When the Bible talks about caring for widows and orphans, is it just offering the church a pie in the sky kind of lifestyle? When James says, “Religion that our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress…” (1:27) is he just offering us a teaser? David writes in the Psalter “A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.” (68:5) Jesus demonstrates such a tenderness for those who cannot care for themselves, children and widows being at the top of that list. What are we supposed to do with this?
For years I relegated orphan care to a select few orphanages and widow care to a portion in the church that felt called to help. The Lord has changed my heart. That’s putting it mildly! He has broken my heart for the hurting and lonely of the world! Our Father has given me a glimpse into His heart for the helpless. I’ve seen children all around me who have no advocate, so my wife and I became foster parents. I’ve witnessed widows in defenseless positions all around me, so we and several others started Jenny’s Hope in Hughes Springs. I cannot care for every defenseless person, but I can care for the ones the Lord places in my path.
In other words, I can no longer ignore them.
Because of this stance, I am going to take a section of this article this week and interview the director of Stephen’s House Peru, an orphanage in the southern Andes mountains of South America. Please listen to his words carefully. He’s just like me and you. His name is Toby Shaddix. He is serving as a MPISD Policeman as he and his family prepare to live fulltime in the mountains. He has no experience living in another country. He has four daughters and a very normal wife. They are not weird people. They are excited about living in another country and caring for orphans. This is their story.
Toby, how did you become the director of Stephen’s House Peru? I went on my first mission trip to Peru in 2014. I was reluctant to go. I knew God was calling me to go. I had lots of excuses. I just ran out of excuses and went. I know the Lord prompted me to go through my pastor and my friend David Pippin. So, I went. It was a life changing experience for me in every area. I was able to experience firsthand what a third world country is like. Seeing the commercials on TV can be heartbreaking, but to spend a week living it is life altering. I saw the faces of the children and it changed me.
After the trip, I spoke with my wife in detail about all we had seen. We shared the Gospel with a crew of construction workers and saw every one of them begin new life in Christ on the trip. I had never experienced anything like that before. These thoughts lived in my mind for a long time. I was very resistant! Almost a year passed and my pastor showed me the blueprints for a children’s home in the mountains. I remember staring at those pages and the Lord speaking to me very clearly. I took the drawings home to speak with my wife and pray over them. We discussed it. My wife was scared to death to even get on a plane, much less leave the country! After much discussion and prayer, we decided to send my wife on a short term trip to Peru so she could experience firsthand the things I had seen. I wanted her to see how God works there.
This may sound small, but to me it was a huge affirmation, my wife agreed to travel and see! After her trip she came home very excited. I could see the imprint of the Holy Spirit on her life. Now we had both seen the Great Commission unfold “to the ends of the earth” through us. We continued to pray and seek God’s will for the children’s home. In March of last year the Lord spoke to me very clearly to say He was calling us to full time mission work in Peru.
How did God confirm this calling? The confirmation was overwhelming and scary at first. I felt I wasn’t really prepared to do this work. I had no graduate type training. I’m not a pastor. I’m just a Sunday School teacher! I felt very unprepared. But the Lord said through His word “And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness, to have the full assurance of hope until the end.” (Hebrews 6:11) When I heard this verse I knew without a doubt this was full confirmation of God’s calling on my family. I immediately woke up my wife and shared with her what the Lord had said. To my surprise she told me she believed the Lord was speaking and answering our prayers through that verse!
What are you most nervous about as you prepare to move? I’m most nervous about learning the language! I don’t know how we will truly fit in and be accepted. To be effective we need to be able to communicate well and shed as much of our Americana as possible. We want to be Peruvian to the glory of God! As we read through the Bible we see how God has taken men WE wouldn’t choose and used them for His glory. Just in the Gospels we see Jesus call untrained, uneducated men and women and use them in massive ways in His Kingdom. For Him to take and promise to use us is a testimony of His power to use His people for His glory.
What are you most excited about? I’m most excited to see over the years how my children grow and how God uses this to impact them to be lights in His world. Some people think it’s crazy we’d move our family when we have a home and are fulfilling the American dream. But God’s dream for us is not always the dream we have in our minds. I’m very excited to see how God uses us! When I think about getting rid of things we own and how attached we are to stuff, I think about how God is going to use us to impact eternity and I can let go. I would rather leave my children a lifetime of servitude in the Kingdom than a lifetime of accumulating stuff.
Any closing remarks? Just pray for us! We’ve started a webpage: onelovedchild.com. Check us out! Maybe God will lead you to assist us in this ministry. I pray my words will be an encouragement to you! I encourage you to seek church outside of Sunday and Wednesday. There’s a whole world out there that doesn’t know God. They won’t meet Him if we just stay in our pews. That sounds harsh, but it’s the truth.
Thank you reader for picking up this article! I pray it blesses you and challenges you! I’ll see you next week!