As I write this, I am sitting in my comfortable East Tennessee home. My reality is safe, secure, well-fed. But then an email comes from Brazil, telling the story of a family of children brought to our campus, chilling in its matter-of-fact recital of the children’s condition.
This group of seven siblings, ages 3 to 17, were discovered in a shack near the City of Youth living in conditions of wretched poverty and malnutrition. The youngest sibling, now a 3-year-old, was a baby who the family ‘adopted’ after he was abandoned by his mother and left to fend on his own.
What is unique about this story is that the head of the household was a boy of 17; there were no adults present.
The father has been gone for years, and their mother is in prison for drug trafficking.
These children have experienced poverty beyond my comprehension.
They, like any of our other children at the City of Youth, know a life I can never understand: 12-year-old boys with death warrants against them from drug lords. Girls taught since early, early childhood that their only value in life is in the depraved pleasure they can bring others.
A very different reality.
And yet somehow I am supposed to believe that God loves them as much as he loves me. Rich and poor have this in common: The Lord is the Maker of them all. In fact, if I look to Scripture, God’s heart is absolutely broken for them. A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.
I still do not understand—and will never this side of eternity—why children who God loves have to hurt in the world He created. But I do know this…
As long as the peripheral people of this world are hurting, we are called to be the hands of God’s love for them.
And then another email was forwarded, perhaps bringing just a bit of clarity, of comprehension. This time it’s from one of our staff members to Philip:
Good morning, Philip.
I want to thank you for giving us the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of children like these seven siblings who will arrive tomorrow. I have the privilege to actually earn a salary for this… Thank you so much, really. Let us pray that we can continue to provide hope for a better future for all of those whom we receive in Jesus’ name.
If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.