Last year, I was blessed to be part of a “Volunteer Group” to an orphanage in Brazil. The orphanage in Brazil is very similar to what we do at our children’s home in Pickens, South Carolina. One of the jobs that I had, on the construction team, was to take nails out of old chairs and boxes and get them ready for someone else to come along and reconstruct new and better chairs. There were times that I wondered if the Lord could get glory by me simply taking nails out of old wood. The reality was that the next person could not complete the reconstruction part until I took away the old, broken and rusty pieces.
We have a lot of volunteer groups and individuals that bless us at the children’s home. One of my favorite individuals is a sweet lady named Martha Clardy, or “Ms. Martha” as we call her. Ms. Martha has been faithfully coming, for nearly two years, to the children’s home every Monday afternoon to help with homework. She is a retired teacher who freely gives of her time with love, compassion and determination. We have two third graders who both struggle with staying focused on their homework. There are times when one or both will challenge her with poor attitudes and unfriendly behavior. I keep waiting for the day when she says, “I have had enough”. She never has. I often wonder if Ms. Martha becomes discouraged and wonders if she is really making difference. Does she ask, “Lord, they fight me so much..are you really getting glory from my work?” I know the answer is “Yes”!
Many children, in foster care, challenge their caregivers. Yes, even if they are volunteers. They internally ask, “What do I have to do to make you stop loving me or stop caring for me?” That is how they measure true love! Oh, my sweet boys have challenged Ms. Martha on more than one occasion and I’m sure she has left needing an aspirin. But, every Monday, she comes back! Because of her faithfulness, my boys are learning to trust again. Ms. Martha is not pulling rusty nails out of broken chairs, but she is pulling chips off the shoulders of broken lives. She is loving and caring for difficult children with tremendous compassion and patience. She may not see the finished product of their high school or college graduation; however, she is helping to repair years of mistrust and abuse. She is preparing these boys for a future that they can not image yet. The foundational repairs that she is making now will help these sweet, yet challenging, boys to one day become “productive members of society” Ms. Martha is an amazing volunteer that truly makes a difference!