Rhoda’s story is an unforgettable tale of abandonment, mercy, and love. She is now the daughter of my former youth pastor and fellow ACTION Zambia missionaries, Steve and Stephanie Allen. But a few years ago Rhoda’s future was as bleak as what is known about her past.
The girl we know as Rhoda was found on the steps of a police station in one of the compounds outside Lusaka with no note, no identification, just left wrapped up like an unwanted gift. No one knows her real name, her real age, who her real family was, if she was abused or not, absolutely nothing. She was deserted.
And then the Allens found her. I was privileged to live with Steve and Stephanie during the adoption process. I got to see Rhoda play at the orphanage as an orphan, interact the Steve and Stephanie and their four daughters as a candidate for adoption, and finally as a member of the Allen family. It was like watching a caterpillar grow into a butterfly. Rhoda transformed from a very timid and cautious child to one filled with joy and laughter. Her extreme growth is due to the purest love that only a family can provide.
During this process I could not help but think how many other Rhodas are out there. I am sure one day Rhoda will fully comprehend the miracle of unconditional love the Allens have for her. Rhoda is one of the extremely blessed ones. However, there are other children out not as fortunate.
Zambia has a population of about 12 million people. Almost half of that are children under the age of 14. Imagine the future of Zambia if the next generation was raised eating nutritious foods, receiving a good education, and trained in a vocation. Just like Rhoda’s life changed forever when Steve and Stephanie adopted her I believe Zambia would be changed forever if a generation of healthy, educated Godly children were raised believing they could make a difference.
”Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans…in their affliction.” – James 1:27 ESV
I often imagine who Rhoda will grow up to be. Will she go back with her family to her adopted home and live like any other American? Or will she will return one day, a daughter of the soil, seeking to impact her ancestral homeland? What is beautiful about Rhoda’s story is that it does not matter, her life was radically altered when the Allens fell in love with her. God wants to see each and every orphan cared for. We can care for the orphans by investing in their future.