I came to know about Lifeline Children’s Services just recently – really just within the past year or so. I have a family member who is a counselor on staff with them, and she offered the opportunity for my daughter and me to serve on a mission trip to China with a team from (un)adopted this past April. After that experience I’ve become as involved as I can be as a volunteer for the company here in Chattanooga, where my family and I live.
This led to the opportunity for me to organize a group of volunteers to help show the Kids Camp kids the Chattanooga Aquarium while they were in town yesterday. The call went out for local church members to help out and the response was overwhelming. Not only did we have more than the requested volunteers, one of them was a former Aquarium staff member who facilitated a backstage tour for these girls! It was awesome watching God line up all the pieces to provide these girls with an incredible experience while there were here.
So this group of volunteers stood outside the Aquarium waiting, excited to see the pieces fall into place and eager to meet these girls (I know for certain that God has put adoption on the hearts of more than one of the families who were there).
Then the moment arrived and the bus pulled up. Out came the wheelchair and several Lifeline staff and volunteers, and finally we were able to meet the children who came from across the world, brought here in order for them to potentially meet their future families and to be shown God’s great love for them through the love and care of a group of strangers.
The visit was not idyllic and peaceful. The girls were not sweet, calm and grateful. We could not communicate with them verbally because of the great language barrier. I believe they were overwhelmed, tired, cranky, and some of them were more than a little wild, and part of me felt sorry for the other Aquarium visitors who unwittingly shared this experience with us.
And for all of this I’m tremendously grateful. God doesn’t tell us obedience is going to be easy, and serving Him can sometimes be a thankless and challenging job. So when the Lifeline staff answered His call to bring a group of Chinese girls, some with significant physical and mental challenges, to the States to share the Gospel with them in such a tangible way, they must have obeyed with eyes wide open. They knew these two weeks weren’t going to be a vacation. The volunteers may not have had the same foresight (I know I didn’t!), but as I looked around at the group of people caring for these kids, they had the same look on their faces as the Lifeline staff – joyful despite the difficulties.
These girls are beautiful children of God who were made in His image. Their experiences in their short lives have been incomprehensible to those of us who grew up in the States, and these experiences have left scars. Their circumstances and futures would be dismal if not for the fact that Lifeline has obeyed God’s call to love them unconditionally. We can’t know what impact these two weeks will have on these girls – that’s just not for us to know. All we can do is obey when God calls, and be grateful to be allowed to serve Him by serving these girls.