1 Kings 19:11-13
Then God said to Elijah, “Go out, and stand on the mountain before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a GREAT and STRONG wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord… but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake! But the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire! But the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire… a still small voice.
Exactly 2 years ago, my husband and I heard that still small voice. It was the voice of God telling us to act. We had a desire to help at-risk children, but it always seemed like a far off thing… always some vague fuzzy idea of something we may do in the future. And then I stumbled unexpectedly on New Horizons For Children. 2 years later I look back and realize our lives will never be the same again, and neither will the lives of the 4 orphans we have loved fiercely. Here is my story… maybe it could be your story too…
In the fall of 2010, one of our pastors challenged us to pray for any cause we felt burdened for and also to step out in faith if God wanted to use us to answer that prayer. He challenged us to pray for 6 months and see what God would do. My husband and I always felt like we were created to work with children, but we didn’t know what to do about that other than serving as volunteers in our childrens’ church program. We began praying for orphans and foster kids and for God to show us if He wanted us to be involved in caring for them in some way.
But… you know life… it tends to distract. It’s busy and chaotic. There’s always a holiday, party, event, birthday, or work deadline coming up to plan for. There’s an endless crush of my kids’ homework (Seriously?! When did school get so intense?!). The house doesn’t keep itself clean no matter how many times I yell at it and tell it I just cleaned it 2 hours ago, and it’s already messy again! 🙂 So while I kept praying, I never really did anything about it. I forgot about the pastor’s challenge. It’s easy to dismiss things from your mind when there are more important things to think about… like… what’s for dinner, Mom?!!
The next January I found out about a program called New Horizons For Children. It’s a host program that brings orphans from Eastern Europe over to the US twice a year for a 5-6 week period to stay with a family here. The purpose is to share the love of God with them and also the love of a family. It’s very much like a mission trip, except the mission comes to you. Many people host once or twice a year, but quite a few people end up adopting. I very accidentally found out about it by noticing a friend post the New Horizons website to a mutual friend’s Facebook wall. It showed up in my news feed, and I began researching it out of curiosity. I really wanted to join the program, but I didn’t feel like we were capable of it at the time. So much fear of the unknown held me back…
…Until I heard a still small voice…
For a whole week I couldn’t get New Horizons out of my head. I kept going back to the website. I felt very strongly that God wanted us involved with this. A voice deep in my soul quietly whispered, “Yes. This. Go.” Unfortunately I frequently dismiss the voice of God as my own imagination and think I must be dreaming it up based on my own emotions. With my hands pressed to my forehead in indecision, I struggled with thoughts of, “But what if it really IS God this time??” I decided a good test would be to present it to my husband and gauge his reaction.
I gathered as much information as I possibly could and lined up links, video’s, information, etc… (I don’t know about other men, but my husband tends to respond better when I give him all the ducks in a row instead of just floating an idea out to him… I’ve learned this after almost 13 years of marriage! LOL). I sat him down and gave him every piece of information I could find. When I was finished talking, I was afraid to look up for fear of what I might find in his facial expression. Much to my surprise, he immediately said, “Yes! Let’s do it! This is right, and I want to do it.” Holy cow!! Who are you and what have you done with my husband??!! (My husband usually takes a long time to make a decision, and looks at it from every angle, because he wants to be sure it’s right). I was shocked! I went to bed that night feeling like maybe God was chuckling just a tiny bit… I think He likes to surprise us sometimes. I fell asleep with a complete peace and a firm confidence that God was all over this.
Over the next few days, it was apparent that there were many hurdles to jump in a very short period of time in order to be part of the summer 2011 program. Many people had been preparing since February. We were late comers in April, and time was not on our side. I didn’t even have the money for the deposit fee and no idea where it would even come from. Our pre-application was approved, but I didn’t even know if our full application would be approved. I suddenly began to seriously doubt that we were supposed to do this.
One morning I second guessed myself so badly that I was paralyzed with fear. It was too difficult. There were too many barriers. I could fail. I sat at my desk crying my eyeballs out feeling like it was over before it ever got started. One of my big struggles in life is my control freaky nature. I place the weight of the world on my shoulders and feel that everything is my responsibility to make happen (it leads to all manner of stress and heartache, by the way). Anyway, that’s when my father stepped in and told me EVERYTHING involving this matter was completely out of my control. All I had to do was set the wheels in motion, take a step forward in faith, and let God either move mountains or shut the operation down. God would have to bring in the money. God would have to work out the logistics. God was in control of our application approval. My dad quoted Charlton Heston in the Ten Commandments as the Israelites stood trapped at the Red Sea… “The Lord of Hosts will do battle for [you]. Behold His mighty hand!” My dad also said he felt confident God was in this and that when the money for the host fee came to us within 2 weeks, he was going to toss my doubting self into the “Red Sea” (his pool). He got the last laugh, because God POURED the entire host fee on us in an avalanche of donations that came in so fast, my head was spinning. In exactly 2 weeks, the whole thing was paid for, and our full application was approved.
So we set out on the journey to become a host family… a little bit like Abraham in the Bible… knowing that God had called us to leave our land of comfort, but not knowing where we were going, what was down the road for us, or how we were going to get there. We only knew that when God whispered “Yes. This. Go,” He was already clearing the path ahead of us and just wanted us to put one foot in front of the other.
Today I realized it has been exactly 2 years since I heard that still small voice, and you would not believe the breathtaking, staggering, amazing journey God has brought us on. Even if I told you, you would not believe the stories I have to tell! Lives are being radically changed (mine included), and God is weaving incredible stories of grace, redemption, love, restored beauty, rising hope, and miracle after miracle in the lives of orphans AND host families. It has been a very great adventure, and even though I have walked through times and seasons of great emotional pain, I look back at the past 2 years and can say confidently, I wouldn’t trade a moment of this adventure with God for all the money and comfort this world has to offer.
If you are where I was 2 years ago… looking at orphan hosting and feeling a still small voice lovingly whispering to your heart, “Yes. This. Go,” don’t be afraid. Take a baby step of faith, and join in this great adventure of amazing love. God writes magnificently beautiful stories with willing hearts. I have never been more incredibly fulfilled and passionate and ALIVE as I have been these past 2 years, and my journey is still just beginning! I pray the same for you, dear Friend.
You will never regret responding to the voice in your heart calling you to step out onto this road less traveled…