For the last 10 years, every mission team has included at least one day of orphanage ministry in their busy schedules–providing training and needed resources, building needed projects, and sharing enrichment activities like an outing to the aquarium or the underground caves. Through every activity, our desire was to share Christ’s love and encourage the staff.
Over the last year, however, we sensed God drawing our attention to the ineffectiveness of our “hit-and-run” ministry to those children. Because our IBQ headquarters are between 1.5 and 3 hours distance from the orphanages, a “day” with the children actually consisted of 4-5 hours—a shared meal, a few games, and a devotional—and we were loading up the bus and saying goodbye. We realized that spending more time at the orphanages was a prerequisite for building a relationship, and a relationship was necessary to effectively share love and encouragement.
This summer we are grateful for the flexibility of teams as we have experimented with more time invested at the orphanages. This required packing an overnight bag, towels and a favorite pillow, groceries, and the all-essential coffee maker; loading up sports equipment, baking supplies, crafts and paint, saws, hammers, screws and nails. It also required spending several nights in unfamiliar situations, sometimes without air conditioning, and adjusting to a menu not quite up to the standards of the IBQ kitchen.
Each mission team came prepared for various activities. Bear Creek Baptist Church from Katy painted orphanage roofs and ceilings, added screens to windows, and shelves for clothes. University Baptist Church from Clear Lake built playhouses–a workshop complete with toy hammers, saws, and measuring tapes. And a kitchen with plastic fruits and vegetables, pots, and dishes. They shared training for caregivers in one orphanage and nurturing activities and Bible studies for the staff at another. All spent quality time with the children.
How can a mission team give value to a child who has been traumatized and placed in an orphanage? We can love. We can get on their level and make eye contact. We can listen. We can hug. We can sing and play and laugh with them. We can admire and affirm their “wins” in games or crafts. By faith we can plant seeds of love, and trust God to germinate in each heart. We may never see the results, but sometimes God gives us a glimpse of His work.
Jose sat angrily, arms folded on the sidelines, refusing to participate. “Can we talk together?” asked Emelin. “No, I don’t want to talk to anybody.” “Okay, can I give you a hug?” “No, I don’t want anyone to touch me!” Emelin affirmed him and the activity continued. The next day Jose approached Emelin. “Today, I would like to talk to you.” The conversation began and ended with a hug…which Jose initiated!
Spending more time at the orphanage created a relationship. Love germinated and sprouted a hug!