Linese* was very young when her father died. Her mother was left to provide for her family alone. Work was incredibly hard to find in their poor community and there were many days when Linese and her siblings went without food. Linese never went to school and even lacked basic medical care for a knee problem that kept getting worse. As her mother took increasingly desperate measures to survive and escape her life’s unfortunate turns, it became clear that something was going to have to change.
Linese was just one step away from being sent to live with another family as a child slave (restavek.)
It seemed hopeless. Linese was just another of the millions of vulnerable children in Haiti, not because she’d done anything wrong, but because death, tragedy and deep poverty had been a part of her country and her family for too long. It’s a story we know all too well. At a conference recently, professor, author and speaker Christena Cleveland said it well,
“Sometimes we have a theology of scarcity around justice. But God has abundance to give us and His hand is not short.”
His had was certainly not short for Linese, although it was hard to see that in those terribly long arduous days as a child on the brink of disaster. But, through the dedicated work of LSM and the Body of Christ coming together, Linese’s story is not ending as a tragic statistic.
You see, our Homes of Hope are a lifeline for desperate children like Linese. And before she was old enough to really understand the ramifications, she was brought into a new family who would love and nurture her. It was something she never could have dreamed of before.
Now 14, Linese is thriving. She’s still very aware of the millions of young children in her city that that are sick and need the same life-giving care she’s gotten, even when they can’t afford it. She dreams of becoming a pediatrician so she can help kids just like her who have no way to receive the care they desperately need. And with the full continuum of care we provide through adulthood for our Home of Hope children, she really has the chance of doing just that!
Changes like this doesn’t happen without the dedicated, long-term work of those who believe in the justice and compassion that Jesus taught us. So keep fighting in your corner, whether it’s justice, advocacy, adoption, or a host of other hard, day-to-day roles caring for the vulnerable. We all have a part. Linese will tell you a thousand times over that your sacrifices for ONE child are worth it.
We’d love to help connect you to ways to live and care for the vulnerable. Here’s a few places to start:
- Become a Prayer Partner.
- Start an Orphan Care Ministry in Your Church.
- Become an Ongoing Family Sponsor and bring your whole family along in our exclusive online family room.
*name changed for privacy
Three-year-old Annie* barely escaped the building that crumbled around her during the catastrophic January 12, 2010, Haiti earthquake. Her mother was not so lucky. She did not survive. Tremors continued for days. Buildings continued to fall and the death toll continued to rise. But even after the shaking stopped, Annie’s life remained on unstable ground. In a country in ruins, she was alone.
There were so many little girls like Annie who lost their parents in the enormous earthquake that she was simply herded with countless other children into the slums. She was given food when she begged hard enough. But she mostly went unnoticed.
She picked a small piece of trash from the dirt where she squatted on the side of a busy road. Beeping car horns, stray dogs and a hoard of people zig zagging across the lanes of traffic. She was silent, almost listless as her fingers moved along the ground. It was the same as before. Always the same.
Her mother was a short ways off, keeping one eye on her while she tried to sell firewood she had gathered that morning, the other eye desperate for a customer. Perhaps today she would make enough to buy them a real meal. The meager food they survived on was barely enough, and they both felt the depth of their plight.
This weekend, we will celebrate our country’s independence and freedom. We will gather with friends and family and thank God for the freedoms we have been blessed with in this land – mostly things we have never lived without.
But we don’t begin to understand the magnitude of what we celebrate if we don’t know the power of what freedom really is. Today, there are people around the world who have never known this kind of freedom. They are men, women and children who do not know what it means to dream of a better future. They do not know what it is to celebrate freedom, either individually or as a nation. They are the world’s most vulnerable.