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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Hard and Soft (04/23/09)

TITLE: The Fatherless
By Cecile Hurst


Taking in orphans was my husband’s idea. I didn’t want to. Before we’d gotten married I’d laid down one stipulation: no kids. No kids for two to five years. At least two years. He had agreed with me – it would be just the two of us until I was ready to share.

Then, that first year married, that first year in China, we’d gone and visited the orphanage.

“How can you not want to help at least one of these kids Meg?” my husband asked me, tears brimming in his eyes.

But my heart was hard to the idea. I pictured the babes tied into their cribs with that thick red ribbon. When they fell out they would hang there like broken musical mobiles till someone decided to notice. I saw the blankets piled on top of the harelip child because the nannies didn’t want to look at it. I saw the toddler on the floor finger-painting with his own feces. I heard the feeble cries of the newborn behind the locked door, left to die because it was dubbed as too young, echo in my ears. It was ministry – but ministry to be had in once a week visits, not ministry to come into my home.

“Pray about it Meg,” my husband pleaded.

So I prayed; but I prayed with an agenda. “God – let my husband see that this is not best for us right now – we’re newlyweds – we don’t need this stress.” And I said “Amen”.

One sunny afternoon after a Saturday visit to the orphanage we got in a fight.
“How can your heart be so hard?” he accused me.
“How can your heart be so hard towards me?” I threw back.
“Have you even prayed about it?” he asked in disbelief.
“Yes,” I said back with a bite – “And God hasn’t said anything to me about it!”
“Well maybe you should read your Bible better,” he began.
I cut him off fast – “Okay! You want me to read my Bible? Here I go – let’s see what God has to say about it.” I flipped open the pocket-Bible I always kept ready in my bag angrily and stabbed my finger down on a verse at the random place I’d opened to.
“That’s not what I meant,” he started to object.
“No, no,” I snapped, “Let’s see what God has to say.”
He turned away from me with a shaking head.
“Isaiah one, verse fourteen – let’s start there shall we?”
He continued shaking his head as I started to read from the ESV.
“Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hates,” I read with fake cheer. “Even though you make many prayers I will not listen...” I kept on through verse seventeen: “Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.”

I paused, ‘the fatherless’ shouting out to me from the smooth pages of the Word. My husband was silent.
“It says ‘bring justice’ not take them into your home,” I mumbled as God’s loving finger poked at my heart and left an impression.

We took a two year old boy in over the weekends. We picked him up Friday afternoons and returned him Sunday evenings. I did it begrudgingly the first few weekends… but something was happening slowly to my heart.

I was being blessed.

When our Moses left for a home in Holland we discussed taking a child in full time. We would both have to change to part-time jobs so one of us could always be at home. With hands shaking I said yes, my heart somewhere in the melting stage. I prayed all the way to the orphanage. I was scared – of what I’m still not sure.

“Take any child you want,” they told us in Chinese.
We looked around the room of crammed cribs and tied up children, the smell of old urine and the chorus of sniffles ebbing around us like a lonely tide.
“Liang ge keyi ma?” I asked quietly.
“Keyi,” the head nanny responded – “Okay.” Liang ge is okay. Two is okay.

My husband looked at me with amazed and questioning eyes.
“Why not,” I said, “Two’s better than one, right?”
He gave me a wobbly smile, “If you’re sure.”
“I’m sure,” I said, a little surprised.

I really was. I was sure. My heart was calm – happy even – because finally it was soft.

(A true story.)

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Member Comments
Member Date
Bryan Ridenour04/30/09
Wonderfully descriptive, especially the opening scenes of the orphanange. Well done!
Jae Blakney04/30/09
I hate to admit it, but this one is better than mine.
Seema Bagai 04/30/09
I liked how the main character's heart changed just by opening the Bible. Good writing in this piece.
Lollie Hofer05/01/09
Oh, I'm so happy this is a true story. Thank you for sharing this lovely story. It fit nicely with this week's theme.
Margaret Gass05/03/09
I like the way you've written honestly; it makes us feel the mc's emotions and experience her change of heart.