There is an old story about a man who was walking along a beach when he saw a young boy in the distance. As the man got closer, he saw that the little boy was standing among thousands of starfish. He was picking them up one by one and tossing them back into the ocean. The man asked the boy, "What are you doing?" The boy replied, "If I don't get them back into the water they will die." The man said, “Why are you wasting your time? There are so many of them and only one of you. You'll never save them all. What difference does it make?” The little boy picked up a starfish, and as he tossed it back into the ocean said to the man, “It matters to this one.”
That's how I feel about orphan care. It matters to each child. Each child's life is significant.
My name is Mollie and I'm a kindergarten teacher. I grew up in a very small town in southern Ohio. Most of my friends were just like me: middle-class white kids. When I went to college, God opened my eyes to a world outside of my tiny midwestern hometown. He showed me the beauty of culture and diversity. He showed me a world in need of Hope. This God I had known for so long suddenly began to draw my heart to the underdog...the hurting...the needy. I began reading about international adoption, and before I even graduated from college I had set up a savings account and began praying and saving for the child(ren) I believe I will adopt someday. I had heard statistics and I had seen pictures, but I wanted to know them and hold them and LOVE them, so when I decided to spend two years living and teaching in China I knew orphan care would somehow be a part of my journey.
I moved to a large city in China during the summer of 2012. Shortly thereafter I began volunteering at a nearby orphanage. I can't even describe what happened in my heart when I walked in and saw the rows of cribs and the severity of these kids' needs. The things I heard, saw, and smelled that day are forever engrained in my memory. The ayis asked me to feed some of the babies, and as I held them I couldn't fathom how something so small and perfect could be in this place. God began a work in me that day that has forever changed me. Those faces are the ones that keep me up at night. They are the faces that continue to challenge me to dig deep and decide what I'm going to do about this overwhelming need.
During my first year in China I read a book by David Platt called "Radical" that challenged me in many ways, but this was the thought that stood out to me the most: "We learned that orphans are easier to ignore before you know their names. They are easier to ignore before you see their faces. It is easier to pretend they're not real before you hold them in your arms. But once you do, everything changes." How true that was for me during those first visits to the orphanage. Everything changed.
Upon beginning my volunteer work, I immediately fell in love with a little girl, Leah, who has severe CHD. She captured my heart with her suspicious glances and her blue lips and fingers. It took Leah some time to warm up to me, but soon we were pals and I couldn't wait for the next week to come so I could spend my Saturday morning holding her. She wouldn't let me put her down, but I didn't mind. I spent those hours praying for her and begging God to do something. These were the words from Scripture I prayed over Leah during those moments: The LORD will fight for you, Leah; you need only to be still. (Exodus 14:14
) I asked the orphanage about her adoption status, and I was told she had been deemed “unadoptable.” She was too sick. No one would want her. I wanted her, but I'm not old enough to adopt. I knew if she could capture my heart so completely, someone else would surely fall in love with her.
During this time, a quote from Andy Stanley that I read years ago came to mind and it's been on constant repeat in my brain ever since. “Do for one what you wish you could do for every one.” Leah was my one. She was my starfish.
Although I moved back to the U.S. a month ago, I'm continuing to pray and fight for Leah. There are some exciting things ahead of her...I'm confident of that. Other people have fallen in love with her just like I knew they would. The same God who created Leah has a plan for her future. He is good, and His plans are good. His heart is kind. While she waits for a family to journey to China and make her their own, I'll continue to toss her back into the ocean as many times as it takes.
If you are interested in impacting the lives of Tianjin's children at the Children's Welfare Institute, or using your specific skills to help, please go to International Committee for Chinese Orphans to find out more about volunteering.
If you would like to donate to help their cause, go here.
Thank you Mollie for sharing your heart!
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