March 6, 2012

The Least of These

Posted in Adoption, Blogging, Faith tagged , , at 8:55 pm by catsinboxes

I know I haven’t been blogging for over a month.  I know that many people who find this blog are looking for information about WWII and the Women’s Land Army.  In short, I know that I don’t have much of a voice when it comes to this blog, but I want to try something.

Have you read Matthew 25:40 recently?

And the King will answer them, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.”

What does that mean?  Who are the least of these?  They are the hungry, the impoverished, the sick, the prisoners.  And you know, it can be easy to leave it at that.  It can be easy for me to tithe, to help support some children through Compassion International . . . It’s painless, just contribute and know that you’re helping.  But is that the right way to look at it?

I know that each day people around the world are dying in poverty.  In the time that it has taken you to read this, at least two children somewhere in the world will have died from hunger-related causes.  Watch the clock for a moment, and each time 8 seconds pass, remind yourself that a child’s life has ended.  At the end of the day, 22,000 children will have died, the majority from very curable diseases.  Does that make you uncomfortable?

Until about three weeks ago, I knew that there were orphans in Eastern Europe.  I knew that Ukraine as a country had about 100,000 orphans.  I knew facts, I knew some numbers.  I didn’t know faces.  I didn’t know about institutions.  Do you know?

I’m still learning, but let me tell you.  And I’ll make it real.

This is “Duncan.”  He is 15 years old, the same age as my brother.  He has cerebral palsy which affects his legs.

This is “Bernadette.”  She is 15 years old, and she has my brother Joshua’s smile.  She has Down Syndrome.

Two 15 year olds, both living in an orphanage in Eastern Europe.  Two 15 year olds waiting for families.  Do you know what will happen when they turn 16?  They will no longer be available for adoption, they will leave the orphanage and be sent to a mental institution.  An adult mental institution.  Do you have any idea what that means?  For Bernadette:

She will likely have her head shaved, be stripped and placed into institution clothes, taken to a bed or crib and restrained there if she tries to wander. No toys. No books. No one to rub her back or sing her a lullaby. She’ll become a number on a case file, a name on a roster. Forever condemned to a life without a family. At her small size, likely a victim of other, older adults at the institution, as they take her food, hit her, or worse.

That’s a quote, a quote from a wonderful adoptive mother who met Bernadette.  Surely it can’t be that bad, can it?  Oh, it can.  Read about it here, and look at the pictures.  Look at them.  Do you know, as I started to read, I didn’t want to find out more.  I didn’t want to know about how bad it was . . . But we need to know.

No child, for Bernadette really is like a child, should ever receive that fate.  No teenager like Duncan should live with the fact that his birthday (yeah, we call it sweet 16, don’t we?) will mark the end of hope.

And you know, the thing is, it’s easy to just ask, “Well, what can I do?”  If you’re like me, you’re a college student.  You can’t adopt, but does that mean that you should just go on with life?

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unstained from the world.  ~James 1:27

You can visit.  You can contribute, this website is a wonderful resource:  http://reecesrainbow.org/category/waitingbycountry/ee-1/orphanage-39.  And most of all, you can pray.

I want to say something, and I hope it doesn’t offend you.  I hope it makes you think.  In the United States, we don’t have adult mental institutions like in Eastern Europe.  We don’t have a system that condemns teenagers like Bernadette to a living hell in an institution for the crime of having an extra chromosome.  No, we don’t.  We just take care of that problem much earlier.  9 out of 10 babies with Down Syndrome are never born in the United States.  Civilized.  Intentional.  Extermination.  That’s the United States.  Don’t ever forget that we have our own problems.

Please pray, and pray for faces.  It’s much harder to forget, to shake off a face.  A statistic can just slip away, but a face remains.  Look at Duncan.  He’s afraid no one will want him because his legs don’t work.  Look at Bernadette.  She’s so sweet, so happy, so blissfuly unaware of what is ahead.

What will you do for the least of these?

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