God Doesn’t Need Me

This is our daughter, just after she arrived at the orphanage. Taken by a doctor who wanted to show us the extent of her malnourishment.

Yes, the orphan crisis is one of the few things that keeps me up at night. Children not only abandoned to AIDs, poverty and war but then subject to exploitation at the hands of traffickers in their own hometowns … and in my hometown. The lump in my throat comes not at the vast numbers of children orphaned throughout the world, but at the mental image of one single child. Cracked lips, hair matted from sweat, dirt caked fingernails and bloodshot eyes from yet another night of poor sleep on the street.

Millions of little cross-bearers fill our earth, without someone to help carry their load. I have yet to hear a story of an orphan enfolded into a home that didn’t reek of pain. The weight of my own personal pain has seemed unbearable at times, but it doesn’t hold a candle to what some of these 6 and 7 year-old orphans have faced. Alone. Their tolerance for pain stretched thin, and at an age where I didn’t have one “ouchie” go unkissed.


Eden’s ballet class is tomorrow. She dances around the room in a flurry of African hip-jerks and pirouette attempts. In her leotard and tights, the only thing that distinguishes her from her classmates (also learning to harness their energy into beauty) is her size. I sometimes forget that her petite frame didn’t come because God intended her to be pint-sized — but because, as an infant, she spent her days laying alone next to the field where her father worked. No breast to feed this little ballerina.

As I futilely try to wrap my mind around how I see one of the world’s greatest crises — a child plodding through life parent-less — there is one conclusion, however, that I keep coming back to.

God doesn’t need me.

I have to admit there are times when I’ve approached this crisis (and even our own adoption as an answer) with a virulent pride, albeit subtle. On the surface, it comes in the form of seeing myself orchestrating a rescue mission, but a few layers deep reveals a fissure in my understanding of God. He did not create this crisis — but that does not mean He is powerless to fix it. And when the catalyst for my actions is the belief that God needs me to respond,  He is relegated to a co-pilot. I become the healer, He becomes my helper as I heal.

The end result of this line of thinking or an intimate peak into the things God cares about can look the same: zealous passion for the things on God’s heart. But the source of that passion is everything.

As we move forward with our next adoption, I wrestle with pride about how I am responding to (what I perceive to be) one of the world’s greatest crises. And when I’m there, I am usually furiously chasing paperwork and breathing down my social worker’s neck to see if we could possibly speed things up and get these children home sooner.

And at times I rest my head on His chest, like I used to do with my dad when I was a child, and I hear His heartbeat for these little ones. And I ache with the pain that He allows me to feel from His heart. And when I’m there … I am usually furiously chasing paperwork and breathing down my social worker’s neck to see if we could possibly speed things up and get these children home sooner.

I believe God cares more about the source of my passion than the reach of its output. My invitation to participate is less about meeting a need than it is about walking more deeply with the Father. And this hard-won truth has come after years of zealous pride in my “work”.

I know now that there are two rescue missions going on in this adoption. He’s rescuing my heart, even more still. He’s giving me a window into how He feels about orphans. His heartbeat. His plan. And He’s tenderly letting me in on His work, in the same way I allow my little Caleb to help me cook. He’s drawing me in deeper into Himself by using me in the life of a child He could so easily save without me.

And He’s putting the lonely — two of them, in this case — in a family. Even under our roof and in our arms, they will still need Jesus. Clean water, soft skin, and big comfy beds are what He lets me provide, among other things. But the power to save rests not in my hands.

He likes it when we respond to His heart, and the world is brought more deeply in line with His kingdom when we do so. It’s just that, actually, God doesn’t need me.

He chooses to invite me.

(And this is the morning of her first ballet class, almost exactly 17 months later.)

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14 Responses to “God Doesn’t Need Me”

  1. Lauren on

    God’s invitation into your lives to go deeper, is an invitation for us, readers, to look into our hearts and remember Who it is that calls us. Such a beautiful reminder, and tears spring to my eyes just seeing the proof in pictures of how God can work miracles in our lives today. Thanks for sharing, as always…

  2. Jill on

    How many ways do I love you!?


    You are precious! Eden is beyond adorable and yummy in that outfit! Can’t wait to hear how her lessons go!

    Praising God for your heart change once again which truly reflects the image more and more of our Savior and King!


  3. Kristin P. on

    What a beautiful summary of everything that God has been trying to tell my heart — but that I haven’t heard put into words yet! He used you to speak to me tonight… 🙂 <3 Kristin

  4. Courtney Holder on

    Hi Sara — I’ve been following your blog for a while, and really enjoy the posts. I shared this story you wrote on my blog site this morning because I think it helps make the statistics on the orphan crisis in Ethiopia personal. I hope you don’t mind. Please email me if you’d prefer I didn’t share your blog with my readers.


  5. Sara on


    I don’t mind at all — I’m honored that you would share part of our story!

    (Excited for you to have your child(ren) home soon!)


  6. Mandie Joy on

    I’m just now reading this one – at 2:00am – because the littles are awake and once you wake up in the middle of the night in Africa, it’s hard to go back to sleep.

    This sentence stood out: “she spent her days laying alone next to the field where her father worked.”

    There is a little girl who spends her days lying next to the field where her grandmother works…only “next to the field” happens to be my front porch. The orphan crisis becomes so much more real when one of them spreads her blanket on your porch and spends the day whimpering for her grandma to feed her.

    Thank you for opening up pieces of your children’s stories to us here and stirring the hearts of God’s people for this generation of orphans that is slipping away – fatherless and Fatherless.

  7. Emily on

    Hi Sara,
    So glad to just recently have found your blog! Wonderful! We are in the process of adopting domestically. We have always wanted to adopt from Africa, but we are moving to the mission field in one year from now and that doesn’t leave us enough time to complete the adoption before we go. We feel this unexplained urgency to adopt now and that time frame only leaves us with one option, so…here we are. My husband traveled to Uganda a few years ago and we actually thought the Lord might be calling us there for a while. i had heard that you have to live in the country of Uganda for several years to adopt from there. Can you give me info about the agency you’re using and the process, it must be different from what I’ve heard. We plan to adopt from Africa possibly after we move. Would love to talk to you about this over email if possible. My email is emilykines@gmail.com. Thank you so much for sharing your heart with us. I have been so encouraged. Thank you. In Him, Emily

  8. Shana on

    Hi Sara,

    Thank you for sharing your deepest, innermost thoughts; for being “real.” If you don’t mind, could you please suggest agencies to work with for Ugandan adoption? My husband and I live in Ohio and have recently decided to adopt from Uganda, but are not really sure where to start.

    Thanks for your help, and God bless.


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