Sunday, October 23, 2016

destination home : the promise concert 2016

the irony doesn't escape me.

for the past three years i've had the chance to work on the promise concert -- a fundraiser dedicated to making homecomings possible for vulnerable children in georgia and around the world. promise686 is an organization helping both foster care families and those who choose to adopt.

so, that irony ...
though, typically, a beautiful event raising money, somewhere in the middle of it, i am always struck with how brutal the reality is for so many.

this concert is a group effort taking many volunteers, but over these past few years, i've had the privilege of being the one to fuss over the ambience of the evening. i'm not going to lie, i love that job. i love turning a yard or a century home or (especially) an airplane hangar into something really pretty. i love figuring out how to design tables and colors and centerpieces in a pleasing and picture-perfect way. 

but then, somewhere in the midst of all that pretty-making, i find myself completely overwhelmed with the pain of those children who are living really, really ugly lives. because though i know the importance of the right aesthetic elements, it all starts to feel a bit insignificant when i hear the stories and see the faces and feel the hopelessness of the kids represented in this evening. 

last night, sitting with beautiful friends at beautiful tables on a beautiful georgia night, i listened to cassie's story. a story of sexual abuse and abandonment. a story filled with deep pain and family betrayal. a story, though one of courage and hope now, was once on the path to total destruction. and i am almost embarrassed to be sitting in my new dress and carefully selected shoes in my privileged environment when i cannot even begin to fathom the depth of this young woman's despair -- when i simply cannot comprehend even one hour in her own childhood shoes as a victim of incredible abuse. did i really spend so much time hunting down the right table decor? did i really stress over the font or the fabric or the most frivolous details of this evening when there's a girl with a story like this? and not just one girl. but thousands of girls and boys and children in our state; across our country; all over our world. 

we ordered cool, neutral-colored globes to decorate each table. they went well with the sleek black lanterns and the gray metal across the airplane hangar, but absolutely paled in importance when i think of the children around our real globe -- our world -- the little ones who don't have a safe place to call home.

under the direction of my dear friend and amazing event leader, julie sawyer, my job was also to make sure our guests had a good time and that they were comfortable. i'm serious, after the decor was arranged, that was my evening's assignment -- responsible even for making sure we closed the massive hangar door should the temperatures drop and people begin to get chilly. 

ironic though, because as comfortable as i wanted our guests (and, yes, even myself) to be, listening to the program i began to squirm in my seat. i squirmed to know the hours and energy this event cost when i cannot possibly know the cost of pain in the hidden corners of every direction we turn. every. single. direction. there are over 150 million orphans across our globe. one hundred and fifty million. that means if you grouped them all together in one place they would actually make up the 10th largest nation in our world today. is it possible that the 10th largest nation on our planet could be children without parents? children without a place to call home?

and foster care's statistics aren't any better.  there are over 13,000 children needing foster homes in the state of georgia alone and currently only 3500 homes available to meet this need. those numbers don't work. i don't have to convince you the enormity of this problem. 

i realize there's value in helping throw a great event. i get it. i get that people will write checks and want to return if the party is fun and the air is filled with festivity. and, honestly, i know it's how God has gifted me in helping make this stuff kind of happen. as superficial as that can all sound, i am pleased when God uses my wiring for His glory and purposes. 

but that doesn't mean, i don't get the irony. just because i care if the candle is cream or white or off-white, doesn't mean i don't get the insignificance of that flame when there are so many children being burned up in the fires of real neglect and need.

so there it is. those are the facts. that is my frustration and my embarrassment and my i-don't-even-know-what-to-do-next all rolled up in a few words. that's where i land at the end of each fundraising concert each year. i hear a few compliments and words of praise for how well it went or how good it looked and though i'm, of course, pleased, i'm also completely perplexed at how we can all go on living our comfortable lives when such horror is happening in every corner of our globe. our globe. not the pretty ones on our well-appointed tables, but the one we all call home. i am perplexed and dismayed at my own forgetfulness and apathy in the comforts i can so often take for granted.

so, yes, i'll post pictures of our lovely evening. i know some of you care to see them and i'm happy to share. but, what i'm asking in this blogpost is that even as you are appreciating the pretty pictures,
maybe stop and ask what you might do or give or be. is there a place on this globe -- near or far -- that God is, perhaps, asking you to step into? maybe it's providing the finances or maybe it's providing a family. there are many opportunities to come alongside the fatherless and that's why putting on a great event is important: raising money and raising awareness. maybe even raising the level of uncomfortableness in our own lives.

i know it's what our heavenly Father wants. in fact, promise686 bases it's entire ministry on the very heart of God.  He is "a Father to the fatherless ... God sets the lonely in families, He leads out the prisoners with singing."  ~ psalm 68:6

director, andy cook, and his promise686 staff

(don't quote me on this andy cook) but i will probably always say yes to helping at event like this because even though it makes me stare hard into the unseemly places of pain, it also reminds me there are so many doing so much to make a difference. promise686 is an organization faithfully taking one right step after another to do what it is asked. this ministry physically and financially comes alongside families who are fostering and adopting kids. currently, they have raised up and trained over 900 active volunteers specifically serving foster families. in addition, over the past 7 years, they have also raised great amounts of money for families who desire to adopt but cannot afford to do so. amazing stuff, for sure, but trust me, they have even bigger goals. please, take a look at their website and check out what's going on. 

the truth is, maybe we all need to squirm a little in our seats. whether we are caught up in our designing of events or just way too comfortable in our daily lives, maybe we are better for the  opportunities to squirm and feel the pierce of someone else's pain. 

not just to feel uncomfortable, but to be moved to do something. just something. one thing. anything.

                       "i am only one, but still i am one. 
                        i cannot do everything, 
                        but still i can do something;
                        and because i cannot do everything,
                        i will not refuse to do something
                        that i can do."  
                                                   ~ helen keller

the silent auction -- awesome job katie, lori and kim!

music by kurt scobie

so, yes, i was a little obsessed with the airport venue! 


Barb Hayes said...

I agree that it hurts when one realizes she has so much and there is more and more that needs to be done but remember the old say, "it takes money to make money". Well, that's what you were doing...using money to make more money for this great need. Thankfully, so many Christians today are seeing the need to adopt and are adding to their families this way...just as you did...but poverty remains a huge problem in America today. We, as a nation, need to stop taking care of foreigners abroad and look at our own homes first. Thanks for your continued edifying words.

Beth said...

I know that there is a much larger need, but in this time of year, do they have a need for Christmas items for the children? Do they do anything overseas (such as OCC) for which items could be gathered? I am not in a position to foster or to adopt again, but would love to help somehow.