I am a blessed man - I grew up with two parents who loved me dearly and made sure they told me that all the time. I was disciplined - even spanked. And to this day I can still remember my dad crying with me as he held me afterwards.
In 2003 I spent 2 weeks at an orphanage in northern Thailand. I will never forget my time with these kids - most of them were left for dead by Burmese drug lords and were taken in by missionaries, a Thai man and his American wife. They loved these kids as their own (I believe there were 40 to begin with) and taught them discipline, job skills, respect, and how to have fun. The kids got an education and studied the Bible as well. These kids learned to take care of each other - the older boys and girls would look after the younger ones. They respected their elders and worked hard on the farm. They were a testimony to me of how Christian love can literally change the course of one's life.
If you've been following the 40 Day Fast at all, you are aware by now that there are millions of orphans in the world and many different ways you can help show them Christ's love. My wife and I sponsor two African children through World Vision - they're a wonderful organization, and we've been working with them for years now. (In Africa alone, there are over 14,000,000 orphans. Let me put this in perspective: if they all stood hand in hand, that's enough children to stretch from Seattle to New York City and back again 6 times.)
But today I want to highlight a ministry that doesn't always get as much attention, participation and support from you and I as it should: the ministry of the local church. If you are a Christian as I am and believe that the Bible is God's instruction book for us, you'll know that our support of organizations such as Compassion and World Vision should come AFTER we have given our firstfruits to our local church. So, with that in mind, let me share with you briefly why my church has chosen to invest in the orphans in the country of Moldova (we currently have 62 people in 3 separate teams in Moldova - they will be there until July 11th).
Moldova is both the smallest and the poorest country in the former U.S.S.R. It is located right between Romania and the Ukraine. My church felt led to Moldova in 2002 to do a summer camp with an orphanage in the capital city of Chisinau. Statistics tells us that over 70% of the children in orphanages in Moldova will end up in the sex trafficking trade or in prison, and 10% will commit suicide -- all within a year of leaving the orphanage at age 18. So, these children face a world that seemingly has turned against them with no family, no resources and no hope for the future. In the face of these odds, we have a hope and a future to offer them in Christ and the love of a Father who will never abandon them. We have been back every summer since, expanding our camps to two weeks long and to other orphanages including one in Falesti, and now this year, Cahul.
If you would like to read more about what each team is doing and send them a word of encouragement, they will be blogging throughout the trip as well as after they return home. Here are the links:
My challenge to you today is to take a moment, visit one of the links above, and leave a quick comment letting the respective teams know that you are praying for them. And look for ways you can be an encouragement to those ministering in and through your local church.