Lushomo’s mother recently died of AIDS, and without anyone to care for her and her younger siblings, they are vulnerable. And their vulnerability attracts attention they way that an open wound attracts sharks.

Although Lushomo is only twelve, she is now the head of the household and responsible for her five younger brothers and sisters. The stress of providing food, keeping them in school, keeping them together, and keeping them safe from predators who want to steal their property, steal their childhood, and steal their future is distressing.

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress– James 1:27

In just a few days, I leave for Zambia along with Piper, our RiverCross intern and my daughter. At the end of July seven other members of our team will join us and Sanderson Sianjina, our National Coordinator for Zambia, in the remarkable work he is doing to look after orphans, like Lushomo and her siblings, in their distress

With RiverCross, we don’t turn away from the distress of children who have been orphaned. Rather, we lean into the distress. During this trip we will:

  • Visit with orphan caregivers and directors to hear their stories and the stories of the children they serve.
  • Work with Zambian leaders to equip and empower these caregivers to address the trauma the children have experienced.
  • Visit a refugee settlement on the border of the Congo that is the home to 26,000 Congolese refugees and exploring how RiverCross can help the children.
  • Hold two Journey to Jabota Bridge outreach events for more than 350 children that include time for the children to share their stories of trauma and distress.

We do not shy away from the distress, but rather we lean into it.

For children like Lushomo, leaning into the distress means we can’t bring her mother back. But what we can do is equip and empower the women who are in Lushomo’s village to come alongside her in her grief, recognize her vulnerability, help her make a plan, walk with her as she bears the stress, and introduce her to the One who can bind up her broken heart and give her hope.  

Leaning into the distress means Lushomo:

  • Feels seen
  • Experiences support
  • And has a hope and a future

How is God inviting you to lean into the distress of someone in your life? Do you have an elderly neighbor who needs help with her groceries? Do you have a child in your life who seems to be hurting? Do you have a friend whose pain is palpable and needs someone to listen?

You may not be able to join me in Zambia this time, but you can live out James 1:27 by leaning into the distress of the vulnerable people around you. 


Cindy Finley, Executive Director, RiverCross

Building Bridges to Hope for Vulnerable Children



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