An edited letter from a friend serving orphans:
"This summer as I look back on the years that God has allowed me to know and love orphans, I have been challenged again by the words of William Wilberforce who played a huge role in ending slavery in Britain during the 1700 and 1800s:
“Having heard all this, you may choose to look the other way . . . but you can never again say that you did not know.” William Wilberforce
It was 10 years ago this summer, that I first visited these children. The first time I set foot on this soil I knew basically nothing about the orphans who call this place home. I spent two weeks at their summer camp, meeting and spending time with many children. When I left, I never expected to return, I never wanted to return. But something happened during those two weeks:
My eyes were opened to pain I had never before imagined.
And I could not go back to not knowing.
After meeting these orphans, I could never again say that I didn’t know they existed or needed help.
I knew that I had to do something; and that I needed to ask God what that something was. It turned out to be moving to be with them, which I had never even considered before. Over the years my eyes have been opened to many more needs. So many children have touched my heart and forced me to go to God again and again asking what my role should be. The answer is different every time.
A few weeks ago, I was faced with another need, another hurting child, another plea for help:
A girl from the orphanage came up to me and quietly asked if we could talk in private. I agreed. Later that day as all the kids walked from camp to a nearby park, Emily and I hung to the back of the bunch and she presented her request: “Can you please find me a family? I really really want to be adopted and have a family! I don’t have anything here. I don’t have any relatives. I don’t have a future. I want to have a family!”
It is so hard for me to respond to this question. Everything in me cries out that Emily should have a family; that no child should have to plead for someone to love her. We talked awhile and I explained to her that being adopted is not so easy, that it is hard to adjust to being in a family, following rules, learning English etc. She said that she knew and would do her best to make it work, if only she could just have a family.
I have known Emily for several years but have never really been close to her. She is a nice girl. She is confident, smart, and has many friends and I am usually more drawn to the quiet, shy kids who are ignored and end up in the background all the time. But now here she was, begging in the only way she knew how for the one thing she longs for more than anything else - a family.
Now I knew.
I knew more than the general knowledge that all kids dream of being adopted. I heard the words come out of Emily's mouth. I saw the look in her eyes as she talked about being adopted. I saw the fear as she thought of what it would mean to stay here without a family. Now I really knew and it was time for me to ask God again what I was to do with this knowledge.
I hadn’t planned to write or tell others about Emily but then this conversation happened, and I couldn’t pretend that it didn’t. An orphan shared her deepest wish with me, and now I share it with you . . ."