When people ask me questions about why I do what I do I tend to respond with theologically deep or at least jargon filled answers. It’s who I am as an academic. Some people like it, many people don’t, and I am working on it. However, this past Friday the answer for why we are here could not be more clear or more simple.
God is a God of life and since humans have screwed up so much of the world he quickly became a God of redemption, redeeming both people and situations. Derrick is a little boy waiting for a second chance at life and I think Angel House is perfectly ready to be God’s second chance. Derrick is a true orphan in every sense of the word. His grandmother died last August leaving no known relatives alive. No one even knows his fathers name, which means in Tanzania that he has no last name. He was being taken care of by neighbors, or at least given a place to sleep at night. Derrick is the smallest three year old I have ever seen (we are pretty sure he is closer to two), and at least part of that lies with his last caretakers. They would put food out and then burn his stomach with a spoon from the fire when he dared to eat. His anxiety whenever he was around women was clear on his face and his heavily beating chest. This was Friday, the same day he won my heart forever.
I should preface the rest of this post with saying that I don’t get overly emotional (this is Eric writing). I certainly don’t get overly emotional about people under three feet tall, it just DOES NOT HAPPEN…until now. Derrick had my love the moment I heard about him, all the kids do. He had my heart the moment I picked him up and put him on my lap. Being the only adult male in the room, I was the only one he would look at or talk to. The day he came to stay at Angel House we had left and come back and Derrick came running up and into my arms. (embarrassing side note: I almost started crying). I was done for. And I started praying for Derrick’s redemption from the very early part of his life.
The physical redemption seems to come quickly at Angel House. Within two days we saw a smile and got a laugh. Sunday afternoon Derrick fell asleep in Liz’s arms which is quite a long way from not even looking at her his first day at Angel House. However, I hope this is not the end of his life’s redemption.
We have dreams for all the kids at Angel House. We pray continually for their lives to be full of God’s love and direction. We are not as fixated on creating the next President or research doctor (though that would be great and I think very possible), but to have children grow up under God’s care. The second part of Derrick’s redemption, like all the kids we work with, will come more slowly, but he will find a life of love, the discipline of older brothers and sisters, and the education needed to be able to make a life instead of living the one handed to him by chance. This is why I came, to help the kids, the community, or anyone that cares to take notice to see the redeeming love of God. A God of justice, mercy, and grace.
P.S. If you are interesting in sponsoring a child or a child’s education at Angel House please let me know. It could help us be able to take in the next Derrick so that he or she no longer has to suffer neglect, abuse, or even simply living without a family.