The idea of hosting an orphan can fill your mind with many questions.  Why host an orphan? What is it like? How do these orphans get along in host families?

I must say, that is one of the biggest questions and concerns from people, wondering how a school-aged orphan can temporarily fit into a family.  And honestly, it is a risk. 

It takes a brave family to welcome an unknown orphan child into their home for a month or more.  Usually, the information that a family is given to choose the child that fits them best consists of the child’s age, favorite activities, food preferences, small idea of Our brave faces on arrival daytheir personality or demeanor the interview team feels after spending about 10 minutes with the child, and occasionally some background info on the child’s history.  That’s all. 

From that information it can be hard to tell how they will really fit into your family.  You do not know what they are sensitive to or what triggers their anger.  You do not know how they handle confusion and a variety of emotions.  You do not know about their weaknesses.  You do not know what abuses they have endured or injustices they have been a victim to. 

And still, hundreds of brave families each year choose to host an orphaned child or sibling set with NHFC.  They commit to loving a child unconditionally, show them what it means to have people who care about you, be gracious to them when behaviors are challenging, pray for them fervently, and show them who Christ is.

The risk is still there.  There’s still a possibility that the child will act out, lie to your face, steal behind your back, make threats, or even act on them.  And that’s what makes these families brave, to take in an orphan, even with these possibilities, and love them anyways.   

And yet, when it comes to hosting, there’s another face of bravery.  That face is found in the reflection of the orphaned child. Our first moments together, what a brave kid

Only these children know what they have endured, seen, or been a victim of.   They have been deceived, hurt, neglected, and abandoned… often times by those who are meant to care for them.  Many have survived unspeakable things and have been miraculously resilient. 

…along comes the opportunity to visit with a real family in America.  Some people think that any orphan would do anything for a chance at that.  But it’s not really that simple.  Visiting a family in the US means many things to an orphan.  An opportunity for fun and a family, but they have their own risks as well.  They have to leave behind their friends (which are the only family many of them have), their orphanage (their home), their familiar foods, routines, culture, and language.  They may ask themselves – Will this family like me?  What will they do if I make a mistake?  Do they mean what they tell me?  Will they hurt me like the other adults in my life did? 

These kids who agree to this opportunity are brave.  They take the huge risk of agreeing to live with strangers in another country.  They could stay in the lives where they are comfortable with their friends and caregivers in the orphanage or foster home.  It is a risk to open yourself and allow others to love you.  It takes bravery, and that’s exactly what these kids have.

The moments when 2 brave faces, filled with questions and wonder, meet.

And all this reminds me of the way this is reflected in our lives, as followers of Christ. 

First, it takes bravery to commit your life to an invisible, unknown God.  You may  not know much about Him or what His love means, but you feel led to commit your life to him anyways.  It’s a risk to surrender to Him.  But once you do, it turns out to be the best decision you ever make.

And then there’s God.  He’s one big, brave, loving Father.  I can’t help but wonder sometimes what a sense of humor he has.  To give us fickle, selfish, undeserving people more than we could ever dream by giving us a second chance.  He chooses to take the risk on us and entrusts us with uncountable blessings, riches, and responsibilities.  What an awesome God we serve!

Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable. – C. S. Lewis