Orphan. That one word. Orphan. It leaves such a bitter taste in your mouth, doesn't it? Rest with that word a minute. It'll make you squirm. It'll make you uncomfortable. At least, it does for me. Children. In contrast, "children" brings to mind images of laughter, kite flying and the ice cream man. Tiny toes and wiggly bundles of giggling, sticky, smiling little ones.
The thing is, these orphans I met and grew to know and came to love in Uganda, they are children. They are just children. Children with beautiful smiles and the best laughs. Children with dreams and talents and futures. Children who love to play and run and giggle. Children who think snack time is the bomb and who sometimes steal each other's toys and then cry and steal them back. They're just children. We are all more alike than different.
We have a duty as followers of Christ to "defend the cause of the fatherless." (Psalm 82:3) We are all called to be convicted for orphan care. We are called to love, to serve, to speak for these littlest ones. But I also think we are called to love them as ourselves. To see them as we see our own children, whether those are our actual kids, or siblings, or neighbors, or kids we babysit, or teach. Let's stop backing these beautiful children into a corner, stop labeling them with that limiting word. Orphan. The reality is that they are, simply, children. They are individual. They are deeply, deeply loved. They were absolutely desired by the Father. They have a purpose. He has plans for them. Their lives were not an accident.
The beautiful kids who live at the Arise and Shine babies home are full of life and love and joy and laughter. They are just like kids here. Their circumstances are different, their pasts are full of hurt and pain, they lost their innocence too soon maybe, but they're still just kids. There's more similarities than differences between them and kids I know here in America.
they think selfies are hilarious.
they think beards are pretty fun to play with.
this colored dentist-office toy can keep them entertained for awhile.
they pretty much love snack time, especially when said snack is consumed on a motorcycle.
those hand-clapping games like pat-a-cake? they're really entertaining in africa, too.
they have a yard full of toys and friends and they're still content just shaking some keys for awhile. look how fun KEYS are! loud noises!
they'll never turn down a piggy-back ride or a good game of airplane.
sometimes they need to take a little rest from playtime. they're getting too old for this!
any game that involves a mzungu (white person) and funny noises is automatically awesome.
always down to steal an iPhone and play pretend with it. and also create 149 new contacts and call jamaica.
swing sets are their jam. does that ever end, really?
Kids. They're just kids. Awesome, bright, beautiful kids who will grow up to be amazing, inspiring and wonderful adults. All they need is a chance. We are called to give them that chance. In the coming weeks, we'll be sharing lots of ways to get involved. Even if you aren't called to adopt--orphan care is for you. Orphan care is your calling and your obligation. We're all in this together. I think you'll find, like I did, that we're not that much different after all.