Any journey begins with a single step…

I sat in the St. Louis airport, shivering from fear, nervousness, and a fever of 102°. “What in the world am I doing?” I asked myself, surrounded by a group of people who were in the same situation as I was, but families who were complete strangers to me. Meanwhile, I was alone because my own family was hunkered down in a nearby hotel, waiting for my return with our…guest. My youngest daughter was suffering from the same virus I had, and at one point, my husband texted me, “Alison’s fever is going up—PRAY!” 

I burst into tears. The fear of the unknown challenge we were about to face, the fear for my baby girl, the fear I was making a huge mistake—my fears overwhelmed me, once again. Everyone has something she wishes she could change about herself, but the thing I wished for years that I could change–if I wasn’t too afraid to admit it–was my habit of fear. I was afraid of what people thought of me, I was afraid of not measuring up, I was afraid of the future.  My grandma was known to say, “Why pray when you can worry?” and unfortunately, I have put that saying into practice. Honestly, I didn’t know how to pray down my fears, and most of them were irrational anyway, so how was God going to “fix” this for me?

One of the sweet strangers in our group reached out and prayed for me. We were all tense and worried, I am sure. But this dear sister reached beyond her own concerns to pray with me over mine. That night, God began to lovingly and gracefully take my fears away in the strangest and most surprising  way possible: by opening up my home and my heart to an orphan girl from Eastern Europe named M.

Why in the world had our family signed up to share Christmas with a complete stranger, an orphan no less, from half-way around the world?

Here are some of the reasons why:

  • 147 million orphans live in our world today.
  • Over 1 million orphans are found in Eastern Europe, and the majority of these children reside in orphanages. 
  • At the age of 16, these orphans “age out” of the orphanage system.

Within two years of aging out of the system:

  • 15% of the children have attempted suicide.
  • 70% of the boys are involved in crime and gangs.     
  • 60% of the girls fall prey to sex trafficking and prostitution.


Statistics like these normally make my fearful heart search for excuses—I’m just a mom with young children: what can I possibly do? But when I learned about the ministry of New Horizons for Children, I knew I had to do something. And I felt that God was telling me that with His help, I COULD do something.  In his book, Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream, David Platt reminds us:

God delights in using ordinary Christians who come to the end of themselves and choose to trust in his extraordinary provision. He stands ready to allocate his power to all who are radically dependent on Him and radically devoted to making much of Him. 

New Horizons for Children brings orphans from Eastern Europe (and just this year, from China!), to stay with Christian families for 4-5 weeks during Christmas and in the summer.  The children experience the love of a family, receive eye exams and dental care, learn new skills, and learn that they are valuable. The most important thing they receive is the message of the gospel–Jesus loves them, He has given them value, and He has a plan and a hope for their future.

I would like to share our journey with you: how God used our family—a family the world might consider ordinary–to lovingly impact M’s life; and how God used M–a girl the world might consider insignificant–to profoundly impact MY life. The beauty of this story is how God performed miracles on behalf of M, and how through those miracles, He touched our lives as well.