When Gideon was born in Western Rwanda ten years ago, his mother was overwhelmed with the thought of caring for a child. She was physically disabled and did not have full use of her legs. She used crutches to walk on the hilly dirt roads and could find shelter only with her brother and sister-in-law who advised her to place her son in an orphanage nearby. She reluctantly agreed.
Recently, the Rwanda Purpose Driven and PEACE Orphan Care Initiative began teaching the church in Gideon’s neighborhood about the negative effects of orphanages on children. Church members learned that life without the one-on-one care and attention of a parent takes a serious toll on a child’s mental, physical, and psychological development. Once they heard that families were God’s best design for children, the churches resolved to get children out of their local orphanages as quickly as possible. They committed themselves to finding loving families for all the children in the orphanages, including Gideon.
Volunteers from the local church tracked down the story of each child and invited their relatives to the orphanage to meet their children again and receive parenting training and support. They presented the parents with the opportunity to reunite; and Gideon’s mother was one of the family members in attendance.
From the front of the room came the words that filled her with hope. A pastor who had been visiting the orphanage and providing some of the training looked at her and replied, “Yes, the church will help you. I know your son. I have spoken to my wife and we have agreed to offer our home to you for your son until you can make the preparations for him to come back home to live with you. My wife and I and our family—we will help you take your son home today.”
The pastor committed to take Gideon home so his mom would be able to visit and interact with the son she had been separated from for so many years. She made plans to visit him the very next day.
The orphanage staff couldn’t believe their eyes. “We did not believe it was possible for children to be reunited with family. We thought families were too desperate or poor. Surely a mom with such disabilities wouldn’t be able.”
“That’s where you’re wrong,” the pastor gently offered. “The church is a family to families. When the church steps up and steps in, the load is lighter and the road is brighter. We are not alone.”
For the first time in many years, Gideon will be taken care of by a mother and a father who will give him the care and attention he needs to flourish until his mom is able to care for him, too. Gideon has a home. He has a family. What once seemed like a helpless, hopeless situation has now been redeemed through God and his church.