By Seth Barnes, Founder of Adventures in Missions
Down muddy, potholed streets, behind a high wall is the Son of God orphanage.
We walked through the building and into the back courtyard, 126 orphans sat in rows doing school under a tall Zaman tree.
In 2002 Dr. Maccine Hyppolite saw a group of orphan children near his house. He took them into his home. Word got out and the orphans kept coming.
An engineer declared that his three story building should be condemned, but Dr. Hyppolite feels it’s solid. “Just a little rebar and concrete to reinforce the beams and it will be OK.”
As we walked through the building, an orphan girl smiled at me. Something in me said, “Go talk to her.” I grabbed John to translate and asked her name and age.
“I’m Magdala and I’m ten. I’ve been here three days.”
I asked her if she had parents and I thought John translated, yes. At that I felt a little relieved – my mind doing some strange triage, parceling out the compassion, “OK, I’m off the hook here. If God had a special assignment for me, she’d be a pure orphan.” And I moved on.
The orphans, eager for adult attention, crowd around you and play all kinds of hand-slapping games. One little boy clutched my pants. I told one of the orphanage workers that I was impressed at how he reached out for affection. She said, “That’s my boy. His father died in the earthquake.”
I wasn’t quite sure how to respond – be sad for her, or affectionate toward her boy as he sought to fill his father gap.
Later, unable to shake the feeling that God wanted more out of me with Magdala, I went back and asked her a few more questions.
She said, “After both my parents died, my aunt took care of me. And then she brought me here.”
It hit my spirit for some reason. Four years ago God told me to make room for his orphans in my life. And we have a lot of them in Africa. So, what did this interaction with Magdala mean?
I asked her if I could pray for her. She said yes. I prayed a blessing. I prayed protection. I imagined what her parents would say if they were still living. I felt God’s care for her and my eyes began to water. And I said amen. And then goodbye.
And I walked out of the orphanage still wondering.
I do know this for sure: God loves his children and he wants us in their lives. We may see 126 orphans under a Zaman tree. He sees Magdala.
If you’d like to help Magdala, please go here.
Seth is the executive director of Adventures In Missions — an organization that sends people on short-term mission trips around the world. He lives in Gainesville, GA with his wife Karen. You can visit his blog “Radical Living in a Comfortable World” at sethbarnes.com.