Sunday, October 6, 2013

Adoption is a Calling

It was in the middle of the movie...when I first heard His voice.

"Will you go?" I heard in my heart.

As the movie continued, I was no longer watching the story from the outside, but I was seeing myself in that situation and all I could hear, see or think were the words,

"WILL YOU GO?????????"

I looked around me, were others hearing these words too?

My heart began to race. I felt adrenaline shoot through my body.

"Would I go?" Over and over the question repeated itself.

I was trying to watch a movie with my friends...but God was up to something far greater.

"Will you go? Will you go? Will you go?" the Holy Spirit repeated.

Finally I got up and ran out of the auditorium. I had to get out. To run.

As my feet hit the pavement, the words came over and over again, "Will you go? Will you go?"

I ran back to my dorm room and went into the dark laundry room where washers were churning out stains.

"Will you go? Will you go? Will you go?" the washers even rhythmically repeated the very same words.

I closed the door and fell against it with my back. A deep breath to try and calm myself didn't really work. I knew SOMETHING BIG was happening.

I prayed, "Lord, I don't really understand what you mean by "will I go," but I WILL go. Just show me."

These were my words over 23 years ago.

Fast forward to September 2013. I have lived a lot of life since then. The call to GO has been interpreted in my life as to GO to the nations and be a missionary.

And I have been so so so blessed to have that experience. Many times over, in multiple nations, cultures and environments.

But then, God stopped our overseas work. How did He do it? 

We lost our son Oskar.

{sigh. sweet boy. i'll never stop missing you.}

We never saw it as a stopping point, but our great Creator God who has mighty plans for us all, used it as such.

For years now, I have struggled with trying SO HARD, SO STINKING HARD, to get back overseas. To do mission work once again. To sink deep into a foreign culture, soaking in another new language, making friendships, living life alongside a people not my own.

I ache to do this. It's been set deep inside me.

Yet I remain here. My own culture, people who generally look like me. 

And we all speak English.

And shop at Walmart. (small town, don't judge.)

But, God has been up to something...something I had not expected!

(this is going to seem obvious to you perhaps, but I'm a bit slow...)

We have been adopting.

And as many, many people who have known our hearts to GO GO GO to the nations have said, "Look! God is bringing the nations to YOU!"

After about the fifth person said that, I started to HEAR it.


And then, a few weeks back, our pastor had us stand as he read these words from Romans 10:14-15:

"But how can they call on Him to save them unless they believe in Him? And how can they believe in Him if they have never heard about Him? And how can they hear about Him unless someone tells them? And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? That is why the Scriptures say, "how beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news."

And I gasped.

All this time. All this time I had understood my calling of "will you go" to mean that I had to be physically leave my home country and dwell in a foreign land...and do ministry.

But alas! God has so many creative ideas!! (Just look up in the sky at night and be amazed!!)

God's calling on my life that moment, was consistent with His word in Matthew 28:19-20:

"Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age."

O. My. Soul.

All this time I thought I had to be living in a place where I bought my food from hawkers sitting over their produce in markets where I must barter for the best deal.

I thought I had to live a life where I took taxis for transportation.

Where I spoke languages not my own.

Where I had to miss out on major extended family events because I was a world away.

But actually? Actually????

God has brought the nations here. 

Just look at them. Sitting on my couch. Playing with one another and some balloons. 

The nations.

Small children, who were orphans. Here. In my house. On my couch. In clothes that I bought. Eating food that I cook.

The nations.

"Ask of Me, and I will give you the an inheritance for you," says Psalm 2:8

Wow. I sang that song in Haiti...never clueing in to this future meaning.

And that moment in church back in September when I gasped over the reading of Romans 10?

I realized that ADOPTION is a fulfillment of my calling.

"Will you go?"

It has meant many things in my lifetime. (and I ever hope and pray to go overseas again once we raise all these precious children!)

But one of the most important ways WILL YOU GO has been lived out in my life... to go and bring home the orphan.

Wow. Somehow, in the midst of all the fundraising and the paperwork, I'd missed the big picture.

So, how is adoption a CALLING?

So often people use the phrase, "I'm called to adopt."

But what does that mean????

It means the most personal type of ministry possible. EVER.

Instead of going and living overseas, you bring the overseas orphan back into your world. (Obviously this is international adoption I am speaking of. I fully support domestic adoption, but am writing about my own process here.)

Instead of going and opening yourself to new friendships, languages, cultures, foods and seeking out those whom God directs you to minister are focused on ONE HEART. (maybe more!) 

You are not just meeting with a few people to train them in God's Word and hope to see them next, you have brought them home.

Around your table, into your bathtub, into your routines.

You do their laundry, you wipe their bottoms. 

You kiss their boo boos, you wipe their noses, you clean up their vomit.

They crawl into bed with you when they are frightened, you correct their ugly behavior and point them to Jesus.

This is UPCLOSE and PERSONAL, baby.

This. Is. Ministry.

On the most invasive and personal level.

And it's life-long. With life-long, generational impact.

Your grandchildren will not look like you.

You don't just give up your home culture and holidays with your mom and dad, sisters and brothers, nieces and nephews. 

You get those.

But you bring a needy, hurting heart into an environment of safety.

You become a safe place for a very hurting child.

You become a healing home. You become a conduit for which Jesus does slow miracles of healing.

Your daily life becomes a slow cooker for God to do His most amazing work--not just in those former orphans lives either...He does them in YOU too.

Through these hurting children, a mighty light shines upon your own heart.

You see yourself in ways you would have never known. You see things IN yourself you never have seen.

And there is ugliness there. Selfishness. Desire for comfort, for easy. For calm. 

And Jesus touches you. Brings His Spirit and softens. He changes you.

The job of the adoptive parent is to HOST.

You are hosting the long, deep healing of Jesus in the lives of the children you have grafted into your family.

It is slow.

You do not need to fix. He fixes.

You do not need to even understand the depth of their ache. Their hurt. Their trauma.

You need to give them safety, unconditional acceptance, routine...and Jesus.

You keep giving them Jesus.

And often, you need to back up from the moment at hand and SEE.

You need to remember what greater thing is being done in your midst. 

God Himself has chosen your family, your home, your life to become His canvas for His marvelous healing work in His precious children.

Hurting children. Adoption never happens without hurt.

You don't lose your birth family without ache. Without scars.

You don't endure abandonment without repercussions.

You don't survive abuse without impact.

And God has called YOU to bring them into your most intimate space and allow everything of theirs to hang out.

And it ain't pretty.

It ain't easy.

But it is rewarding.

"But how can they call on Him to save them unless they believe in Him? And how can they believe in Him if they have never heard about Him? And how can they hear about Him unless someone tells them? And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? That is why the Scriptures say, "how beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news." Romans 10 says.

How can they respond to Jesus when they are sitting in orphanages or on the streets fighting for their very lives?

How can their deeper spiritual needs be met when they are cold? When they are hungry? When they are unprotected from predators? 

When they have no one to hold them? No one to tell them, "You are so special," or "you are mine?"

Adoption is the MOST personal type of ministry. 

And there is no furlough.

There is no "going home."

This is permanent.

Your life, your family, your future is now bound up with these children. 

Children who will grow up differently...because you were called to this.

Children who will test you in ways you never dreamed possible.

Children who have deep needs that you never knew existed.

Children who will bring you greater joy than you have ever dreamed.

Children who are 100% YOURS. And you are 100% theirs.

Adoption is indeed a CALLING.

And for me, it is the ultimate fulfillment of the Spirit asking me "Will you go?" back 23 years ago. 

Several weeks ago, some nasty articles came out where children's stories were told about being passed around from adoptive home to adoptive home. These reports deeply grieved me. I prayed long and hard about how to respond. 

What came to the surface for me, was the incredible need for SUPPORT for the families who have said YES to the fatherless. 

As well as on the front end, helping people wade through the question of "is adoption right for me?"

I truly believe that adoption is amazing. It is truly incredible. 

I love adoption.

But it is NOT right for everyone. Clearly.

If you are not willing to have your life turned upside down by someone who has intense needs, then adoption may not be right for you.

If you are not willing to rely completely upon Jesus for your every need, (because you will NOT be able to handle it--I promise!!), then adoption may not be right for you.

If you are hoping to create a "colorful" family because more and more people are doing this, then adoption may not be right for you.

If you are willing to let God do a mighty work within you, your family and a child you adopt, then adoption may be RIGHT for you.

If you are willing to become a healing home for a hurting child, then adoption may be right for you.

If you are willing to turn over all your plans to God, then adoption may be right for you.

I pray this helps.

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  1. From one who has desired to GO since the Lord drew me to Himself 12 years ago, I couldn't have said this any better! Clayton and I were so blessed to spend time with your family in China! We have tried to push and shove our way into another culture, and for the past 9 years God has allowed us to GO...and come back with precious Treasures. Thank you for sharing your heart!

  2. You are a gifted communicator my blessed to walk beside you as we GO!

  3. oh wow. {sigh} some days, being a missionary feels like a piece of a cake compared to adoption. you are so right, there is no furlough in adoption and there is much less exotic and much more mundane.
    thanks for this. i needed the reminder.

  4. My family just returned from China (14 yrs for me) ...the last year was spent welcoming our adopted Henan.born daughter into our home. years in a country...and adopting a two year old was the most intense culture shock that I experienced. Intense, 24/7 engagement with a culture and language that I thought I had an okay handle on. In the long run, I am grateful for this wake.up call to understand hard in a new way, and to engage that much more deeply with the place we were called to for that season...and so grateful too, to be bringing such a unique and personal part of China back with us too! Relate to this story, and especially appreciate the list at the end. Not to be taken lightly!


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