Earlier this week, I was tuned into a live streaming of the Influence Conference.  At the end of one of the speakers’ sermons, a time was given for each person to sit silently, and listen to what God was telling each of them.  And for me, viewing online, the inspiring words people received showed on the screen.  They were all very encouraging to me, but one in particular caused me to pause and moved me to tears.  “Rejoice when the lost are found.”

Just think of the beauty in that.  Rejoice when the lost are found.  Just the thought of the lost being found, what a wonderful thing.  How could we not rejoice?

Then, just yesterday, I found a cover story about orphans in a Ukrainian magazine that is titled “Ты не будешь найден” (Ty ne budeshʹ naĭden / “You will not be found”).   The author writes about several of the problems the Ukrainian government has in it’s care for orphans and the barriers to adoption.   It’s not just us Americans who feel the hopelessness these children face, it’s also felt in Ukraine.   Little hope for a way out of the system, little hope for ever being found. 

What hope is there for these children to be found?  The most recent statistics (source) state that in 2010 there were 98,119 orphans in Ukraine.  That number only accounts for children whose parents’ rights were deprived within that year, so one can add to that number the tens of thousands who are living in orphanages although their parents may not have their rights fully deprived, plus many more street children, who are often unaccounted for.  Nearly 100,000 orphaned children.  And within that same year 4,865 were adopted (about 75% of those were domestic adoptions by Ukrainians).  Just compare those numbers for a  moment…

What’s a child to think in that type of situation?  How could they have hope that they will ever be found? 

My heart goes directly to the 118 Ukrainian (& 84 Latvian) orphans who were found by their host families this summer.  They were selected, specially chosen from the tens of thousands of children for this life-changing experience.   They were no longer lost in the seas of institutionalization, a number among the masses.  Each child was chosen by name, with special love and care by a family who wanted them.  Possibly for the first time in their lives, they were found and taken in, and given a home and a glimmer of hope.   I can’t help but rejoice for these young ones who have been found. 

What a beautiful picture of Christ’s love for each and every one of us.  He sees that we are lost, chooses us by name, brings us home, and we are found.  We are found forgiven, healed, and safe.  He will leave the other 99, just to find that 1 lost child.  What a reason we have to rejoice, all together for each and every one who is found.

So Jesus told them this story: “If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders.  When he arrives, he will call together his friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’ In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!
Luke 15:3-7 (NLT)