by Jason Cruise
At the moment it is 4:14 am on February 21, 2012. I'm in Chisinau, Moldova, the poorest country in Europe.
Yesterday was a day I'll never forget as long as I live. I saw with my own eyes the power of hope once it's born into the life of someone who has never had it.
"and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us." - Romans 5:5
The girl in the picture is Mihaela, or "Michelle" in English. Six months ago, when I took this picture, I met this tall, skinny, 11 year old girl who owned the saddest eyes I'd ever seen.
The odd thing was that she was not gloomy, and she didn't pout. No, in fact, she had perfect posture, and walked with a purposeful step, as if it were by keeping her head held high she was refusing to quit, though the possibilities certainly seemed bleak. The orphanage director told me that Mihaela is smart, in fact, very smart. So it then made sense to me as to why she had sad eyes when I met her on a playground at a former Soviet summer camp in July 2011.
You see, Mihaela, even at the age of 11, had already done the math. She had nowhere to go when her time at the orphanage was up ... and she knew it. It's hard to feel loved when the idea of what we call a family is something she could only read about in a book. So, six months ago through Justice and Mercy International, my wife and I began sponsoring this incredibly beautiful girl who rarely, if ever, smiled.
Today, as I walked down a hallway of the school on the campus of the orphanage, I was stopped by some orphan boys who I'd recognized from trips past. As we swapped hugs and hellos, a fellow student must have gone ahead of us and evidently had told Mihaela that I was on the campus.
I looked up and what I saw was breathtaking.
It's true, no angels sung. No bright light ran through the snow covered window. Even still, what stopped my heart was that this girl with sad eyes was now walking quickly toward me not only smiling, but with her smile came a new countenance. Her face had literally changed since I last looked upon it six months ago.
You can fake a smile. We've all done it. What you can't fake is joy, especially when it's sprung forth from a heart which has a new song in it. Why? Because our great God, the perfect Father to the fatherless, promises that hope does not disappoint.
For the next fifteen minutes I sat on her bed gathering every word I could find to try and explain to her how much she was loved by my family. For the next fifteen minutes, as I spoke, she smiled and she never stopped smiling. No not once did she stop smiling.
I sat on Mihaela's bed giving her clothes, shoes, and other gifts from my wife and our boys. I told her that because the love of God was alive in us, we wanted to love her, and that as long as I was alive on this earth, she'd never again have to worry about her future, nor was she going to have to worry about whether or not she was going to make it. I told her that my family was her family, and we were going to make sure that her future was secure.
She smiled. And so did her eyes.
Jason Cruise is the founder of Mission. Mission was created to "vindicate the fatherless" in a country known as Moldova. To learn more go to www.themissionvision.net Jason is a well known speaker traveling across the country sharing his love for Christ at wildgame dinners and conferences. Jason has created many valuable resources for the outdoorsmen to take them deeper into their walk with their Creator. These items include DVD's, Bibles, and Bible studies.