Let Your Heart be Broken for Orphans in Need

Let Your Heart Be Broken for Orphans in Need:  Biblical Hospitality

The first time I experienced a broken heart was because of a boy.  His name was Alex.  I was sixteen.   He changed my life.

Alex was a two-year-old orphan boy that I’d bonded with over the time I’d been living and working in Săvârșin, Romania, at a summer camp tucked away in the hills of Transylvania. 

One side of Alex’s head was flat, a probable result of the many hours he was left alone in his crib.  That’s what drew my attention to him at first, but it was his sweet smile that won my heart.   Upon meeting him, I scooped him into in my arms.  He wrapped his tiny arms around my neck and didn’t let go.  We were inseparable over the next few weeks.

I knew it would hurt when it was time to say goodbye but I loved him anyway.  It bothered me that, at sixteen, I had so little to offer him- nothing except my time and affection.   He needed so much more than that. 

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I stood on a dirt road in front of my hotel and said goodbye, hugging him one last time, on a summer day in 1992. I quickly shoved a pair of dark sunglasses onto my face, to hide the tears, and got into the white VW van with my luggage.  I was silent for the next few hours as we drove toward the Hungarian border.  I didn’t dare say a word to anyone, knowing that if I did, it would be like a dam, unleashing a torrent of emotions that were too big.  I remember thinking as if it were happening to someone else…how interesting, that the term, “broken heart” really did feel that way- like heavy shards of glass in my chest.

My only consolation was found in telling myself I would go back.  I felt like God had brought me to Romania for a reason and that this part of the story was only the beginning.  I knew I would probably never see Alex again but I was determined that someday, I would go back and help the children in Romania- this time, in a more tangible way. 

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That strong desire to help the kids in Romania has stayed with me.   I believe it’s a specific calling from God.  It was behind my decision to initially study medicine.  When it was apparent that medicine was not the field for me, it was behind my next decision to get a degree, instead, in elementary and special education.  In the middle of all this, I married Derek and we had two kids. We’ve both talked, often, about adopting a child from Romania.  It was disappointing, when, in 2004, around the same time we finally met the eligibility requirements to adopt, the Romanian government shut down all adoptions from non-Romanian citizens.

It has been more than twenty years since that first heartbreak when I said goodbye to Alex. That experience profoundly influenced my life and sent me on the trajectory that has gotten me where I am today.  I’m no longer a teacher, though I’m still passionate about education.  Now, I’m a stay-at-home mom and a writer.  The story that started in Romania is still unfinished.  I haven’t gone back yet.  I have no idea how this story will unfold.  My heart is open to whatever God’s plan is for my involvement with the orphans of Romania.  Until then, I’m patiently waiting and trusting God’s plan.  I’m glad that I didn’t know, at sixteen, how long it would take to get back to Romania. 

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The waiting time isn’t wasted.  Who, but God knows how our experiences and the skills we acquire through those, will work together, to prepare us for His perfect plans. 

Psalm 18:30 This God—his way is perfect; the word of the LORD proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.
 

I haven’t been able to go back to Romania yet. When God shows me what direction to take with that specific calling, I’ll go.   But here’s what I do know…as Christians, we’re ALL called to actively pursue meeting the needs of orphans.

James 1:27 says, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”  

@@Adoption is such a beautiful picture of the Gospel.@@  As Christians, we’ve been adopted into God’s family. 

While I wait for the right time to go to Romania, I’m not excused from the Christian’s calling to help orphans.  This is a part of Biblical hospitality.  There’s a lot I can do right here, right now.  There’s a lot you can do, too! 

One way that my family is doing something, now, is sponsoring two children through Compassion International, a boy, in Kenya, and a girl, in Guatemala.  We get to write them letters and they write back.  We get pictures and updates from their teachers.  We pray for these kids.  The kids we sponsor are not actually orphans.  They have parents who love them.  But their parents are not able to provide them with some of the basic necessities of life.  Our sponsorship means that they get a hot meal every day, an education, a school uniform. and presents at Birthdays and Christmas time (usually food for the whole family).   

Foster care, adoption, sponsoring children, mentor programs, prayer, respite care, and financial donations towards the costs associated with adoptions are some ways that we can offer tangible care towards the needs of orphans.  If you've thought of other ways, in addition to these. please, share in the comments. 

Alex and I

Alex and I


I’ll leave you with the lyrics to this beautiful song, by Bryan Jeffrey Leach, to his song called, “Let Your Heart Be Broken”.  I think it’s a wonderful summation of what true Biblical hospitality is all about….

    Let your heart be broken for a world in need.
    Feed the mouths that hunger, soothe the wounds that bleed.
    Give the cup of water, and the loaf of bread.
    Be the hands of Jesus, serving in his stead.
 
    Here on earth applying principles of love.
    Visible expression, God still rules above.
    Living illustration of the living word,
    To the minds of all who've never seen or heard.
 
    Blest to be a blessing, privileged to care.
    Challenged be the need, apparent everywhere.
    Where mankind is wanting, fill the vacant place.
    Be the means through which the Lord reveals His grace.
 
    Add to your believing deeds that prove it true,
    Knowing Christ as Savior, Make Him Master too.
    Follow in His footsteps, go where he has trod.
    In the world's great trouble risk yourself for God.
 
    Let your heart be tender and your vision clear.
    See mankind as God sees, serve Him far and near.
    Let your heart be broken by a brother's pain.
    Share your rich resources, give and give again.
 
    © 1975 The Evangelical Covenant Church

If you liked this post you may also enjoy, What I Learned About Grace in a Romanian Orphan Camp.  

This was part 3 of a series on Biblical Hospitality.  

Part 1, 6 Truths About Biblical Hospitality 

Part 2, Biblical Hospitality: 4 Basic Needs (and how you can help).

Also, a great book that is about adoption, that really encouraged me, is Kirabo:  A Journey of Faith, Love, and Adoption by Kveta Rose (affiliate link).