One of the presents that Caleb received for his Birthday this past January was an ant farm. The instructions called for sending in a postcard to receive a tube of ants by mail. "That’s silly," I said, "We’ve got plenty of ants that will infiltrate our garden come springtime."

For the past three months, Caleb has been patiently asking, "Is it springtime yet, daddy?"

The type of ants that tunnel and mound on our property are also the type that burrow into our trees, cutting off circulation and causing the death of limbs and branches. I love trees more than ants, so the action path is pretty clear to me. Pre-ban Diazinon crystals are my weapon of choice.

After stirring up the first spring ant nest this past weekend, I assembled a couple of Tupperware tubs to start catching those that would be saved and immersed into a world composed of nutrient-rich gel. These will be happy ants, I thought to myself. No more working for food. Their entire habitat will be edible!

I put the tubs into the refrigerator for fifteen minutes in order to slow down the six-legged creatures darting around therein. As these carpenter ants were cooling, I applied the Diazinon onto various areas of the garden, most notably around the trees that they like to consume. A blanket of death soon covered all of our prized planting areas and future shade tree grounds.

My role of exterminator finished, I took on the role of rescuer.

Having retrieved the now-lethargic ants from the refrigerator, I spread them, and the dirt that was scooped up with them, over our concrete front porch. With a bug vacuum in hand (another one of Caleb’s interesting past presents), I began to suck up a few dozen ants to release into their new home of wonder and plenty.

I felt good about myself. A remnant had been saved. They would be spoiled – free from the harsh acts of nature and man, and able to gorge themselves as they tunnel and thrive before our eyes. Lucky ants!

Almost immediately, there was an escape plan in motion. Ants formed a ladder and chosen ones scurried to the top to find potential exits. All activity was focused on finding freedom, not on exploiting the abundant food source below.

"Don’t these ants realize how good they’ve got it?" I said.

The buzz of motion started to slow. Ants started to drop…to die.

Soon all of them were on their backs in rapid death throes.

Huh?

I peered into their clear plastic world to try to figure out what was going on.

In the far corner, almost indiscernible to the naked eye, were two very small fragments…

…of Diazinon.

Presumably some errant particles had been blown onto my concrete porch before I freed the ‘lucky ones’ from their temporary Tupperware holding cells. Unseen, a couple of splinters of the deadly crystals journeyed into the ants’ new habitat.

What was supposed to be a new haven of peace and prosperity, became a gas chamber of agony…with all my kids looking on with saucer-wide eyes.

Certainly not recommended as a good parenting technique.

But so it is also with orphaned and abandoned children that are ‘rescued’ into typical institutional orphanages.

The bleakness of the environment causes the initial desire to escape. Imprisoned into a dismal place, the cracks and crevices are searched for opportunities to find freedom.

Oftentimes, with poorly-trained staff in painfully-low numbers, the Diazinon crystal dust gets overlooked. Intake procedures are poor. General care is poor. The poison gets in. Staff become exploiters. Abused kids become abusers. Addicted children find new substances and a captive audience to addict others. Bullies stake out their territory. Depression feeds on common traumas.

Many of these kids will leave these institutions without ever knowing the love of a family, without ever receiving personalized care and attention. After being raised in a poisonous environment, they then become the exterminator’s crystals placed into their society. They infect and destroy, causing the next cycle of orphans.

Herding kids by the hundreds into miserable concrete boxes with low caregiver ratios of inadequately-trained staff is not the solution!

Well-meaning supporters (‘rescuers’) of these institutions need to know that they are unintentionally setting up gas chambers; chambers that will eventually leak their poison into the broader community.

Family-style homes run by churches, on the other hand, have a naturally-good intake procedure – the church knows the kids of the community, knows the issues they are dealing with. Staff are live-in families that will become foster parents to the children. They are complemented by widows from the church, widows who understand trauma and loss and can counsel children accordingly. Additional church members are on hand with a plethora of skills and giftings to meet individual child requirements.

…And the whole environment is bathed in love and a desire for these children to know their Heavenly Father.

Your choice – gas chambers or homes?