“I praise you for I (and they) am (are) fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful; I know that full well.” (Psalm 139:14)
Papa T.L. awoke with his shirt soaked in urine. He smiled down at the tiny girls cradled in his arms. Staring at these wondrous creations of God, he whispered scripture and hummed worship songs over them until they were aroused from their own discomfort. After he pinned an old dry t-shirt around their bottoms, he picked them back up and danced to other rooms where the rest of his family of children slept. It was 5:20 a.m. and time for prayers, worship, and Bible reading. Rebecca (eight months) and Dina (seven months) had recently been brought to T.L.’s home.
A Missionary Home and Not an Orphanage
Having spent six of the worst years of his life in an orphanage, T.L. determined to care for and love those who had no one else—even as a single man. Instead of calling his home an orphanage, he gave each child his last name and said, “We are one big happy family.” Every morning he would pile children over the age of five onto his motorbike and take them to school. By the time he met Ruth, fell in love with her, and gave her his last name too, Ruth became “Mumi” to 42 children!
Over the last 23 years, 127 children have been given T.L.’s name, and 57 have graduated from college. He loves spending time with each one individually. But his greatest joy as a missionary is bringing them to Jesus, where they find true hope and a secure identity. Each day, a time is set aside to read from the Bible, completing its entirety in one year. Praying for needs is a way of life, and praise is given when the Lord answers. Seeing the fruit of their prayers has helped them catch T.L.’s vision of aiding the unwanted and spreading the Gospel. The older kids have become part of the ministry, helping Ruth cook, clean, and care for the younger children. Some are involved in T.L. ‘s broader mission of evangelism, church planting, and discipleship.
It hasn’t always been easy. More than 15 times, they were evicted from their homes because of their enthusiastic worship of Jesus. When there was no food, T.L. would declare it a day of prayer and fasting. During extended times of near famine, T.L. spoon-fed the babies black tea with sugar, and everyone drank watery rice. But they thrived in the family atmosphere and godly spiritual environment—even Rebecca and Dina.
The Joys of Maturing
These two girls grew up like twins and rarely left each other’s side. Attending school was exciting to them, and they excelled. Both accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior, and T.L. had the honor of baptizing them. From experience, T.L. knew the hard questions would come when they reached their teenage years. And they did.
Love Never Fails
Together, they asked, “Who are our real moms and dads? What happened to them? Why am I here?” Again, T.L. held them under his arms and stared at these wondrous creations of God. Turning to Rebecca, he said, “Your parents died from drug overdoses. Your grandmother brought you to me.” He then turned to Dina and told her, “Your father left to become a terrorist, and your mother died in childbirth.”
Then clutching these two weeping young ladies close, he recited portions from I Corinthians 13 through his own tears. “ Love is the greatest thing we can give one another. It is patient and kind and does not envy or boast. Love is not proud, rude, or self-seeking. It is not easily angered or keeps records of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, trusts, hopes, and perseveres. Love never fails.” He continued, “We have a heavenly Father who will always love us and will never die.”
Entwined in each other’s arms, they wept until the tears finally stopped. They thanked God that His will had brought them together. And they thanked Jesus for His obedience, sacrifice, and love that guaranteed an eternity where they would never be separated.