Ashley Bruce joined a One Orphan team to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia this past November. Today she shares why she has been called to GO.
Why I will rise up and go…….
I traveled last November with One Orphan on a Storyteller mission trip to Ethiopia. To say the trip wrecked me forever may be an understatement. My heart is forever invested. So many things God has taught me. He continues to add to them everyday since being home. This is His story, not mine. I just get to be willing and obedient.
Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth;
shall you not know it?
I will even make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.
Seven years ago God began to show me His heart for the fatherless. My youngest son was only four months old. During this season of my life I was most concerned with when he had ate last? When would he sleep more at night? When would my other son finally master the potty? Just trying to settle into life as a mommy of two was my main focus. God’s timing is an interesting thing. At a time when my mind and heart couldn’t be further from more children in our family He caused me to become so enamored with 153 million of them around the world, even though I knew none of their names. It still astounds me. Years would pass. I became involved in different projects and efforts to benefit orphans. My husband and I attended an America World seminar on international adoption locally by a sweet couple who had adopted two boys from Ethiopia. God continued to grow my heart and give me a burning desire to serve the fatherless. I just proceeded to walk in faith wherever he led me doing the next thing sat in front of me.
In July of last year I received an email about upcoming Storyteller trips and the need for people to go. After reading the email I knew it was different. I began to pray and seek the Lord’s guidance in a way I had not before and He was faithful to show me this was something he had for me. So I began to prepare. In this time there were many ups and downs and a lot of STRETCHING and GROWING! I am so thankful for it. He is so faithful.
November came and it was time to go. Leaving my husband and two sons for a week to travel across the world was a huge step of faith. I had never been so far for so long away from them but I left with such a boldness in my spirit. I had no doubts. God had been faithful to me. What was there to fear?
The Lord is my light and salvation; whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
God put together an amazing team of people for me travel with. I cannot say enough about them. They are all so dear to me. Treasures I am thankful for. God is so good at what He does.
In Ethiopia we were very busy. Visiting four different AWAA partnership orphanages,The Ryan Autism Center and Carry117. There we shared supplies we had brought with us, played soccer (pretty sure I was not meant to play this sport), sang songs ,made crafts, learned names and stories. Most importantly we held. We touched hands. We loved.
During our time at the America World transition home we brightened up the walls with a mural and scripture. Some of our time was directed at collecting updates on children. One of the days we had the awesome opportunity of meeting some of the families being sponsored through the One Orphan sponsorship program. I was able to meet two little girls whom my family sponsors. To my surprise that day I found out they were twin girls!!! God placed those special girls in my heart almost two years ago. That is a whole other wonderful testimony for another time. God is faithful. It was just a beautiful day I will never forget.
On our last day in Ethiopia we visited an orphanage forever seared in my mind and heart. Interestingly no photos were allowed to be taken there. All the sights and sounds are bound to my soul for only me to describe to others. I’m not really sure how to……..
In one small dimly lit room precious children with special needs were kept. They were all in their beds. I’m not sure if they ever came out of them. As I went in my eyes were drawn to one boy. His legs were drawn up beside him and those precious feet stuck sideways out of the bed. I went and reached over to touch his arm. I noticed his reaction. His little eyes followed my hand’s every move. It became obvious to me this child never received another’s touch in such a way. I then be rubbed the side of his face. A huge smile stretched across it. In the short time with him if I would stop interacting with him he would reach out for my hand to continue. It was then time for our group to move on. Still many children to visit. I will never forget backing out of that room and finding it impossible to turn and leave. I was thinking over and over in my head…... This is it. Who is coming? No one is coming. No one is behind me coming. Leaving that room was painful. Walking out of there I heard the Lord say in my heart:
“I am coming for them.”
He loves them so much. His heart is for them. He sees them. He knows their names. He sent a boring wife and mommy of two, that does hair everyday almost 8,000 miles across the ocean to SEE ONE. To love ONE. These truths are the only thing that can bring back the oxygen to my lungs when the full weight of those moments hit me.I would not trade those sacred times for anything. Being home has been a struggle for me. I’m pretty sure my family doesn’t know what to think about me at times. God gave me the most patient husband.
So that is why I will rise up and go. I have had people ask me “ wouldn’t the money you spent on your trip be of better use to those children?” Why do you have to go there? Well …... I am convinced there is no substitute for another person’s physical touch showing love. Not just any love. Gods love. Our time is of enormous value as well. There have been times since being home I have thought if some of the children we met are wondering, hoping and maybe praying “ I hope they come today.”
My prayer is one day these children will know Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior. That when that day comes they will be able to recall the time that He sent someone to hold them. To see them. To love them. God is faithful. So that is why I will rise up and go!
But that the world may know that I love the Father;
and as the father gave me commandment,
even so I do. Arise, let us go hence.
You can learn more about joining a One Orphan trip by visiting our website.