One of the first things I noticed after arriving at Shepherd’s Field was the scores of luscious, ripe blackberries that had just fallen from the bushes and littered the walkways across campus. In the days that followed, I watched as children played, walked, ran, and wheeled over the berries; workers crushed them underfoot; and visitors who arrived to see the inner workings of the organization inadvertently added to the concrete-staining carnage.
The colorful result resembled a sea of beautiful fireworks that had been frozen in mid-explosion – they left behind deep bluish-purple stains that I thought would never wash out of the winding paths. However, a few weeks later, the first rain had arrived since the blackberries had fallen. After a day of steady showers, the deep discolorations were a few shades lighter, much less noticeable, and looked like they would soon disappear with more rain.
That first day of rain also happened to be the day that Oscar, one of the children who previously lived at Shepherd’s Field, met his Forever Family for the first time. Like countless orphans in China, his circumstances were certainly difficult – many would liken them to permanent stains on the fabric of his life. Thankfully, God doesn’t view Oscar as being stained or permanently marred. He brought him to a loving place where dozens of compassionate people treated him like the complete, worthy, beautiful, and dignified person he is. Just as the purifying rains washed away the ‘indelible’ stains left behind by thousands of crushed blackberries, God used the people at SFCV and the loving acceptance of Oscar’s new family to begin washing away his past hurts, rejections, and unfortunate circumstances.
~ Ireland Gibbs