You know, I existed before December 15, 2012.
That was the day our first call came – our first placement.
Y’all come here for the MOM stuff. The KID stuff. The FOSTER CARE stuff. The DRAMA.
But other stuff is going on too!
Can I take just a second to tell you about one big project I’ve been working on?
Last fall, two suicide bombers walked into a Christian church in Peshawar, Pakistan right as church was letting out and people were setting up for a big lunch party. About two hundred people were killed, lots of others injured. Approx. 40 children were orphaned that day, and in the coming weeks as care for the injured proved either too expensive or too little, too late.
It was Sunday, so doctors were off-duty. When they were called to come in and help, and told that it was Christians who needed the help, for the most part they hung up their phones and went on about their business.
There’s a family that goes to our church, a Pakistani family: Grandma and Grandpa, four of their children, 3 of those children’s spouses, and 8 grandkids. They immigrated here about 15 years ago, seeking asylum for religious persecution they had faced in Peshawar. Before that, they were members of that very church for decades. Their family members and dear friends were present during the bombing; were injured, killed.
One day my friend Ellen invited me to their house to have lunch and to meet them. I came in and after some introductions and some tea, they literally looked at me and said “Ellen said you’re the person who can make impossible things happen. What can we do for them?”
My first thought was: What the HECK was Ellen talking about??? Eventually I guess I kind of thought back to a few things that seemed to me to be necessary, or seemed worthy – that I couldn’t see a reason NOT to pursue, so I sort of blindly and recklessly jumped into them, and my family, friends, and church came up around me and made it happen. I didn’t do it, they did it, and God did it. I just saw something, took that thing, and showed it to compassionate and generous people. That’s all I do, really.
So anyway, I thought she was kind of charming and flattering but totally misled. I thought hey, I can talk about some of the things I’ve learned and seen other people doing, and I can encourage them, and I’m sure they’ll figure something out, and I’ll help how I can.
Well, I went back for the seared fish.
And the green yogurt sauce.
Just kidding, but seriously, the fish is a big draw. It’s definitely my favorite. My boy goes for the cream-of-wheat-ish stuff and the flatbread.
But yes, we went back, and went back, and went back. And with Sharon and Ellen and my mom, but mostly the vision, compassion, experience, connections, and drive of this precious family, a plan sort of started to take shape.
A children’s home.
In the wake of the blast, the children orphaned by it were taken in by family members and church members.
BUT the Christians in Peshawar are the poorest of the poor anyway, and those families were only able to take in extra hungry mouths because of a small stipend that the government did pay out for each orphan. A one-time, finite stipend. After that ran out, those families who were barely feeding their own children, many of whom were also injured or had lost their livelihoods in the blast, needed to find a different solution.
We couldn’t find a way to get any raised funds into Pakistan and to the right people to administer them – so we prayed about it. I put out some feelers with NGO’s and other nonprofits doing this type of ministry in other parts of the world (couldn’t really find anyone in Pakistan though…), but what came through was the prayer. The solution dropped into our laps.
We weren’t sure where the home could be – so we prayed about it. A facility couldn’t be conspicuous, or it would probably just be bombed again. It couldn’t be expensive. It had to house 40+ children and caregivers. The Diocese of the Church of Pakistan in Peshawar came forward with a dorm, inside the gated (read: guarded) Christian part of town, adjacent to the school the children would attend, which was outfitted for several dozen children but not being used. It would be free, a gift. We would have to pay utilities — but then a Pakistani Muslim man in Dallas offered to pay all utilities costs indefinitely.
We weren’t sure how to go about raising funds and awareness – so we prayed about it. A guy at our church had contacted me about six months prior asking about doing a comedy fund raising event. We had done them before, but at the time we found ourselves sort of reaching and searching for an appropriate cause – and decided that we should wait for the right cause to come along and have it be driven by purpose rather than scrambling to find somewhere appropriate to give the money. I then, over the course of several months, had completely forgotten about the comedy event. I then went in one day to meet with our pastor to talk about the children’s home and what our church might be able to do for them – pulpit announcements, fund raisers, etc. While waiting for him to refill his Diet Coke to start our meeting, another woman poked her head in and said “Abbey, did you ever answer Scott about that comedy night thing? Should we just tell him not now?”
[Ding ding ding!]
Within an hour the event was approved by the senior pastor, and we were on our way.
So we had a comedy night event, in which I desperately hoped to raise $5 or $6K… ended up setting a wild pipe dream goal of $10K… and which ultimately brought in over $15K for the children’s home.
Before the comedy event happened, Grandma and Grandpa Pashi were able to go over to Peshawar to meet many of the children, see the facilities, meet face-to-face with those who will be administrators and/or caregivers (we will be able to employ some of the injured or the elderly who lost their bread-winning family members as caregivers, thus giving them a home and livelihood as well), and meet with the leadership in the Church of Peshawar. They established a Pakistani board, they established mechanisms and processes for funding and budgeting, they got letterhead, official receipts, return-address stamps, t-shirts… everything you could ask for.
Anyway, so here we are post-big-event. It was a huge success. But the crazy thing is, you know, children kind of keep having to eat. And they keep needing clothes, not TOO terribly often, but every now and then, since they have that pesky habit of getting bigger all the time. They also (hopefully) keep going to school, at least until a certain point. The funds we have are amazing. But we have to keep going.
I am not very good at fund raising. I am not very good at bigger-picture stuff. I can get really excited about something and sometimes I can get other people excited about it, but I don’t have much skill when it comes to longevity. I have read tons of “strategy” stuff about how to gain and retain donors, how to do this and that… and the truth is I REALLY want to just believe heartily in something and have other people believe in it too, and not be selling or marketing or strategizing. But I do know there’s a balance there, too. Passion with prudence.
Anyway, this is really important to me and I wanted y’all to know what we’re up to. If you have any interest in supporting this, please let me know. $20 feeds a child for a month. $10 sends a child to school for a month. $50 feeds, clothes, educates, and houses a child for a month.
We can’t do it all.
But we can’t do nothing.
So what can we do?
Something. Just do something. Put one foot in front of the other foot. Give something. Give up something. If not to this, then somewhere else. Be the Kingdom, be the hands and feet of Christ, be the answer to prayer. Be connected to the church on the other side of the world, your brothers and sisters.
Do it because giving food to a hungry person is giving food to Jesus, and when you meet him, he’ll be like “Oh yeah, I know you!”
Do it because true and faultless religion is to care for the orphan and the widow. Do you go to the right kind of church? Sing the right kinds of songs? Say the right kinds of words? Guess what? Doesn’t matter. You know what really matters? This. Are you caring for the orphan and the widow?
Not because you have to, but because Jesus knows that this is how you really get to know him.
Checks can be written to:
First Church Carrollton
2201 E. Hebron Pkwy
Carrollton, TX 75010
Memo line: All Saints Children’s Home
Or ask me your questions at thefamilydaniels [ at ] gmail [ dot ] com.