. We met at one of the first worship services at our graduate church. As she stood to take the microphone and share her life story, she began, “I am shy, and have never spoken in public before, so I don’t know if I can do this.” Forty-five minutes later, it was obvious she had gotten over her fear of public speaking!
But her story was a remarkable one, and no one regretted the investment of time to hear it. When Natalie was nine, her mother began to prostitute her. Her mother. At age 11, Natalie had a child, but the baby was bad for business, so Natalie’s mother – the baby’s grandmother – said to get rid of her. Natalie found an older woman in the favela who would care for her baby – and care for her.
Some time later, the juvenile authorities brought Natalie to Hope. Natalie told our staff the story of her child, and our social workers were able to find the woman and the young child. As Natalie grew older, one of our social workers took her to see her daughter on weekends, helping them to form a relationship. After several years, Natalie graduated from Hope, met a young man, led him to Christ, and they were married. Because the woman raising Natalie’s daughter was growing older, it was agreed that little Talia would go and live with Natalie and her husband.
About that time in Natalie’s telling of the story, I looked over and saw eight-year-old Talia sitting with her new father. An eight-year-old with parents barely out of their teens. She was clean, well-dressed, quietly reading a book while her mother spoke.
I could only marvel at how different her life will be from that of her mother. No nights on the streets. No selling her body.
No repeating the cycle.
The trajectory has changed for Natalie and her future generations. I do not worry that Talia – or her children – will be wards of the court; that they will need to live at Hope. The cycle has been broken. A life filled with hope has become the new normal.
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you,
plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11)
Together, we can be His hands (and His voice) for the children.
Together, we can break the cycle …