If you’ve read my blog before, you’ve probably figured out that I care deeply about orphan issues. Beginning with the adoption of two of my children from Kenya through Colorado-based adoption agency and orphan care ministry, Hope’s Promise, God took me on a wild ride around the world; and my art often flows out of what I’ve seen and experienced of His heart for the most vulnerable. I hope you will allow me to share just a little more directly and tangibly about an issue so dear to my heart and describe a way you could become involved. (Please know that I’m not being paid or compensated in any way for writing this blog entry. It’s purely an offering of love for kids who have stolen my heart.)
When I received the letter, below my own blog entry, from Hope’s Promise, describing Tam’s journey from abandonment at birth, placement in orphanages, and finally her homecoming to a Hope’s Promise family in Vietnam, Tam stole my heart. I haven’t yet had the privilege of meeting Tam personally, but her story cuts through my heart in a very personal way. You see, like Tam, two of my own children were abandoned at birth and spent their first year of life in a Mother Teresa Home for Abandoned Children in Kenya.
I’ve also traveled the world and looked into the eyes of too many children who share Tam’s story… children like Sammy.
Sammy arrived at the Mother Teresa orphanage, abandoned at birth, during the same year, 2001, that my son, Jedd, left in my arms. I met Sammy a year later while serving in the orphanage on a short-term mission trip; and my real-live-Good-Samaritan friends, Brian and Debbie Lee, literally saved his life by taking him to a hospital and paying all expenses to rescue him from a septic infection. After that, whenever the Lees and I were in Kenya, we checked on Sammy.
When Hope’s Promise’s first home in Kenya, Sanctuary of Hope (SoH), welcomed ten children in 2006, Debbie and I pleaded with the Mother Teresa nuns on behalf of Hope’s Promise to let him join the SoH family. He came home in 2008, and flourished.
But Sammy and my son Jedd share more than the experience of starting their lives in the same orphanage. As they grew half a world apart, it became apparent that both boys struggle with dyslexia. Jedd received miraculous early intervention in public school here in Colorado. With no special education services available in Kenyan public schools, Sammy fell further and further behind. Once the vivacious leader of SoH musical performances, he slipped to the back of the group, head hanging. His natural spunk and leadership potential faded. We were losing him into spiraling self-doubt and despair.
Our dear friends Pastor and Mama Karau, SoH house-parents and Hope’s Promise Kenya Country Coordinators, other SoH caregivers, Hope’s Promise staff and donors in the United States stood together and said, “Not on our watch.” (I blogged about the situation with a plea for action in Aug 2013: A Tale of Two Drowning Children.)
Now, Sammy attends a new school in Kenya for kids with special learning needs. And once again, he is thriving. A major national Kenyan newspaper, Daily Nation, recently reported on dyslexia and the special education school, and chose Sammy as the star of the article. (Click here to view on line.) The reporter described Sammy’s faltering confidence when he was first admitted to the school, the skilled support he has received there, and his shining talents now released for the world to enjoy.
To me, Tam’s story and Sammy’s story embody the heart of Hope’s Promise, an organization I deeply love and believe in. It’s true that shelter and food are desperately needed for orphans around the world, But their most dire need is family: people who will surround them with love, support them in their unique struggles, and empower their innate talents. Hope’s Promise is the hands and feet to bring about God’s heart as expressed in Psalm 68:4b-6a into flesh and blood intervention: “rejoice before him – his name is the Lord. A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families, he leads out the prisoners with singing.”
As Hope’s Promise Executive Director Beth Woods concludes in her letter, below, “Together we can directly impact the lives of children like Tam (and Sammy) and be part of their stories of hope.”
I invite you to let God write you into this story of redemption. As we enter the season of gift-giving and receiving, please consider donating to Hope’s Promise (with orphan ministries in Vietnam, Nepal, Zimbabwe and Kenya) to help close the 2015 funding gap of $75,000.
I am filled with great hope for these lives that matter so much!
And I’m grateful to those of you who read this and allow it to touch your heart.
Dear Colleen and Dave,
Imagine being 10 years old and never having experienced the love of a family. A young girl in Vietnam named Tam began life in just that way. Abandoned as an infant, Tam spent years moving from one temporary home to the next. Passed from relative to relative and moved from orphanage to orphanage, she had no place to call home and no one to call family for 10 long years. Even the orphanage where her grandmother took her closed a few years later and sent Tam away. She was then moved to another orphanage where she was the only girl and again abandoned when the orphanage decided they could no longer care for her. Do you hear the desperation in her story? Thankfully, Tam’s story was not yet fully written. In 2013, Tam was welcomed into her family of Home of Hope #3. Here she has found a new beginning. Here she has found Christ and the love of a family.
Hope’s Promise cares for 153 children, just like Tam, through family homes and educational sponsorships in Nepal, Vietnam, Kenya and Zimbabwe. With more than half of the children Hope’s Promise cares for not fully sponsored, we are faced with a significant need to help care for them. As the year comes to a close $75,000 is needed to provide for each and every child. This is an opportunity to be a part of what God is doing in a story like Tam’s, a story of redemption.
Will you join us in His good works with both prayer and provision for our children? A year-end gift of $100, $500, $1,000, $5,000 or any amount is transformational as God writes their stories. Psalm 68:4b-6a reminds us “rejoice before him-his name is the Lord. A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families, he leads out the prisoners with singing.” What a beautiful promise! Together we can directly impact the lives of children like Tam and be part of their stories of hope.
Because they matter,
Beth Woods, MA
Hope’s Promise Executive Director