I did something this week I may live to regret…I sponsored a Moldovan orphan!
Anyone who knows me is already a little shocked by now, and perhaps a little more than disappointed. After all, I’m that guy who has had his life turned inside out by those kids and uses every opportunity to try to crawl into your hearts and move things around to create some space for them.
But before you judge me, I hope you’ll listen to my story. It’s a convoluted path that has circled back to teach me one of the most bedrock truths that can be learned in life.
About 12 years ago, my wife and I sponsored our first child through the organization I directed at the time. Her name was Valea and, like many of her friends, she was about to be discharged from her orphanage with no family and no idea what she would do to survive. I was moved by her desperate situation, her sadness and the winsome naivete’ that Moldovan girls possess. Although she was a good student, I believed her to be at high risk to be scooped up by human traffickers and told our National Director that I would sponsor her.
The services of that particular organization were different than those we’ve initiated at JMI. There was no Grace House for homeless girls…no Boys2Leaders home for boys. We were able to locate an aunt who agreed to take her in for a monthly stipend.
Things didn’t go well between Valea and her aunt. Word began to drift back to me that she was no longer staying there. Later, she seemed to disappear altogether and I feared the worst. Because she was absent, there was no communication for over 6 months. And when she finally did resurface and let us help her with another placement, she made a horrible choice that endangered the security of our other girls and we had to discharge her.
I’m happy to report that Valea since became a Christian and was actively involved in a church. But the whole situation was unnerving to me…the sponsored child of the Executive Director had been anything but a success story and had put our staff through the ringer trying to appease my anxiety and deal with a moving and potentially disastrous outcome.
From that experience, I came to several conclusions. The first of which was that we needed a home of our own where we could ensure the safety of children with no family and provide them with the accountability and tools they needed to survive and thrive. Grace House was born from that concern. The second was that it was probably not a good idea for someone in my position to sponsor a child…that it might also pose unfair pressure on the child, and that our staff might not appreciate the undertone of special consideration in dealing with “the boss’s child.”
Though wisdom may yet support those conclusions, I decided this week to follow my heart and invest specifically again in the life of another young lady.
Why choose to support another girl – a girl I don’t even know that well – and risk such heartbreak and disappointment again? I think it can only be because love naturally seeks…love insistently demands a beloved. Love does so at its own peril and not always for reasons that make good sense, or even have to.
Someone may say that they already have enough “beloveds” in their lives…their spouse… their own children…their grandchildren…a friend’s child, perhaps. Fair enough. But what of the child who has no one to claim her. What of the orphans?
What I am learning, I think, is that unrequited love – love that does not return in equal measure or grace – is not the thing we should fear the most. Rather, it is the condition of a heart so cocooned by layers of emotional scar tissue that the choice to reach out to “the other” has been taken off the table of daily consideration.
Praise God that the Lover with perpetual nail scars in His hands lost none of the feeling…the tenderness…the desire and sensitivity to endlessly seek and to save that which was lost!
If God can so love a whole world, surely I can provide for one of those who belong solely to Him.