Caring for orphans is a simple outflow of God’s own care of us, having adopted us as His own sons and daughters (Rom. 8:15). We therefore imitate Him (Eph. 5:1), in adopting and caring for those who have no one else. There are many orphans in Cambodia, and Action Cambodia has taken an active role in the lives of the ones that God has providentially placed in our path. Our goal is for them to grow and mature, desiring not only their physical health, but also their spiritual well-being. On the Action Cambodia team, the Lopez’s have adopted Cambodian children, and raise them as their own. They have called their house-orphanage Mordechai’s Courage, praying that the children they have adopted will gain a God-given courage to live for Him in a dark world.
Here is their story:
BJ and Andrea are missionaries with Action International Ministries working locally as ACTION Cambodia. In coming to Cambodia their desire was to work alongside the local Christian church and help in any way possible. After living in country for several months they were overwhelmed by the needs that they were seeing on a daily basis on the streets of Cambodia. Knowing that young Cambodian children are exposed to sexual exploitation, child labor/slavery, and human trafficking they knew we had to do something to help these kids. Moved by scripture and out of compassionate care and love that was extended to us by our great God, they were compelled to reach out and help children at risk. Verses like Psalm 113 kept leaping off the pages of our bibles, “Who are like the Lord our God, who is seated on high, who looks far down on the heavens and the earth? He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap, to make them sit with princes, with the princes of his people.” Psalm 10:14 “You have been the helper of the fatherless.” Psalm 68:5 “Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation.” and James 1:27 “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world”.
In November 2003 nine months after arriving in Cambodia they opened our home to our first child. She was twelve years old selling fruit and chips to support her dying mother. Six months later they took in another twelve year old girl who was living and hiding out in boy’s dormitory closet. Another six months past and they took in their first boy who was eleven years old being neglected by his alcoholic parents. About a year later they meet a ten year old little girl who had polio in both her legs. Her mother had died a few years earlier of aids and now, with her aunt having just died, she was orphaned again, but BJ and Andrea were able to step in and take her into their home. About six months later they received another thirteen year old girl who had been abandoned by her mother. On Monday April 11 2011, we were asked to foster a four month old baby boy, who was in failing health and had been unable to gain any weight for the last two months. Before being approached with this baby Andrea and BJ had talked about refocusing our ministry home into one that would raise boys, especially since the three older children they had taken in had now transitioned out of the house. They trusted the Lord in taking baby first as a fostering situation in order to give him a stable home, environment and proper feeding and care. After the six months and through much prayer his birth mother decided to sign him over to the Lopez’s permanently. One month after taking in Boaz they were contacted by another orphanage about another baby. This is his story which is made up of familiar, sorrowful elements: new baby, sick mother, brutal poverty, and fear for the child’s life. But as they 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 ago for $50. The mother, only 23 years old and living in and out of a relationship with the father, has two other children, and photos of her house show rotting palm branch panels over a rickety bamboo frame. The mother has not been released from the hospital since the birth of the twins, and she may have cancer. She was no longer able to nurse the baby, and had no money for formula. At the close of the story came the urgent question: “Can you take him?”
Inspired by the words of Mordecai in the book of Esther 4:14 “… And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” BJ and Andrea call their discipleship home Mordecai’s Courage: a home for children who have been orphaned and abandoned. Mordecai’s Courage is run as a family home that is Christ-centered where the love of God is being demonstrated to the children daily. The purpose is for God’s glory and the prayer is that these young people will become a light to the next generation of Khmer.
An essential part of BJ and Andrea’s role and responsibility is partnering with other orphanages through feeding programs and teaching opportunities. They have their kids participating in various livelihood projects to help them with life skills. They also periodically take their children on missions’ trips to neighboring countries. All of these benefits would enable and empower them in becoming dynamic and fruitful citizens of their own country.