The little girl standing next to Fiona in this picture was fascinated by her skin – she stood and stroked it for ages – eventually saying “your skin is so lovely, it is white like the mug” – Fiona had been hoping to acquire a tan whilst abroad so this didn’t come across as the huge compliment that was intended! Isn’t it funny how different our perspectives and dreams can be?
Pastor Pearl is ethnically half-Chinese and half-Burman, and we met her in a township just outside Yangon. Ethnicity is always one of the first things you are told about someone in Myanmar as both historically (the government recognizes over 135 distinct ethnic groups) and geographically (they are surrounded by 5 countries), ethnicity is a significant source of identity, but one thing became clear as we visited a number of different pastors, ethnicity was no barrier to adoption! I’m not too sure how many orphans Pearl cares for – or widows – but her house was FULL: she is a walking, living, breathing Prov 31:20 woman, She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.
Orphans is a term which is often used quite broadly – Pearl’s orphans could have lost one or both parents or be ‘economic’ orphans (abandoned permanently or temporarily because the family can’t afford to keep them) – but what is true about all of them is that they need care. Pearl welcomes them all – and feeds, clothes, loves them and teaches them about Jesus, whilst also pastoring a church and caring for a number of widows, and other poorer families. The development term often used for children like these is OVCs (orphans and vulnerable children) and in May OVCs are our focus at Restoration. The Weekly Good Ideas on the bulletin each week will run with the theme and we will spend time at the Tuesday prayer meetings interceding for children.
As a church community we try to support a few things well – Casa Chirilagua (and Dawnielle, the Hoppes and others) www.casachirilagua.org and World Orphans (and the Blaines) www.worldorphans.org are our two major connections in this area. Within the congregation many individuals are involved in other organizations: e.g. Cindy Darnell is an enthusiastic board member for David’s Hope http://www.davidshope.org , Jade and Melanie Totman advocate for Compassion (Simon and I also support five children through Compassion) http://www.compassion.com/ and I expect that friends in your circle of influence can recommend similar organizations. We also have a number of families in the congregation who have adopted children, or who are fostering. Look out for them, talk to them and ask them their stories! And, please tell me your story. How are you involved? How are you walking or would you like to walk with the poor, the widow and the orphan?
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. (James 1:27 ESV)
Next Thursday, May 10th, 7.30pm come to church and hear from the Blaines about their imminent departure for Cambodia. It will be a great opportunity to listen to their story, learn more about Cambodia, and what God is doing to reach orphans in a different land. Bring your friends – and expect to hear from God!