Pass It On…
As a parent, you instinctively share the things you love with your children – favorite vacation spots, holiday traditions, team loyalties. But I was somewhat unprepared for how our children would also share their “loves” with us. We came to love dance because Lindsey loves dance. We now root for the Georgia Bulldogs because Alyssa loves the Georgia Bulldogs. Just as our children come to love things because we do, we come to love things simply because our children do.
That is how Rob and I came to love Family Spirit orphanage and school in Masindi, Uganda. Our daughter, Lindsey, and our son, Jake, have had the privilege of making several trips. They came home sharing their love for Irene, Isaac, Deia, Peter, Murungi, Christine, and Dickson. For weeks, we would hear of another loved one. Rob and I relished hearing all of their stories and insights. We laughed and cried with them. Our hearts were moved with theirs over the needs. And shared experience upon shared experience, our passion became their passion and our vision became their vision. How could we become a part of loving the people of Family Spirit? What role could we play in meeting the needs of those our children love so deeply?
And when could we meet these people ourselves?! I remember the day that I began to pray about it. Our initial thought was that we would travel there with Lindsey and Jake. But when their summer plans did not allow them to visit, I asked my sister Cara to join me instead.
Just as Lindsey and Jake before us, Cara and I were changed by our visit. We will pray differently. There are individual faces that come to our minds when we ask God to meet their needs. Memories will bring a smile or a laugh. We will give differently. We have served in the food line, watching their faces as they receive their full bowls. We have heard the children’s hopes of going on to university and their dreams of what they might become. The first year that Lindsey went with Janie and Ryan, Family Spirit’s hopes and dreams were generally limited to meeting the simplest of physical needs that day. What a profound privilege it has been to be a part of their growth and development as their needs are being met, and their hopes and dreams expanded.
On the plane on our way home, I was thanking God for the incredible experience of getting to know the people of Family Spirit. I thanked Him for the opportunity of sharing the experience with my sister. My eyes welled with tears as I thought of Cara’s demonstrations of love and compassion. I couldn’t wait to tell Lindsey and Jake of all the needs she met as an expression of love for those that they loved.
And then it crossed my mind that our Heavenly Father loved the people of Family Spirit first. We love them because He loves them (I John 4:19)! And I can only imagine how it delights Him to see us seeking to love those that He loves so deeply. James tells us, “Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress.” (James 1:17) As believers, we are God’s children! He shares His “loves” with His children the same way that we share our “loves” with ours.
A trip is an extraordinary privilege and is not always immediately possible. But sharing love for God’s children in distress can start with a picture on our refrigerator, work in a local community center, shared prayers for a child or group, or a financial contribution as a family. Love for orphans and widows can be forged by simply sharing and hearing the stories of those who have already gone. That’s how it began for us, and that’s the way that love is designed to work. Our Heavenly Father loves us. He shares His passions with us as we walk with Him, and then we have the extraordinary privilege and opportunity to share those passions with others. As a result, a world is changed – and so are we. It is truly life at its finest. And I couldn’t be more delighted to share it.
– Shawna Keller