Joe Brandi was a college pastor of a nice big church in Florida, making a nice salary, and living in a very nice house.
One day, a friend who worked for World Orphans asked if he knew how many orphans there were in the world. “A couple hundred thousand?” Joe answered only able to give a guess.
“143 million,” was the reply.
Joe was struck by the number of children who were parentless, but he wasn’t going to take the bait that he knew his friend was casting. Things were going too good for him to let facts like 143 million orphans rip away his nice life to start caring for the world’s orphans.
Some months later, he happened to see the movie Slumdog Millionaire. In it, a young girl is forced into prostitution. Joe’s heart stirred. Though the character was fictional, he knew that the hell this little girl on screen was living was a reality for children around the world.
Soon after, Joe began a battle with cancer that started to challenge his entire value structure—his comfort, his material belongings, his security, his money. So what really is important in life?
Suddenly, he found himself ready to consider opening his heart. He joined World Orphans on a trip to Kenya. When a friend took a photo of Joe and all the orphans, it was as if time stopped, and the orphans and their plight become more real than they had been before—hyper-real. It hit him like a ton of bricks, and it felt as if he and the orphans had swapped hearts. He needed to care for them more than he wanted to care for himself.
All at once, the job, the salary, and the house meant almost nothing to him—except for where they could fund his new passion: to love and care for orphans.
Today, Joe is the leader of the Rock Church Orphan Ministry and leads monthly trips to vulnerable child communities in Mexico and Nicaragua. It’s an exciting time, with the ministry experiencing growth at not one, but two distinct groups who are affected by the trips—volunteers and children being served. “We get to love and care for the kids, help to feed them and improve their environment,” says Joe. “But, we also get to see the people who come with us to the orphanages change, as well. It’s hard to see kids who have so little, and not feel the need to do anything to help them, even if it means uprooting your life to do it. I invite everyone to step out of their comfort zone and get involved with what God is doing in the lives of these children.”
How has God been working in your life or in the lives of your family and friends?
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