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Isaiah 1:17 says,

“Seek justice. Encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless. Plead the case of the widow.”
Isaiah talks alot about true worship of a holy God, and how much of the time, our offerings are meaningless to the King because of the spirit in which they are presented. We practice religion on the exterior but do not allow a holy God to lay claim on our very lives in a way that transforms our hearts and changes how we live. And how we love.

If I read this literally, and just take it at face value, then I have a responsibility. I am to defend the cause of the fatherless. It is part of how I worship and serve my King. I think it was John Piper who said, "If you are a Christian, then orphans are your thing.” Isaiah is just giving us a picture of the heart of God, and telling us to have the same heart. Jesus loves the underdog. After all, He loved us, when we were without hope and long before we were loveable.

There are 147 million orphans in this world. 147 million. Million. That thought is staggering to me. I know there are many children in this country who are without parents. They need loving homes, and I support and encourage domestic adoptions in this country.

But for me, who had never been to a third world country---I had no idea how overwhelming the need really is. Many of the ministries we served in were orphan ministries. There are just so. many. children. In this country, (though you may argue about how broken or needy our foster care system might be) at least we attempt to care for a child’s basic physical needs. We see it as basic rights for a child to have clothes, be fed, be warm, and get an education.

Not so in Africa. There are so many orphans, and even those with one or two parents are often so poor they still do not have their basic needs met. They are stuck. They cannot go to school because they cannot afford the books and uniform. Instead, they beg on the street or shine shoes or dig through trash or sell gum to make enough for their family to buy bread for the day. There is no way out, unless someone helps them.

In the intro to Isaiah in the Message, it says, “The impressive art of Isaiah involves taking the stuff of our ordinary and often disappointing human experience and showing us how it is the very stuff that God uses to create and save and give hope.” I love that! Because while it may sound like my only possible response would be despair, it was in fact, hope.

I saw leaders who were sacrificing much and making a difference in children’s lives by educating them, feeding them, and giving them a hope for a future and a hope in Jesus. I saw teachers who were enthusiastic about their jobs to educate these young ones—they made me want to be in kindergarten!! I saw children who were eager to learn, quick to embrace, and full of life and love. I saw a legacy of love, where hearts and souls were being told their worth in the eyes of their Creator. It was beautiful.

Now that I am home, I am wrestling with how I am to obey Isaiah 1:17. Adoption is one way, for sure. Sharing their stories, telling of their need—another way I am seeking to obey. I want to love as Jesus loves. Care about the things that Jesus cares about. Here and in Africa. Pray with me, would you? Ask God how He will use you to defend the cause of the fatherless. Let’s speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves. Let’s share the hope we have with everyone we meet, because we know the greatest need is Living Water, and there are plenty here in our own country with that thirst. Let’s watch, and let’s see just how He uses ordinary people like us as He “creates and saves and gives hope.”
Nathan with some kids from Peter's school in Kechene

the Shubins with Peter, who runs two school centers for poor kids...
he was once a World Vision child...saved through Young Life...
now ministering to hundreds of kids...our God is a God who saves!

Hannah having lunch with some kids
from the trash dump in Korah

Nathan plays with some street kids
who are part of our friend Ephrem's soccer ministry

Hannah teaches some kids on the street to thumb wrestle

our Tomoca coffee here how we met...
we saw them several times, gave them some things...
do you see the shirt on the right??? "Love with abandon..." : )


Meyerdrk said...

Way to tear me up in a good way! Thanks for the post and pics. Let's keep the dialog going and walk through the doors God opens to defend the fatherless and widow, etc...continuing to pray with you. love you Sis!

Jeff Walser said...

Great post, challenging and inspiring, Rachel. We are praying. So thankful for your trip!