I’ve come to believe that caring for orphans teaches us about parts of God’s heart and character we can learn no other way. This story serves as a prime example.
From the time my children were three and five, they accompanied me and my husband whenever we both traveled overseas. I refused to abandon my children and make them feel like orphans because we were caring for others.
It was on one of his earliest trips that my son Noah developed a friendship with a boy named Zhenya.
Zhenya was a few years older than Noah, but his stature wasn’t much greater. His hair was redder than strawberry blond, but not quite as bold as you’d imagine if I just said it was “red.” His blue eyes were bright, and his countenance denied the sorrow of his situation.
Trip after trip, the boys would greet one another with a hug. Without shared language, they played for days and seemed to communicate more fluidly than many of us with a language in common.
Once, as we were leaving the orphanage for the day, I noticed something in Noah’s pocket. When I asked him about it, he pulled out a green, plastic Army man. “Zhenya gave it to me,” he said with a smile.
I didn’t even know what to say.
I took Noah by the hand and walked with him into the room where Zhenya and six other boys slept. I asked Zhenya if he was certain he wanted to give Noah the Army man.
“Yes!” Zhenya answered, “He’s my friend.”
I could hardly handle his sweetness.
But I knew that Zhenya could not have even imagined the mountain of toys that awaited Noah at home. He had tubs of Legos and Playmobile. He had every Buzz Lightyear a boy could want. He had a Spiderman costume and even carpet skates. He didn’t need a green Army man.
So I asked Zhenya to show me his things.
He walked to a bedside nightstand and opened the drawer—the one drawer which contained all of his belongings. Inside, he had one book, one picture of some other foreign visitors, a tiny bouncy ball and a torn filmy parachute I decided must have at one time been attached to the prized Army man.
I explained to Noah that those were the only things Zhenya owned.
The boys decided that Noah should keep the Army man. It was a gesture of friendship that bordered on brotherhood. Once offered, it could not be retracted. It had been given selflessly, and—to my surprise—had been received respectfully.
Though not yet school-aged, Noah grasped the magnitude of that seemingly simple gift. Though he had numerous gadgets and gizmos, he treasured the green Soviet Army man.
As of this writing, my son is 20. Buzz Lightyear made his way to Goodwill. Noah outgrew the Spiderman costume (and, thankfully, the desire to wear it) long ago. The Legos are in storage, awaiting the arrival of my grandkids, and the Playmobile has been shared with relatives. But the last I knew, that green Army man still resided in Noah’s closet, a reminder of what real generosity looks like.
As you pray for The Boaz Project this month, please remember:
To request God’s mercy and healing for Pastor Christopher’s mother (of Comeback Ministries). This dear woman who lives in the children’s home and serves faithfully is having heart trouble and needs God’s intervention.
To lift up Sergei Zaozersky of our Russian Christian Foster Home. Sergei is coordinating a festival for children from many orphanages in his region. Please pray the it will be an encouragement to the children who attend, as well as their caregivers.
To ask God to provide the short-term mission trip participants we need to minister to orphans in the coming months, especially for a trip to India Sept. 21-30 and Russia Dec. 8-16.