“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Luke 19:10
A racing heart with nerves on overload. Eyes darting 360 degrees, searching for anything familiar. Frantic urgency finally gives way to a hopeless resolution: “I am lost.”
We all know that awful feeling. For most of us, we first felt it as a kid displaced from our mom in the store. We were just too distracted by the cartoons on the cereals boxes to notice she momentarily moved aisles. The paralyzing dread probably only lasted a few seconds but our minds and bodies can still recall it in an instant.
But what if that fear was real? What if you really were lost? Worse, what if you were abandoned? That feels so excruciating to write. I honestly want to delete that sentence and talk about something safer. But tapping on my keyboards backspace button would only deny the reality of this world. It would also deny the true history of many of the children who have been served by our ministries over the last 28 years. For many of our kids, this is their story. But thanks be to God, who seeks out the lost, that’s only their opening chapters and not the ending.
I first met little Ariuka in 2018 when my family spent three months at New Hope Children’s Home in Mongolia. She had recently moved to New Hope after being found abandoned as a two-year-old at a bus stop. Knowing her story, she immediately had my heart. She was tenderhearted, easy to make laugh, and always right by my side. One of my favorite memories was when my family took her on a special outing, like we did for all the kids, to get some quality hang time outside the house. She jumped into the van wearing her Sunday best, a white dress with two matching bows in her hair. We were just taking her to the mall for some games and ice cream but she was decked out like a flower girl for a wedding. We all had a blast that day, completely care-free and having fun.
You can imagine my joy when our staff told me a Christian family in Mongolia wanted to adopt Ariuka. I read that email at 7am one morning and immediately began to sob. The thought was just too beautiful to contain. She could have an actual dad walk her down the aisle and an actual mom with her in the room for the birth of her first child. I was elated as she could also be the first child ever adopted out of our ministry in Mongolia. I’m so grateful for the love and care she receives at New Hope but I am keenly aware than nothing is better than family. We began the long process of discerning her adoption with Mongolia’s Department of Child Services, the prospective family, and, ultimately, with Ariuka herself. Praise be to God, she was just officially adopted into her new family on April 30th.
And I bet you’ll never guess what surname she was first given upon being discovered at that bus stop? “Found”. That’s never been truer than it is today.
The beauty of her life is the very mission of Jesus. The Son of Man came to seek and save the lost. We are moved by Ariuka’s story because, deep down, we want that same beautiful ending for our story, as well. There are seasons when our hearts beat fast and furious thinking all hope is lost. But even in that horrid moment, our Savior is seeking us out.
We are not forgotten, even when it feels like it. We are not alone, even with no one around. We are never unloved, not even for a moment. Like little Ariuka, we have a Father seeking us out. He will do whatever it takes to make sure we’re found.