Addicted to Ink

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Abba's Heart

Psalm 68 (KJV)

Let God arise, let his enemies be scattered: let them also that hate him flee before him. As smoke is driven away, so drive them away: as wax melteth before the fire, so let the wicked perish at the presence of God. But let the righteous be glad; let them rejoice before God: yea, let them exceedingly rejoice. Sing unto God, sing praises to his name: extol him that rideth upon the heavens by his name JAH, and rejoice before him. A father of the fatherless, and a defender of the widows, is God in his holy habitation. God setteth the solitary in families: he bringeth out those which are bound with chains…

The phone rang at 12:30 a.m. July 8, 1995. I was 17. My house was quiet, and everyone was asleep.

Except for Mom.

And except for me. There was an uneasiness in my soul that I couldn't explain.

Mom answered the phone quickly, even before the second ring so as not to awake anyone.

"No!" She screamed, all plans of sleep for anyone in our house completely evaporating. "God, please, please, NO!"

But it was too late.

A drunk driver had ran a stop sign and plowed into my aunt's little red mustang as she was picking up *Adam, her middle child, from his girlfriend's 13th birthday party.

She was killed instantly.

Upon hearing the news, my uncle fell face-first into the grass. Though his body got up and lived for five more years, his soul died on the spot. He'd met her at 19, when she was 7 months pregnant. He broke up with his fiancee and married my aunt two weeks later.

*Rachel, her only daughter, was at a local hospital, with bumps and bruises and glass in her hair and a stomacheache every time she would get behind the wheel of a car and a heart that would never heal.

*Andrew and Adam were lifeflighted to a hospital in Dayton, both in critical condition. Andrew, who had just turned six at the time, suffered with a broken arm and a snapped conscience. He spent several days in the hospital and then in detention homes and then in foster homes and then in jail, addicted to drugs and to meanness.

Adam, 13 like his girlfriend, had been sitting up front with his mom. He remembers the impact of the crash. He remembers screaming. He remembers putting his arm out in front of his mother, instinctively. He remembers holding her head in his hands, though she was already gone. He remembers her shouting "I love you!" Her very last words. Those nights in the hospital he couldn't sleep. But he needed to sleep, and the doctors tried to help him. And he discovered when he slept, induced I believe, that he could forget. He could live in other times. And he wanted to forget the most horrible moments of his life. So he discovered, soon, what would help escape those despicable images. Drugs at 14, Dope dealer at 16, Daddy at 18. Harder and harder drugs until his reputation declared him as the guy who could get any drug out there.

It was May 28, 2004. My twenty-sixth birthday. It was early in the morning, and I was in one of two vans traveling north of Simferopel in Crimea, Ukraine with 17 Malone College students. It was our last day in Crimea, and we were going to be giving a final dance performance at a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center for 10-15 year old boys.

The students were quiet that morning. Some were listening to music, their headphones firmly on. Others were sleeping. Some, I suspect, like me, were praying. My heart was especially heavy that morning, but my prayers were simple. “Lord,” I pleaded, “Please just show me your heart for Ukraine.”

We got to the center, where the first person we met was the director, Alexander. His opening line (through our translators) was, “I am an atheist and a communist… yet you are welcome here.”

Through conversations with Alexander after our performance, we began to catch a glimpse of the many challenges facing this young independent nation since the complete deterioration of a government that wasn’t good to begin with, and the depth of the sin that captures the nation: Children get addicted to drugs and alcohol extremely young to take away the pain from not having enough food and the brokenness of their families, then the young children sell themselves to feed their habits; the girls get pregnant without realizing what is happening, continue the drug use, and either have abortions or give birth to mentally retarded children. Sometimes, miracles happen and the children are eventually okay. But the girls are so young and can barely take care of themselves, let alone a child.

Those three weeks in Ukraine, I had met many of their abandoned offspring. Beginning, that first day in Simferopel, at the "baby house," the house for newborns through about age three. I've played with some of those sweet little babies, a toddler who would run to students and throw their arms wide open for a hug, a beautiful brown-haired, blue-eyed 18-month-old who was somber and shy and reacted to nothing. I met the children ages 4-9, the beautiful sweethearts who laughed at our Russian translations of children's stories and blew bubbles with us in the courtyard and danced for us the dances they had learned and looked at us with pleading, hopeful eyes, knowing that some of their peers had been taken from this place by folks who looked a little like us. I met the soon-to-be-adults at the orphanage/boarding school for the oldest children, many of whom, I wondered, may be doomed to repeat the cycle of their parents when they are released into the world on their own at 15 or 16 with little chance for a future.

That day, I found Psalm 68...

The fatherless. God, my Lord, Father...Abba as Jesus prayed...cares about them. He is a father to them. He has passion for them.

This is a passion that I share, this is where my prayers are these days. My cousins don't want my help or my sympathy, but still I pray. Even though they are adults, they are orphans, orphans with gaping, seeping wounds, and they are in desperate need to know Our Father.

I am preparing for another trip with Malone students to Ukraine this June for another few weeks where I will meet more orphans, as well as the orphans I met two years ago. While we may do service projects and bring them moments of joy, I pray that, more than anything, they can come to know Our Father, too.

And see that God's heart is for the fatherless.


Blogger Rachel said...

This is just a beautiful post. I'm so sorry about your aunt and her family. How horrific. Only God can heal wounds that deep. I'll keep them in my prayers

7:47 PM  
Blogger Deborah Hoffman said...

Hi Amber! Oddly enough, I may also be in Ukraine in June. I'm going to Moscow but depending on whether I can find some of the old (20's, 30's, 40's) children's homes I may be making side trips to Ukraine. If you happen to hear of anything, please let me know! Thanks for your support and may your work bring benefit to the children.

1:27 PM  

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