Serving in Guatemala we have found that a mother's touch sometimes makes all the difference when working with orphaned and vulnerable children.
Over many years in ministry, I’ve had to fill a variety of different roles and stretch far beyond what I thought my natural skills and abilities were. While I like to think I can do anything I put my mind to, the truth is there are things I can do, and things I can’t; there are roles I can fill, and roles I can’t; there are gifts God has given me, and gifts He has not. Obviously, being a mother is not one of them.
Sharie however, is, and it has be wonderful to see God use her gifts of compassion, empathy, and love to make the precious children we work with feel encouraged, loved, and cared for.
The prophet Isaiah wrote in chapter 66 “Thus says the Lord…As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you.” From this we can see that there is a special and unique role that God has called mothers to which I don’t think can be filled by fathers or singles.
Recently, one of the major initiatives at an orphanage where we have served for eight years has been to improve the preparation of the children to live an independent life. The independence committee, on which we serve, developed an extensive plan, which essentially substitutes the training their parents would have provided. Training such as responsibility, attitude, work ethic, accountability, compassion, respect, etc, etc. It covers a great many things and is a daunting task, made more so by the fact that the children we work with often come from very broken backgrounds and dark places.
Compounding the situation is the fact that while our transition program is open to them through age 21, they can choose to leave at 18, and ready or not, some have. This makes the challenge of getting them ready for life on their own, all the more urgent.
Throw into the mix that while everything we are requiring of them is important for their well being, change is never easy, asking them to take on more responsibility, in some ways “grow up” faster than they would if they had a functioning family, is difficult.
We have seen this evidenced in the reactions of some of the older residents as we explained the transition plan to them. Along with guarded excitement, there was fear and worry of how things would play out, their schedule and life was changing and they didn’t know how to handle it. Nothing we were requiring was unreasonable, just different. Things like requiring them in the final phase of the program to be responsible for their own shopping, cook their own food, pay their school fees, have a job, and, well, manage their own life, has been life changing. (Students do receive a stipend from the orphanage)
That is where I saw Sharie’s mothering touch come in. It’s one thing to have a meeting with someone and tell them what is going to happen. It’s quite another to take the time to walk them through it. I saw her spend countless hours, not just talking to them, but listening, not just telling them what they needed to do, but showing them how to do it. Things like taking them shopping to the grocery store and teaching them how to shop at the market; working out a menu plan they could cook that was nutritious, economical and tasty; calling to check on them and meeting with them regularly to see how they are doing has had a profound impact in ways that can’t be measured in metrics or statistics.
When she came home after her first private meeting with the girls following their induction into the program, she told me that at the end of their time together, they just hugged her, thanked her for making them feel loved and cared for, and didn’t want to let her go.
Everyone who works or serves at the orphanage loves and cares for these girls, but sometimes what makes the difference in someone’s life is how you show them that you care, and Sharie had done a wonderful job of this.
The Touch of the Masters Hand
Twas battered and scarred, and the auctioneer
thought it scarcely worth his while to waste much time on the old violin,
but held it up with a smile; "What am I bidden, good folks," he cried,
"Who'll start the bidding for me?" "A dollar, a dollar"; then two!" "Only
two? Two dollars, and who'll make it three? Three dollars, once; three
dollars twice; going for three.." But no, from the room, far back, a
gray-haired man came forward and picked up the bow; Then, wiping the dust
from the old violin, and tightening the loose strings, he played a melody
pure and sweet as caroling angel sings.
The music ceased, and the auctioneer, with a voice that was quiet and low,
said; "What am I bid for the old violin?" And he held it up with the bow.
A thousand dollars, and who'll make it two? Two thousand! And who'll make
it three? Three thousand, once, three thousand, twice, and going and
gone," said he. The people cheered, but some of them cried, "We do not
quite understand what changed its worth." Swift came the reply: "The touch
of a master's hand."
And many a man with life out of tune, and battered and scarred with sin,
Is auctioned cheap to the thoughtless crowd, much like the old violin, A
"mess of pottage," a glass of wine; a game - and he travels on. "He is
going" once, and "going twice, He's going and almost gone." But the Master
comes, and the foolish crowd never can quite understand the worth of a soul
and the change that's wrought by the touch of the Master's hand.