When it comes to orphans the local church needs to start at home. Unfortunately this is something that many people in the church are unaware of. We see orphans in third world countries living in poverty and feel compelled to act. What we don’t see is the tragedy and brokenness happening right here. We feel safe and so we believe that we are. My child has two parents. I love my husband, we go to church, we live in a good neighborhood. We look for proof of tomorrow. But honestly, we don’t know what tomorrow holds.
I grew up in a children’s home but that could not have been predicted well by my family of origin. My parents were both college educated and well off financially. Then slowly the division set in. Under the stress of life my father became a raging alcoholic. My parents divorced. My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. She died. My Uncle gained custody of me and my siblings. My uncle put us in a children’s home and that is where I stayed for 7 years.
This is the type of thing that keeps me up at night. This is what woke me up this morning. If this were just about me I would rather not re-visit this offense. I wouldn’t choose to overlook it in a haughty way. I would rather not feel the pain of yet another rejection, triggering the abandonment feelings I’ve tried so desperately to get away from since my childhood.
I want to keep those demons in a dark room under lock and key. Yet this is the place God has brought me to. A place where I need to open the door and let the demons out. It’s what they say that bother me more than anything else.
“You’re nobody. Nobody wanted you. Nobody wants you now. You cannot make a difference. your voice will not heard. Your church is too big. You are too small. No one will ever listen to you. Why don’t you just give up? You can try, try, try, but it will all be in vain!”
These are thoughts that have whirled around in my mind since childhood. I’ve tried in vain to take them captive and make them obedient to Christ. They were relentless and unmerciful driving me to the point where I started to feel insane. It has only been through the power of the Holy Spirit that I’ve learned to silence these voices.
It has taken me most of my life to get to the point where I’ve finally learned that I don’t have to listen to these voices and that they don’t come from God. Satan comes only to steal, kill and destroy. He’s a liar and a thief. For many years he lied to me, I believed him and I had no peace.
Then one morning God woke me up and said, “Test the Spirits.” What? What does that mean, test the spirits. I don’t get it. I asked my husband, he didn’t know. I started flipping through my bible and asked God again. I searched and searched and couldn’t figure it out. That was the first of several mornings that I heard God’s still small voice saying “Test the Spirits.”
Finally one day I was sitting reading my bible and I actually came upon a section entitled Test the Spirits and I learned what God was saying. People who are from the world listen to the world. Those of us who have the spirit of truth listen to the truth. Praise the Lord! I thank God for delivering me! I have been born again!
These aren’t just voices in my head. Real people walking around with skin on tell me it’s hopeless. People in my own family, people in my church, discourage me. Not everyone has the spirit of truth.
The Message version of the bible puts it this way…….
Don’t Believe Everything You Hear
My dear children, you come from God and belong to God. You have already won a big victory over those false teachers, for the Spirit in you is far stronger than anything in the world. These people belong to the Christ-denying world. They talk the world’s language and the world eats it up. But we come from God and belong to God. Anyone who knows God understands us and listens. The person who has nothing to do with God will, of course, not listen to us. This is another test for telling the Spirit of Truth from the spirit of deception. 1 John 4:4-6The Message (MSG)
This is not just about me. There are orphans among my congregation orphans who need someone to care about them. They’re surrounded by thousands of people and yet they are alone.
I’m not just talking about children when I say orphans, although I care about orphans of any age. What I’m talking about is this. When a son turns eighteen in our culture he becomes an “adult” yet he will always be someones son.
I turned 18 and I became an adult, but I am still an orphan. Sometimes our roles change but that doesn’t always take away the other titles you’ve had. Women become wives, some wives become mothers, yet mothers are still daughters…on and on it goes. You get it.
God loves people but he especially loves the out cast and marginalized and I am so thankful for that. Because not enough people in our church acknowledge local orphans among us.
When a person wrongs you in such an offensive way, they’re either ignorant to what they’re doing or really mean. Love believes the best. So I’ll assume the church is blind. I believe God has not awakened everyone yet.
A Few months ago my pastor Bill Hybels talked about how we need to reach out to the people next to us, that no one should feel alone at Willow.
Yet, here I am, I see people who are alone in this ocean of a congregation. I have been intentional about getting to know people, fortunately God has led me to some very kindhearted souls. But there are others who are less fortunate. Other adult orphans whose voices have been silenced and they no longer know how to speak out. They sit by passively in pain and watch from the outside looking in. They are silenced behind an invisible soundproof wall.
I’ve been one of the fortunate people. For whatever reason, God allowed me to experience first hand love from the local church where I grew up. People from the congregation reached into my world and took action when they saw that I had become orphaned.
It wasn’t just anonymous people from the congregation. The head pastor of the church Dr. DeKruyter reached into my life and led by example. He didn’t push me aside like he so easily could have, he didn’t play favorites.
When I was a little girl, he approached me. He inquired about my life, days and weeks as they went by. It didn’t matter that there was a long line of wealthy tithers waiting to talk to him. He was on my level and he cared.
The Christ Church congregation caught the vision and they responded. My mother’s dear friend Margie Hatter arranged it so that I could go to church with her every Sunday. For years she picked me up at the children’s home and brought me to church. She was a single mom. But she did not use that as an excuse. She did something, she acted, she was obedient. Margie mentored me, nurtured me, loved me.
One person doing their part can make all the difference!
Other people rose up as well. Taking us in for holidays, taking us to the circus, filling in the gaps as best they could. No gesture went unnoticed. When you grow up in a children’s home you look anywhere and everywhere for hope. Proof that you matter.
When I became an adult it didn’t change. Dr. DeKruyter stopped what he was doing and he paid attention. It takes skill to “really” care about the marginalized. Dr. Dekruyter passed out of this world, but the seed he scattered is bearing fruit.
I find myself at Willow now. A seed was planted in a young orphan and now I’m here in my Willow “family.” The ironic part is that key people…leaders in this family don’t know that I exist (and others like me for that matter). To be clear, I am not bad mouthing Willow! I love my church home and the people here.
I haven’t traveled an easy road. I’ve made a lot of devastating mistakes. When I was getting ready to get married for the third time I remember seeking Dr. DeKruyter out to do the wedding. He was living in Florida at the time and his health was beginning to fail him. But I wanted him. He was all I knew. He was who I trusted and respected. He had not overlooked me. He had loved me with a love that comes from God.
I knew it was unlikely he would be able to do the wedding but still I had to try. Our church had changed since he left. A new pastor Dan Meyer had been put in his place and I was a nobody to him. I was a person who rarely attended church, didn’t tithe, I wasn’t a cute little girl anymore……the only platform I had was that I was a screw up.
I was a messed up person who wanted to get married at my church. I didn’t want to get married in the small garden vespers chapel, I wanted to get married in the BIG worship arena. I wanted to walk down the aisle that my pastor had walked down at the end of every service. When I was a little girl I dreamed not of walking down that aisle but of running and doing gymnastics down that aisle. In my mind I would run as fast down the aisle like Mary Lou Retton …..then round off, flip flop, flip flop, back flip…..landing squarely in front of my groom, my husband to be. The head pastor of the church would be there because I was somebody. I was important and through his leading by example the rest of the people knew it.
Dr. DeKruyter talked to Dan Meyer and all I know is after that I was taken care of. We had our wedding there I was not cast out. Dan Meyer has been very kind to me and my husband over the years. He even carved time out of his busy schedule not that long ago and took us to his country club. I believe it all started with a word from Dr. DeKruyter or maybe it was the one true God. Either way he has been ever so kind, and I don’t even attend Christ Church anymore.
I went back to Christ Church of Oak brook, my childhood church this past Saturday night. For some reason I had been feeling pulled there all week. I found a seat in the back and settled in to take notes.
I love writing, even if it’s writing notes on what someone else has to say. Once something is written it changes everything. The sermon was about faith and it took me back to a sermon Dr. Dekruyter had done called “Fearless Faith.” He talked about my mother and our family in that sermon and it became a lifelong gift for me. I highlighted that sermon and read it over and over again.
When the service was over Dan Meyer announced that he had done a funeral for a mother in her 40’s who went out into her garden and for no apparent reason, she died. She left behind 4 children. Immediately my body reacted, all the signs of fight or flight.
I hurriedly moved to the front of the church. I had to tell Dan NOW YOU MUST LEAD THESE PEOPLE, YOU MUST LEAD BY EXAMPLE, YOU MUST SHOW YOUR CONGREGATION THESE CHILDREN MATTER.
Today I’m back in my church. I’ve started this blog. I’m trying to reach out. I’m trying to speak. I’m ill equipped of my own accord. I’m hoping, I’m praying……trusting God.
The larger a platform a person has, the more difficult it is to tell them something. I can’t break into this congregation. My voice is unheard.
Too big, too big, this church is too big…..YOU ARE SMALL scream the demons, give up your voice will never get through!
I stand at the ramparts and wait for my Lord to awaken the hearts and souls of the Willow Congregation. I wait for him, I know it can only come from him. I pray and pray and wait……I know it will happen….it has to happen.
I dream of the day Willow Creek Community Church….my church, the church that coined the phrase…
“The Local Church is The Hope of The World,”
is awakened to the cries of the local orphans. It can happen. I believe it will happen, one person at a time, listening to the spirit of truth and obeying.
“But now, Lord, what do I look for?
My hope is in you. Psalm 39:7The Lord has heard my cry for mercy;
the Lord accepts my prayer. Psalm 6:9
A psalm of David.
1 Lord, hear my prayer, listen to my cry for mercy;in your faithfulness and righteousness come to my relief.2 Do not bring your servant into judgment, for no one living is righteous before you.3 The enemy pursues me, he crushes me to the ground;he makes me dwell in the darkness like those long dead.4 So my spirit grows faint within me; my heart within me is dismayed.5 I remember the days of long ago; I meditate on all your works and consider what your hands have done.6 I spread out my hands to you; I thirst for you like a parched land.[a]
7 Answer me quickly, Lord;
my spirit fails.
Do not hide your face from me
or I will be like those who go down to the pit.
8 Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love,
for I have put my trust in you.
Show me the way I should go,
for to you I entrust my life.
9 Rescue me from my enemies, Lord,
for I hide myself in you.
10 Teach me to do your will,
for you are my God;
may your good Spirit
lead me on level ground.
11 For your name’s sake, Lord, preserve my life;
in your righteousness, bring me out of trouble.
12 In your unfailing love, silence my enemies;
destroy all my foes,
for I am your servant.