“A discovery is said to be an accident meeting a prepared mind.” Albert Szent-Gyorgi
September 25th was my daughter’s birthday. To celebrate, we took a break from work and met her at a local restaurant close to her home and our office.
She brought both of her children. Little Ava, a toddler that looks more and more like her mother every day, and little Isaac who is just 3 months old.
To someone passing by our table, it must have looked like a very typical family. Just a couple pairs of grandparents, two adult children and their cute little kids. They would have heard little Ava jabbering a million miles an hour and her brother bouncing on the knee of a proud grandma, a look of wonder in his dark eyes, a smile struggling against chubby, white cheeks.
But, as is often the case, what is perceived is based upon assumptions that may or may not be true.
The assumptions would be that this family came to be in a traditional fashion. A person could have easily walked by our table, took in the scene at a glance, and justifiably made that assumption. But, they would have been very wrong.
And if they knew the truth, it would perhaps have been a surprising discovery. They would have discovered that Nina was adopted from Russia more than 18 years ago. They would have learned that she was the discovery that lead to the formation of this mission to help the orphans of the world.
Sitting at that table was our collective discovery and two precious, new, little lives that resulted from that discovery. Sitting at that table was the nucleus of a discovery that has changed the lives of thousands of children over the last 18 years. But, most of you already know the story of how it all started and this is not about that…it’s about the discovery and what it means to everyone involved in this mission. What it means to all of us at Orphan’s Lifeline… and what it means to you.
I have no doubt, as I think back, that each and every one of us knew that there were orphans in the world. We knew that there were a lot of them. That wasn’t the discovery. When we were in Russia, we saw the deplorable conditions that the orphans lived in. We saw a level of suffering and neglect that was shocking. But, that wasn’t the discovery.
As we learned more about the statistics regarding orphans, we were shocked that there were tens of millions of them around the world. We learned that respective to the scope and scale of the problem, very little was being done about it. But, that wasn’t the discovery.
It wasn’t the statistics either. Not the fact that less than half of them would survive without intervention. Not the fact that only 1 in 100 would become successful in life without help and the rest of them would resort to crime just to survive. Prostitution. Theft. Gangs. Joining terrorist groups. That wasn’t the discovery.
No, the discovery was none of those things. The discovery was one simple thing. That it was personal.
The fact that it all started because the founders were all a part of our adoption of our daughter Nina is what prepared our minds for the discovery. We knew her. We loved her. We recognized that if we hadn’t found her, she would have BECOME one of those statistics. If we hadn’t found her and come to know her, to love her, she would have simply been a number somewhere in a database. A nameless, faceless number.
The discovery is that it was and is personal. The discovery is that it’s not about the millions. It’s about the one. All you have to do to understand what I mean is to think about your own children. Think about your wife. Your husband. Your favorite neighborhood child. Your grandchildren.
If fate and circumstances had been different, any one of them could have been that one child. Any one of them could have been born into a hopeless situation in which they would be doomed to a life of suffering and loneliness’. A life without love. A life without God or Jesus. Any one of them could have been that one child; and that makes it personal. That thought prepares your mind for a discovery.
That discovery is that the suffering of each and every child is personal to each and every one of us. That discovery helps us understand why it is so obviously important to God that we “come to their aid in their time of need.” For God, each and every one of them are HIS children. His creation. He knows how many hairs are on their head. He loves them in a way we can never understand. To Him, they are all that one child. To Him, they could never be a statistic. They could never be a “problem to be solved. “
They are simply a child that needs to be loved. His child and therein, our child.
Right now, somewhere, that one child sits alone on the cold, hard ground under a tree in the dark. They wrap their arms around themselves trying to just stay warm. Their bellies are empty. Their hearts are empty. They dream not of a fun day to come, but of a simple meal and someone else’s arms, not their own, wrapped around them, comforting them.
Right now, somewhere, that one child is joining a gang in the slums of a city. Their desperation to survive has driven them into a den of thieves who will become their parents. They will teach them how to survive by taking from others. They will teach them how to survive by hurting others. They will teach them that society abandoned them, left them with nothing and that it is society that owes them what they have.
Right now, somewhere, that one child is being born. Born to a mother who cannot care for them. Born to a father who has already abandoned them and other children. Born to a father that has died of AIDS and has also infected their mother. That one child is already alone and doomed to a life of suffering as they take their first breath.
Right now, that one child is outside the gates of our children’s homes around the world. They have heard about this place in the neighborhood that cares for orphan children. They have seen the children inside eating, playing, laughing. They have watched them go to school each morning as they themselves sat nearby, hungry and alone. They have listened to the laughter and wondered what it must be like to have that feeling inside.
That one child will soon get the courage to walk up to the gate and wait. They will wait until they see one of the caregivers or the director and ask them if they too can live there. Then the director will ask us if the child can live there. And we will say yes. We will ask you if you can help, and you will say yes, or you will help us find someone who will say yes.
We will all say yes because of what we have all discovered.
We will all say yes because we have discovered that it’s personal. Very personal. We have discovered that it is not about the millions of orphan children. It’s about that one child.
Just one more. And then, just one more.