My hand was on his arm and my voice questioning what was wrong today, when I saw the first tears silently run down his cheeks and drip onto his shorts as he stared across the yard, refusing to look me in the eye, yet unmoving from my vicinity. Thanks to our younger friend, who was oblivious while slumbering in my arms making sleepy sighs and toddler snores, I happened to be firmly planted on the step with nowhere to be.
I kept tossing questions at him, trying to figure out what to do and how to help.
Eventually, his head ended up in my lap, desperate to hide his tears from other peering eyes that would laugh and judge in a culture that doesn’t look at tears as a good thing.
Silence. It’s all I got as I continued to press my friend to help me understand the why as his tears soaked the fabric covering my knee, and empathetic tears threatened to roll down my own cheeks.
Why today? Why this minute? Why so sad?
Everyone has a bad day, but I know him well enough to know there was more going on than just a bad day.
Being an orphan sucks.
And some days, being the friend of an orphan sucks.
It’s not fair. Whatever family catastrophe that brought that child to that moment of being alone is not fair, and it is definitely not God’s heart for their young lives to grow up around 75 other kids.
Many years ago, I had a translator say to a child living in an orphanage, “You did something to deserve being here. You did something to deserve your family not wanting you.”
No child should ever hear it is their fault, and no child should ever be made to feel less than simply based on where they grow up. The label of ‘orphan’ should never command the future of a child and whether they can get a job, or a spouse that would marry someone without a family to help support them. Yet these social stigmas follow them as they become adults.
The pain in the orphans of this world has become very tangible to me. Not through any tragedy of my own, or enduring the suffering of knowing I was alone in the world. But through my deep, genuine love for my friends. My friend’s tears dripping onto my shorts as his head lay surrendered to my knee, brought tears to my own eyes…eyes that rarely leak. His pain brought about righteous anger in my heart to right the wrongs around him.
The reality is children get their choice taken away. Their age eliminates their choice, and more often than not, poverty holds captive any future hope of reuniting with family.
I champion the orphaned children of the world, because God has called me into their world. He has called me to be faithful to that call, loyal in my friendships and present in their lives to speak, to love, and to actually give a damn about their life. This is not the way it was supposed to be.
Why is there so much apathy in this world? Why don’t more people care?
Why is the fight for restoration and reunification of the least importance, while we choose to live under the oppression of technology, wealth and selfishness?
I don’t have the answers. I can’t solve every problem. I cannot stop the tears from flowing. Even in the moments I am desperate to see them disappear.
But I can choose to be present and make room in an already full lap. I can brush away those tears and say, “I am here. I am praying. I love you.”
I can use the resources God has given me to support those who are funding their care. I can help fund their education so the cycle doesn’t repeat itself as they grow into adults. I can purchase things from businesses that are creating jobs to keep families together.
I can use my God given voice to call out those that refuse to hear our God who is calling his church to stop rebelling against the things of his heart, and fight against the injustice of this world.
Because our silence has made us rebellious against God.
Because our apathy has made us rebellious against God.
Because our inaction has made us rebellious against God.
Because our impure motives have made us rebellious against God.
Because our misuse of resources to help others has made us rebellious against God.
And while rebellious nature is ingrained in who I have been created to be, I refuse to be the one rebelling against the one who redeemed me through the blood of Jesus, brought me into Kingdom life and where my hope is placed in seeing this world restored to rightness and every tear wiped away.
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be morning, nor crying, nor orphans or widows, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.’ [Revelation 21:3-4, with bolded addition by me]
Because that is a future I can fight for, to know that my friends who the world calls orphans will have no reason for tears to escape their eyes, and their young lives will never again be impacted by death and poverty.
Because we should give a damn. Because we must refuse to let apathy and distraction dictate our God ingrained calling to actually be a community of people that love God so intentionally that we choose to fight for a world where people are loyal in their friendships to orphans, to speak worth and value into those hearts, and to fight for those kids to be in families.
Because each time I see the tears of my friends falling relentlessly, I choose to not be silent, I choose to be obstinate against apathy and I choose to be rebellious for God…not against him.