Beauty From Ashes
The orphan spirit mindset can be described as one full of fear, shame, distrust, control, rebellion, selfishness, and pride. Walking in sonship is the very opposite. It is knowing who we are in Christ, knowing and believing we are who God says we are. It is a mindset of confidence, trust, belief, and submission to our Heavenly Father. We are children of God, but how do we walk as sons and daughters of God when we’ve come from broken places? That is the very question I asked 6 amazing individuals who were panelists in a workshop that I had the privilege to lead at #CAFO2019 (Christian Alliance For Orphans).
Over the years on our Orphans No More podcast I’ve had the opportunity to interview amazing people who have been set free from the orphan spirit mindset and now walk in freedom as sons and daughters of God. As someone who also carried the orphan spirit from childhood, I’m drawn to beauty from brokenness testimonies. The 6 panelists had all been previous guests on our podcast and each one had either been orphaned or in foster care. My friend, Mandy Litzke, came into foster care at age 4 after witnessing an unspeakable act of violence. She was bounced around from foster home to foster home until finally she landed with a Christian family where her journey to healing began. Today, Mandy is a wife and mom to 17 children (15 adopted) and Founder of Safe Harbor Orphan Care Ministries. Daniel Kaggwa was an orphan on the streets of Uganda when he attempted to commit suicide. He shares how God is never late as another boy found him under the mango tree and led him to Christ. Now he is a pastor overseeing 44 churches throughout Africa. Alex Sam grew up in an orphanage in India. He ran away from the orphanage twice and lived on the streets of Mumbai turning to a life of crime before returning as the prodigal son to the orphanage and giving his life to Christ. Today, Alex and his wife lead a ministry to orphans in Pakur, India. Peggy Porter entered foster care as a small child and soon was labeled: “suicidal”, “unable to attach”, and “cannot learn.” She was finally placed in a Christian foster family who loved her unconditionally. Presently, Peggy is on staff at Beauty Amidst the Ashes, an Iowa based ministry advocating for Christians to adopt. Jacob Sturges is a young man adopted from Korea as a baby. He always knew he was adopted but as a teenager he saw his adoption papers and discovered the word “abandoned”. Jacob began to wonder if he truly was abandoned and unwanted. Then he heard a message in church about being a chosen child of God. Today he knows he has not been abandoned as he advocates for orphans and adoption and serves as the Orphan Sunday Coordinator in Minnesota.
God continues to write our stories of beauty from ashes and He clearly revealed that to me with the story of our 6th panelist, Anu Silas. Anu grew up in a Christian orphanage in India. She wanted to be adopted as she had seen other children go home with parents, but Anu was told no one would ever want her as she had dark skin. Eventually, Anu accepted Christ and when she aged-out of the orphanage began doing ministry work with Youth With A Mission in India. There she met her husband, they had two children and together they established Vanita Shray, a ministry serving orphans and vulnerable women in India. Anu’s husband died unexpectantly and she became a young widow. First she was an unwanted orphan and then a widow - titles in her culture the meant she was garbage. But Anu’s identity is in God. She is a precious daughter of the King.
After interviewing Anu in February of 2018 (listen to her interview here) I encouraged her to attend CAFO’s annual orphan summit that May. Though the plan did not work out then, Anu did give me a quote for a book I had been writing. Then, as CAFO 2019 was approaching and the workshop was coming to fruition, I again reached out to Anu about attending the summit and being a panelist. This time, the doors fully opened and Anu traveled from India to attend CAFO2019 in Louisville, KY. It was an honor to meet her in person and have her on the panel, but God was up to something much bigger! Louisville was a strategic location for the conference this year as KY Governor Matt Bevin and First Lady, Glenna Bevin, are staunch orphan and foster care advocates. The Bevin’s have made foster care reform a top priority in KY. Durning the conference, First Lady Bevin shared that the governor had always had a heart for the orphan and that from childhood his family had supported an orphanage in India. The orphanage still had a special place in their hearts and the Bevin’s continued to sow into it and even traveled there to help build a school. As Anu sat in that audience she realized that the orphanage the Bevin’s held dear was the very orphanage she had grown up in! Only God can write such a story. He brought Anu from India to CAFO2019 at the very time the conference was in Kentucky and the Governor and First Lady would be speaking. On the last day of the conference I found Anu and gave her a goodbye hug. She shared with me that she was invited to have dinner at the Governor’s house that night. God truly gives good gifts to His children. And we are His children. He writes our stores. Stories of brokenness and stories of beauty all blended together for His purposes and His glory.
Each of the six panelists shared histories of childhood trauma, abuse, and brokenness, but today their identities are in Christ. Mandy, Pastor Daniel, Alex, Peggy, Jacob, and Anu all testified that what made the difference in their lives was experiencing the unconditional love of God and choosing to believe they are who God says they are. This is the very topic of my book, Orphans No More, that will be available later this summer. it is part memoir of my family’s adoption journey and part what I learned about spiritual adoption as a result. Look for it later this summer. In the meantime, check out more stories of beauty from ashes on our Orphans No More podcast on this website or on I-Tunes and Google Play.
Written by Sandra Flach, Co-Founder of Justice For Orphans and Host of the Orphans No More podcast