One thing we want to do at Heart of the Bride is be as open and honest as we can. As partners of our ministry, we want you to journey with us through the highs and lows of what God has called us to do. Orphan care is not easy, and it is not always “successful” in the traditional sense. No matter how well you care for a kid from the street or how hard you work to show love and provide stability to an orphan that has experienced abandonment, some of them leave. Some choose life on the street with all of the “freedom” it promises. Sometimes they just openly rebel like many of our own biological kids. Oh, how we long for a 100% success rate, but we live in a fallen world.
We lament over the ending to a story we shared last year. Our rebellious college student continued to walk the path of rebellion and deceit until we had no choice but to end his tenure in our Upward program. We continue to stay connected with him and respond if he has a legitimate need confirmed by our Kenyan partners, but we do not support his general expenses or send him tuition. This has been exceedingly difficult for all of us, but especially for the precious HOB staffer who oversees him. She has walked with him since he joined House of Hope over a decade ago. We lament his decision and its consequences just like we would for one of our children in the US.
Abbas Heart Zambia has seen great blessings and great challenges in this past year. Amid new programs and children surrendering to the Lord, AHZ also saw several boys leave the residence program. They leave for various reasons. Some believe a lie. They believe that life on the streets is better than life under discipline and discipleship. They seek a false freedom that only enslaves. Some actively choose the world over Christ, flesh over spirit. They engage in active rebellion and choose to walk away from the hope found in Christ. But they are all deceived. We know that our battle is not against flesh and blood, but “against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Eph. 6:12) And we know that Jesus Himself warned us that Satan is the father of lies. (John 8:44) We pray that their eyes will be opened to the Truth and that they will be set free! And when they are, we are still there to walk with them.
Sometimes these laments have happy endings. Meet Eustus (pictured in the middle). Eustus was expelled from the AHZ program but still pursued by our staff and missionaries. As his heart softened, they were able to help him through culinary school and now he works at a hotel restaurant. They continue in relationship with him to help him pursue the Lord.
Our HOB family has also seen loss this year. Our missionaries and staffers have helped their parents through strokes, a brother through loss of home to fire and a battle with personal medical complications, and two have felt the loss of parents from this earthly life. We also lost a dear friend in India to Covid-19. But we do not mourn as those who have no hope, we know we will see them again. Praise the Lord.