I Wept Out All My Tears
Dirty faces. Dirty, tattered clothes. Dirty, ill-shodden feet. And sad, terribly sad eyes. These are the memories of Ludmila Karasik when she first visited the state-run orphanage in Rudensk, Belarus.
But these words could describe thousands, maybe millions of children worldwide who are left alone and unloved. Some are truly orphans whose parents have passed away tragically. Others have been thoughtlessly, yet purposely, abandoned by their parents for myriad selfish reasons. In Russian lands, alcoholism is a major cause of failed families that leave children abandoned. The sins of the parents wreak havoc on a child’s life.
Is it the plan of a loving God for so many children to be alone and unwanted on this planet? God’s wisdom is for righteous parents to raise righteous offspring within the warmth of a family. His back-up plan, considering the fallen, sinful world in which we live, is for His church to care for the helpless.
“Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this:
to visit orphans and widows in their trouble,
and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.” (James 1:27)
Will we hear and obey the Father to help the helpless children left in the wake of unleashed evils?
Ludmila Karasik heard and obeyed. But she is the first to admit that she needed a little extra coaxing.
She was already ministering to women in prison. An incarcerated mother there pleaded with Ludmila to visit her daughter. “Tell her I love her.” Luda was moved. But she reasoned that the orphanage was too far and too hard to reach by public transportation. She had no such ease of convenience as a car! She thought herself an old, weak widow with not an easy life as it was. Why the cost of public transportation itself would be a hardship in itself. Visiting this orphanage would be a real inconvenience!
But inconvenience was what had left many of these children orphaned in the first place – some were definitely inconveniences to their ungodly parents. But Luda was a Godly woman. And the Lord persisted in speaking to her heart to visit the orphans. The girl’s mother continued to plead with her to visit her daughter. And the Lord continued to plead with her at night.
After a month of many sleepless nights, Ludmila decided to obey the Lord’s promptings to go. It was winter and it would not be easy, but she knew that this was the will of the Lord. She took the train to the town of Rudensk. Then she had to trudge down a muddy, unpaved road. There was some snow almost up to her knees! Yet her momentary discomfort was quickly forgotten when she saw the poor children and realized their sad plight.
But what she heard, over the months to come, was even more distressing: stories of abandonment; stories of drunken, slothful parents; stories of abuse; stories of sheer apathy towards one’s own offspring. Each child had their own gut-wrenching story of how they had come to be at the orphanage. Luda listened to each one sympathetically. She comforted as best she could. Most importantly, she loved these little ones and she told them that their Father in Heaven loved them and would never leave them. And the children believed her because they felt His love through her. Wearily, at night, Ludmila would pray and cry, and cry. She cried so much that physically her eyes are now incapable of producing anymore tears. She told me, “I wept out all my tears.”
The children know nothing of her tears. For them, she always wears a bright smile. She brings big hugs and small gifts. She brings candy as her meager pension allows. When she comes to visit, the children run calling excitedly, “Mama Luda, Mama Luda!” She is the only mama some of them have ever known. She knows every child by name – around 180 of them, give or take. She knows every child’s dreams and desperations. She prays with them and instills a deeper, spiritual perspective. She teaches them how to care for one another. She teaches them the Word of God so that they will not fall into harmful ways. She teaches them right from wrong and reprimands them when necessary. And though Ludmila is a grandmother herself, she is surely also a mother to each and every child at the Rudensk orphanage.
But Mama Luda is more than a mother to these children. She is a tireless advocate for them. Knowing that she herself had limited resources, she began writing letters to westerners for financial help.
First a truckload of clothes arrived to replace their tattered ones. Then, slowly but steadily, the once dreary, cheerless institution was transformed. Bright murals replaced drab walls. Swings and slides were installed. Sponsors were found for each child. And packages arrived from the sponsors to the delight of the children, knowing there was someone on this earth who had thought enough about them to send a little something.
Mama Luda is also an advocate before the Father’s throne for these children. She had her entire church pray for a boy who was born deformed. His poor, little misshapen legs wouldn’t let him walk. They prayed. God answered. And now he runs! HalleluYAH!
So in less than a decade, the lives of a couple hundred children have been transformed. Ludmila humbly gives all the glory to God. Yet God used this one poor, weak widow as the catalyst for change to replace despair with hope. Through her efforts, she has garnered the help of many saints to the cause of these helpless, yet precious children. She is a woman who has answered the call of God, sent to the littlest ones. Mama Luda is truly an apostle to the orphans.