This past month has been a special one for the life of my small group at Redeemer Round Rock. While I’ve been a part of this church plant from its inception, it has been over the past several months that I’ve truly started to learn what it means to be a part of a community. The life that I share with the folks I see each week is more powerful than any experience I’ve shared with a “pew buddy” next to me at a Sunday service. I’ve seen that because we want to be with each other rather than just have a recognizable face next to us during a service, we take more joy in the time we spend. We strive to be a family, and because of that, along with a heavy dose of the grace of God, we start to become family. It’s through that developed relationship, that sharing of life together, that we have learned to understand what community is all about.
What has made this month special actually started off as a riff on an old standby from churches I’ve attended in the past. There was always one week a year that we called “Missions Week” where foreign missionaries from across the globe would speak during Sunday services, at youth meetings, or at special events where people could find out more about the work of God outside the bounds of their own home town. These were wonderful opportunities to learn that God is at work in the lives of people beyond just our neighbors and co-workers, but the downfall of “Missions Week” was that it was just that, a week. Without the constant reminder we could easily forget that work was being done not just here at home but abroad. A true community, as we’ve strived to become, cannot remain only inwardly focused or it will grow into isolation. We must constantly keep our eyes turned out from our comfort zones to see how the Church as a whole works for the mission of God.
This past week was a phenomenal chance for our group to see into the lives of those who are reaching people for the gospel in a place nearly opposite ours on the globe. Two of the members of our group spent the evening telling us about an orphanage they had spent time with in Zimbabwe which was taking care of children that no one else wanted. The government, not known for its benevolent treatment of its own citizens, called for these people, this church, to step up and take care of kids when no one else could. And what they saw, and what the rest of us learned through their telling, was that God was working on these kids and that church and that community like only He can. Kids weren’t just provided shelter, they were provided family. They weren’t just provided food, they were given the word of God.
The work at the Musha Wevana Orphanage is no different from the work of the New Testament Church. These were not special people called because of their talents and giftings and abilities. This was a church contacted by a government who gave up, and their response was “Yes, we will help these children.” It is astounding to see a church, much less a church in a country with a 95% poverty rate, so willing to provide for those who somehow had less than they did. They found shelter for them. They’ve provided meals for them. They’ve educated them. But more than any of this, the thing that most hit home to me as I learned about this group of individuals pursuing obedience to their Father, was that they invited the children into the homes of the church members once a month. Each month those kids get a chance to see what it means to be a family. To be reminded that while their parents are no longer available through death or hardship or whatever in between, that there is a family that transcends the bond of blood. And that is the fellowship found in Christian community.
John and his wife Orpa lead a magnificent testimony to the power of God to work in a place that anyone else would have given up on. And while that’s amazing enough, the truth is they give us the opportunity to take part in that. John will be the first to tell you that God has given them this burden of caring for the children, and that he knows the Lord will provide. But he will also share that their burden is heavy, and rejoices when we share it to make a difference not just in a few days of a childhood, but in a life. Take the time to watch a couple of John’s videos on the HELP YouTube channel. I’ve embedded one of them above so you can learn more about their work. And think about how you can join in to help these people make a difference in their country, in their future, and in their eternity, as they raise these children without anything into a family.
Check out the orphanage and learn about supporting it at HELP’s website here.