11 Apr Allow Me to be Your Father – Lisa’s story from Every Orphan’s Hope, Zambia
Capturing Grace on a three week journey through Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Uganda
Every Orphans Hope in Lusaka, Zambia believes that God is a Father to the fatherless and intends for children to be raised in families. But in a fallen and broken world, that does not always happen. Orphanages are temporary solutions and they cannot replace the loving care a stable family can provide to a child.
Since God adopted us into His family when we were alone and without hope, Every Orphan’s Hope believes that every orphan deserves to be brought into His family too. They pair one widow with up to eight orphans to form a new family in each of their homes.
Over the last eight years my travels have taken me through over 40 countries, photographing and sharing stories.
I am so grateful to now have a Capturing Grace partner, Dasha, and return to some of my favorite ministries, allowing her to conduct in-depth interviews and tell the stories that my heart has longed to share.
Today’s story, Lisa’s story, is one of those.
Lisa’s heart for Jesus, and traveling, created an instant friendship. When I first asked her what places she wanted to go to and what countries she wanted to visit, her answer was as sweet as her heart, “ Anywhere Jesus wants me to be His servant.”
Lisa is now twenty years old, but her childhood was not easy. Before moving to EOH, she used to live with her birth mother. “My daddy abandoned us when my mother was still pregnant with me. He never accepted the fact that he was going to have a child.”
Lisa’s single mother had a lot on her plate to take care of but nothing to eat. “My mother struggled a lot and worked really hard to provide for me and always tried to provide me with food to eat,” continued Lisa as she was telling Dasha and me her story. “One day, she had to leave for a couple of days to work, but she never came back.”
Lisa’s mother took her to live with her sister, but her sister’s husband was against the decision, saying that he will not allow a child that is not his to stay with them. “But even in times of abandonment, God opened His arms for me,” said Lisa.
I came to Every Orphans Hope after learning that there is a sponsorship program from church. “I was five years old when I first moved here and remember entering this HUGE house with so many people. I did not care that I did not know anyone here, I only cared how big the house was! I had a full meal everyday for the first time in my life. I remember feeling so loved and wondering… where did all of this come from?”
“I also remember going to class for the first time,” continued Lisa as she reflected on a very special moment in My Father’s House during her childhood. “I always share this moment in my testimony because it is so important to me. Just the idea of going to class and having books and pencils in my bag and seeing a teacher inside my classroom were all new to me. Before Every Orphan’s Hope, I always stayed home while watching my friends go to school because my mother could not afford sending me. This was a big moment for me because learning was just this amazing feeling… a feeling I can still remember… I can almost feel it.”
“I didn’t want to leave school and I woke up super excited everyday. I had shoes, clothes, a bag, and food. I had everything,” said Lisa with a smile.
In the Homes, and with Mama Florence, Lisa and the other children had a bible study every morning with the mothers. “We gathered as a family and it felt so real,” said Lisa while telling us how she came to meet Jesus. “I was introduced to the Bible and Jesus Christ but Mama Florence had something bigger for me.”
Everyday at four o’clock in the afternoon, Mama Florence reminded Lisa to spend her special devotional time with God. “Everyday at four o’clock in the afternoon, she asked me to go to my room, lock the door, and talk to God. I did not know what that meant as a child at first, but it really helped me later.”
At first, everytime Mama Florence reminded Lisa of her personal time with God, Lisa would go to her room without knowing what to do or who she was talking to. “I talked nonetheless,” said Lisa. “I may have flipped through the pages of the Bible sometimes because I did not know how to read everything, but I started talking to Jesus.”
“One day in fifth grade, everyone in class was talking about their families… and their daddies. I had so many questions then. And for the first time, after all that excitement, I started feeling lonely. Where is my family? Where is my daddy? Why has my mother never visited me yet?”
Lisa told us how she became bitter to those around her. “I told myself that only Jesus in my room can answer those questions for me. Without Mama Florence even reminding me that day, I went to my room and closed the door. I asked God all of the questions I had and cried… This was my first encounter with God.”
Lisa heard God tell her, “Lisa, allow Me to be your Father. Give Me your heart. This is all I want.” This was the first time Lisa felt God’s presence in her life. “I gave my life to Christ and accepted Him as my saviour then.”
Lisa’s birth mother never visited her. Even though she had a family at My Father’s House, she wanted to see her birth family again. I could see the transformation through Every Orphan’s Hope in Lisa’s life. She stopped choosing to be bitter about such circumstances in her life, and from her numerous encounters with God, decided to do something about it instead.
“I thank God for having a mother-daughter relationship with my birth mother. My God taught me to forgive and asked me to go visit her,” said Lisa. “I have seen God in this journey, He has changed my mom completely. She started going to church. I communicate with her really often, like once or Twice a week. Every weekend, I visit her.”
“I like my siblings too, the three of them are younger than me. I am just excited to see what God has for me in the future so I can help them. They are really struggling and I am so thankful that God has helped me so that I can be there for them too,” she added.
Her birth family struggles financially. Lisa’s mother is a domestic worker but she is not working now. Even though Lisa’s siblings go to school, her little brother had to skip a year because her mother could not afford paying tuition.
Speaking of families, Dasha asked Lisa how she imagines her future family. “Amazing,” Lisa answered with a wide smile. Lisa wants to adopt two kids and give birth to another two. She prays for a God-fearing husband, who is also handsome, taller than her, and with beautiful eyes. “I also want him to travel the world with me and have a heart for ministry. I want to preach the gospel around the world and tell people about my God,” she added.
This is why Lisa is studying Business Administration in her freshman year in college now. After praying about what career path God wants for her, Lisa remembers God telling her that, “Whatever you do, Lisa, I am going to establish you in it.” Now, Lisa hopes that her degree in business will help her start a ministry later.
Her passion to serve comes from knowing “Uncle Gary and Mama Debby’s” story. “After fifteen years of being in My Father’s House, everything I have now would not be without my dear Uncle Gary listening to God and obeying him. Everytime I look at him, I ask myself: How can somebody give so much to children he does not know or is not related to? I ask God to give me the wisdom and ability to help so many people, like he did.”
“I cannot give money back but I can help others and touch lives like he did,” she continued. For 20 years, Every Orphan’s Hope has been rescuing, restoring, and raising orphans to new life in Christ, while accomodating children who need the security, stability, and love of a permanent family, and Lisa’s story is one of many.
As Lisa was speaking, I could not get a picture I have of her off my mind. I showed Dasha a picture of Lisa when she was just six years old, wearing a school uniform. This is a picture of Lisa from her first day of school that I keep in my special folder, and every time I look at it, I see God’s restoration of His own children, reaching out with His hand; “Allow Me to be your Father.”
About Every Orphans Hope