When You Just Don't Feel Like One Of Those Set Apart Girls

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

I sat in missions class, with my ankles crossed tightly. I was tense. With my journal out on my lap and a brightly colored pen in hand, I took extensive notes on reaching people of different backgrounds with the Gospel. As I sat in the beautiful chapel that warm summer day, one thought seemed to distract me again and again.

“You know you’re really not one of those set apart girls.”

I wanted to make some mental argument against the fact, but interactions with other ladies who seemed to be living poured-out lives made me wonder if there was something unspoken that disqualified me from being “one of them.” 

I was well aware that I had not by any means arrived to some perfected level in my walk with Jesus, but was there some expectation one had to meet, other than just being in Christ, to be considered a woman intentionally set apart for the King of kings? My experiences the previous few weeks made me wonder. I had somehow come to the conclusion that the term “set apart girl” must only apply to an elite group of Christian women who live astoundingly impressive lives. 

As days had gone by at school, I had taken note that there were certain ladies who avoided me. Something I was doing seemed to create discomfort among some people; just what it was had become a mystery to me. 

I’m too talkative. No, I need to try harder to start conversations they’ll enjoy. It’s probably my non-verbals. Don’t smile too much, but don’t frown. Stop being so energetic. Don’t speak encouragement too much, or it will be translated as flattery. Wear this. Get up at such-and-such a time each morning. Don’t be legalistic. Don’t lack discipline. You’re too pushy. Let them start the conversation. Be willing to help. Be confident. Not like that! Don’t hide, but don’t act like you have it all in the bag. 

I was trying to process everything; how do I best honor those around me? I felt extremely discouraged. It seemed like I hit a wall whenever I tried to live normally. “Maybe I just don’t fit the mold.” I would think to myself.

I’ve always been one to take too careful note of how people react. I often subconsciously study facial expressions and tones of voice. What did they truly mean by that?

According to my, probably flawed, observations, I was getting on a particular teacher’s nerves. Four ladies in leadership were made to feel less than comfortable, for whatever reason, around me. Some of my classmates looked down on me.

After a conversation with a friend I had looked up to, it had become apparent that I wasn’t quite reaching the bar. In an attempt to encourage this friend, I had caused discomfort and embarrassment. I was told that I was drawing attention to the individual instead of Jesus.

Oh, a set apart girl wouldn’t do that…. 

I looked out the chapel windows and thought, “Well, I’ll be out of their hair in just a few weeks.” It seemed like the only solution. Maybe I just needed another fresh start, since I had apparently blown this opportunity to live to the fullest.

The two months that followed were two of the darkest I have ever faced in my life. I thought through everything again and again. But it all seemed to say the same thing to my heart: you failed. 

My perspective was that I was too young, too loud, too strong in personality, too rough around the edges, too childish, and too broken for the title of “Set Apart Girl.” I had a past full of heartbreak, and it appeared that I wasn’t moving past it quickly enough. Each time I thought I was “sweeping up the broken pieces” I seemed to bump into someone else, someone more set-apart-girl-esque, and spill them all over again. 

Maybe set apart girls just don’t make these kinds of mistakes.

I felt much shame. Could I still call Amy Carmichael a hero of mine if I was so far off from her place in the endless pursuit of Jesus? Maybe I should stop saying Lillias Trotter is someone I aspire to being like since I am obviously failing at Titus 2 living. Perpetua was a much more impressive eighteen-year-old than I’ve ever been…

True Set-Apart Living

Even in the darkness of feeling unlovely and entirely wrong in nearly every facet, Jesus was present and at work in my heart. Where I had decided things were too broken in my life, after taking the nonverbal that I needed to get things together, I had given up at some level. I wouldn’t have been very likely to bring it up, but I was allowing my identity to be shaped by others’ perspective on my life. If someone I looked up to found issue with something I was doing, I immediately felt I was beyond grace. 

But it wasn’t true.

In the following months, Jesus was gently uncovering my issues and healing them. I had come to the conclusion in my heart and mind that if those in the “Set Apart Girl” ministry did not approve of me, then there was no way I was actually being shaped into a Christ-centered woman. (By the way, the ladies on the SAgirl team were kind to me!)

Jesus was exposing, however, that the only way to live a life that’s pleasing to Him was to get my eyes off of what everyone around me thought, and place my eyes on Him, and believe what He says about me. Am I living for the approval and applause of others, or do I only look to Jesus for security? 

As one writer has said, 

“I live before an audience of One. Before others I have nothing to gain, nothing to prove, and nothing to lose” (Henry Martyn). 

To truly live in a set-apart way means to live fully given to Jesus. It’s to be so taken with your heavenly Prince that all else loses its luster in comparison. I wouldn’t have had to feel insecure for even a moment if I had only seen my situation out of the lens of His Word. 

They don’t approve of me? When it comes down to it, in view of eternity, that doesn’t matter very much. The psalmist in Psalm 119 had this priority: “Thou art my portion, O Lord” (vs. 57). It’s not other Christians’ opinions of us that secure us before the Father; it’s only Jesus (Romans 5:1, 6-11, Ephesians 2:1-10). We’re not saved by someone we look up to telling us that we’re doing great or vice versa. My strength and security today comes only from the One who rescued my soul. He is the one who will keep me and sanctify me, therefore I have nothing to fear. He will not forsake me; He has begun a work within me, and our Jesus never forsakes or forgets the work of his hands.

I’m making someone feel uncomfortable? What if instead of panicking that I’ve ruined my relationship with that friend, I took the position of a servant, and sought out how I could better care for them? In the second chapter of Philippians, Paul exhorted the church at Philippi to serve others the way Jesus did:

 “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (2:5-8).

Instead of hopelessly assuming the friendship is over, what if I was willing to pour out for this individual? Would I be willing to give them space if they need it, or help them out if they ask? 

Being a set apart woman is not about having it all together. It’s not about doing every single thing perfectly, never making a mistake, not having a personality, having every book of the Bible memorized, using fancier words, cooking like Martha Stewart, always being out of your bed by three o’clock in the morning, or being a carbon copy of an impressive Christian you know. 

It’s legalism to assume that we are somehow earning greater favor in Jesus’ eyes by having all our i’s dotted and t’s crossed. Jesus would not have had to die if we could gain acceptance on our own before God. I am safe and unshaken in my daily life, not because Cassidy is just looking oh-so-spiritual this morning, but because Jesus has taken my place. He is unchanging. No matter what happens to me, and no matter how many areas of my life still need greater sanctification, I will never ever, ever be abandoned. 

My identity is not in my mistakes and mishaps.

My identity is in Christ alone.

Since I am in Christ, I know that He has set me apart for Himself (Psalm 4:3). I did not receive this title of set apart by saving up my behavioral allowance; it is a gift to me from Jesus. He lived the set-apart life, and because my position is in Him, I am robed in His righteousness (Isaiah 61:10). I have grace, the power to live out the life He has called me to, only through Him. It’s not in my own pockets. 

If you, as a woman, believe in Jesus Christ as your Savior, then you are a set-apart girl. All because of Jesus (and not because of you). 

“Let my soul be at rest again, for the Lord has been good to me. He has saved me from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling. And so I walk in the Lord’s presence as I live here on earth!” (Psalm 116:7-9).

Streamside Lessons

Monday, October 30, 2017

It was a beautiful fall evening. All four miles around the lake, vibrant shades of coral, red, pink, green, and brown caught my eye. It was all so breathtaking; the ground was covered with a layer of fallen leaves, each one declaring the majesty of their Maker. As I walked, I took notice of a stream. As first glance, between the strong movement of the large amount of water in a small space, it would have seemed as though someone was not keeping up their landscaping, but then I realized something.

I want my life to look just like that stream.

Such an abundance of life that it doesn’t fit in a small space. It can’t help but touch beyond the boundary of expectation, because it’s just so full. And floweth fuller every day… The dry ground, though it appears the same, a touch reveals it has been affected. The hard summer-scorched earth is muddy, and is being revived with every flow of the body of water. The narrow bridge will also be taken under too, if the stream flows over any more.

Can I say in truth that I am satisfied to overflowing in Jesus?

I want my life to be one that is so full of His living water that I can’t help but splash it on my neighbor. What if even the passer-by had to notice His fragrance from the words I had spoken, even if it was just about the happenings of the day? When needy people try to push buttons, imagine the impact one overflowing with the King of kings; Jesus is sufficient for even the most rude, insulting people.

He has the right words for the woman at the nursing home with the frustrated remarks, whom I was assigned to many a morning. He has the the word in season for the weary soul. Our Jesus gifts the garments of praise for the spirit of heaviness. For the liberal woman, deemed by some as unreachable, as she advocates for abortion outside the Downtown clinic; He wants to speak words of hope and healing even to this one.

Am I content to sit here, comfortably in Christ while a world around me dies and passes into an eternity separated from their only Hope? I hope not. Just as the stream continued to fill beyond the brim, so He wants my soul to be. Discontented to be complacent. Unwilling that the dry ground be unwatered only to wither up and die. Defiant against the human tendency to abide at-ease in my personal bubble.

No, He is too worthy.

Today. That woman who pulled out in front of me too abruptly on the road. She is loved by the Lord of lords; how much am I loving her? Because, oh Cassidy, if you are in Christ, then all the grace necessary to treat her with kindness is available to you. It’s available to those who recognize that they’re not enough, and depend fully on the only One who could ever be enough. When memories of mistreatment from the past surface in my mind, whom is this about? Is it all about me and how I felt, or is it all about a Savior who is entirely sufficient in my greatest moments of trial, heartbreak, and sorrow?

Don’t be a puddle! Be a stream, turning into a lake, that can’t help but outdo the ocean simply because Jesus is limitless. He hasn’t drawn the line in that relationship with the awkward older lady at the grocery store. Thus, if the vessel will surrender and obey, Living Water will be poured over her--she will be given an impression of who Jesus is, even as I set the produce on the checkout counter. Is Jesus impatient, snappy, not oh-so-present, and drifting off, thinking of other things? Or is He the one who serves, forgetting Himself and saving the sinner?

He wants to grow this Water in my heart; I haven’t exhausted His Word, nor His ability to reach those deemed impossible. It all starts with Him. And it all starts with today. Let His perspective infect and correct your tinted view of others.

How they are loved, desired, and wanted by Him.

Yet somehow I sometimes allow myself to get by with a quick little prayer of, “Well, if it’s your will for that person to come to know you as their personal Savior, then I ask that they would.”


My eyes do not capture His grand vision for redemption if I am willing to be tossed about as a wave of the sea. “It’s not good timing to share the Gospel. They’re busy”, “I am tired. Plus I am the wrong person to share Jesus with them; this patient doesn’t even like me and keeps complaining about everything I do!”, “This woman needs me to talk with her about her options as a teen mom, not about Him. If I don’t share the right resources with her, she could end up walking into the clinic and having an abortion.”

Do I live on my justifications or excuses, or am I so excited about Jesus that I can’t help but share Him with every person before me. If I’m as in love with Him as I keep saying, then there ought to be a different response to sharing Him. What if I couldn’t help it but show them Him--in the way I took care of the dog this morning, with handling well the rough situations that come in working in healthcare, in the circumstances of life that would translate despair to most people--am I showing the sufficiency of my Living Waters (Jesus)?

I don’t want to be a dead sea. Ever receiving His fullness, yet passively overlooking the opportunity to pour out.

Give up your raindrop of refreshment, and watch your Jesus turn it to a puddle as you give. See Him take your puddle and splash it all over those who have always bothered you, in the most refreshing rain they have experienced, as your small spot of Water takes up more ground, morphing into a stream. The lake isn’t far. His ocean of love knocks. Are you willing to give it up? Will I say goodbye to what I deem my comfort so that, in His worthiness, the Prince of peace might reign in more hearts?

On the last day, the climax of the festival, Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from His heart.’” (When He said “living water,” He was speaking of the Spirit, who would be given to everyone believing in Him….) // John 7:37-39

The Truth About Our Father

Monday, October 9, 2017

“But let the righteous be glad; let them rejoice before God: yea, let them exceedingly rejoice. Sing unto God, sing praises to His name: extol Him that rideth upon the heavens by His name JAH, and rejoice before Him. A Father to the fatherless, and a judge of the widows, is God in His holy habitation. God setteth the solitary in families: He bringeth out those which are bound with chains.”
Psalm 68:3-6b

A Father.

What comes to your mind when you hear that term?

Some of us smile immediately, thinking of the growing up years, sitting in dad’s lap, reading a book. While others of us would feel better if such a name did not apply to our God, as flashbacks and pain swell up within.  No matter what you have thought of fatherhood in the past, I fully guarantee that you have not plumbed the depths of this awe striking part of the nature of our God.

David had an insight on who our Heavenly Father is:
“Therefore David blessed the Lord in the presence of all the assembly. And David said: ‘Blessed are you, O Lord, the God of Israel our father, forever and ever. Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all’” (1 Chronicles 29:10-11).

Look at all the things this passage tells us our Father has sway over: the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, the majesty, all things in heaven and on earth, and the Kingdom. We know that we are never neglected, forgotten, left, over-corrected, abused, or hammered over the head by our Father.

Not only did He skillfully create us for Himself, purposefully guiding and protecting our lives from the womb, but He also pursued us when spat in His face and lived in rebellion to Him. We were that prodigal child that brought the tears, the aches, and the pain to a Father who had always been just and loving--never once doing us wrong. Having broken every single law of our Father’s and falling altogether short of His glory, yet He pursued us. In our entirely ugly, miry-clay covered lives, He had a plan of redemption. A plan to restore us unto Himself.

He drew us out of many waters, and brought us near at the greatest possible price--the price of His very own Son. Dying what is thought to be the most brutal death possible, Jesus stayed at that barbaric cross until the work was entirely finished.

Let us not forget that our Father has never forsaken us, and today He bids us come and die. He is worthy--He has seen us unto the second birth, a birth in Christ--and He desires all to be His children.

“The Lord Jehovah does not delay His promises as people consider delay, but He is patient for your sakes, and because He is not willing that any person would perish, but that every person would come to conversion” (2 Peter 3:9 ABPE).

This devotional was written for Ellerslie Discipleship Training's Always Be Ready Night. It was also featured in the devotional book "Great Is Thy Faithfulness."

The First Week of Ellerslie

Thursday, June 8, 2017

It's kind of crazy that I've been here at Ellerslie for five days already! A lot has happened! On June 3rd I arrived at the Denver Airport, and was greeted by two of the sweet staff members: Kimberly and Sarah. I was so excited; it all felt so surreal! I had prayed and dreamed of this place for years, and at long last, it was happening! That morning, I rode the shuttle from the airport to Windsor; our drive included many beautiful mountain views! Not something I see in Michigan every day!! When we got to the campus, I was taken into my dorm room where I met my roommates: Sarah, Janetta, and later Heather. I am so thankful for each of these sweet ladies I have the privilege of living with! Sarah is a Practicum D2 student (which, in case you don't know, is one of the other, higher up, programs they have at Ellerslie). She's radiant, so thoughtful, and made me feel beyond welcome when I came in. Janetta is from Kansas, and loves Jesus so much. She has been such an inspiration to me; during almost every free time she can be found in His Word! And Heather is pretty wonderful too!! She has a sweet, quiet personality, and deeply, deeply cares for each person around her; she has encouraged me so much!

Jesus has really been drawing me closer to Himself through this time here. I can't completely describe it.... But one little song has a fragment into it:

"My heart responds with Holy, Holy!"

The first evening we had a picnic on the lawn by the dorms:

On Tuesday, they told us about the schedule of how we would be reading through the New Testament 2 times in these three months, and the other exciting assignments to be done!

It's seriously beautiful around here....

Just to confuse you, we'll jump backwards. On Sunday we had our campus tour:

My tour group :)

Then we had our ID photos taken:

Here are a few common sights for the Ellerslie student:

Banquet night was so wonderful! We got to meet all our teachers and hear more about the vision behind Ellerslie:

Coffee House 29 is a GREAT place to go, if you're ever in Windsor. I've already been there twice!

[I know right about now you're thinking how you should come to Ellerslie too! You should click here and totally go yourself....]

Ellerslie: His Perfect Provision

Saturday, June 3, 2017

It's like a dream. Today by noon I'll officially be an Ellerslie student. I'm feeling so expectant, excited, joy-filled, and totally over the moon. There aren't words for this feeling!

"So what exactly is Ellerslie?" People have been asking me this question lately. If you had asked me a few years ago, I would have had no idea. On a winter day, half way through middle school, I was looking through some of Bright Light's recommended resources in their online store, and as I looked through many different titles, I came across this unique name: Ludy. "What is this?" I asked myself. I looked at some of the reviews, and noticed that some people raved over their books, while others were extreme critics. I was intrigued by the sound of the book "The Lost Art of True Beauty," and read it shortly after. It wasn't until I brought it home from the library that I realized that I had read one of their other books before: "When God Writes Your Love Story." To be fully honest, I tend to hate books (I've never been a huge reader...). But "The Lost Art of True Beauty" had me rushing home from the events of the day just to read one more page. My life was greatly impacted by that book. Eventually I found their online magazine "Setapartgirl" where I saw an ad for Ellerslie.

Just that week I had been talking with my mom about my hopes to attend a medical missions school in the Philippines, and I told her that there was no way I would change my mind on that plan. In my head, it was set in stone! I wasn't about to let some "Ellerslie," whatever that was, change my long-time plan to study as a midwife. No way!

"Well, that's nice, but I'm not going there!"

I was determined. But as I gave each of my plans into Jesus' hands, my heart was slowly being changed. As an attempt to dissuade myself from considering Ellerslie, I started listening to Eric Ludy--the president of Ellerslie's--sermons. I listened to one, going in with an extremely skeptical attitude, as was usual for me, expecting to be able to permanently write this small missions school off my list for good. But quite the opposite happened. After hearing one the sermon, something stirred in my soul. His message lifted my eyes to Jesus; it was convicting, encouraging, and pressed me to pursue Him with everything in me.

I had a sense that somehow and someday, Jesus would work everything out for me to attend this school.

Fast forward a few years; it's January, the start of the second semester of senior year. "I am definitely going to apply this month to Ellerslie!" I determined. As I pondered where I thought Jesus would be leading me in the upcoming years, I couldn't find a better fit to prepare me for what is hopefully to come than this missions school. The defining characteristic of this school isn't how many students they've graduated, how incredible and breathtaking their Colorado campus is, their spectacular faculty, or any of their accomplishments (and there are may accomplishments, if you ask me).

The defining point of Ellerslie is actually one Person. Jesus!

After a few unexpected additions to my schedule, I sent my application in. By then it was March, and I wasn't sure if I would be accepted, knowing that there are lots of people hoping to attend this school, and only so many available spots. The three references I listed all turned in their character references in, in under 12 hours from my time of application being sent in, which was so amazing! It was a wonderful reminder of His hand being over each detail.

It was 5:27PM, exactly three days after I applied; my phone was ringing. It was Sandi, and I was about to have my interview. I walked over to my phone in disbelief; this was really happening. I was seriously about to talk with the Sandi McConnaughey (she's basically famous at Ellerslie ;))!! I took a deep breath and answered...

"Hello Cassidy!" Her sweet voice rang out.  Ahhhhhhhhhhh.

After a very sweet and encouraging conversation, and many interview questions, Sandi informed me that I was accepted. "Oh my goodness, thank you so much, Sandi!!!!" When the conversation was over, I ran to the kitchen and told my mom and Cami. It felt completely surreal.

That evening, I received my letter of acceptance, and a note about when tuition would be due. It all sounded just perfect.

Eventually a conversation came up with one of my parents about Ellerslie; they weren’t quite as convinced as they had been when I had first applied if I should go after all. I was very surprised. Not too long after that, I realized that the financial situation had also changed. My plans as to how I would pay for the tuition began to fall through. It was only weeks before the payment was due, but I had a sense that despite the circumstances, God would provide every penny.

A few days before I took my state Certified Nursing Assistant exam, I sat down with the nursing director of a local assisted living facility, a few miles from my house, and had an interview. I was so excited to hopefully pursue my first healthcare position, but part of me wondered if I would really be able to balance 3 part time jobs along with finishing up high school.

By His amazing grace, the details began to untangle. The thought of doing a "gofundme" account to help pay for the tuition passed through my mind, but I was convicted strongly that Jesus wanted to show me how able He is to provide. I did not mention the financial need to anyone who did not absolutely have to know. (In other words, only my family and a few Ellerslie people knew). Even though outwardly it seemed there was no way everything could possibly come together in time, He continued to reassure my heart. I had accepted the job offer of a caregiver position at the assisted living facility. And I had signed on a payment plan, so I could pay my tuition in segments, instead of all at once.

But something in me still stirred. Yes, the payment plan seemed like a good option, but I felt challenged to pray for an even bigger step: I began praying that every penny for tuition would come in before the semester began. It was "a lot to ask" considering the fact that I had about 1/8 of what I needed; but the truth is that God always has enough. It was not a lot to ask of the One who owns the cattle on a thousand hills.

A month later, I sat on my bed, calculating the thoughtful graduation gifts that had been given to me. My mom had helped me with the first payment, then my dad graciously took care of the second payment, and now there was a final amount to be payed. The amount I received from the graduation gifts, plus a very thoughtful gift toward my tuition from a sweet friend, equaled over the amount I needed. I stared down at my phone; had I calculated the numbers right??! I rushed out of the room to show my mom, who confirmed my hope.

Soon after, I wrote to Laura, the Ellerslie bookkeeper, with great joy, and explained what had happened. It made me think of the puddle principle…. :) (You’ll have to come to Ellerslie to find out what that is!)

Yea, before the day was I am He \\ Isaiah 43:13

I will direct all his ways; he shall build my city, and he shall let go my captives \\ Isaiah 45:13

I carry you; I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you \\ Isaiah 46:4

Hallelujah! And to think this is only one story of one million of His perfect guidance and provision!

Right now, I’m getting ready to board the plane; it’s like one big dream. Jesus is 100% faithful! Soon Delta Flight 1298 will be called over the loudspeaker, and I will be an Ellerslie Discipleship Training student. Wow.

Goodbye for now, Michigan!

“I am the Lord thy God… which leadeth thee by the way that thou shouldest go.” Isaiah 48:17

Abandoned in Hubei: Jessica's Story

Saturday, May 20, 2017

It was a humid 85 degree day in Hubei. A young mom held her three month old in her arms as she walked onto a bridge near the Yangtze River; she hushed her little girl, hoping to not be discovered for fear of being arrested for what she was about to do. As the sun rose just above the horizon, the lady placed her baby on a safe spot and pinned a note on her shirt.

“Shhhh! Qi ChunTeng!” Quietly, the young mom ran down the dock, looking fearfully around. At any moment she could be caught and reported to the police for abandoning her child. But what else was she supposed to do? Where would she find the money to raise this child? She was struggling financially. And her family would shame her for not giving birth to a son; she really didn’t want a girl after all.

In Wuhan, it was illegal to give up your child for adoption or you would have to face consequences from the local police - including possible fines and detention. To abandon a child was also against the law, and if the parent was caught leaving their child, they would be reported to the authorities. People who turned them in would be rewarded financially; this was especially motivating to the people of Hubei since the government controlled all the wealth.

Qi ChunTeng’s mother slipped away into the distance, feeling ready to forget this chapter of her life and begin a new one.

Soon little Qi ChunTeng’s wailing was heard by a village lady, who was on her way to the market. Most people of Wuhan were very used to finding abandoned babies, and would not go out of their way to help them, but this lady was different. Slowly, she bent down to the ground and scooped up a tiny, beautiful little girl. As the lady held her, she realized there was a piece of paper pinned to the baby’s sweater. She glanced at the description on the paper:


The woman realized that this little one couldn’t be more than twelve weeks old! She went to the police station and handed Qi ChunTeng over to them. The police filled out her paperwork, and placed her temporarily in the Qichun Welfare Home, a fifty year old orphanage down the street. An ad was placed, telling the community about this abandoned little one, along with the many other weekly abandonment announcements in the paper. The authorities did not see many of these deserted children ever reunited with their biological families.

Qi ChunTeng awoke in a metal framed crib, hearing the babies around her crying. This orphanage was understaffed, and although some of the employees truly loved each child, there were not enough people to go around. Most of these children did not bond with the workers, but learned to fend for themselves, as well as they could. This caused the little ones to be closed toward other people, since even the most basic needs weren’t always met. Any love that was given to these children was temporary--from their parents, to the police, to the orphanage staff, to foster care--as the children became older, an underlying question remained: “Am I worth enough to anyone for them to take the time to care for me faithfully? Will everyone get up and leave on me?”

After nine months at the orphanage, little Qi ChunTeng was transferred to a home with two sisters who would become her temporary foster parents, because a family from the US was pursuing her adoption. This was arranged to give the adoptive parents the impression that their child had received one-on-one care from the very beginning. The Chinese government did not want the adoptive parents to become aware of the difficult conditions these orphans had endured prior to a family’s promise to give them a forever home.

By the time she was sixteen months old, the time had arrived for Qi ChunTeng to meet her adoptive family. The sisters notified the adoption agency that little Qi ChunTeng had a high fever the evening before; the agency decided it would be best not to expose the Eddy family to Qi ChunTeng’s illness, and looked through their files for similar children they could instead send home with them. The orphanages were so full that they didn’t want to send this family back empty handed.

The day the adoptive family arrived, miraculously, their little girl’s fever had subsided. Soon Qi ChunTeng--now known as Jessica--boarded the plane with her new family, and hesitantly embraced this new life as a member of the Eddy family. Eventually Jessica came to understand that her new mom and dad loved her, and were not just temporary people in her life. As she got older, Jessica came to realize that in the same way her family welcomed her in, so her heavenly Father welcomed her with open arms. After being shown Christ’s love in this family for several years, Jessica trusted Jesus as her personal savior, and understood that Jesus was the one who protected her at every moment. When her mom abandoned her at the dock, when the village woman handed her over to the police, when the police transferred her to the orphanage, and when the orphanage moved her to the foster family, He was with her every step of the way.

One day, while a middle school small group, a friend asked Jessica rather insensitively: “Are your parents actually your real parents?!” Jessica was taken off guard by her comment; she really hadn't thought about that. As the small group leader continued with the lesson, Jessica began to realize why she had felt so insecure in the past several years. She felt alone and rejected as she began believing the lie that her mother had left her because she was unworthy of love. Because of these lies she believed, Jessica became very introverted.  

A few years later Jessica was great impacted by two passages:

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).

“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them!” (Psalm 139:13-17).

Through His Word, Jessica found freedom to fully forgive her mom and let go of the lies that she was unworthy or unloved, combating both lies with the Word of God. She started praying specifically that her mom would come to know Jesus as her personal Savior. And that she would one day be reunited with her.  

There over 160 million orphans in the world who need to be rescued. Jessica’s story is such a beautiful reminder that every life is so valuable to our King. God has called each of us to stand in the gap for orphans:

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy” (Proverbs 31:8-9).

“Whoever receives one little child…in My name receives Me.” (Matthew. 18:5).

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world” (James 1:27).

Let’s be women who joyfully stand for these lives! He so longs for each of these orphans to come into His family, through Jesus!