Among the New Horizons staff, there is a well known poem about an old man who found a boy throwing washed up starfish back into the ocean. He continuously bends down to pick up another starfish one at a time to throw them back to safety in the sea. The old man asks the boy why he is bothering to do this. There are so many starfish along miles and miles of beach! Surely the boy does not think he can possibly make a difference! The boy quietly throws another starfish into the water and replies, “It made a difference for that one.” We at New Horizons For Children try to live like that boy. We work hard and keep our focus on making a difference for each child we can reach… even if it is one at a time. It drives us. There are even a few of us who have necklaces with a starfish to remind us of why we do what we do. Today, I’d like to tell you a story about one of my “starfish.”
One evening this fall I heard some difficult news about a young man who I know from this summer’s host season and who is in the same orphanage as my own host son. Because of things that had happened recently outside his control, this boy has been struggling with depression. I was alerted to this news by another host family, and the details completely broke me. My husband walked through the door after work that evening, and I flew into his arms and cried so hard. Why did this one particular child’s story grab me like no other? I don’t know. I couldn’t understand why I suddenly so urgently cared for and loved a child across the world as if God had flipped a light switch in my heart. It made no sense, but I had a burning need to show this young man that he is cared for and loved and not forgotten. I am in contact with him online, and I’ll call him Jacob to protect his real name.
I’ve been talking to Jacob a lot online since then. Every day I encourage him in his activities and give him positive reinforcement. We joke around and share our favorite songs and talk about small stuff. His English is very limited, so we speak in extremely basic 2 or 3 word English sentences (a challenge for a wordy woman such as myself). I just wanted to show him that there are people who care about him, even if that is displayed in such a small way. In the process, I discovered what an awesome kid he is. One day he was telling me how unhappy he has been. I told him when I was a teenager like him I had a hard time and was very unhappy. I never smiled. Then God turned my sad to happy, and now I smile. He said he has “no forever happy.” So I told him I would ask God to give this to him and that I pray for him every day. I always tell him “I hope you have good day! Today I ask God please help Jacob.” I’ve been praying so hard for him. I beg God to draw a line in the sand around this boy and claim Him for His own. He has been my “starfish.”
Jacob has passed the age limit for adoption, so it may be too late for him to be adopted. My husband and I agreed that this would not stop us from loving on this child and doing what we could for him… God can use any circumstances to influence a child… we are not limited to only adoption.
Last night I got a message from a friend of mine who is from Eastern Europe and is a former orphan who has dedicated his life to helping other orphans. Out of the blue he asked me if I know a boy named Jacob (He knows my host son is in the same location, so he made the connection to me). He said Jacob’s previous host family had contacted him with concern over Jacob being out on his own soon and wondering if there’s anything that can be done for him (like a safe home or transition house or mentor family). He found Jacob online and talked to him for an hour yesterday, and Jacob (who has struggled with God) accepted Jesus into his life!!! He told my friend how he feels so much freedom now! My friend had no idea that I have any sort of relationship with Jacob. It was completely random and out of the blue. I was blown away. God works and moves through His people in such meticulous and awe inspiring ways.
My starfish found Jesus last night 🙂 He may never be adopted, but this chain of events would not have happened if he had not been hosted through this organization and by that wonderful family. The ministry and hard work that NHFC volunteers and host families do MATTERS… for one child at a time 🙂
My Jacob is no longer an orphan. His Heavenly Father has adopted him into the family.
“It is right to celebrate. My son was dead… and is alive again. He was lost… and is FOUND.” –Jesus
THIS is why we do what we do.