Sunday, March 20, 2011
Abundant is Our Comfort In Christ
Before I left on this trip to visit the orphans and widows of Zeway, Ethiopia several people told me something along the lines of, "Oh, I couldn't do what you're doing! My heart would just break to pieces. I would completely fall apart." Honestly, every time I heard this it reinforced my fear that I just might come unglued and, ridden with guilt, I would not be able to pull myself together as a functioning wife and mother for my family upon my return.
Well I was already fully committed and on board the flight from Houston to Frankfort when God reminded me of this part of Paul's second letter to the Corinthians:
"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ." (2 Cor 1: 3-5)
Here I was - not completely sure how I got there but wanting to make this journey with my husband who so desired to go - traveling across the ocean to 'comfort others with the comfort I, myself, received from Christ.' I began to pray that Christ would love and comfort these people through me. I prayed that His love and comfort would flow abundantly. It did.
You see motherhood makes you incredibly vulnerable. I was a sensitive person before I became a mother but after Matthew was born I felt like my whole heart was fully exposed. I had a rough pregnancy and all along the way I kept fearing that this child would be taken from me just like the one before. I thought for sure that the ache I felt to protect him would go away after he was born, but it didn't. I developed this strong sense of wanting to nurture him in a way I never felt before. Now that I recognize what it means to nurture a child, it goes beyond my biological family.
On this trip I realized that I am a mother in a much larger sense. I am "Mom" to my family but I was called to love on and nurture children halfway across the world. My most significant experience of this is with Edatu. She is only four years old and the youngest of four siblings - Binyam, Samarawit and Mintesonet. Her mother has HIV. Her whole family was placed in what's called the Defacto CHH (Child Headed Household) program of Food for the Hungry (FH). "Defacto" because one parent is still living but ill and not fully able to care for the needs of her family.
As we talked to this family and learned a little bit about how the FH program is helping them, Edatu kept looking at me, trying to capture my attention. I smiled at her and tried to love her with my eyes. Her mother, Selamawiet, began sharing what God is doing through the program, her voice got louder and louder and she stood up trying to fully express what the program has meant to her and her family. She said she had no words to say how much God has provided for her family through FH. After Selamawiet's powerful expression of gratitude, Edatu intentionally came over to me and crawled up onto my lap. She sat there quietly for the remainder of the house visit, including the part where we prayed over their family. To hold a child is to fall in love with a child. That is really all I felt like God wanted me to do during that visit.
At the end of the week we attended a play time for all of the CHH children. Edatu, along with her older siblings showed up for this gathering. I was so blessed to be able to spend more time with her, to hold her, color with her, and witness how all of her siblings cared for each other. I think God was reinforcing how important it was for me not to forget these children. To be diligent in prayer over these children and to advocate for them, similar to what I do for my own child.
In the past, I would have felt a tremendous amount of guilt over the position of these kids being born into poverty, especially Edatu as I felt a strong personal connection to her. I feel so humbled that God would choose to show me these beautiful people and how He is caring for them. I have a great sense that I don't need to carry a burden of guilt because of my birthplace, education, and family. It's all a gift. It's my response to this gift that's important.
So my heart is broken, yes. It is also comforted in what God is doing abroad to provide for these children. I simply got to visit them and love them with the love of Christ.
Here is a beautiful picture that Edatu's sister, Samarawit drew during our play day. We are planning to turn some of these drawings into note cards available for you to purchase. All of the proceeds will go directly back to Food for the Hungry helping support these orphans and widows. Be looking for these soon!