July 2, 2018

What an Orphan Taught Me: Love Edition

What an Orphan Taught Me: Love Edition

Prior to my trip to Russia, my biggest fear was that I would love too deeply—that I would become too attached to the children and it would be that much more painful to have to leave. I prayed and prayed that God would open my heart and that I would not feel the need to guard it so strongly.

Throughout the trip, my biggest desire was to love unreservedly, and God showed me through four-year-old Milana just how valuable this is.

It was our team’s last day serving the children we had spent time with for the majority of the week, so, needless to say, emotions were high. That morning I prayed that God would pour peace over the day, and WOW, was He faithful. My ministry partner and I had the sweetest time with the children in the Russian Christian Foster Home, learning about how Jesus promises to always be with us.

That afternoon, we decided to go for a “walk,” which basically means we were going to play outside. Once the kiddos got all bundled up, we made our way to the backyard, which was covered in a smooth blanket of snow.

The kids excitedly ran out into the yard, dashing across the top of the snow with ease. For us adults, this task was not so simple. Our weight caused us to sink knee-deep into the fluff, which made it very difficult to get anywhere.

One of the little girls, Milana, noticed my struggle and immediately came to my rescue. Taking me by the hand, she led me over to the side of the house, where there was snowless concrete for me to stand on. I enthusiastically said, “Spacibo, Milana!” (which means “thank you”) She smiled, then turned and ran back out into the snow.

I proceeded to go back out into the yard to play with the kids, and Milana, seeing that I was once again “stuck” in the snow, led me back over to the concrete where I would be safe. This happened two or three more times before she finally said firmly in Russian, “Stay here so that you don’t fall!” She could not fathom why I would want to keep coming out into the snow when I knew I would continue to sink deeper and deeper.

Later that night, as I was reflecting on this experience, I asked myself, “Why did I keep going out into the snow?”

The answer seemed obvious: because I wanted to be with the kids and show them love. I did not care how deep I sank or how much of a struggle it was for me if I could just be where they were.

This opened my eyes to the truth that in order to minister effectively, I must be willing to love deeply and to give myself fully.

In His ministry on Earth, Jesus invested in every person He met, even though He knew He would have to leave them. His ministry was impactful because He held nothing back. He trusted that God would provide Him the strength to love to His full capacity.

Through my experience with an orphan in Russia, I learned that if I want to effectively minister to orphans, I must be willing to hold nothing back when it comes to showing them Christ’s love.

As we continue to serve in some of the darkest of places, I believe that God will be faithful to comfort our hearts in the aftermath.

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35)

This month, as you pray for The Boaz Project, please remember to:

Ask God to help us love orphans and their caregivers the way He was: thoroughly, intentionally, and sacrificially.

Lift our caregivers as they make sacrifices for the children they serve. Let’s ask God for their physical protection, as well as protection over their marriages and spiritual health.

Intercede on behalf of our Kenya team, leading a VBS for the boys of El Shaddai Children’s Center. We’ll be traveling from July 19-28 and would love knowing you’re praying for our safety, unity, effective ministry time and sensitivity to the Holy Spirit.

upcoming mission trips to serve orphans graphic

While majoring in Caring for Orphans and Vulnerable Children at Taylor University, Courtney joined The Boaz Project on a short-term trip to Russia. This summer, she’s serving with us as an intern and heading to Kenya with our VBS team this month.


  1. Lanell says:

    Thank you, Courtney, for sharing your story. We can all learn from your experience!

  2. Kelly Linedecker says:

    Thanks for sharing!

  3. Dawn Baggett says:

    Love this! And it reminds us that being an orphan does not mean one has nothing of value to share/give/teach. It also reminds me of the lesson of forgiveness years ago I saw demonstrated by one of my adopted daughters, in freely sharing her food with her brother (also recently adopted at the time) just after an altercation with him. When I asked why she would give him her food, she simply replied matter of factly that he was still hungry and had eaten all of his. No resentment or left-over anger apparent.

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Because God knew that abandoned children would need help to survive, He tells us to actively meet the needs of orphans in James 1:27.

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