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Something to Think About: Ministering to the Least of These

Op/Ed By Michael Vaughn

 

 

michael_vaughn2Last month, I had the privilege of making my second trip to the continent of Africa. I visited the country of Malawi, to minister to children in an orphanage that was started by Hesed International Missions founder Steve Butcher.

I say it is a privilege, because the life-changing experiences one may have while taking a trip like this are priceless.

You get to meet children who still have a sincere love for the Lord, even after living in conditions that we here in America couldn’t even imagine. And, while we may think they are poverty-stricken, they would likely not understand our assessment.

These children feel enriched by the fact that they have a family who loves them, food in their mouths, clothes on their backs, and a roof over their heads. These very simple basics are all they have needed to make them appreciate what God has provided them.

Subsequently, what we have offered, as ministers, is a hug, and some love, which may further enhance their lives.

The work that Steve Butcher, and the folks of Hesed, have done is having a generational impact. And, the lives that have been changed will extend far beyond these children.

Their children, and their children’s children will be impacted because of the work that has been happening.

When I was there in 2013, there was an estimated 20 children at the orphanage. When I traveled there last month, there were more than 50 children.

They have more than doubled their size! The need is great, and God has been faithful in supplying the resources that have been needed in order to see this work continue, and grow.

It has indeed been a walk of faith, and, it has taken sacrifice by those involved. However, the return has been immeasurable.

How do you put a price tag on looking into the bright smile of a child, who once had no hope because they were left at a bus station by parents who decided they no longer wanted to take care of them?

You look at that child, and realize that, because God cares about the least of these, so should we. We traveled over 16,000 miles (round trip) to see that smile, and it was well worth every mile!

However, during this trip, we had to tackle some difficult topics, since some of the children will soon begin to age out of the orphanage, and we wanted to know how we might be of help to them as they do. The thoughts and emotions surrounding these discussions were difficult to have, but they were needed.

For every bed that is occupied by a child older than the expected age of the children the orphanage has been designed to take care of, there is a bed a younger child needing a place to live may not have. But, these older children are now family, and, just like a natural son or daughter, you cannot just give them a couple of dollars, and send them on their way, hoping everything will somehow work out. The bonds have become too tight, and the investment has become too great.

However, I am confident. And, I told Steve that, if the Lord had provided the vision to begin the orphanage, He would give us the wisdom for the next steps. That is what we are expecting to happen, as we have continued to see the hand of God at work in the lives of these young Africans.

Working with Hesed, and this orphanage, has provided an opportunity to take the focus off of ourselves, and to focus on someone else.

While not everyone has been called to travel to Africa, everyone can give some funds to this orphanage to continue to change the lives of these children.

If you are so inclined to travel over 16,000 miles to see the smile on a young person’s face just because you are there, we would love to have you join us during our next mission trip. Feel free to contact me at the email address below, or to contact Steve Butcher at http://www.hesedmissions.org.

If you would like to contact me, please email me at mvaughn.seniorpastor@newwineskin.org.