Orphans - Nighttime

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

As each one of us drifts off to sleep at night, we are left alone with our thoughts. For me, most nights these are pleasant – fun events of the day, family activities, upcoming plans. Or I might be thinking this bed is too hard; this pillow is too flat; I’m cold; I’m thirsty.

As the darkness settles in each night on the millions of orphans around the world, I wonder what they think about. Of course, many of them are not even in orphanages; they’re street children. Their thoughts may run along the lines of: “I survived today; I hope I can survive tomorrow. I wonder where I’m going to sleep tomorrow night. I wonder if I’ll find anything to eat.”

Whether on the streets or in orphanages, their only thought may be how cold or sick they are. Have you ever gone camping and been cold and stayed awake all night wishing the morning would arrive ? I think of the Scripture: “weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning”. But for orphans, joy doesn’t come in the morning, because they’re still suffering – cold, hot, sick, hungry.

I bet as they drift off to sleep, sometimes their minds are filled with fear. The little ones fear what our little ones fear – spiders, snakes, wild animals – but the orphans’ fears are based on reality, not imagination. The younger kids may fear the older kids. The older kids probably don’t have fears or do they ? As they get close to aging out of the orphanages, they must fear the future. Their fear is life. How am I going to survive ?

In some cases, as these orphaned children close their eyes at night, their thoughts may roam to a deep sense of longing – longing to be cared for, longing to be held by someone. Longing to see the face of their mommy or daddy, even if they’ve been abandoned. Longing to see a sibling, if they can remember any. Longing to be part of a family – a permanent, secure, caring family. My guess is that many do not even think about this, because it is beyond what they can hope or dream.

At Gladney, in the foster care centers we operate and the orphanages we support, we do what we can to provide a safe, nurturing environment, to offer medical care and to give nourishing meals. We maintain a low child-to-caregiver ratio, so that kids can be held. We focus on programs for kids who are about to age out of orphanages, so they don’t have to dread the next stage of life.

We aim to replace fear with hope.

We aim to provide these children a future.

Jeremiah 29:11 resonates loudly: “ ‘For I know the plans that I have for you’, declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.’ ”

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