I've never been a big reader like Heather, but I've had this unquenchable thirst lately for more knowledge about orphans and about Africa. That thirst did not overtake me until I spent months praying. I prayed for a stronger desire to help
and for compassion. These books helped educate me but also helped put a suffering face with the overwhelming numbers I've read about. 5,000,000 orphans in Ethiopia alone was (and still is in a lot of ways) an abstract number to me. But those are not just 0's behind that 5, they are representative of children dying alone everyday. With so many orphans in Africa, adoption is not THE answer, it's just one way to help and make a difference. Africa needs the rich world to care and to act. These books made that clear to me for the first time. I don't think "Love thy neighbor" leaves me the right to pick which neighbor I'm going to love, though I've lived most of my life as if it really was a choice I had.
Regardless of location in the world, skin color, disease or any other factor, we are created to care. To say I care and do nothing in response is empty and useless. Unfortunately, it's been my "normal" for a long time. At the very best, I've chosen when to care based on when it was convenient for me and was only moved to action in some of those cases. I question now if I ever truly cared about anything that I didn't act on. Caring equals action. I've read it so many times but so rarely practiced it that I'm ashamed.
14 What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? 17In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. James 2:14 & 17
Ok, enough of being frustrated with myself, on to the books...
There is No Me Without You by Melissa Fay Greene follows a middle class Ethiopian woman's efforts to save as many orphans as she can. It is one of the most powerful books I've ever read in that it shattered much of the ignorance I've hidden behind for all of these years. It's made me question why I've not cared for so long; at least not cared enough to ACT. Why do I sit on my hands so often? This book is not short and not light-hearted. It will challenge you. It opened our eyes in more ways than we can count. We highly, highly recommend it.
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Fields of the Fatherless by Tom Davis is not one person's story, but it encourages its reader to love the orphan and "the least of these." Davis explores the Bible in an effort to identify how caring for the fatherless is a way to live out the Great Commision in our lives. Here's a note Davis shares from a Russian orphan:
I hated my life since the third grade when I was unmercifully beaten. I felt then that life is lost and death is looking for me. And my tears were telling me that life was nothing in comparison with death. I felt like a little cockroach, which (responds in) fear when seen.
A bunch of American people came to our school. I thought these people wanted to laugh at us. But I was mistaken. They are people willing to give up the most precious gift a person can possess, love. (Their) intentions to share seemed strange as they had their own kids. But these people have such big hearts to give that there is still enough room even for us little cockroaches.
Then I began to feel myself not a cockroach anymore which deserved to be killed, but a little human being. It is a wonderful feeling. Believe me.
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Thanks for reading,