The movie, “The Passion of Christ,” surprised many people with its success, especially its strongest critics. It’s vivid portrayal of Christ’s death stirred strong emotions and was spoken against by believers in Christ and nonbelievers. Its purpose and intention was misunderstood by many people.
Some spoke blasphemous, sacrilegious things about the movie and its content, while others saw it as sacred. It impacted all who saw it one way or another, shocked by the graphic portrayal of the suffering and death of Jesus the Messiah. Many were moved to great emotion both during and following their viewing of it, and it took a personal toll on the director-producer and the star who portrayed Jesus.
Similar reactions can be seen in the account of Matthew 27:27-56. My question is, what follows the reaction? What impact lasts beyond the reaction? Unless it is understood, a person may be left with unresolved questions—What does it all mean? What makes this so significant? This story needs to be heard by the heart.
My wife and I have collected many stories over the years, while ministering in the Philippines and working with abandoned babies and children, and abused girls. Each child, young or old, has a story. Some stories are intensely heart wrenching. Freddy’s saga is an incredible story of neglect, tragedy, and disappointment, with an extraordinary resolve.
Freddy is one of three brothers who came to Rainbow Village. His older brother, Wilmer, was deaf and could not speak clearly. Both the younger brothers spoke with the same guttural, indistinguishable sounds as the oldest. When the brothers came to us, they were quarantined for a week out of concern for infectious hepatitis. Their father died of hepatitis after their young mother abandoned them. Their elderly grandparents cared for them the best they could, but locked them inside a small nipa hut all day as they went to work.
These boys had never seen white-skinned people before our family, nor electricity or indoor plumbing, and were unprepared for living in a clean, stable environment. They were scared, terrified, and they freaked out! Thankfully, we all survived that first week.
Not long after they arrived, we discovered the oldest brother had a major heart problem that required surgery we could not afford on missionary support. Amazingly, God provided the means for the surgery. It was successful, but there was a long recovery, and only a few months afterwards, a tragic fire swept through our new building. Freddy’s two brothers were among five children lost in that fire. We were all devastated, but Freddy had lost his only family.
Within a month after the fire, an Australian mission team arrived to help with the rebuilding process. One of the Aussie’s had taken a real liking to Freddy and believed he and his wife were to adopt him. Because Freddy was older (five years at that time), the Australian government wouldn’t allow a normal adoption. It’s a long convoluted story, but the only workable solution required Helen and Ferg to move to the Philippines for processing the adoption.
They were committed to it, so Ferg sold his business, moved his family to Dumaguete City, and worked alongside us for a couple years. Ferg and Helen were a great blessing, as friends and coworkers, but the adoption hit another snag. The Australian government was still unwilling to accept their case because of bureaucratic red tape. They were disconsolate and moved back to their home in Australia with their hearts torn out, as was Freddy’s.
Because Freddy’s case[i]
had gone on so long, the adoption board insisted on matching him with a family, even if the family was not a great match. Freddy was excited—at long last he would have a family of his own! The wait was excruciating for him, for all of us. Finally the day came for his family to arrive, but the union did not go well. Nevertheless, Freddy put his best smile on and went off with the family, leaving his Rainbow Village family and home.
Less than two weeks later, the mother decided she didn’t want Freddy. Although rare, failed adoptions happen. Once again, Freddy was devastated. He was kept in Manila for therapy and placement, but we prevailed for his return to Rainbow with much pleading and intercession. Freddy returned, but a noticeable sadness and disappointment lingered in his heart.
One day, Susan sat on our porch watching the children play in the yard. Freddy ran up to her, handed her a crumpled paper, and ran back off to play. Scrawled on the paper Freddy had written, “I miss my mommy, my daddy, my lolo and lola (grandpa and grandma), Jesan and Wilmer (his brothers).”
Susan’s heart sank as she wondered, “How can I encourage him, Lord?” The story of Job came to mind, so she searched through the children’s Bible storybooks she had, but couldn’t find Job’s story—it’s not the usual child’s story. Eventually she found a readable version to share with Freddy. He listened to Job’s story of loss, injustice, and grief followed by great restoration. He turned to Susan and asked, “Does this mean I’ll have my own mommy and daddy and family again?”
“Yes! Yes,” Susan exclaimed! Freddy ran off all smiles with simple trust in this promise.
Soon Freddy was his usual charming and mischievous self, as he grew through puberty. And yet another twist in the story came, as if scripted for a movie. At a conference, the head of adoptions in Australia met the head of the international adoption board of the Philippines. Freddy’s case came up and they began to work on a solution—surely there was a way to legally place this young man with a family who loved him and never gave up on him. Amazingly, after much heartache and loss, Freddy had a family!
It was quite the reunion when Ferg and Helen traveled from Australia! Everyone at Rainbow was thrilled, though a little sad to say goodbye after so many years. We had a great sending off party, and Freddy and his folks have since returned for several visits. It is a remarkable story of hope lost and restored. Of course, there are many questions as to why God allowed so many roadblocks along the way? But, God had a plan all along.
What's going on in your life story? Are you wondering if God has a plan at work, or does it seem like your life is a random set of circumstances? Nothing takes God by surprise, though we are often unsettled by what takes place in our lives. Faith requires trust. Faith enables us to see beyond circumstances to see God's hand at work (Hebrews 11:1, 6).
This is another excerpt from the book to be published soon.
Each child that comes to Rainbow Village
is under our care through the authority of the Philippine government’s Dept. of Social Welfare Development. Each child has a case file that tracks their life until they are adopted or reunited with their biological family.