August 2019 Voice Outside.jpg

The photographer has been planning this shot for days since he first found the amazing scene. He positions himself in the same spot, just about an hour earlier than when he first found this water fall.

He sets the camera up on his tripod and spends several moments presetting exposure and adding filters in the cameras program.

In his minds eye he can picture the scene he had witnessed just days earlier from the same spot on the bank. The sun had been just above the falls on that day, bright but slightly subdued behind some wispy clouds. White water cascaded down in a 50-foot freefall to the pool below and erupted in a foamy froth at the bottom of the falls. There, it expanded into a vast mist of water droplets through which a rainbow prism of color shown across the width of the fall behind it. From there, the water transitioned from white foam to crystal clear over brightly colored stones, worn perfectly smooth by centuries of constant friction. 

Fish had danced and curled around large stones and ducked under logs in the pool right in front of him, the sunlight flashing off their smooth skin. It had been one of the most beautiful scenes he had ever witnessed. He had stood in awe for a long moment on that day before realizing that he had a camera in his hands! He had quickly set up his tripod and snapped dozens of pictures before the light changed, sure that he had a masterpiece recorded on the camera’s disk. But alas, just hours later as he went through the photos he had transferred to his laptop, he was sorely disappointed. Yes, there were beautiful shots, but not a single one had captured the beauty as seen through his eyes. Not a single one had captured the prism of multicolored lights. None had captured the light dancing in the water or the flash on the skin of the trout. 

Now he has added filters. He is also lengthening the exposure time in hopes of capturing the light and the froth at the bottom of the fall, the mist hanging in the air and the spectrum of colors within. To a degree it will be manufactured and he knows it will never match what he saw with his own eyes that day. After all, it won’t be the real thing…it will only be an image of the real thing.

It is much the same with you and I. We were made in God’s image, yet we are far from being equal to His majesty and His glory. He created us in His image, but our sinful nature polluted all that we were meant to be…all that we could be. And yet, above all of His creations that were “good”, when He made us, God said that it was “very good.”

It’s a huge gap. The imperfect image of man juxtaposed against the perfect image of God, His son Jesus and all that they embody. Like the photographer’s picture of the falls compared to the falls itself, the image of man just doesn’t do justice in comparison to his Creator. 

But we do have our moments. We do have filters that we can add. We do have adjustments that we can make that bring us a little closer to being an image that is a reflection that has characteristics of the perfect image we were born to emulate.

CCIM Children’s Home in India and Safe Home in Liberia (see inside), are two great examples of what I am referring to. 

Both of these homes have a pretty amazing history. 

The truth is that the fact that they still exist is truly amazing and if it weren’t for God, they wouldn’t.

As many of you know, CCIM was the first home we started working with in India more than a decade ago. When we learned about this home, it was only days from being closed forever. The orphan children who lived there were just days from being put back out onto the street and the hundreds of children who have called it home in the years since, would have never had the chance to do so.

Children who have grown to become the likes of engineers and nurses would be laborers in fields if they had even survived. This would have been the fate for hundreds of children who would have never had a chance at life; who would have never had a chance to know God or Jesus.

And then again, just a couple of years ago, it almost happened again when the landlord chose not to renew the lease on the building the Children’s Home was in and the director could not find a building owner that would rent to Christians in the area.

But it didn’t close. Far from it. And soon, it will have grown from a handful of children being cared for in a little shack to nearly 90 children being loved and cared for in a brand-new, two-story facility. It is a home that has done so well caring for orphan children that it consistently receives awards. A Christian Children’s Home receiving awards from a decidedly Hindu Government. Hundreds of orphans have followed the steps of salvation and are following Jesus.

All of this because a relatively small congregation in Sioux Falls, South Dakota and a handful of other Christians chose to add a few filters so they could be a little more like God. A little more like Jesus.

They added the filter of compassion. They added the filter of obedience to God’s Word. They added the filter of love. They added the filter of sacrifice. They added the filter of Glorifying God.

Although they are separated by oceans and thousands of miles, the story of Safe Home in Liberia is much the same as that of CCIM.

Unfortunate events had led to a time in which Safe Home was at high risk of closing its doors. Like CCIM the children living there were at risk of having no home and those who would call it home in the future would have never had that chance. Never had that hope. 

Orphan’s Lifeline was asked to take over management and funding for this home and we did. But we did so in a leap of faith, not knowing if the resources would be there to properly care for the children in the future. 

Our faith that God would provide was proven more than justified. 

Not only did the founders, members of the Church of Christ, continue to give, but many more also chose to be people of action like Jesus was. They chose to add the same filters of love and compassion, of sacrifice and obedience. They chose to become more like our Father in Heaven.

Now Safe Home is booming! They have running water. They have a medical clinic that serves the children and many more from the nearby town and beyond. 

All of the dorms have been remodeled to be cleaner and safer. A new dorm has been added to better accommodate separation of the girls from the boys. A new dorm is being added to accommodate a handicapped child. A fence added to protect the children. The school has been rebuilt and expanded. More caregivers, medical workers and teachers have been hired. Crops are growing. A piggery provides protein and an additional source of revenue. Ponds are teeming with fish. Dozens of children are learning God’s Word and following the steps to salvation.

All of us are made in His image. And like a reflection in a pond, distorted by ripples, we are far from His perfection. That is the simple truth. But when we add the filter of obedience and take action to do things like “loving our God and loving our neighbors as ourselves” and “caring for orphan’s and widows in their time of need…”, we become just a little more like His son Jesus, our perfect example and the only filter that ultimately smooths all of the ripples.