Dear Brother and Sisters,
Blessings from Phnom Penh, Cambodia! It’s been a long while since our last update, but know that you all have been in our thoughts and prayers. There’s been a lot going on that we are excited to tell you about. For instance we have been blessed with another baby that our gracious Lord has placed in our home. His name is Judah and we recently celebrated his first birthday. I will tell you his story shortly.
Back in 2003, when the Lord impressed our hearts to care for children at risk by bringing them into our home, we didn’t consider babies simply because a viable need was never brought to our attention. At the time and still today there are thousands of children being abandoned and used in inappropriate ways, especially young girls between the ages of 10-18. The Lord brought us our first girl, Ponleu, who was 13 years old and thus He began bringing us kids who were between the ages of 10 -13. At the time I remember thinking what a blessing to have these kids who have already learned to walk and toilet themselves.
Now in our 9th year in Cambodia we have begun bringing babies boys into our home. Needless to say we have been busy loving, training, raising them and keeping up with their paper work in order to legally have them in our home. It’s not an easy process in a country where poverty (both physical and of the mind) causes people to believe in and accept the selling of their children. We have been fighting against this darkness since we have been here and by the grace of God, He will be glorified in this endeavor. Boaz Michael, our first baby, is now 17months and has been with us for just over a year. After months of much prayer and waiting on the Lord on behalf of Boaz and his future, his birth mother decided to give him to us permanently. Many people might say, “It’s better for children to stay with their biological parent”. I believe that is true in some cases but not in a country where evil has dwelled for so long, a place where people do not value life, and wouldn’t think twice about selling their child into slavery or prostitution to lighten the burden of having to feed the child or for a few dollars. We praise God for His graciousness to Boaz and to us.
Back to Judah, his story is made up of familiar, sorrowful elements: new baby, sick mother, brutal poverty, and fear for the child’s life. But as we listened to the details of Judah’s life, his story became even more heartbreaking. Judah was born a twin, but his brother died just two days after their birth. Another of his siblings had been sold a couple of years before for $50. The mother, only 23 years old and living in and out of a relationship with the father, had two other children, and photos of her house show rotting palm branch panels over a rickety bamboo frame. At the time his mother, we’ve been told, was dying of cancer. She was no longer able to nurse the baby, and she and the husband wanted to give him away. At the close of the story came the urgent question: “Can you take him?”
Can we take him? Absolutely!!! There was no question or hesitation.
The baby arrived at our home three weeks later (one month after bringing in Boaz). Not yet 8 weeks old and weighing just 6 ½ pounds. As the legal documents were filled out, we learned that his story had roots even deeper and sadder than we’d imagined. His mother had also been born a twin. Twenty-three years ago, she and her brother were discovered in a plastic bag in a garbage heap. A wealthy family took the boy, and the woman who found the babies raised the girl for 10 years. Eventually the woman’s poverty overrode her compassion, and the girl who would become Judah’s mother was taken to a local orphanage, where she stayed for only a few years before running away. She later married, and the rest of her story we have already told you. We chose his name Judah, which means Praise! And let me tell you our house has been filled with praise as we have rejoiced over this precious little boy and the preservation of his life. For months he really struggled to eat because of a milk allergy. Praise God, Judah is thriving, eating, sleeping and quite content, most of the time. Above all, we praise God that this sweet little boy now has the opportunity to know abundant life in Christ, in this world and the world to come.
Because He is Worthy,
BJ and Andrea Lopez