Scott and I help out with the Orphan Care Ministry at our church. Recently, I wrote an article for our church's newsletter, and it shares some of the things that have been going on in my heart lately, so I thought I'd throw in an excerpt here. I believe that God has asked me to tell the stories of orphan children, and I pray like crazy that He will help me to tell them well. The good thing about this story is that you can get a much better version, pictures and all, from the family itself! When writing the article, I used facts gathered from researching the plight of special needs orphans in certain countries in Eastern Europe and then intertwined the story of one little girl in particular. I changed some things because I did not have permission to tell her story specifically, but her story primarily inspired the story below. I can guarantee you'll be deeply blessed to hear the real story! You will find it here. If you look in the right column, underneath the pictures of her children, you will see "Hailee's story" in red. Click there and it will pull up tons of posts and pictures of this precious child. Warning: you are going to fall in love!
If you would like to learn more about advocating for children with Down Syndrome, check out Reece's Rainbow. If you would like to learn more about starting an Orphan Care Ministry at your church, leave a comment on this post.
Her name is Olesya. She is a real child. She lives in a formerly Communist country in Eastern Europe. Olesya was born with Down Syndrome and considered shameful to her family and her society. So her family's doctor suggested that they put her in an orphanage with other special needs children, and here she has lived for four years. At age four she weighs fifteen pounds. She cannot walk. She is never hugged or played with. Olesya's crib is shared with another child in a dark corner of the orphanage. Here she spends most of her days, too drugged to want to do much because she is given tranquilizers to be sure she is not a bother to anyone. When Olesya turns five, she will be transferred to a mental institution with adults who sleep in cribs and children who are atrophied and wasting away because they are never moved.
Perhaps this is not the kind of story you were hoping to read in your Family News this month. Perhaps you wonder if it is sensationalized or a rare case. But it is neither. And, if you are like me, you are saddened but feel far removed and helpless to do anything. But be encouraged. God is working in the hearts of His followers in our country, and He is entrusting us with the stories of these forgotten children. And His people are responding.
In the past few years that we have been involved in the world of adoption and orphan care, we have been truly amazed at how God is taking ordinary, once fearful and self-consumed believers and filling them with the boldness and faith to care for “the least of these”. To be sure, it is not easy. Yet I have never met one family who regrets beginning this journey through faith. Or one who would ever go back to their old way of life before they knew... before they responded. For what they have gained is far more than what they have lost. (Though what they have lost seems like 'everything' in the world's eyes). What is more, they “consider it all rubbish” for all this they have lost “for the sake of Christ”, and now they know just a bit more the “surpassing greatness of knowing Christ and being found in Him” (Phil. 3).
Oh, would you like to hear the rest of Olesya's story? For hers is a story of redemption. Shortly before she was transferred to the institution, Olesya was adopted by a couple in Colorado. Their decision was unpopular. After all, one can only do so much. Olesya was beyond help. But this couple knew they had been called by God to rescue this child, and they counted it all joy. (Although, they would tell you it is they who have been “rescued” from all that weighed them down before they stepped out in faith.) Today, Olesya lives in a home with brothers and sisters who love her and parents who nurture and care for her. Oh my goodness, I wish I could show you pictures of this incredibly gorgeous little girl. She is growing quickly in just a year and her face is full of joy. This family would tell you honestly their journey has not been easy. But they also will tell you that they came to a place in their lives where they gave up their God-given-American right to “easy”, and said “whatever, Lord.” So, no, they don't often get “easy”... but they do get a living, breathing picture of redemption living in their home each day. And they get joy. So much joy. So much laughter. And so much Jesus. What more could a child of God ask for?
Although the world is full of suffering it is also full of the overcoming it. Helen Keller