Joy of the Father

The name Abi means My Father. In the Bible it is the name of the Prophet Zechariah’s daughter, who became the wife of Ahaz, King of Judah.  Even though she is only briefly mentioned in the Bible, Abi was certainly a woman of God. Relying on the teachings of her father, Abi stayed true to her creator in spite of her husband’s godless decisions as king. If it had not been for the wisdom of their son Hezekiah, who listened to the Lord, Judah would have been conquered. Hezekiah obviously did not learn to listen to the Lord by following the example of his father. It was his mother Abi who, true to her name, clung to the fatherhood of God and sought to do his Will.

At Casa Shalom Orphanage in Guatemala there used to live a little girl named Abi. Abi was brought to the home by the child protection system at only 4 months old. There is little known about Abi’s biological family except that her mother abandoned her, and her elderly grandmother was in no condition to care for a baby.

Abi’s full name is Abigail which means ‘Joy of the Father’. Abi knows nothing about her biological father, and even though she was treated with love and care at Casa Shalom, she did not have the opportunity to know a father’s protection or provide her father with joy as a child. It is easy to assume that her name has little meaning. After all, Abigail is a common name. Her mother may not have known the meaning when she chose it, but God knew. God doesn’t make mistakes or believe in coincidences. In Proverbs 16:9 it say, “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.”

Even so, Abi’s name seemingly did not make sense for many years. In fact, because of the culture and regulations in Guatemala, lots of time passes and Abi still did not have a physical father to bring joy. There is a law in Guatemala stating that only those who are both Guatemalan citizens AND residents can adopt Guatemalan children. While this law was most likely created with the safety of the children in mind, it has caused their likeliness of adoption to be next to none. In addition to this, Guatemalan culture as a whole does not highly value adoption (although that is slowly changing). These factors together gave little hope for Abi to be adopted and even less hope the older she got. As everyone knows, the older a child gets, the less likely they are to be chosen.

Then, unexpectedly, a local pastor and his wife stepped in and decided they would become Abi’s forever family. Imagine her heart, protected against hoping for the impossible, suddenly pried open. Every year that passed, a board had been nailed over the door to her heart slowly draining it of hope. The first one was placed there by government regulations. The next one hammered on by culture. Then, year after year more were added with age. But now, at the age of nine, one little heart has been saved from being hammered shut. She probably felt fear, her world was changing. Then she probably felt hope, a refreshing dose running through her veins. But then, Abi must have been filled with joy. At last! Abi’s name makes sense. She not only has joy in her life, but now she is the joy of her father.

While this may seem like Abi’s destiny, it is arguable that Abi’s name had already been fulfilled. For those nine years while Abi was awaiting her father to arrive, she was being taught about another Father, her heavenly Father. Through those years, when Abi had no physical father to bring joy, she realized that she could give her joy as worship and gratitude to her heavenly father. Abi, just like the Abi in the Bible, stayed true to her name and clung to the fatherhood of God, seeking to do his will and bringing him joy. We are incredible thankful to Casa Shalom for being the vessel that introduced Abi to both of her fathers. Now Abi is experiencing a new kind of life with her new family. While many things have changed, one thing has stayed the same. Abi is still the joy of her father in heaven and now she is the joy of her father on earth as well.

 

Story by Abbie Russell – SOW Marketing Intern