Redemptive families are raised up by God in His New Creation, through the resurrection life of Jesus. One such expression has taken root in an orchard in the Amazon Jungle, where a new children’s home opened its doors to children desperate for something new, in contrast to their life of abandonment, neglect, and abuse. Kids Alive Peru’s Children’s Home in the jungle, The Orchard, has welcomed its first redemptive family over the past year.
Since the arrival of *Cristofer and *Esther at the beginning of November 2015, five more children have joined the home. *Anita became the youngest in the home, arriving as a very little three-year-old. Initially unable or unwilling to talk, wide-eyed in the uncertainty of her new surroundings, her teachers now report that she does not stop talking, and her countenance remains bright and delightful as she plays in her new surroundings. Her story of redemption offers a stark contrast to the complete abandonment from which she was rescued.
Next to arrive were a pair of brothers, *Matthew (pictured to the left of *Cristofer, who is holding the puppy) and *Evan (pictured in the tree). *Matthew and *Evan have finally landed in a place to grow and thrive after enduring their earliest years in a life of instability. Before arriving at The Orchard, their memories of childhood reflected the regretful actions of adults all around them. Now their stories reflect redemption. *Matthew is eager to pray at gatherings, and at eight years of age, he expresses a commitment to follow Jesus. *Evan’s voice stands out among his new “siblings,” and step by step his behavior gradually displays more kindness toward others and diligence in his responsibilities.
The most recent children brought into this family include a pair of sisters, *Sharon (pictured with her new glasses) and *Claire (pictured holding the puppy). Though generations of family patterns can bring about harm and deep hurt, redemptive family offers an extended fellowship, even a great cloud of witnesses, that testify to healing and hope. *Sharon leads the way as the oldest in the house, through her own confession of faith in Jesus, and her little sister, *Claire, consistently displays meekness and joy.
Outside of the house, a summer service team installed a playground, where one of Zechariah’s (the Old Testament prophet) very special visions of a new heaven and new earth is rehearsed daily: “The city streets will be filled with boys and girls playing there” (8:5).
In the United States, a store such as “Toys R Us” operates with the mission “to be the Worldwide Authority on Kids, Families, and Fun.” A restaurant like “Chuck E. Cheese” provides a place where “A Kid Can Be A Kid.” These commercial establishments reach for what is good, though toys and food alone cannot provide what the One with all authority, Who is the Bread of Life, offers to children of all ages in His kingdom.
These children at The Orchard are in various stages of the investigation process that the government carries out to determine if indeed they are legally abandoned. At times, these children must appear before civil authorities to tell of the unimaginable horror they have lived through. Yet what really makes an impression are their reflections of inexpressible hope. They have declared within the walls of The Orchard, and in the halls of public institutions, that they want to remain at The Orchard. Their reasons include that they have their own bed; they eat delicious food; there is space to play alongside of others, and toys to play with; and they can trust the adults that protect them and love them. As one child put it, in this home they can be a kid. Because of what they have come through, such expressions of life defy human reasoning. Further, this redemption extends beyond the children to stand in the gap for their natural parents and families, who have been unable to care for their children. Perhaps The Orchard’s reach grasps some of the desperate longings of these parents and relatives, who may be trapped in the despair of poverty and its patterns. Only our Lord’s resurrection life reveals such healing and hope through His redemptive family.
The Orchard family continues to grow. Recently, the first house parents, Anthony and Leslye, moved out in preparation for the birth of their next baby. Now we are grateful to welcome Marcela and Irma. These single ladies have a heart for children and are active parts of their local church family. They rotate during the week to provide consistent and godly care for the children. The concern of the children leading into the transition included whether their new caregivers would love God. Though such transitions are a challenge, the children were assured and now know that the love they receive through this ministry is consistent and from God. Marcela and Irma, with The Orchard Director, Monica, and her family, along with the rest of the team, continue to depend on this love and share it on a daily basis.
Keep praying for this redemptive family and its growth in so many ways. We now find ourselves positioned to reach out beyond The Orchard. Other institutions and houses that care for children are coming to us for encouragement and wisdom. They see the difference, and local authorities even direct them our way to learn from us.
During this first year, as children have been received, others have been turned away because of having no other home available to them. This will change with the construction of the next house, which is now underway, with a plan to begin welcoming another redemptive family near the beginning of 2017!
*Name changed to protect privacy.