Derek uses his own experience in marrying into an instant family to address the issue of caring for orphans and widows. He stresses the need to get involved with others—loving them with your life, and sharing in their lives. This is a genuine key to finding joy and fulfillment in this life.
I was born in India of a British family, an only child, educated at Eton and Cambridge. I had, as they say, a silver spoon in my mouth. And then I went into the British Army reluctantly, and I ended up in the Middle East. And I met a Danish lady, much older than I was, who had started a little children’s home. And I fell in love with her and I felt that God wanted me to marry her and God also told Lydia He did want me to marry her. So when I married her, the same day I got a wife I got eight daughters. That’s the grace of God you see. I take no credit for it but I do give God all the credit.
Then Lydia and myself, we went out to Africa, to Kenya for educational work. And I was for five years a principal of a college for training African teachers for African schools. And one day, about five o’clock in the evening a rather strangely assorted group of people turned up—a white lady carrying a little black baby in nothing but a dirty towel and a black African couple. About five o’clock in the evening they said, “This little baby’s mother died in giving birth. She was found on the floor of an African hut. Somebody picked her up and took her to the hospital, she’s been six months in the hospital, now the hospital’s say, ‘We’re not a children’s home. We can’t keep babies.’ So we have been looking for three days in this whole area for any family, African, Asian or European, that will take this little baby. We went to the Mission Hospital and they said we can’t take her but the Princes take children.”
So that’s why they came to us. “Well,” we said. “You know that was long ago. We don’t do that now. And we have our own work and we’re busy from morning till night.”
“Well,” they said. “We’re so tired. Would you let us sit down?” So we gave them three seats and gave them a glass of water to drink. And after about fifteen or twenty minutes they got up to go. And as this white lady walked past me she paused just for a moment, not for any special reason. And this little black baby put out her left hand towards me as if to say, “What are you going to do about me?” And I looked at my wife who was right on the other side of the room, and normally I mean we would pray about that, we would make decisions we would... And bless her, she said, “Give me a week to get a crib and some baby clothes and you can bring her back.” So that’s how we got our ninth.
Then when I married Ruth I got three more Jewish, adopted by her and her first husband. So I have twelve children—eleven girls and one boy.
Well, I used to say to Ruth, “One thing you cannot complain about is our life is never dull.” And it never has been dull. Since I came to know the Lord I’ve never had a dull life. I’ve faced challenges and opportunities and needs I didn’t even know existed. And here I am, 84 years old, and I’m still going on. Let’s give Him the glory. Amen.
The question is if you believe what I’ve said is right, what are you going to do about it? Are you going to do anything? Let me tell you one thing that most of us could do. I have in my heart a real burden for single mothers. When I married Ruth she was a single mother with three children. Her husband had deserted her. And I want to tell you that most single mothers have a very difficult time. Some of you here know that from personal experience.
I believe the church has an obligation to do something about single mothers. I said this to a brother once and he said, “Well, it’s their sin that got them into that trouble.” That’s not really the truth. It’s true—some of them were unwed mothers, but not most of them. But even so, after all where does Jesus in the gospel forbid us to show mercy to sinners? After all they need mercy. But most of them are left struggling with a situation that they’re not really guilty for. And it’s hard. It is not easy. I mean if I asked some of you to put your hands up, you’d put both hands up. Don’t do it. I believe the church can do something for single mothers.
Let me say this to you, you know the key to happiness is not being loved, it’s having someone to love. That’s what makes life exciting. And there are people who need your love not very far from you. They may not be very lovable people. They may be a little bit bitter, a little bit angry, a little bit against God. “He hasn’t treated me right. Why am I in this situation?” But I want to tell you, if you really want to be happy find somebody to love. It will make all the difference in your life. It’s wonderful to be loved. I’m loved by many people. I don’t deserve it. But I tell you what really brings joy to my heart is to love somebody who isn’t loved. And to see the smile on the face when they say, “At last, I’ve got a friend.”
You see selfishness is a key to misery. You can be very spiritual, very committed, and pretty miserable. So I want to suggest that we need to think what we’re going to do about single mothers. Most of you who have homes, who have families, not very far from you somewhere there’s a single mother who would benefit from your help. Let me tell you one thing that’s difficult for women. It’s difficult for me too. It’s taking care of a car. There are all sorts of things that I don’t understand about cars. I’ve been privileged. I have sons-in-law who understand so I don’t have to worry. But it’s a struggle for a woman on her own to be responsible for a car and yet her job and her life may depend on it. If you could help her, you’d have a friend. Don’t be religious. Don’t start to tell her, “I want to win you to the Lord.” Just say, “I’ve seen you have a difficult time. Maybe I can help you.” And after a little while something will change in her heart and in her children.
I just finished writing a book which will come out early next year called Husbands and Fathers. And it’s about husbands and fathers. And my diagnosis of the problem of the Western world is renegade fathers. Father’s who’ve reneged on their primary responsibilities as husbands and fathers. And the result is chaos in society. You can have all sorts of social programs but there’s so substitute for God’s way. And God’s way is a family. Nobody’s ever invented anything that will take the place of a family. It’s a privilege to be part of a family. I really thank God every day for my family. I pray for them and they pray for me. I’m embarrassed to think how many people pray for me.
I had a physical problem diagnosed with cancer a little while ago. And I got letters from many different countries. “We’re praying for you. Our church is praying for you”. I thought to myself, you know that’s unreasonable. But I don’t turn it down. I don’t turn it down. So I’m just suggesting to you that some of you need to break loose from your little religious mold and do something daring. After all, I did it. How many people would marry a woman and get eight daughters at the same time? And I tell you it was the making of me. It got me out of the religious rut. It got me involved with real people and real problems.
So I’m going to ask you if you, having heard what I have to say tonight, want to tell the Lord, “Lord, I’m not really fulfilled. I could do a lot more than I’m doing. In many ways I’m pretty self-centered, to say the truth. But tonight I would like to make myself available to You to love somebody else who isn’t loved. To care for somebody who’s not cared for.”
If you would like to make that decision, just pray about it. Just have a few moments of silent prayer.