Why orphans, why us?

Robert Fuqua, Voronezh, Russia, 2010, and... on March 30, 2018

(This is the first of two articles posted in 2010, which still reflect well the heart of our life's work, and more accurately the work God continues to do in Voronezh, Russia, after we've now transitioned back stateside.  I've post-dated them here to bring them to the top of our blog, along with Ann's article above, as they were also written in the context of Easter.)

After fourteen years of working at this thing called "orphan  ministry" I still often find myself asking the same questions.   Why orphans, and why us?  Why does God care so much about orphans in the first place, and why does the Bible so often speak of the call and expectation, -- even command on our lives as Christians to care about them?  And, why if He's going to go to all the trouble to send a couple of people half way around the world for such a purpose, WHY choose US of all people?!? 

This week I found myself wrestling with the first part of that question again, when a man I've come to know in our neighborhood, upon learning why we've moved to Russia, responded with the all too familiar response, "Don't waste your time on those kids from the orphanages, they'll never amount to anything in life!"  After getting over the first wave of deflation and self-defeatism, I moved to wanting to respond with, "Well, you just don't know the kids we know."  But then, I quickly realized that it's in knowing the very kids we know and the many challenges we've faced with them, even the ones we call the "cream of the crop" who came out of the better orphanages, that his statement is really well founded in personal experience, both his and our own.  It's even backed up by statistics.  The same statistics in fact that God used to rock our world five years ago and radically alter our hearts and lives.

So, I walked away pondering, "What is it that causes us to look at the same set of experiences with these kids, and the same statistics, and come away with a different conclusion, that their lives ARE worth the investment of our time, energies, and resources?"  Is there something he knows that we don't?  Is there something we see that he doesn't?  Then, it hit me.  It's not in knowing our kids that makes the difference.  We've known the same kids, at least statistically and demographically speaking, and there's no logical reason to believe they have a chance.  But, apparently he doesn't know their Father the way we do. 

The One who sent us here believes in these kids.  He created them to reflect His glory, and how much better can His glory and power be manifest, than through the transformed lives of those whom the world has written off as worthless!  And, in giving us a glimpse into their transformation, He's made believers out of us.  We too have grown to believe in them, and some days that belief is all that keeps us going.  Some days it's all that can fuel the fires of compassion in hearts that want to turn cold.  In each relationship God has given us, there are those days when we want to throw in the towel.  But then we see that God hasn't given up on them, and we know we can't either.  Because of the cross, all of us have the opportunity, because the power of sin has been broken, to turn our lives around and set out on a new course, regardless of our past.

We've had the privilege to see so many of these kids come to reflect the glory of God, that it makes me want to believe that therein lies the answer to the first part of my question.  Why orphans?  Because through faith, God, who has declared Himself the Father to the fatherless, has given to the fatherless the power to become the sons and daughters of God (John 1:12).  And, I believe He assigned it to His Bride, the Church, to be their Mother.  And when the world sees these who've been cast off by society as worthless, rising up to change their world, embraced as sons and daughters by the Almighty God, and nurtured by His Church, God is honored and glorified. 

So what about the second part of the question?  Why us?  Hardly a day goes by that I'm not plagued by this question.  My inadequacy to the task is a glaring reality ever before me.  So, I struggle to understand why He would choose me.

Today, listening to a sermon podcast by JR Vassar (Apostles Church, NYC) from last November, I began to believe that maybe He chose us strategically and not by default.  Vassar's sermon was entitled, "A Zealous Heart" from the "A Heart for God" series he did last year.  I've heard many sermons based on the story of David and Goliath, but this time, with the "why me" question pressing on me, I began to think that herein may lie the answer.  I had just been processing the previous question about "why orphans", and contemplating the greater glory God seems to receive when those considered "worthless" display their worth in Christ.  So, could it be that God chose me for the same reason he chose David to slay Goliath?  So that, people who may see His accomplishment, would not question the source of the power, and would give the glory to almighty God and not to the weak vessel He chose to use? 

Well, I kind of liked the idea of comparing myself to David, and the old David vs. Goliath syndrome, which has taken its place in pop-culture and pop-psychology, had a certain appeal to me.  But, as Pastor Vassar unpacked the story this time, he caused me to see myself in the story, but as a different figure, not David or Goliath.  Oh yeah, I could fantasize about how I might slay the giants if I have enough faith, and if I select the right stones for my pouch.  If I run bravely into the battle to defend the name and honor of God, properly equipped, what mighty things I might accomplish for God.  But, I don't know if I'm just getting too old for that fantasy or maybe have just made too many blunders along the way, trying to accomplish great things for God, relying primarily on my own might.  But when I began to understand that I'm not the David in the story, but rather that I'm the men of Israel, cowering for forty days under the curses of the Philistine giant, it began to make sense to me.

Vassar points out that David is a forerunner to Christ.  At this time of his life he has been anointed as king over Israel, but as yet is simply an unknown teenage shepherd boy from the house of Jesse.  Yet, driven by a passion and zeal for the name and fame of God, boldly, but by humble means wins a decisive victory for his people to rescue them from the oppressive tyranny of their enemy, while those he's rescuing do nothing but cower and tremble in fear. 

What does David seek to accomplish, going up against this giant?  I think he makes his motives pretty clear in what he tells Goliath before taking him down.

"...that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the LORD saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the LORD's, and he will give you into our hand."          I Samuel 17:46-47

It's in this passage that I find what I believe are the answers to my questions.  Why orphans?  Why does God value so highly the rescue of the fatherless?  So the world may know that there is a God and that He saves!  And why us?  Because the battle is really His, and He's not so concerned with WHO shows up, as long as those who show up know who the real Rescuer is. 

If we are represented in this story by the men of Israel then who are we?  We are a weak, frightened, needy people, cowering under the tyranny of the enemy, until we see our Rescuer King, anointed but not yet enthroned, rescue us by defeating the enemy.  And in seeing the enemy defeated, we rise up and passionately pursue the taking back of all the enemy attempted to claim for himself in defiance of the name and glory of our Lord God.

For us, it was at the cross where this defeat took place.  How will we choose to react to the cross of Christ?  Will we cower in fear as His disciples initially did, or will we rise up and take back what the enemy has attempted to claim for himself?  As His Church, will we rise up to nurture those whom He has Fathered, those for whom He has won the victory over sin and death, those to whom He has given the power to become sons and daughters of God?  So that all the earth will know there is a God and that He saves!

(This story continues in part 2, "Subjected to futility, or reflecting His glory?".   But, in part 2, you'll also find a photo blog about several of the "sons and daughters of God" referenced in the story above.)