Picture of the EssenceRich Stigall
“Essence” – The intrinsic or indispensable properties that serve to characterize or identify something.
Salima, Malawi: our last stop in Africa. There we received a clear picture of the essence of The Global Orphan Project.
Here are some pictures of the Malawi project:
And here is the picture of the essence:
So many of you reading this have engaged deeply with GO Project. Whether in Haiti, Africa, or elsewhere, you’re in deep. When you first engaged, you saw children and the miraculous transformation that occurs in their lives with a little investment of money, and consistent, enduring investment of heart. Simple. Pure. Right. That’s what drew you in.
As you get deeper into the journey, some complexity may blur the vision. You see challenges, and feel disappointed at times. The well you funded went dry. New showers and latrines are needed. School’s not open this month for a myriad of reasons that don’t compute in our way of thinking. No one can neatly explain the full life game plan for each child. Etc… When we get deeper into the work, we see the myriad of challenges of caring for kids who’ve been hurt, abandoned, and abused. Caring for them isn’t really a quick turnaround and done situation. It’s a day-by-day-by-day battle of love amidst brutal earthly conditions, where complete dependence upon the Almighty is not a luxury, but a daily bread necessity. It’s real easy to get so deep inside the earthly challenges, that we lose sight of the simple clarity at the heart of the ministry.
And then the Lord refocuses our vision, and reminds us: He is in control. The battles and challenges of orphan care do NOT alter the essence, which remains simple, pure, right. We must choose: what do we see?
When Adrien and I got off the plane in Malawi, we were greeted by our local partners, Peter and Emma Maseko. God’s reminder to us rested upon Emma’s back. Alpha Alanane Maseko.
Last year, Peter learned of a newborn baby tied in a plastic bag, dumped on the roadside. Miraculously, the baby survived. The authorities knew Peter and his wife, Emma, and knew the work the Lord called them to in Pothawira Village for orphans (Pothawira means “Safe Haven” in Chichewa language). But the work was just starting. No homes were done. No school. No clinic. The village was just a future vision and a plot of land. The child in the bag was NOW.
God put this child before them. The mandate of orphan care does not commence at our right time, or when the complexities of construction projects are through. The purity of orphan care is not found in the challenges of its trappings. Nor does it depend upon our notions of comfort, stewardship, disappointment, or challenge. So what did Peter and Emma do? They adopted the baby girl as their own child, committed to love her all the way, and named her Alpha (first): the first blessing God brought to them in this orphan care work.
The Masekos later learned for sure what they suspected – Alpha’s HIV positive. She was a discarded “AIDS baby” likely from a mom who didn’t expect to live long. Can you imagine the risk and courage it takes for a husband and wife who’ve raised 8 of their own children to fully expose their hearts to love this child?
Alpha’s not made a single decision about her life. She made no decision to be born. She made no decision to become HIV positive. She made no decision to be tied in a bag and dumped on a roadside minutes after birth. She made no decision to survive. Yet, she is no mistake.
Here is this mommy and daddy, Peter and Emma, who love Alpha all the way – without a single condition being placed upon Alpha. Here is Emma carrying Alpha on her back. What do we see in these pictures? Challenges of building. Disappointments, heartache, and frustrated expectations that are sure to come in the future? A project to be managed? Funds to be raised?
Or do we see a love so simple, risky, and abandoned that it threatens the integrity of our sins of self-protection?
This ministry isn’t about clinical models of “orphan care.” It’s not about cause. It’s about love and freedom of the heart. When I think of the love of Jesus Christ, I think about Peter, Emma, and Alpha. It’s as practical as it is mysterious. The givers receive.
I am grateful to be part of this with all of you. Thanks.