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I will never forget the day my son Hudson learned what an orphan was. A close family friend had just returned from Haiti where she visited an orphanage and had taken heartbreaking photos of destitute children in desperate need of loving homes.
As a wide-eyed 3-year-old, Hudson stared at the pictures and asked, “Who dose kids? Why dey sad?”
I explained that the children in the photos were orphans, children without a mommy or daddy. As Hudson pondered this, his heart was gripped with compassion. He suggested we go to Haiti and bring home 20 orphans to live with us.
I smiled at his childish enthusiasm and then informed him I didn’t think we’d have room in our house for 20 more children. A few days later, Hudson led me upstairs to see several “orphan beds” he’d created. Each bed consisted of a blanket, a pillow and one of his favorite stuffed animals.
There were two orphan beds in Mommy and Daddy’s room, two in his sister’s room, and five in Hudson’s bedroom. (He’d taken the greatest burden of caring for these orphans upon himself!)
“See?” he exclaimed. “We do have room!”
I was speechless.
God was using my 3-year-old to remind me of His simple solution for the orphaned, the destitute and the starving: sacrificially sharing what we have with those in need.
That day, God challenged my heart with some poignant questions: Was I willing to serve the weak, even if it required personal sacrifice? If Hudson was willing to share his mommy, daddy, bedroom and favorite stuffed animals with children in need — then what was I willing to share?
Those questions changed the course of my life. While we didn’t bring home 20 orphans, God has led us to adopt four children in need of a loving home. The journey has not been easy, but through it we have seen God’s amazing faithfulness.
In our noisy, busy world, it’s easy to become consumed with self-focused pursuits and remain indifferent toward the needs of the lost and dying around us. I have been guilty of this attitude many times.
Whenever I’m struggling with a self-focused mindset, I’m reminded of a sobering story I once heard about the Jewish Holocaust.
In the story, a German church sat next to the railroad tracks where cars of Jews rattled by the church, on their way to the concentration camps. The prisoners would scream as loudly as they could, begging the churchgoers to help. But the Christians didn’t want to get involved. Instead, as the cars rolled past, they sang their hymns loudly to drown out the cries of the suffering.
Astounding, isn’t it?
Still today, there are cries of anguish resounding all over the world — from the starving child to the persecuted Christian. Yet how often do we drown them out with entertainment, busyness, materialism or selfish ambitions? God asks each of us to turn down the noise in our lives and learn to love and give the way He does, embracing the inconvenient and holding nothing back.
Naturally, this will look different for each of us.
Some of us might be called to minister to the homeless, others to adopt, others to fight for the unborn, others to help orphans, others to encourage the persecuted — and countless other possibilities.
Cultivating a sacrificial lifestyle often starts with one simple step, such as ministering to someone in our community. I encourage you to let God stretch you beyond what is comfortable and easy. He will open your eyes to the ways in which He desires you to become His hands and feet to those in need.
Throughout history, the Christians who’ve made the most impact for God’s kingdom rarely lived comfortable or convenient lives. Their mighty acts for God required enormous personal sacrifice and a willingness to venture far beyond the realm of the easy and convenient. If today’s Christians are too busy, who will take up the torch of Gospel-centered rescue work in this generation?
Lord, help me learn to look past myself and see the needs of others. Teach me to love others the way You love them, sacrificially. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
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