Monday, August 16, 2010

The Gift of a Servant's Heart by Andrea Roberts of RR

Click HERE to read an important blog post from Andrea Roberts, Founder and Executive Director of Reece's Rainbow (the orphan advocacy organization that brought Chrissie into our family!).  I'm re-posting Andrea's message here, but I wanted you to be able to read it on the Reece's Rainbow blog as well, so that's why I gave the link above.

The gift of a "Servant's Heart", written by Andrea Roberts on the RR Blog:
I don't post on here as often as I'd like to, but felt led today to share my thoughts.

Yesterday I read a blog post from one of our families who are in Ukraine now adopting two little boys who desperately needed to get out of that orphanage they were in. Her story resonated with me, and will probably resonate with you too.

"This morning at the bus stop I heard some soft crying. I crossed the street and I noticed a black puppy struggling under the bench at the bus stop. It was howling in pain. It must have been hit by a car and crawled off the road. My bus arrived just then so I got on and left. I couldn't help but cry for that little pup. I'm such a dork. I had to pull myself together or my day would be ruined. Crappy, unfair, hurtful things happen every day, all over the world. The only reason I was upset is because I witnessed the hurting puppy. I don't cry every day for all the hurt puppies all over the world. Why today? Crappy, unfair, hurtful things are happening to precious children every day, all over the world. We don't cry for them because we don't witness what is going on. We don't hear about it. We don't know about it. We don't want to, do we? Because then we might have to get a little closer to the edge. "

Every single day, God puts opportunities into our paths to do right by someone else. You see someone or something in need, and that voice in your head makes you think "gosh, how sad", but it's usually not loud enough to make you DO something about it. It could be this puppy, it could be a homeless person in need of a bottle of water. It could be an elderly person who needs help with their groceries or just crossing the street. It seems so cliche and "Girl Scoutish" to just take a moment and do the right thing, but I was a Girl Scout through my senior year in high school, and that experience taught me compassion and leadership skills and a sense of confidence that I could make things happen in my world if I chose to. I can tell you without question that God is WATCHING. We're all guilty of walking away or ignoring that voice...we're busy or late or are nervous to help a total stranger...the traffic light changed...we don't have any cash on us...he's just a drunk....what will I do with this puppy?....somebody else will come along to help....oh, the orphan problem is way too huge for little me to do anything about can't save them all. If I had $1 for every time someone tried to convince me of that, I would be a rich woman. Don't tell me that we can't save the world...we save the "world" of an orphan with Down syndrome very day!

Now this message is not to judge this mom because she wasn't able to stop and help this puppy. This message is to comment on how she felt about leaving it behind. It's a pesky little thing called COMPASSION...and the gift of a servant's heart. It moves us to be open to witnessing the needs in this world, and being open to hear God when He speaks to us...whether it's a puppy or an orphan or picking up a bottle thrown on the side of the road. DO THE RIGHT THING, ALL THE TIME. Reece's Rainbow gives you no choice but to step to the edge and to witness the need of these children first hand. It's easy to feel overwhelmed by the number of faces staring back at you from our website. Don't be afraid to let it in. The pain and heartache is gut-wrenching, but it also motivates you to step up to the plate and say 'Here I am, Lord".

I and our amazing team of volunteers and advocates work tirelessly to keep these children front and center, in the face of people both inside and outside of the Down syndrome community. Many are just oblivious to the crisis, and are appaled (as I was) when they first learn of what life can be like for these kids abroad. It is particularly moving when someone writes me to say "oh my goodness, I can't stop crying, I had no idea, what can I do?" RR isn't just about fundraising, but raising awareness is a 24/7 job. The need never ends, so the work never ends. No, not everyone is in a position to adopt a child for many reasons...some people aren't even in a position to donate. But everyone is in a position to pray and to share Reece's Rainbow with others.

My husband and I joined our new church here yesterday morning. (Grace United Methodist in Gaithersburg, Maryland). And I was grateful to our new pastor for giving me 5 minutes to introduce myself and share the way God is working in my life through my son, Reece. (as if I could cram everything I have to say about the orphan crisis into 5 minutes! lol) Many people in the church do not know me well, even though we have attended there regularly over the course of the last two years, because many Sundays, I choose to stay home and "work". 70 hours a week includes weekends. These children are languishing in orphanages and mental institutions. Every minute that goes by for them is excruciatingly lonely, boring, hungry and hopeless. They have no concept of the days of the week, they all run together in endless suffering. God commands us to rest on the Sabbath, but this isn't "work" for me. It is service to God and to His children, all of whom He knows by name and has given a voice of hope to through Reece's Rainbow. So resting really isn't an option...asking for help from others IS.

After my few minutes in front of the congregation, so many folks were moved, they had no idea of the problem, they were "so proud of me"....I appreciate that greatly, and it always feels good to know that folks like what RR is doing. But I am not interested in being honored or uplifted for this work. I am interested in people stepping up to HELP ME and to feel as deeply passionate about serving as I do. Turn that burden in your heart into action. RR is coming into our very busiest time of the year. There have been no "lazy days of summer" for me as we prepare for:

Updating and extending our powerful ministry video
Upcoming Buddy Walks (which we still need volunteers and donations for!, )
Our Christmas Angel Tree will be here before I can blink. (
We're still raising funds for our mission trip to the DownsEd Convention in Ukraine (Sep 17-23), empowering birth families of children with Down syndrome there (
Serving as the keynote speaker for the 30th Anniversary Celebration of Pathfinder Village (
My heart is burdened for the last minute financial needs of some of our adopting families, which is preventing them from submitting dossiers and traveling
Participating in the Raleigh, NC Down Syndrome Golf Tournament (October 2)
Accepting the Congressional Angel in Adoption Award (October 4-6 in Washington, DC)
Visiting with RR families in Richmond, VA and Raleigh, NC for their Buddy Walks (October 9 and 10)
Visiting with RR families in Alabama and attending the Birmingham Buddy Walk (October 13-17)
Growing our RR Canada program and raising awareness there
Expanding our ministry into more of Latin America, Asia, and Africa
Seeking more media opportunities outside of our traditional Down syndrome community
Reaching out for greater church support, from all faiths
Further emphasis on keeping the at risk children from being sent to the institutions
Greater exposure for the Older Children
Further growth of our HIV and Other Angels programs
Preparing for NEXT YEAR's World Down Syndrome Day in Bulgaria (
Preparing for the launch of the "Know The Truth" campaign for next Mother's Day already!
Maximizing our presence on Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, and the Cambridge "Who's Who" Leadership Forum
And somewhere in between all of this "executive/strategic leadership stuff" are the even more critical daily activities of answering new family e-mails, processing donations, posting new kids, updating FSP's, working through crises, building new agency relationships, seeking new children and new country programs, budgets, Board Meetings, etc etc etc. It ALL has to be done to maintain and grow this ministry....

There are just SO many ways you can CAN make a difference. Put your own servant's heart to work and watch your efforts change the course of a child's life! I can't do all of this by myself! RR has only grown as much as it has because of the commitment and dedication of so many volunteers and advocates who share the same passion.

Write me if you have questions, and thanks to ALL of you for everything you do to bring Reece's Rainbow into the lives of others.

Andrea Roberts, Executive Director

Reece's Rainbow Down Syndrome Adoption Ministry

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