Wednesday, April 18, 2012

KEEPING THE FAMILY TOGETHER

In Russia there are well over 400,000 orphans in state institutions.  Its generally believed that less than one third of these children are actually orphans.  Many of them have lost their families when their parents lost their parental rights as a result of losing a battle with drugs and alcohol.  Nearly half of them had disabilities, either physical or mental.  In countless institutions, these children often interact less than ten minutes a day in one-on-one interactions with an adult. Countless cases of routine abuse of children in orphanages continue to be reported by Human Rights Watch. According to the Interior Ministry University roughly 20,000 children run away from orphanages every year and that of the 15,000 children released from orphanages annually, some 10 percent commit suicide, 30 percent commit crimes and 40 percent are unemployed and homeless. By my math - this leaves only about 20 percent who are able to make it on their own.

So, what happens when these damaged souls group up?  Most are let loose on the world, unless they are severely mentally disabled- where they “risk drifting into unemployment, poverty, and crime.”
When I was a youth one of my passions was tennis.  I loved attending professional tennis tournaments and assisting on the court as a “ball boy.”  Once I had the thrill of working on the court with the world renowned Arthur Ashe.  What a gentleman he was.  What a family man he was.  He once said, “I have always drawn strength from being close to home.”  There is something about home that provides a sense of security, of being grounded, of protection, of family.  It isn’t until we contemplate not having a home that we can really even begin understanding all the results, the benefits, and the affects of having a home.

Even Proverbs 27:8 sheds some light on the need for being connected to a home, “A person who strays from home is like a bird that strays from its nest.”  It as if a man who wanders from his home is restless and disconnected- shrinking responsibility and failing to build anything substantial and solid.  Yes, a home takes more than the foundation it is built on, the walls that surround it, and the roof that covers it. It takes a family and the values and love that are essential to turning a “house” into a “home.”

Every time I look at a house that we have built in Mexico, or South Africa, or on the Apache Reservation I wonder how many children we have kept from being sent to an orphanage or taken to an institution.  While I wish it were the case- an orphanage should be the last resort for a child.  Keeping families together and building homes, not just houses, continues to be why constructing homes is essential for showing God’s love and providing hope to those in need.

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