For the last ten years, as I have traveled around the world, I have met the same woman over and over again...
She is young, old, married and single. She works in a Zambian orphanage, in a school in Moldova, at the White House. She is a passionate Evangelical, an Eastern Orthodox believer, a Roman Catholic nun, a Syrian refugee. And she tells me the same thing in her English, Spanish, Ukrainian or Tagalog. “God has called me to love the orphan.”
She doesn’t know why she has been chosen, but it is the great focus of her life. She believes she has a mission to care for the hurt, sick, lost, discarded, forgotten children of the world, and she knows she can make a difference.
She is moving in faith. She doesn’t know where the provision will come from — she is trusting God entirely. She has made great sacrifices to do this work.
She wants to reach these children through her business, ministry, outreach, goods, prayer, teaching, food, clothing, foster care, adoption. She is sure that God has called her to this assignment, and she can’t rest until it is done.
In seasons of weariness, when she is feeling overwhelmed and tempted to walk away from this calling, God always seems to call her back. He fills her, strengthens her heart and she continues to persevere. She has seen small miracles, big victories, and many things in between.
Her journey began one day when she met that one child that broke her heart for the orphan. Her life has never been the same.
One of the first of these women I met came across the Atlantic to sit in my living room in the Fall of 2009.
Sarah sat meekly on the edge of the couch as the church women I invited to hear from her gathered their coffee and muffins. Once settled into our cushions, I asked her: “Sarah, tell us why you have come from Uganda to America?” She breathed deeply, and then quietly said this:
“The women of my country are floating their children in the rivers of orphanages, and I am hoping that you, the women of privilege, will be like Pharaoh’s Daughter and take them out from the other side.”
We sat stunned. No one spoke. Someone wiped a tear.
Women were floating their children in the river of orphanages because they were poor, hungry and dying. Like the birth mother of Moses, these women held on as long as they could, and then made the most gut-wrenching decision that a mother could ever make: setting their child adrift in the ultimate act of faith, believing against all odds that another woman would take this child into safety.
The metaphor was devastating, gripping and unforgettable.
Yes, we knew we were women in “palaces”, women with means, women who could offer shelter, safety and life. But more so, we were also daughters of a king. We were beloved children of the most high God, our King Jesus.
Who was this amazing woman?
After Sarah left, I fell into a study of Pharaoh’s daughter in the Old Testament. Who was this amazing woman? Why did we not know more about her? Was she not one of the most courageous women in Scripture?
I had seen the Nile: hippos, crocodiles, snakes, roaring currents, dark depths. I cannot imagine being so desperate that I could place my child in such a place. But of course, I cannot imagine the desperation of the mother of Moses, because I have lived my life “on the other side” of the river.
I began to think about all the “rivers” that children around the world were falling into — their mothers desperate for someone to rescue them. The doorsteps of hospitals where babies were gently laid, the police stations where tiny wrapped bundles were found, the toilet stalls where life was left bleating with the cord still attached. Rivers, so many rivers.
The Power of Women
A few weeks after meeting Sarah, in January of 2010, an earthquake ripped through Haiti, and children lay dying in rubble. I journeyed with a team of hopeful servants to do the small things we could. I witnessed horror beyond anything I could have imagined. The term “hell on Earth” became real for me. I returned from the mission shaken to my core.
But one thing held me…the memory of the women. Everywhere we went, women were superhumanly keeping alive the children that remained.
The face of one of these women stayed before me.
Our team had arrived in a low lying Haitian village flooded with putrid water. We were told the children were inside the primitive metal-roofed church. Thigh-high water sat stagnant in the church, but the concrete altar was just above the water line. On the altar sat 57 children with one woman, Dorheus. They had been on the altar for 34 days, with nowhere to go.
Dorheus fed the children on the altar from a small black kettle. They slept there when night came. The children were smiling and so was she. She was reading them scripture, singing them songs. The children were having vacation Bible School on that altar, day after day. When I asked her what her plan was, she said she was going to keep caring for the children and praising God until help came.
This woman had the faith of the mother of Moses. I can never forget the radiant love of God that shone from her under the most desperate of circumstances.
One day after returning home from Haiti, I sat weeping over the suffering I’d witnessed, the pain of orphans and the wait for my children during a grueling adoption process.
All at once I felt the Heavens open and God showed me a community of women that already existed around the world…women with my same heartache…women on both sides of the river. I saw that we could connect to each other. That we could partner to rescue these children of destiny. I wanted to unite us through the power of the internet, prayer and great works together.
And so, out of this brokenness, the idea for a ministry called Pharaoh’s Daughters was born.
Today, we continue to build a community of support for courageous women of faith, called to love the orphan. For all the women on both sides of the river. We are doing our small part to keep children out of the river, to rescue them from it, and to restore them once on the shore.
If you are reading this, I’m guessing you may have also been called. You may recognize yourself in this story. You are a daughter of the King, called to love the orphan.
If so, we love you, we receive you, and we welcome you home. Find your sisters here.