Director’s Note: Tayler Lennier will be serving with Kingdom Families this summer focusing on media and administration. We were especially compelled to bring her on considering her past involvement during a short term trip in Moshi four years ago. Today, we’ve asked her to share what God taught her during that trip and what it looks like for her moving forward. If you’d like to learn more about Tayler and what God is doing through her upcoming internship, as well as support her mission here, please click here.
In 2013 I had the opportunity to go to Tanzania on a short term mission’s trip with my church. We did many different things while we were in Tanzania but, the one thing that I can’t forget was my time at an orphanage.
I walked up to the orphanage and was greeted by such beautiful faces, and contagious smiles. I looked at each of them, and I was brought back by just how much love radiated from each one. I sat in the dirt with the kids after a game of tag, and I realized this is Jesus. This is the Fathers heart. To love and care for the orphan. Each child I met in Tanzania 4 years ago, has a place in the Lords heart, and each child has a story. One worthy of love and belonging.
During my time in Tanzania, I began to ask myself and ask God, why. Why are there so many children that do not have a family? Someone to tell them great job when they come home from school, someone to tell them everything would be ok when they had a bad dream in the middle of the night. Someone to be there to put a band aid on their knee when they fell, someone to be there for guidance and love every day. I didn’t understand why I had such a great family and so many did not.
Before I went to Tanzania, I read this verse. And I was constantly reminded of it throughout my entire trip. “I did not leave you as orphans, I will come to you.” ~ John 14:18
God reminded me as I sat in the dirt how beautiful we all are to Him, we were created in His own image, and He looks at me, at you, in all our sweat and dirt and brokenness, and says, “I choose you. You are beautiful.” Because He is our Father and He did not leave us as orphans. We are a part of God’s family through the power and love that is found in adoption. How amazing is that?
I played soccer with the children at the orphanage. And in a few weeks I knew I would have to head back to the United States to start at a university. I would have my college education paid for by playing collegiate soccer. It didn’t sit right with me, while these kids didn’t have a family. I returned home and I couldn’t put aside the fact that so many children were living in orphanages. It broke my heart into a million pieces, but I am forever grateful the Lord broke my heart for what breaks His.
Family is God’s idea. Family is His desire. That’s why right after describing God as a “Father to the fatherless and defender of widows” Psalm 68 says, “God sets the lonely in families.” Author David Platt said this, and I couldn’t agree more.
“We learned that orphans are easier to ignore before you know their names. They are easier to ignore before you see their faces. It is easier to pretend they’re not real before you hold them in your arms. But once you do, everything changes.”
Everything changed for me.
I knew that one day I would return to Tanzania as the Lord put it on my heart in 2013 when I returned to the US. But I had no idea that an opportunity would arise and I would be able return for an entire summer to advocate for those who I held in my arms over 4 years ago. Gods heart for the fatherless is overflowing. I have the ability to love and care for the orphan as He does. What a privilege.
My heart is overflowing with the opportunity I have been given to intern with Kingdom Families this summer.