So, it was another one of those days. One that brings you to tears for two reasons: the awesome way Christians gather for the sake of working more effectively for a bigger purpose, and because of unfortunate normative realities of children coming into care.
Being an employee of an organization that not only believes in the power of prayer, but practices it regularly is such a blessing to me. While some may think working in full-time ministry means we sit at our desks and read bibles, make S’mores, and read awesome books while sitting on beanbag chairs in a posh quiet room, I am here to tell you…..No… we don’t do that…seriously. What we ACTUALLY do is a regular job like everyone else. Outside of 4Kids being part of the Church at large, it’s also a child welfare agency. We clock-in, have lunch, read and respond to emails, have difficulties dealing with bureaucratic nonsense, and have deadlines for budgets and strategic plans. The one pearl that most places don’t have is that God’s presence is welcomed and invited. Praying for a co-worker because they are part of a difficult case is a normal occurrence. Weekly devotionals are a must (and quite awesome I might add – if you care to join us, inbox me). We party hard with the Holy Spirit (I suppose we need to do a flash mob of the Holy Spirit Shake as opposed to the Harlem Shake meme now)! WE PRAY. So simple, but powerful.
Thank you God for the opportunity to come boldly to your throne room and submit all that’s on my heart to you along with my co-laborers!
Today I cried for joy for that opportunity…
The other side of this experience is that every day we encounter children who are hurting. The general public may think that when a child is removed from their home that they have just recently experienced a catastrophic event that caused for all kinds of worlds to collide in order for someone to come to action for their rescue. The truth is that these children may have been experiencing abuse for years before someone noticed. These children suffer silently most times. They are the ones in your child’s preschool class. They are in the local grocery store where you shop. They pass by you on the sidewalk. They may have already experienced multiple placements – either with relatives, friends of family, or even strangers in their neighborhood that happen to know their parents. They may have continually watched their caregiver do things in front of them that a child should never see. They carry the burden of a cycle of poverty that is very hard to break, especially when some of the influences around them advocate manipulating the system by burdening it with additional responsibility to support. Sometimes this cycle has just gone so far generationally that those trapped in it do not realize they are sitting in a jail cell with an a door sitting wide open with no locks or chains – they are too afraid to leave and don’t even know that freedom is a few steps away. The children we see are the ones where someone finally became aware of their situation. Like Mark 4:22 (NIV) says “For whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open.” It’s sad, but praise the Lord that this is true!
Today I was witness to something that unfortunately happens very often, a sibling separation. This means that two or more children who have grown up together will go into separate homes due to space, willingness of the caregiver, or relative restrictions (different biological parents, etc). A sibling pair who are three and six were separated today. The difference is I have no idea if they will get to see each other again because one was taken to live with their non-offending parent in another Florida county. The other sibling stayed until later this evening when he went to a foster home. The reality is that when a child is removed, relatives are sought out first and foremost. The sad part is that many siblings do not share the same parents and are actually half siblings. One child went to be with family and the other went to a foster home hundreds of miles apart. I doubt that there will be sibling visitation because of the distance, which is something that usually is supposed to happen in “normal” circumstances of sibling separation. Before the one left the office we all held hands and prayed together. Then before that child left, she uttered “Will someone tell my mommy that I am with my daddy? She’s in jail.”
Today I cried because of the pain in my heart …
Thankfully I had the loving arms of one of our regular volunteers to fall into as I pulled myself together in order to finish out the day. The injustice of it all is overwhelming, but I must remember that as long as I am doing my job with excellence God is glorified. His will cannot and will not be stopped. Job 42:2 (NIV)states “I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted.” Nothing is bigger than MY God!
Two tear-jerking experiences occurred all in one day. The first was a sweet moment that was quick and private, while the other was an outpouring of helplessness. I walk away from this with hope in my heart because I believe that God’s plan for these children is better than my own. He loves them more than I ever could. I am just privileged to see him work. I know that I will probably not know the outcome of these two children’s story, but I know that a seed has been planted…prayer. They have experienced prayer during their time at Safe Place. They said grace at dinner and said prayers at night. They prayed before they parted.
Wow… I got to be a part of that. I wonder what kind of adventure is awaiting me for tomorrow…
“Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.’ “ Matthew 19:14 (NIV)