December 16, 2013

Priceless Gifts

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!  The church’s all-purpose room is filled with tiny white lights, a beautifully-decorated tree complete with a lighted star on top, and an over-sized wreath hanging on the wall.  The chatter in the room almost drowns out the sounds of the Christmas carols playing.  The tables are all set for what promises to be a feast.  At first glance, it appears to be a festive holiday party.  A time for merry-making and laughter.  It could be a scene straight from Currier & Ives.

The ladies of the church have worked tirelessly to make this day special.  December is a crazy-busy time of year, and yet they made room in their crowded calendars to plan this special event.  Preparing the menu, decorating the room, setting up tables, and pressing the linens.  They have created a room that practically glows with all of the love and service that was poured into it.  They have provided, if only for a brief afternoon, a respite from life’s problems.  They created PEACE.
Look a little closer and it soon becomes apparent that some of the details of this holiday picture don’t seem quite right.  The children, the little ones looking all cute in their finest clothes, the older ones wearing everyday jeans and hoodies, are not laughing or playing.  They are just sitting there with the their hands in their laps, trying not to fidget, their eyes looking straight down at their laps.  Why are they not excited about this, the most magical of seasons?

December 11, 2013

His Story

Pausing for just a moment on the busy street corner, she thinks to herself, “How in the world did I get here?  When did my life take such a drastic turn?  This is not at all how I imagined things would turn out.”  It is a busy street corner in a bustling part of the city.  Most of the stores and businesses are preparing to close for the evening, and the sidewalk is crowded with people rushing past on their way home after a long day of work. 

There is really nothing out of the ordinary about the girl, nothing that would give people a reason to notice her.  Just an average teenager standing on the street corner.  Plain face, simple clothing, shoes somewhat worn and dirty.  Nothing unusual except, perhaps, the fact that she is very, very pregnant.

A year ago, if anyone had asked her what she envisioned for her future, her answer would have sounded just like many other teens her age:  get married some day, live a peaceful quiet life with a nice man, have children.  She had been raised in a fine, stable, very religious family, and had always been content and compliant, never giving her parents any trouble at all.

And yet here she stands, young and unmarried, about to have a baby in an unfamiliar city surrounded by no one she knows.  No family members, no doctor or hospital, not even a warm bed somewhere.  She actually has no idea where she will be spending the night. 

December 5, 2013

The Risk

The eyes in the photograph are dark and serious.  He doesn’t smile, doesn’t even pretend to be charming.  Instead, he looks directly into the camera, despondent and hopeless, as if to say, “I know I’m not cute, and there is not much left in me that anyone would love.  But sure, go ahead and take my picture if you must.”   Does he know that this picture will end up in a social worker’s file in a country half a world away?

They see his picture on their computer screen, and their hearts are filled with compassion.  That face!  They have never seen such a somber expression, especially in a child so young.  They long to take him into their arms and tell him, “You will be safe now.  No matter what has happened in your life, no matter what loss and grief and pain you have experienced, we will love you and help you heal.  You are home.”

But they can’t.  Or maybe won’t?  To adopt a child on the other side of the world is terribly expensive.  A sum of money that seems astronomical and impossible to envision.  It would require great sacrifice.  Delayed retirement.  Postponing the repairs to the roof and next year’s family reunion.  Extended time off work to travel to another country.  Is this really a sacrifice they are prepared to make?