Mr. Beaver and I have been privleged to visit Russian orphanages nine times. In all honesty, each time it gets harder. My heart aches more. My yearning that each and every child we encounter might have a family just grows stronger.
When we returned last week from our most recent trip, this picture caught my eye as I made my way through the hundreds we took while spending time with the four siblings we're adopting. For me, the photo epitomizes both the beauty and plight of Russian orphans. The implications behind the photograph are staggering.
Here they sit in their little wooden chairs, poised to put on a play celebrating the first day of school, a production that they've practiced to the point of perfection. There's one critical difference between the effort of this little cast and that of similar ones in America. What is that difference? No parents to cheer. No grandparents to glow with pride. No older siblings to excitedly rush the stage when the performance ends. In fact, there's no audience. None.
And yet, these beautiful babes will still give their little musical their very best. They'll sing in tune and their dance steps will be in sync with one another--despite the empty room. I'm left with a nagging question. How do they do it? How do they excel despite the lack of anyone to cheer them on? As the visiting parent-to-be, I smile my biggest smiles, returning their winsome grins as they sing, dance and recite their lines. What I really want to do is weep.
Only one factor keeps me from losing heart. They're not cast-aways to Jesus. Each of these precious faces represents a person made in the image of God. They're not cast-aways in God's order of things, and He has begun moving in a mighty way among Christians across the globe since we first entered the orphan-care arena a little more than a decade ago. More and more couples are stepping up to care for "the least of these" by making them family members. Hope exists for these little ones. But more soldiers are needed in this effort to liberate the fatherless, soldiers willing to suffer for the sake of the Name (2 Timothy 2:3).
The work is hard...and the cost is high (not just monetarily, but also emotionally, physically and, at times, spiritually). But God's grace is greater than the cost.
The reward for being spent in this way? We get the opportunity to share Jesus with these little souls who most likely wouldn't hear about Him from anyone else. We get the opportunity to live the gospel, portraying (however imperfectly) a shadow of His love which He demonstrated by dying to self so that we might be adopted into His family. As we die to self, we get the privilege of working for Him in the building of His Kingdom.
Adoptive parenting is a 25/8 job with no furlough. But these precious ones, be they little tykes or teens, definitely fit God's description of children... they are a blessing straight from Him (Psalm 127).
(For more information about these very children or others, contact Becky at the Russian Orphan Lighthouse Project)