At the bottom of this article you will find the link to a previous post about 12 children in China whose photos were recently displayed at an exhibit in Phoenixville, PA. Kelly Raudenbush, who co-founded The Sparrow Fund with her husband Mark in 2011 to serve adoptive families, was the driving force behind this amazing exhibit.
It began on an America World Storyteller Missions trip to Shaanxi, China in October 2014. One of the 15 team members on that trip was Ben Leaman, a professional photographer and friend of Kelly's. Ben spoke to some of the older children about photography and how shadows are a simple reminder that we all make an impact on our world.
Some of those children were given cameras. The result is the touching, amazing photo exhibit. Kelly Raudenbush shares the following as a conclusion to the exhibit from the Sparrow Fund blog:
Starting in May, every first Friday of the month until October, the quaint town of Phoenixville explodes with activity. Streets are closed, people are everywhere, and parking is atrocious. Restaurants are all abuzz with long waits for good eats. Happy hour becomes happy hours as bartenders can't keep up with the demand. And, there, in the middle of it all, is The Bridge, our church office, where on this first First Friday of 2015, something very, very special happened.
Portraits of 12 children were set up in the front window, and their art filled every square inch of the rest of that space. Hundreds of people came through Friday night--the vast majority of whom just wandered in on their way to catch dinner with friends. I saw their eyes widen as I explained the story behind the exhibit and showed them the pictures of the children who created it. I smiled with them as I told them about the little boy who loves to dance and the little girl who now lives in Omaha with her new family. I saw parents pick children up and point out details in the pictures. I heard them talk about what they would name each one. I saw groups of teenage girls gushing at how cool one of the pictures was and snapping pictures on their iPhones to remember it. I heard a young woman ask her friend if the text underneath each photo's name was "from the Bible or something."
There we were, right in the middle of all the activity, showing people the faces of children with special needs who don't have families, who call an orphanage home. There, in the middle of the bar scene, were 30 incredible pictures of hope and beauty and life. There, in the middle of crowds of people, were Bible verses next to each one of those pictures that drew those crowds in.
I was all alone in that space at the end of the night. While the sound of several different bands playing throughout the streets could still be heard, it was quiet in there. As I swept up cracker crumbs and packed up brochures, I thought about how at that very moment, the children who created all that beauty were probably sitting in their classroom together--all but the one sweet girl who was likely sleeping in her new bedroom in Omaha. Whatever they were doing right then--reading, learning math, staring out the orphanage window, holding hands with their friend--they had no idea how they had just changed the world on the other side of it. I can't wait to tell them all about it. I can't wait to tell them again how valuable they are.
We set out to change the picture some may have in their head of a “special needs orphan” and what he or she is capable of. We set out to make louder the voice and impact on the world that those children who we have grown to love have. We set out to honor them and honor the One who created them. At the end of the night, I believe that happened; I really believe that happened.
We believe this show isn't a once and done thing. We believe it should happen again, maybe again and again. Who knows. It will cost something, and it won't be easy. There's work that would need to be done to make it happen. But, I think it should because the world change is simply not limited to one night in one town in Eastern PA.
If you want to hear more about that, if you want to be part of that world change where you are, if you want your church or ministry to host this in the middle of whatever activity you are in the middle of, email us. We're working on putting information together for whoever else may want a part of this.
The term "special needs" is not always what we think. Many "special needs" children who are waiting right now for families have minor correctable medical conditions, some of which are already corrected. Some are simply older children, which qualifies them as "special needs". For many families who adopt a Waiting Child from the America World Waiting Child list, they can complete their adoption and be home with their child in as little as 12 months.
If God is leading you to consider a Waiting Child, our staff would love to answer your questions. Join us for our free China Waiting Child Webinar this Thursday to get details on this great program. We also have a free India Adoption Webinar next week where you can learn more about the growing India program.