Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.
Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed.
Many people who know me well (or even not so well!) probably already know, the Lord has been breaking my heart for the orphans of the world for many years. This scripture to care for orphans has been deeply embedded in my heart as I seek out direction from the Lord. I’ve tried to be active and obedient to being a voice for the fatherless from a distance, through raising awareness, collecting formula and other things the Lord has orchestrated, but I’m hearing that now is the time to GO and visit (which literally translates to care for) orphans and share the Love of Christ with them. He has given me a job as a teacher where I have the blessing of a work-free summer. The Lord has reminded me over and over lately that my time and my life are not my own, but His. So I have been seeking ways that I can “give my summer away” for His name.
Visiting Orphans (http://www.visitingorphans.org/) is a non-profit organization whose vision is to “awaken the body of Christ to be the hands and feet of Jesus to the 163 million orphans by visiting them, loving them, and sharing the Father’s heart.” One thing that I love about their ministry is that they partner with ministries and orphanages that are already established in the 13 countries where Visiting Orphans serves. Those of us being sent, step into these ministries to complete the work they are already doing. It’s a great way for the local churches of America to partner with ministries who serve orphans. We are doing short-term work, but there is a long-term investment because of the established ministries that are always there serving. I’ll be spending 10 days ministering to the needs of orphans and thos in need in Ethiopia and Rwanda. We’ll work with many different ministries during our time in Africa, which I'll be sharing about soon.
Many people in my life were a beautiful part of the work the Lord was doing to send me back to China in 2008, including financial support, prayer support on behalf of the Chinese, and so much encouragement. So many were also truly the hands and feet of Jesus to me during the difficult season when the Lord re-directed my path to North Carolina that year to take care of my father. No words can express my gratitude for all the many ways the people in my life have shown Jesus to me throughout the years! After I returned home from caring for my father in North Carolina in 2009 and began letting the Lord heal my heart, I began to also seek out the Lord’s direction and timing in returning to China. As I’ve prayed and sought direction, my heart has been unsettled in a way that I haven’t been able to understand or quite explain. It has made sense to continue down that path to China, but the peace from the Lord hasn’t been there. The more I’ve prayed, the more the Holy Spirit has been prompting me that now is not the time. Stay, wait, pray, and trust. This is what I continue to hear from the Lord over and over. Deciding not to return to China at this time has been one of the hardest decisions I’ve had to make. I cannot imagine all of the reasons He would keep me in my American hometown at this time, but I do trust Him and His Sovereignty over my life, so for now I will stay, serve Him here, wait on Him, and trust Him with all parts of my life.