Through His Eyes
The Lord called me to step out in faith and confront my fears head on when He stirred my heart to go to Zambia, Africa in 2006 with a team from Emmanuel Christian Fellowship, led my Pastor Ted Lawler. As I set my feet on the soil that would one day be the foundation of Breath of Heaven Children’s Ministries, it was difficult to imagine what God would do with this dry, overgrown landscape. Today, 12 years later, I continue to stand in awe of His love and grace as I navigate through this life, seeing the world through the eyes of our Father while unveiling the truth of who He is as our Heavenly King.
Zambia is a landlocked country in Southern Africa that is rich with culture, wildlife and breathtaking landscape. In the morning, you cannot focus on anything other than the bright colors of red, yellow and orange painted across the sky; a mere example of the goodness of creation as stated in Genesis chapter 1. Along with the natural beauty of the country is also the beauty that lives within the Zambian people. Zambians have shown to exude the love of the Father in every interaction they have. Those that have a relationship with the Father, walk boldly in knowing whom and whose they are and give praises to their mighty creator for all that He is providing for them. Unfortunately, for most, life in Zambia does not consist of a life of heavenly abundance.
It is heartbreaking to see the beautiful country of Zambia plagued by the HIV/Malaria pandemic that has wreaked havoc on the continent of Africa, devastating the lives of many families and over 1 million Zambian children. Having seen this devastation first hand, I along with those affected, cry out to the Lord as David did in and ask, “How long Lord?”
Ted and Judy Lawler, the founders and directors of Breath of Heaven Children’s Ministries, know that as they continue to be still and listen to what the Lord is asking of them, Zambia can and will be healed. The vision that the Lord gave them to “look after orphans and widows in their distress” has grown into what is now a prosperous village in which orphans and widowers have been brought together under the same family unit covering, while heavenly healing continues to provide them with a hope that surpasses all death, destruction and brokenness. I have had the privilege to travel to Breath of Heaven seven times over the last 12 years, and it is during this time I have witnessed the work of King Jesus taking back the territory that the enemy and his wicked ways had once taken. I have looked into the eyes of children whose mothers and fathers died of HIV or Malaria and then were left alone to be another Zambian statistic.
Memory was orphaned before she was 2 years old and went to live with an aunt who was married but had no children. She was so little when her parents died that to this day, she has no memory of them.
Life was very hard, but while they didn’t have much, as was the situation of everyone else in that very poor community, Memory was at least cared for and had some semblance of a family.
Then one day when Memory was just shy of 10 years of age, her aunt told her that she and her new husband were moving away to Zimbabwe and that Memory would be left behind. This was devastating and incomprehensible news for this little girl, who loved her aunt very much as she was the only mother she had ever known.
Before her aunt left for Zimbabwe, she dropped Memory off with a cousin who reluctantly agreed to take the child. However, since he already had a wife and 5 children of his own, he did not appreciate having another child to care for and another mouth to feed. He and the whole family resented this new girl and the extra burden that she put on their already severely strained circumstances. The resentment showed.
The time that Memory lived with these relatives was a very dark period for her:
· The conditions were horrible, both physically and emotionally.
· She had no place to sleep, very little food to eat, and was clearly unwelcome.
· Verbal and physical abuse was commonplace.
· Memory was given chore upon chore to earn her keep and was basically treated as the family’s servant.
· For instance, each night long after dark, Memory would have to go out to the community well to fetch water for the family. This was back breaking work, and it was also quite dangerous for a young girl to be out by herself after dark.
But God had a different plan for Memory! One day the social worker from Breath of Heaven visited that compound and Memory was soon accepted into our program. Here is a picture of Memory that our social worker took that day.
When Memo arrived at Breath of Heaven in the Fall of 2010 at the age of 10 1/2, she was welcomed with open arms and with great joy! She was not afraid to come, but was longing for a place to call home. During the last 7 years, she has grown, and matured, and thrived in every way. She is surrounded by a true family: the kids and loving adults at the Breath of Heaven Children’s Village!
With Breath of Heaven Children’s Ministries, these same eyes, once filled with loss and despair, are now beaming with hope for a future and each of them are walking in boldness knowing that their identity is deeply rooted in their Heavenly Aba Father.
With what will be the establishment of 14 homes, a church, school, and medical clinic, I know that the future holds so much more for the orphans and widows of Breath of Heaven Children’s Ministries. The healing of hearts and experiencing the love of the Lord first hand has allowed dreams of the future to take deep root in their souls. They know that they are in the process of “being transformed.” They see His goodness and proclaim it daily as they hold out their hands and receive all that He has for them.
Authored by: Alicia Orloff
Breath of Heaven Children’s Ministries. The Crisis. www.bofheaven.org
Holy Bible. Biblica, 2001, www.biblica.com
When Memory arrived, she could not speak or understand a word of English and was not able to recognize letters of the alphabet. She was completely illiterate, testing below the kindergarten level.
Now 7 years later, Memo is graduating from the 9th grade and is one of our top English students. She is such an avid reader that we have made her the librarian for our little village library. It is so precious to see her sitting with the little ones, reading to them and teaching them. And most special of all, she is a young lady who loves the Lord, is an anointed worship leader, and is a wonderful role model for the younger kids.
Here is her picture now!