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Holding On to My Hand (#GrowDeep)
by Rey Diaz
Posted on Tuesday, September 19, 2017
On a recent mission trip, we took the children of San Jose Orphanage to the Caves of Taulabe.

We did the ‘normal’ 300 meter tour inside the cave. The environment was eerie.  The floor was wet and slippery.  The humidity was palpable.  Breathing was a chore.  By itself, the cave would have been a challenge for me.  But when you add 25 orphans and vulnerable children ages 6 to 16, the difficult level goes up a few notches.  We (mission trip members) were all assigned two children to walk with inside the cave.  I was assigned Maria José and Christian.  As we walked in, they were to my left and my right, alongside.  But after a few meters in and down into the cave, both of them quickly drew closer to me.  And after a few steps, they each reached out to hold my hand.  Almost immediately, a couple of bats flew down and some folks yelled (I may have been one of them).  Now Maria and Christian were squeezing my hands.  And for the next 275 meters, they did not let go.  They were holding on for dear life.  In that uneasy and scary environment, I was their lifeline.  If they slipped or tripped, they knew I would not let them go so they were safe.  My hands represented safety for these two children.

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I’m no novice to holding on to someone’s hand.  As a father, i’m use to holding the hands of my both Isabela and Elijah, though now that Elijah is 10, its not as often as I would like.  But growing up both my kids have escaped accident after accident because they were holding on to my hands.  At this point, I bet both my kids take it for granted.  On a typical day I probably hold my children’s hands several times.

But not for the children of San Jose.  And most likely that is not the case for many of the orphans and vulnerable children around the world.  That evening I was reflecting on the lack of a father figure in the lives of Maria José and Cristian.

How many days had gone by since the last time a male figure had held on to their hands?

Had the last set of male hands hurt them instead of protect them?

Who is the next set of male hands that will lovingly reach out to them?

rey team

Taking nothing away from Sister Edith, who is one of my heroes, and has provided the closest thing to a family these children have ever experienced, but God put men and fathers on this earth to fulfill a role.  And when that person is absent, so are many of the functions the father is suppose to bring to a healthy family.  In scripture the word orphan is usually combined with the word widow.  They are a unit - the orphan and the widow (James 1:27).  And the original Hebrew word for orphan is “fatherless.”  In that time in culture, when a family lost the father (divorced, death or for whatever reason), the family was left hopeless and helpless, both mother and children.  They were at the mercy of people who would help them (2 Kings 4). In many ways, the same is true today.  Statistics show the profound effects of fatherless homes in our society - "children from fatherless homes are more likely to be poor, become involved in drug and alcohol abuse, drop out of school, and suffer from health and emotional problems.” (Osborne and Mclanahan - Partnership instability and child well being).  We need fathers.  And mothers.  And family.   

God knows our needs.  And God, the father to the fatherless, knows the needs of every single orphan and vulnerable child on planet earth.  He knows our longing for a father.  For family. Our longing for safety.  Protection.  Provision.   Connection.

God knows that we will reach out in our time of deepest need.  When are souls are in the valley of the shadow of death, we will reach out.  When anxiety paralyzes us, we will reach out.  When fear overwhelms, we will reach out.

When orphans and vulnerable children are scared, desperate or just lonely, they will reach out.

And our good heavenly Father will reach out to us.  He will hold on to our hands.  Tightly.  And he will whisper into our ears “So do not fear, for I am with you;  do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”  (Isaiah 41:10).  God might even use the message version of the bible and whisper “ I’ll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you."

Really this is the message of both the Old and New Testament.  It's not that life will be easy and challenge-free.  It's that no matter what we face in life, God will be with us.  Walking with us.  Holding on to us.  Jesus was named Emmanuel - God is with us.

So I was actually wrong in my assessment.  Maria and Cristian have been held on to by protective and powerful hands.  God’s hands.  God is holding on to them for dear life.  And He promises He will not let go. “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me, 29 for my Father has given them to me, and he is more powerful than anyone else. No one can snatch them from the Father’s hand.” (John 10:27-29).  When Maria and Cristian reach out, they will realize God is there.  No one and no thing will ever snatch them from God’s hands.

If you look at the logo of Orphan Outreach, it's Our Father’s Hand, guiding us, all of us, in the journey of life.  Not only is He holding our hand, our lives are in His hand.   Orphan care is a beautiful reflection of the gospel because it tells our story as well.

 

 

 


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