Message from Dr. Jerry Haag, President of Florida Baptist Children’s Homes, One More Child and The Porch Light
It was in a Ugandan village with circular mud huts and thatched roofs that I met Florence.
Talking to her beneath a shade tree I learned that her village called Florence and her husband “love doves” because of the deep affection they shared. But her world was turned upside down when her husband died just over a year ago, leaving her to provide for their eight precious children. Her husband’s family promised to care for Florence and the kids, but they were unable to keep the promises because of extreme poverty and the nine of them were quickly abandoned.
When rebel activity ravaged the village, Florence and her children fled to a nearby church until the violence subsided. She said her family’s situation became so destitute that they could not afford salt or tea – staples in their culture.
Florence told me she was afraid God had abandoned her. She and her children cried out to God for help! She couldn’t shake the memory of what one of her youngest girls prayed for: her daughter Faith asked God to “send someone” to them.
It was a big ask because visitors did not frequent the village often. We were the first visitors to arrive in the village after that prayer, we were the first Americans to visit the village since that prayer, and we were there to coordinate a feeding program and child sponsorship program! Providential timing indeed!
Before we left, my eyes searched for Faith. I was disappointed that I could not locate her – but that disappointment only lasted a second as a beaming young girl arrived with a gift in her arms. It was her chicken!
It would have been an insult to refuse this overly generous present, and I was quickly reminded of the gift of the widow’s mite in Luke 21 and the abundance of her gift.
Wow! I was experiencing amazement and guilt at the same time, but I knew Florence’s gift would be returned to her ten times over through our sponsorship!
This story is an astonishing and profound declaration of God’s faithfulness. Sadly, similar tragic family stories are found in our ministries across Florida.
10-year-old Isabella* was brought into our care after experiencing physical and verbal abuse that included being told she was ugly. She slept on the floor most of her life.
We searched for a foster family that could potentially become her “forever family.” At the same time, God led an amazing couple to become licensed foster parents.
A little more than a month after Isabella moved in, the family attended a Lifeway Camp, where Isabella began asking her parents about spiritual issues.
At a moving worship service at camp, Isabella asked Jesus into her heart as her personal Savior, and in July she was baptized!
What a blessing to see Isabella come to know real love.
Grace, mercy and miracles of life abound when we let the Lord direct our paths. Whether you sponsor a child in Africa through One More Child or give to Florida Baptist Children’s Homes, you are practicing religion that “is pure” as the Bible says in James 1:27, “in taking care of the widow and the orphan.”
Won’t you, my friends, make a difference by sponsoring a child or by making a gift to support children in foster care or the adoption process? Together, we can be the answer to the prayers of children!
*Name has been changed for confidentiality reasons.