It began with a question.
"Mama, what can we do?"
Josie-Tatum was just a few weeks from her sixth birthday when she asked that, and I was preparing materials for Adoption and Orphan Awareness. It would be the first time our church participated in November's National Adoption Awareness month. It would be the first time many in our church heard of the orphan crisis. It was the first time Josie-Tatum began to understand the enormity of the problem and God's call to the church.
This is one of videos I previewed before sharing with the church. Josie-Tatum sat with me and watched every one, intrigued by what she was learning.
So, she asked the question, "Mama, where can we do? What can we do?"
And, the questions continued every day and each night. Following every new video, she asked more questions. "You mean there are big kids who need mamas, too?" She even said, "Well, I can tell you one thing. If you didn't have to work, and I didn't have to go to school, we would travel all around the world and bring home every orphan daddy would let us."
She took her new burden to Jesus. Nightly she would pray, "God, show me and Mama what we can do to help orphans. Show us where we can go." I began to realize God had entrusted me with a priceless treasure of another kind. I could bury that treasure, or I could make it shine!
I started investigating different options for mission trips where orphan ministry was the focus. Time and again the doors were closed. After several weeks I decided God was going to allow Josie-Tatum and me to go on a mission trip, just the timing was not right.
With my mind at ease, I settled back into my comfortable life. Josie-Tatum continued to pray. Her prayer was sometimes, "LORD, it's okay if we don't go now, but just show Mama and me what we can do." Then, God showed me just how much He was involved in the details of the burdens we feel from Him.
after many closed doors, I had stopped researching possible mission work for a mama and a child Josie-Tatum's age. When someone later suggested to me that I call Brenda Sutton a call. I didn't. I had made up my mind it was not God's timing. Since, I did not look for Brenda. God sent her to me. One Wednesday night, I walked into church, and Brenda was there. I had never met her and didn't know she had been invited to speak during our Bible study that night.
Brenda shared her work with the Servant's House Ministries. She shared much about a recent mission trip, where the team stayed in a hostel, and showered out doors where a hose was stretched over a tree branch. That was certainly not the mission trip I would take Josie-Tatum on.
But, after the service, I went to talk with her. I told her a little of Josie-Tatum's story. I asked her to contact me if she ever knew of a mission trip that would be appropriate for a young child, and she, without any hesitation said, "Come with us to South Africa."
There are so many details, so many God moments. I'll post links to many of those stories, later, but you should know that we committed to go, needing over $6,000 and having no idea where that money would come from. When we left for South Africa, just a few months later, we had raised over $8,000. We were able to use the remainder of the money for multiple projects for orphans, including tuition for school.
Josie-Tatum's heart and passion for orphans, though, touched more than just her family. The missionaries in Shayandima had begun to feel God calling them to more involvement with orphans. The love of a 6-year-old girl on the other side of the world sent affirmation that they were following His leading. Imagine my joy and the honor. God had allowed me to see His work in a way I could never have imagined.
With the extra money we had raised, we were able to sponsor tution for this precious child of God!
We had the money to sponsor one more child for school the next year. While visiting a nearby home for orphans, we met one of the cutest four-year olds in Africa.
We talked with the missionaries, and they made the arragements for him to be the second child we would sponsor.
While spending much time with the LORD prior to our mission trip, He had spoken to me through Isaiah. He brought this verses to my mind--Isaiah 43:19 Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth ; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.
God did indeed begin a new thing while we were in South Africa. Brad and Hazel committed to opening a home for orphans. We committed to helping them build the home. And, we broke ground on the site where the home would be built.
And, this year, we have felt His call to return, to return to the new thing God has begun, to see how it is springing forth, to see the way He is making in the wilderness.
Like a Memorial Box story, revisting His call has blessed my soul! It has encouraged me as I have remembered that this work is a work He has begun. And, His word says He will complete the work He has begun.
I am looking forward to seeing The Lighthouse completed, filled with the laughter of children, loved by a house mother, when before they were without a mother.
I am looking forward to seeing the work of the LORD, the work He will continue to do in my heart, and especially the work He will continue to do in the heart of Josie-Tatum.
Please join us in prayer for this great work.
Once again, we face the obstacle of funding. We will need aourn $7,000 for the two of us to go. I know, though, that God will provide where He leads. He has proven Himself faithful so many times. If, in your prayer time, you feel God calling you to contribute to our work, you can use the PayPal donation button below.