May 13, 2011
The Poor, Widowed, and Orphaned
Ryan Duncan, TheFish.com Editor
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. James 1: 27
It was Spring Break of my senior year, and I had decided to end college with a bang. A classmate of mine had invited our wing down to Florida to stay with his family over break. I was going to spend almost two weeks hanging out with friends, hitting the beach, and sleeping in one of the nicest houses in the area. It was going to be a Spring Break to remember.
God, however, had other plans. Spring break finally rolled around, but I wasn't in Florida. Instead, I found myself huddled together with a few other college students in the cold, gray countryside of western Russia. My college had set up a small mission trip over Spring Break with an organization called The Boaz Project, and despite my attempts to ignore it, God had pushed me into going.
The whole trip bothered me, and not just because I was missing a two week vacation in Florida. The Boaz Project served as an outreach to the orphans of Russia, and I wasn't exactly a kid person. I could barely handle one crying baby or a hyperactive youngster, and I dreaded to think what waited for me in Russia. On top of everything was the language barrier. I had barely passed Spanish 101, there wasn't a chance I'd be mastering Russian.
All my worrying turned out to be pointless though. On our first day the children surrounded us as though we had brought Christmas presents. They didn't care if we couldn't speak their language; it thrilled them to have someone to play with them, to notice them. A wiry boy named Sasha kept asking me for piggy-back rides, and by the end of the day my shoulders ached. The trip passed in a whirlwind of games and activity, and then suddenly it was time for us to go home.
We went around and said goodbye to all of the children. I hugged Sasha one last time, and as I did I couldn't help feeling as though I were abandoning him. As our vans drove away I saw him out the window waving at us, and when we reached the main road I put my head in my hands and started to sob. It was the first time I had cried in nine years. How could you fit and entire lifetime of love and affirmation into a few short days? Had I even accomplished anything by coming here? I knew the statistics, as these children grew older they would most likely be lost to a world of drugs, prostitution, and homelessness. And the worst part was that nobody would notice. No one would care.
At that point God touched my heart, and I realized why he had wanted me to come to Russia. These children weren't alone. There was God, and there was me, and there was a whole Kingdom of believers whom Christ had commanded to care for the poor, widowed, and the orphaned. We are the Church, and it is our duty to serve as lights and protectors in a very dark world. That is what Christ calls us to do; it is what God demands of us. Because if the Church does not help these children, who will?
Intersecting Faith & Life
Find out a way to reach someone in need. For more information on The Boaz Project, visit www.boazproject.org
James 1: 1-27