"Do for one what you wish you could do for them all."
As cutesy as that phrase may seem, it's become a lifeline for me at Back2Back. Giving your life's work to care for orphans can sometimes feel like trying to empty a lake, one cup at a time. There are a reported 163 million orphans in the world. Seeing their faces, knowing their names, meeting them yourself-- it changes you. You know you can't go back to a life of not caring, but you can feel paralyzed by the great need and your human limitations. So you do for one what you wish you could do for them all.
Back2Back has taken this seriously. Of the 163 million, Back2Back's Child Sponsorship Program provides for 528. Each one needs tutoring, therapy, dentist appointments, and above all, love. We've devoted ourselves to caring for these 528 the way we wish we could for all of them.
No country has this been harder to do than in India. India alone has 31 million orphans (around 1/5 of the orphans in the world). The concept of "doing for one what you wish you could do for them all" gets more difficult in the face of such need. We've felt the pressure and worked hard to remain faithful to what we know works.
A few months ago we had to end a relationship we had with the directors of an orphanage in India. It was one of the toughest decisions we've made, but without transparency and trust in the relationship, we couldn't continue to support them. Leaving the children in the hands of someone we didn't trust was the most difficult part of ending the partnership. The phrase "do for one what you wish you could do for them all" kept going through my mind. I felt trapped.
A few months later we learned that the orphanage fell apart. The children returned to living with some family member or friend who at one point in time had decided they could no longer keep them. It was exactly the kind of open door we needed.
Our staff in India tracked down every last child and traveled all over the state to meet with each of their guardians. We explained what happened in our relationship with the directors of the orphanage where the child had lived. We also told them about the land Back2Back just acquired, and the 3 homes we are building to house children in family settings. We invited the children to come live with us, and promised we would care for them as well as we would our own children. Each of them said yes.
We then went to the school where the children will be attending next year. We explained the types of situations these children are coming from, and how most of them are behind in school. The principal, full of compassion, offered to extend classes for the children who are behind into the evenings until the children are caught up-- truly a miracle!
31 million is an impossibly large number. But for these 10 children, we are relentless in making a real difference in their lives. So that's what we're going to do. One at a time.
"Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn't he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?" Luke 15:4