Africa on my heart

Another guest post:  Rebekah Vanderford heard God calling her to GO love on the orphans and she did just that.  She left mid-January for a month and lived in one of the orphanages we partner with.  Her life will be forever changed.  

 

Volunteering with Feeding the Orphans was such a wonderful experience. God placed the orphans in Africa on my heart many years ago, and in January, He allowed me to go! I spent a month in Ghana, and it was one of the most incredible experiences of my life.

Before we left, I asked Kristie what the main purpose of the trip was, and she said “basically, you’re going to be mommy to 35 kids.” I thought, “I’m just 18, I can’t be a mommy to 35 kids!” But sure enough, that’s what I did. Most days were spent laughing, singing, cleaning cuts and putting on bandages, playing, braiding hair, bathing the kids with buckets, and kissing them goodnight. God gave me a greater love for these kids than I could ever muster up on my own, and I miss them dearly.

It was hard to leave everything I’ve ever known, but God assured me it was going to be worth it. And it was. People told me I was a blessing, but they blessed me far more than I blessed them. God used them to work in my heart, and to show me just a glimpse of how wonderful He truly is.

My favorite day of the week was Sunday. We started the day off with church, gathering into a small room, singing praises to our Marvelous King. It brought me such joy to see the kids singing and dancing for their Maker. These kids don’t have very much, but they definitely have joy. After church, we went to the beach. Taking 35 kids to the beach can be pretty crazy, but we all enjoyed it. After we got home from an afternoon of rolling in the sand and splashing in the waves, it was time to bathe those incredibly sandy children. In America, with running water and a bathtub, that doesn’t sound too intimidating. We had two buckets. One to stand in, and one that held water. It’s safe to say I count many, many more blessings than I did before this trip.

Our shower was a bucket, our washing machine was our hands, and the dryer was a clothes line. Water from the faucet, when it ran one or two days a week, was not safe to drink. But it did leak from the ceiling, and flooded our room. Although the comforts and familiarity of American life were gone, God’s blessings continued to fall on us every day. He was there in that orphanage, and He loves those children more than you could ever imagine. And He is good!

147 million orphans is an extremely overwhelming number, and it breaks my heart to know that 147 million children go to bed each night alone, unloved, hungry, and forgotten. One thing God taught me through this experience was that I can’t rescue people. I wanted so badly to rescue the abandoned, the hopeless, the unloved, the fatherless, but God has been showing me that He is the rescuer. There’s no way we can rescue 147 million orphans on our own, but with God all things are possible.

Africa holds a very special place in my heart, and I’m praying God allows me to go back soon. In Mark 16:15, Jesus said “Go into all the world and preach the gospel.” I encourage you to fulfill this command He has given us. 

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