Our mission team emerged from the old, blue bus into the Village of Hope community. The hour-long drive from Lusaka had molded our body parts to one another as we lurched over speed humps large enough to reduce even the most ambitious speed racer to a snail’s pace.
As I unfolded my legs and blinked at the bright sun, I scanned the group of children running toward the bus. Laughter and young voices flitted through the air. The mamas stepped out of their houses…beautiful grins spread across their faces. Each raised a hand of greeting while bending down to occasionally assist a younger child with a shoe or straighten a shirt.
“James?!” I knew it before he responded! We fell into each other’s arms like long lost friends!
My family and I had begun sponsoring James two years ago. In July 2010, my son Aaron and I had the privilege to serve on an Every Orphan’s Hope (EOH) mission team. We met James and felt immediately drawn to him.
At the time, James had only recently moved into one of the EOH duplexes. The tragedies of early years made the unconditional love by his new house mama and new brothers and sisters hard to accept. He was overwhelmed but they continued to pray for and with him as well as love him.
Two years later: James is new person!
This child who jumped into my arms and held tight represented the transformation that the Lord is doing through the ministry of EOH. Out from under the heavy burden of sadness and fear and neglect and insecurity, James has blossomed and is now the child the Lord intended him to be.
I glanced up from our embrace. In hesitating steps, a young girl approached.
“Rebecca?” I recognized our new sponsored child by her sweet smile and warm expresso eyes.
“Yes.” She nodded and gave a little curtsy.
I opened my arms and embraced her. Two precious children in my arms.
When we began sponsoring Rebecca, EOH sent her picture, a letter, and some information about her life. We were able to connect through the house’s private Facebook page and sent messages to both Rebecca and James. But to actually be here with the children filled my soul with a joy overflowing!
Rebecca and James led us to their house. Over one of the couches hangs a large bulletin board. Elise and I saw ourselves looking back at us. The children had hung every family picture that I had sent over the years. The edges are curling on a few.
Over the next 10 days, we spent time together whenever we were able. I sat and drew pictures with Rebecca. She is learning English so I labeled our drawings (tree, flower, hands, etc). We played games with James. The children braided Elise’s hair. Well, James attempted to braid until Rebecca shooed him away and re-did his valiant effort! My hand rarely hung alone by my side … Rebecca or James or one of their EOH brothers and sisters would reach up and fill the empty space.
Every Orphan’s Hope has allowed me to move beyond being a visitor to becoming family. Returning to Zambia this summer brought renewed friendships and new relationships. Zambian Director Margaret Harawa and the EOH staff warmly embraced our entire team. These relationships deeply enrich this life and will last into all eternity!
As much as I want world peace and an end to poverty, I know that I cannot change the world. The Lord never intended a solo act. We are made for community. With Every Orphan’s Hope, however, I can change the world for James and Rebecca as well as for the children under the ministry’s care.
It’s my privilege to partner with Every Orphan’s Hope. Won’t you join the team?
– Sharon Hoover