Sunday, November 8, 2009

In Honor of Orphan Sunday...

If you know me at all, you know that I have a heart for orphans. It all began in July of 2006 when I saw this face for the first time.

An orphan. Her name was Chen Xun Hui and she was just one of the millions of orphans around the world. She had been found at the gate of an orphanage at one day old. She had no mom, no dad, no siblings... no one to call her own. She was a chubby baby with wide eyes and a sad, scared looking face. She was an orphan.

And I fell in love with her.

And 3.5 years after seeing that sad, scared face for the first time, she is no longer an orphan. She has a mom, a dad, two big brothers, a big sister, a little sister, and a little brother. Not only that, but she has two aunts, two uncles, 6 cousins, and 2 grandmas who love her to pieces...

She has a smile that will light up a room, a contagious laugh, and such JOY that is so evident by just looking at her.

You would never believe that she was considered "the least of these" for the first year of her life.

Her name is AnnaClaire Chenhui. For 13 months, she lived in a state run orphanage in rural Hunan. She had no family. For 13 months of her life, she was an orphan.

Just look at her now.

Close to two years after bringing that little girl home, the little girl who has changed my life, I first saw the face of another little girl, another orphan.

And I fell in love with her.

She was 15 months old and had a funny little smile in the first picture we ever saw of her. Her name was Ling Xu Liu. She had been found when she was 2 months old at a civil affairs office in Shangrao, Jiangxi. She was weak and had an evident mass on the side of her face. On that day in May, she became an orphan. For the next 17 months, she was one of the "least of these."

For awhile, she was considered "unadoptable." They thought no one would want her. Not with a mass on the side of her face. She was prayed over as my mom's dear friend held her in her arms, 8 months before we even knew she was ours. Somewhere in that time, her hemangioma was treated. Her paperwork was prepared. She was matched to our family.

And 1.5 years after seeing that funny little smiled face for the first time, she is no longer an orphan. She has a mom, a dad, three big brothers and two big sisters. Not only that, but she has two aunts, two uncles, 6 cousins, and 2 grandmas who love her to pieces...

She has the sweetest little giggle I've ever heard. She has a sweet, toothy smile that is just adorable. She's so very fiesty and spunky.

You would never believe that she was considered "the least of these" for the first year and a half of her life.

Her name is Katherine MeiLing. For 17 months, she had no family. For 17 months of her life, she was an orphan.

Just look at her now.

Shortly after seeing my beautiful sister, Kate, for the first time, I had the incredible opportunity to go to Romania. I worked in a camp for two weeks and saw many different kids of many different ages. They weren't all orphans, but many were "the least of these." My heart was once again broken as I spent time with children whose language I couldn't speak. But words didn't matter during those two weeks. A hug, a smile, a piggy back ride up the mountain... those things spoke volumes. My heart still aches for those kids, who I will never see again. I often wonder about the kids I met... precious Daniella... and Christina... and Mauno... and chances are, I will never know anything about them. But I do know that for 2 weeks, I had an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of Romania's "least of these." I got to show them Jesus... and his love even when life doesn't make sense.

A year after seeing Kate's face for the first time and three years after seeing AnnaClaire's face for the first time, we found a little boy. He is three years old, living in Chongqing, China.

His name is Zhou Da Shan. He was found when he was two days old outside of a hospital. He has no mom, no dad, no siblings... nothing. He has a sad face that is just shouting for a family to come get him. He is an orphan. For 3.5 years, he has been an orphan.

And I'm in love with him.

And he doesn't know it now, but he has a mom, a dad, two big brothers, two big sisters, and a little sister. Not only that, but he has two aunts, two uncles, 6 cousins, and 2 grandmas who love him to pieces...

But for now, he waits.

And so do over 140,000,000 other children around the world.

Over the summer, I was able to go to China for a third time, this time to commit solely to loving on "the least of these." I met some incredible kids who have nothing. They are full of life and have so much to give in this life... if only they are given the chance.

In February 2010, I'm going, once again, to minister to "the least of these." This time, I'll be going to Haiti to spend a week with a group from my school... ministering to kids who have NOTHING. And I can't wait.

My heart has been broken for orphans.

Has yours?

This is a quote that pretty much sums it up for me... "We're always seeing sad faces in advertisements and on websites, but when one of those sad faces becomes the face that you love, it changes how you act and how you think. I want people to act differently about the millions of kids that don't have a mom and dad... I want people to be broken, like I have been, by an orphan." (Tom P. --Bring Me Hope)

And you know? I'm not saying that adoption is for everyone. I realize that it's not (even though I do think that it's for a lot more people than realize it...) but there are other ways to do what God commands us to do in James 1:27, which says, "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." Have you ever thought about sponsoring a child? Fostering a child? Supporting someone else in bringing home a child? Taking a trip to spend time with "the least of these?" There are so many options. God commands us to look after orphans. Can't you give up your daily frappichino for the cause of one?

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.” Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?” The King will reply, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:31-40)

Let's not DO Church, let's BE the Church.

Because there's over 140 MILLION kids on the earth right now who have no one to tuck them in at night, no one to tell them that they are loved.

And maybe you personally can't change the lives of all 140something million orphans. But you can change the life of one. And if enough people change the life of one, pretty soon, the lives of all 140something million would be changed.

And not only will the life of an orphan be changed, but YOUR life will also be changed.

Defend the cause of the fatherless. Isaiah 1:17

Orphan Sunday from Christian Alliance for Orphans on Vimeo.


Jen Barbee said...

Amen Emily. Amen.

Staci said...

Love this post!!

CNA said...

wow...that is incredible. Amen :)Do you mind if I post a specific link to this on my blog?

jeanette said...

i LOVE your heart you have for the orphans Emily. so does your Father.

I cannot wait to see Charlie's face change...from hopeless and sad to hopeful, secure,and loved!

Heather said...


You have such a grace and wisdom far beyond your years. A willing spirit that is being used in the lives of so many "least of these". Those steps of faithfulness will be honored one day!! Thank you for writing so beautifully from your heart. Many people need to hear and see and act ...

There is a song from when I was a kid (yes, an OLD song, ha) that immediately came to mind as I read this. It is called Thank You For Giving To The Lord - the part that reminded me so clearly of you is below.

One by one they came, far as your eyes could see.
Each life somehow touched by your generosity.
Little things that you had done, sacrifices that you made,
Unnoticed on the earth
In Heaven now proclaimed.

God Bless you and your precious family!


Dana said...

Very well said. And I hope and pray Charlie doesn't wait much longer.

Sammy said...

I love the way you wrote this story.

Ashton said...

You did an amazing job on that! (:

Global Girl said...

Nice post, Emily!

Our family said...

Beautiful, Emily. Still hope to meet you and your family one day with our Lilly from Chenzhou!

Cindy M said...

I've read your blog for a long time. I lost track of your family for a while, but I recently found the link again. I want to tell you that your heart impresses me far more than that of most adults. I know you're nearly grown, but, still, you are wise beyond your years. And I also know that you don't do it to impress anyone. You only do it out of a love for God and for the orphan.

In the next week or so, I will be doing my own tribute to National Adoption Month on my blog. I hope it's okay that I link your post. I'm snagging that quote from Tom at Bring Me Hope, too. :-) Pretty much sums it up, eh?

It brings me JOY to be able to follow along on your journey to minister to orphans. It's amazing to know, without a doubt, that you will change lives along that journey.

Cindy M.

Wife of the Pres. said...

Well spoken. You are an amazing young woman, obviously filled with God's Holy Spirit! And He just exudes from you.