When the Orphan Crisis Became More Than a Number

There are 153 million orphans in the world.

I have heard this number numerous times in the past. It showed up sometimes on my Facebook feed, often followed by some heartfelt plea for more workers in the field. It was preached from the pulpit, demanding recognition, shouting with urgency. “Think of it: 153 million children without families. Think.”

And yet the numbers never gripped me. It was a foreign problem, one that did not affect me and so did not insist upon my attention. As Stalin famously said, “A single death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic.” So I closed my heart to it, dismissing it as a problem meant for someone else. After all, what could I do in the face of such overwhelming numbers?

Then, in one day, it changed. It changed the day that we walked into a small foster orphanage in China. On that day, we saw the number, and the number became a person, and I realized: she is one of the 153 million orphans.

The conviction started to weave itself into the fabric of my life, until it settled into the very marrow of my being and pulsed to the beat of a chant that had been playing all the while in the background noise of my life. And I realized: one is enough.

She will never remember us from that one day, when she brought over some Legos and stole our hearts. She will never know how much she means to us and how we love her. She will never know how she stirred our hearts to action and set us on this path to adoption and orphan care. But for the rest of our lives, we will remember her and fight for her the only way we can–on our knees, appealing to the Father.

153 million orphans. 153 million orphans. Is her. Her. Her.

Photo by Shanghai Healing Home

“What it can never be about, is money, borders or politics. It cannot be about the multitude of numbers or the politics of the day. It must be about the ‘one’. The simple picture of one child with a family-sized hole waiting to be filled.”
Ransom for Israel