If I could relive my life, I would devote my entire ministry reaching children for God. ~Dwight Moody
Tucked away in Romania is an orphanage operated by missionary Sally Sebo. While Sally was home in the states doing deputation, a ten-year-old girl listened as the missionary shared her excitement about what God was doing in the orphanage.
This ten-year-old leaned close to her mother and whispered, "I'm going to visit that orphanage someday." Those of you who have read my blog a while know where Kayla fits in -- one of the two sisters who are Emily's best friends (and the girl behind the kay's kaptures photos on my blog).
The how of God working His plan for Kayla to go to Romania is amazing. So many times it is just when you begin to wonder what is God thinking? that life comes together in a way that leaves you breathless and in awe. This year, during Kayla's 18th birthday, eight years after her whispered declaration, she visited Sally Sebo's orphanage in Romania.
So often we think our hearts can only hold love until it reaches the top. But, as Kayla found, the heart is made of elastic, so she packed in many stories to bring home with her. On the other hand, Kayla left a part of her heart among the gypsy children of Romania.
Jesus showed His love and servanthood by washing the disciples' feet. Now, over two thousand years later, sometimes the best way to wash a child's feet is to tell them about Jesus. Sometimes our servanthood is to hug on the orphans. And sometimes God wants us to expand our hearts right in the country where we live, loving with intentionality.
Here are 5 ways to love children with intentionality -- as we hug them, allow our hearts to expand with love for them, and wash their feet. Because after all, in our busy lives, it's easy to overlook the ones who come only waist high.
1. Smile: It doesn't matter where you are, catch a glimpse of a child's eyes, and smile. They may hide in their mother's skirt, duck their head, or give you a tentative smile back. Perhaps your smile will be the kindest thing they will see that day.
2. Give: Yes, there are organizations that do amazing things for children. And when you find a worthy one, it's important to support it. But what about giving of your time? Shawn and Melanie co-teach a Sunday School class, investing in children's lives each week. What about your possessions? I recall visiting my parents one week (400 miles from here), and when on our way to church, Daddy took his car (brand new!) into a trailer park to pick up some kids. The roads were a muddy mess by the time we got to their home. Needless to say, a lot of mud took up residency in that car. Did that matter to Daddy? No. He treated those kids with love.
3. Pray: My friend, Tanya, heads a prayer group for children and young people. Many from unstable homes, friends of her daughter. Invariably, others who know of the group ask for prayer for a young person who may have tried to commit suicide, is being bullied, has a physical need, etc. It's a joy to pray for those she assigns to me each Wednesday.
4. Invest: RB's mother was in her eighties and widowed -- still inviting kids to stay with her on Saturday night so they could attend church Sunday morning. One Saturday night a girl locked herself in the bedroom. This eighty-year-old-lady climbed through the second story hallway window, walked across the back porch rooftop and climbed back in through the bedroom window. We were aghast, but rejoiced, knowing guardian angels would care for her as she invested in the children she loved so much.
5. Bond: I don't know how many young girls my mother has been pen pals with though the years. A pastor's daughter, a friend's daughter or a girl with all brothers, a niece... My mother became friends with these, and shared notes, tiny gifts, and a lot of love, encouraging each one in their Christian walk. My favorite place to find bonding treats is Target's dollar spot (especially when the 50% off sign is present) -- so many girl lovelies.
This isn't an exhaustive list, but at least it provides a place to start while you allow God to speak to you as you begin to feel the stretch in your heart.