Two orphans have been sitting on my couch.
Last night, they sat side by side, enchanted by Lion King.
This morning, after I made them a huge breakfast, we all piled on the cushions together as I taught them how to use an etch-a-sketch. One of them worked those little white knobs and the magically erasing shake-shake-shake, while the other went for the crayons and construction paper.
Then my African pastor and I drove them to Home Affairs. Neither of them have birth certificates. I sat quietly with the little one on my lap and prayed while my pastor spoke in their own language.
The older one’s mother never had any identity documents. And his father disappeared early on, never to be heard from again. There are no living aunties or uncles. He’s always been completely alone, missing the one piece of paper that could make his education and very existence count. The piece that makes him go from invisible to visible, from nobody to somebody… access to health care, a bank account, government support, a good job.
And Home Affairs is sending him on a wild goose hunt. Uttering a cyclone of placating words that whoosh you right out the door.
That boy – that orphaned boy who has always been on his own – that boy is Lifa’s father.
He’s not a little boy anymore, but he’s an orphan whose never been taken care of. Who has never watched a Disney movie, held an etch-a-sketch, or been told with voice and action that he’s worth it.
And that little boy on my lap – he had the very same story three years ago.
Lifa’s mother doesn’t have an ID. And to make matters worse... or as Home Affairs says, “impossible”… she might be from another country with no permission to be in the country. His father disappeared. And there was no one.
Orphans create orphans.
The cycle continues.
You can only live what you know.
Chains bind tight. Generations are plagued.
But Jesus came to break those chains.
To pluck us out of the plague.
To hem us into wholeness.
Someone just has to tell the ones who’ve never been told.
And it usually takes a lot more than a sermon or a tract.
Family makes way for more Family.
The inheritance increases.
But they can only live what they know.
And someone needs to tell them.
Tell them with time, talents, finances, words, affection, and use up your entire Kingdom inheritance on the orphans – only to watch it be replenished and multiplied.
Most of the time I feel crazy for this painfully abnoral family set-up I have with Lifa. He lives part-time with me and part time with his dad. He has a dad! Now he has a father and a family who loves him.
I keep asking God, “What am I doing!?!”
But, this morning, with those two on my couch, I remembered.
Lifa was in line for the same story his father has been living.
Just like all the generations before them.
Lifa was discarded, expressionless, and emotionless at the age of 2 when I met him. He was invisible.
|Lifa - 2010|
But he was picked. Chosen. Held. Cared for. Prayed over.
The very moment he learned to receive love and understood he belonged to somebody, Lifa became visible.
He became visible enough for his dad to see there was something to him. And to come back for him. But it wasn’t enough to break the cycle.
So we kept going… For the past two years, we’ve made countless 8-hour road trips too see this family, to bring Lifa home for visits, and to invest in the Family of God. As time and trust built, Lifa’s father told us his prodigal son story. And then asked us if we would take him to meet his extended family.
Every orphan on this earth, whether their condition is physical, spiritual or both, needs to be welcomed into His Family by the way that we live.
Don’t get me wrong… I still have no idea what I’m doing. And with every meltdown Lifa has, I have at least five more. It seems like it’s too much for a little person to handle – this back and forth family that exist in completely different worlds. Different languages. Different environments. Different everything.
Today I watched an un-fathered father sneak an etch-a-sketch into his bag because he never got to play.
And I remembered today that the little boy sitting on the couch has learned that he belongs. And that he’s loved. He can bounce between languages and environments… because his belonging and love are not limited to anything that could be contained in this whole-wide-world.
But as I sit on this couch tonight, I am choosing to remember the miracles that have broken through. And to tell you about them.
Because we’re made to tell people about Family. Even when you feel crazy.
How will they know if we don’t tell them?
"How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?" Romans 10:14