Saturday, April 5, 2008

A Boy's Story

I would like to tell you a story. It is a story of a little boy just old enough to remember things.

This little boy was taken away from his parents when he was 4 years old and taken to live in an orphanage. He was the youngest child in a group of 60-70 children, all living in this orphanage.

He cried for his parents because he missed them. He didn’t understand why he was in that place and that made him cry more. It was impersonal and was not a place where a child could receive the love and emotional nourishment that is needed to grow to adulthood. There were good times for the boy, but the loneliness and emotional pain far outweighed the good. Holidays were never good times, as most of the other children went to sp4end the time with family, but the boy was seldom allowed to be with his family.

When it came time for the boy to start school, the orphanage made the children walk to school in columns, with the children each holding hands with the child next to them. Other children at the school laughed at and made fun of the child, saying many hurtful things. The boy tried to excel in his schooling, but that only brought more ridicule from the children around him.

Friendships were unheard of because the boy didn’t know if a so-called friend would turn out to be another child who just wanted to hurt the boy. For the boy, trust was a dirty word that always resulted in heartache.

The boy, and others from the orphanage, stood out from the rest of the children in school, because of the clothes they wore. Nothing was ever new, and if there weren’t patches or sewn rips in the clothes, it was highly unusual. Underwear, when it had been used so much that the elastic waistband wouldn’t stretch anymore, was knotted so that it wouldn’t fall down. Clothes were most often hand downs from other children who had outgrown them. If pant legs had to be rolled up so the child didn’t trip over the excess, or belted tight so that they didn’t fall down, it was normal.

Rules at the orphanage were very strict and punishment for violations of those rules was severe. Punishments could range from denial of breakfast, lunch or dinner, to beatings. Beatings that sometimes resulted in the child having to go to the hospital for treatment.

Once, the boy actually made friends with another child at school. It was towards the latter part of the boy’s stay at the orphanage. The parents of the friend asked the orphanage if the boy could spend the upcoming Christmas holiday at their house. When the request was approved, the boy considered it to be the best thing that had ever happened to him. He was actually exposed to a loving, caring family.

Shortly after that, the boy was removed from the orphanage and placed with a family. It was not a pleasant family, who only wanted the boy to help work their farm. Here he was beaten, falsely accused of things by the other children, and had a lot of his personal possessions stolen from him. During this time, his real parents died, 6 months apart. Once, the boy ran away, walking over 20 miles in the middle of winter, to try to find his older sister. He wanted to ask her why their parents died and left them all alone. When he reached his sister’s home, he was forced to go back to his foster home. He never received an answer to his question.

Later that year, he was placed with another family. This time, the boy finally experienced what parental love really was. To be actually loved was something the boy had never known and it was thrilling to him. He tried his hardest to be worthy of that love, but it engendered hatred from the real children of his foster parents. The children thought the boy was trying to steal their inheritance.

Again, the boy suffered beatings, but this time delivered by the other children. He was stabbed with pitchforks, thrown into pig manure and forced to do all the nasty jobs on the farm. There came a time when he was forced by the foster parents’ children to tell his foster parents that he didn’t want to live there anymore.

The boy was once more moved to another home. This time, the home housed 6 boys who were in the same situation. The situation where they hadn’t fit in other homes. By this time, the boy was 15 years old and finally received help in learning to become a normal person. He stayed with this home until he graduated from high school.

Most stories are just that; stories. You may think that if something like this did happen, it could only happen in some Third World country. But this one is real. It happened here in the United States. I know, as I was that boy and I remember all of it like it was yesterday. When Pastor Tim came back from India and showed the videos about the orphanage there, it brought all of these memories back to the surface.

It made me think that maybe I could be the force of change for some of those orphans. Not that I could go there and help, or that I could adopt a child and provide that child with a loving family. But that I could help in other ways. I could provide funds that could be used to provide food, clothes and shelter for these children. I could provide funds that would provide appliances, cookware, utensils, etc., so that these children could have proper meals. I could provide funds that would provide these children with items necessary for schooling: pens and pencils, paper, and all other items needed for school.

No, I have that wrong. GOD made me think of these things. I feel that I have finally found my calling. Not to be a missionary in India, but to help that one orphanage in India. You have to have lived the experience to understand these children’s plight. I have and can understand so deeply that it hurts.

I will tell you what hurt me the most as I was growing up. It wasn’t the loss of my parents or the beatings I received. It wasn’t the stabs of pitchforks or the ridicule that was directed at me. It was something far simpler: the fact that when I moved from family to family, all of my possessions were packed in paper bags or boxes, as if I wasn’t worth more than throwaway products.

I don’t want these children to grow up with that feeling, but I can’t do it alone. I am asking the church to help these children. As Pastor Tim intimated from the pulpit, give up one meal out a week. Instead, use that money to help these children.

I will be working with Pastor Tim to determine what is needed and how best to help rectify that need. I will be in contact later with further information as to how we can help.

Yours in Christ!
Rick Fowler

FYI: Rick is a member of Cornerstone Christian Center, the church I pastor. He gave me permission to publish this true story/testimony here on my blog. He and his wife Donna are active in the work and life of the church. His wife, Donna, is battling cancer at this writing and they covet your prayers. -Tim


LK said...

It's even worse today. Now they medicate them as a means of keeping them under control. They bounce them around from home to home. Then rarely can figure out what to do with them.

Anonymous said...

Just read Rick's story. I knew about his adoption, but never the extent of his total experience--what a sad life for a little boy, and to never know what happened to his parents. Thank God he finally came to know some human love and then to know and experience God's love, the love that transcends all!

Karlene said...

Second time reading this and it still makes me cry! I am so thankful that he (the boy) never gave up and to see him (the boy) today just lets me know that there is a God in Heaven watching over us and taking care of us everyday! Thanks for posting his story!