Friday, April 27, 2012

Host an Orphan This Summer

First things first here...  New Horizons is in need of Christian families all over the country to host orphans for 5 weeks during the summer.   

Please visit the New Horizons website to learn more.  There, you can also sign up for a photo listing of the children who are in need of host families.  The deadline for signing up is quickly approaching, so get on over there to check it out!  Even if you don't feel that you can host a child, please choose 1 or 2 children and become their prayer warrior to pray them into a home.  Prayer can shift the entire future of these children, so please take the opportunity to play a critical role in their lives.


Now, a little digging into my heart here...

Sometimes in orphan ministry, it just stacks up and threatens to fall on top of you...

I have a notebook I use every morning during my quiet Bible time, and inside that notebook, I have about a dozen pages with photos and information about some special needs children in Taiwan who are awaiting forever families.  We were recently given the list and asked if we or anyone we knew would be interested in adopting any of the children.  I looked at the photos and read the brief information, and I cried over the little lives represented on those sheets of paper.  We prayed.  We advocated.  We helped link up one family with one child.  And the other children's photos were slid into my notebook so that I could pray for them.

Yesterday, a friend of mine sent me an email that reminded me of the importance of praying for orphans, along with the information about the orphans from Ukraine and Latvia who are still awaiting host parents for the summer hosting with New Horizons.  I pulled up the photo listing and scanned the children's many faces.  I wanted to become a prayer warrior for a child.  I ended up choosing a sibling group as well another girl.  I looked into their eyes...half the globe away and yet vividly right on my screen...and I cried.  I memorized their names and faces and committed to pray for them until their host families find them.

Then, in yesterday's mail, I received a letter from an orphanage in Haiti, with photos of their children who are also awaiting forever families.  Row upon row of little faces.  And, to be honest, I wanted to adopt at least half of them! guessed it...I cried.  

Sometimes the web sites are visited or the letters received, and I find myself with a growing list of children awaiting forever families.  More faces, more lives...and more tears.  The statistics roll in, saying that there are 147 million orphans in the world, a larger number than when I first stepped into orphan ministry.  Sometimes it can threaten to overwhelm.  Really, sometimes I have actually thrown my arms up in the air and said, "Lord, what can I DO?  What is my role for these children??!"

Sometimes He opens the door to advocate.  Sometimes He leads us to pray fervently for a few children.  And one time, He opened the door wide for us to adopt.  With 147 million orphans, our role is different with each child.  Some are just remembered in an overall prayer, when one of our children prays, "Be with all the orphans tonight."  Others specifically embed into our hearts, and we labor over them in fervent prayer until they are in their forever families.  Some we have been able to take to McDonalds to savor the treat of a Happy Meal.  For some, we have had the opportunity to raise funds for their hosting or adoption.  We have made blankets for some, while to others we have given simple but much needed items like bandaids and antibiotic ointment. Some we have held and had to let go, while one we have held in our arms as we walked out of the orphanage saying, "You're ours now."  It's a little here, a little there, wherever He places us...simply walking out each day, asking Him what He has on the agenda...and walking into it, no matter how small and insignificant it feels or how big and overwhelming it seems.

And again and again, He brings me back to what my sweet friend Kerry taught me ages ago: we cannot approach orphan ministry with a program.  We have to simply rely on God.  It is HE who places the lonely in families, not me.  He will use me, and I WANT Him to use me...for praying, for fundraising, for advocating, for adopting, whatever He calls me to for each individual child.  I cannot jump ahead of Him with human solutions or lag behind Him in disobedience.  It's a moment-by-moment walk.  

So, when the photo listings pour in and threaten to spill over onto every surface in my house and heart...and when I feel the overwhelming numbers beating down the door...and when I feel tempted to throw my hands in the air...I must return over and over and over again to His promise to place the lonely in Him alone do orphans find mercy.  The work is His.  Let me be a useful tool, available for any job He chooses me to do, whether that means giving a Happy Meal or a forever is HIS work, and I am simply His servant.  

Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

More Miracles Roll in Today

I should learn not to blog until the very end of the day so that all the day's miracles are accounted for before I post an update.  :)

Remember the $720 that the E family owed this morning?  And remember how by this afternoon, they only owed $275?  Well, this evening, someone unexpectedly dropped by with a check for $260.  AND they had some Paypal donations come in that pushed them over the mark.  

They woke up this morning, owing $720 of their first big adoption fee, and tonight they go to bed with the balance at below $0.  Did I mention God's math??  Did you see Him show up today at the E family's home?  

STAY will get better!  The E family will now send the first big fee to their adoption agency (which, by the way, is for all the court papers, translation fees, etc).  Then, they will embark on the next fee (I will update on those numbers as I have them).  

Step by step.  Their faith and God's math.  It always works...always.

The Math of Paying for an Adoption

This morning, the E family contacted me with the latest update:  They were lacking just $720 of the first big adoption fee of $6250.  If you ask them how that huge fee got chipped down to the do-able sum of just $720 left to go, they'd give the same answer that most adoptive families give: WE HAVE NO IDEA HOW IT ALL HAPPENED!!  They know that some of it was from their hard work of fundraising, and some of it was from generous donations of people who want to be part of God's plan for placing an orphan in her home.  But, most of the time, on paper, adoptive families simply cannot make sense of it.  The math simply doesn't add up.  The "amount due" chips away at a rate that is far beyond their ability to raise funds.  

I call it God's math. 

It works something like this:  You step forward in obedience to adopt, and the huge sum of the adoption cost looms in front of you like an enormous billboard, making you feel itty bitty in comparison.  You think, "HOW WILL WE EVER PAY FOR THIS??"  You do what you know how to do to begin to raise funds...let's say a yard sale.  You work hard to get donated yards sale items, get flyers out, set up the location, wake up at the crack of dawn and stay all day at a yard sale (come rain or shine, hot or cold).  That's your part of it.  But then something unusual happens.  It seems as if God sees your effort to walk forward in obedience, and He moves in with miracles.  A man gives you $20 for an old lamp that you had priced with a $5 sticker...a friend offers you $200 for a set of stamps that you were going to sell for $20...and the list goes on.  

Yard sale ends, and you are happy to have raised a decent amount...let's just say $1000.  You're thrilled!  You expected just $500, and yet somehow it raised double that.  And yet you look at that figurative billboard that screams at you: "20,000 more to go!!!!"  And you again think, "HOW WILL WE EVER PAY FOR THIS??"

So, you step in to do your part, with other fundraisers: walk-a-thons, basketball tournaments, spaghetti dinners.  You raise $500 here and $1500 there.  Someone sends an unexpected check for $100, and your electric bill somehow comes in $50 less than you budgeted.  A little here, a little there.  And the big price tag of adoption shrinks bit by bit.  

And here's the kicker...  At the end of the adoption process, when all is said and done and every single penny has come in...when your balance says, "$0 due," you sit down one day to figure it out.  You list all the money that you raised with each fundraiser, and you list every donation you can remember.  And the total that you raised is far far less than the total price tag of the adoption.  You wonder out loud: "HOW IN THE WORLD DID WE PAY FOR THAT??" No matter how you add it, it simply never adds up. 

We experienced this in a drastic way.  Our fundraisers added up to a tiny portion of the total adoption costs, and yet every penny came in.  This experience is not unique to our family. In fact, just this past weekend, I ran into another family who is adopting and is awaiting travel to pick up their new son.  With tears of joy, they said every penny of their adoption came in.  And I said, "It doesn't add up on paper, does it?"  Sure enough, she had experienced the same thing.  I gave her my only explanation: "It's God's math!"  

I believe it's simply the miracle of a faith that moves mountains.  It's God's amazing, inexplainable math...the same math He used when he fed 5,000 with just 5 loaves and 2 fish...the same math He used when George Mueller cared for hundreds of orphans by simply relying on God to provide their daily food and water.  You see...the miracles come to those who walk in obedience.  I believe that obedience and simple faith releases the miracles that most people only read about.

That is why I'm highlighting the E family on this blog.  They started with $0.  They are not rich.  They live on one modest income.  And yet they stepped out in obedience to adopt.  Their obedience comes first...and then the miracles follow.

Oh...and before I sign off, let me add this...  The E family just emailed me to say that they went to the mailbox this afternoon, and now they only have $275 of the first fee to go!  In just a few hours, the amount due went from $720 to $275.  

How?  Let's just call it God's math.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Update on E Family's Adoption

I really should be more regular at posting updates because, as always, God is moving mountains of impossibility to bring home one of His Children.

I know I will probably leave out some good details, but I'll try my best to remember...  My last post said they needed $9500, but somehow they ended up only needing $6250 for this part of the adoption process.  It was a mountain, and yet little by little, it was chipped away...
* A local photographer friend of theirs offered her services for photo sessions, with all proceeds going toward their adoption.  The above photo was taken by in the beautiful Texas bluebonnets.  
* The E family also had a yard sale last Saturday, and God blessed it, with people giving more than the asking price for items (and we all know what a miracle that is in the yard sale world!).  :)  
* They were surprised also with a very generous check given by a friend of theirs who, in human terms, didn't have any extra money to spare.

So, with the fundraisers and God's amazing math that no adoptive family can ever ever figure out, the E family had raised $5000 of the needed funds.  They still lack $1250, but their adoption agency has been gracious to let them pay the rest later.  God always works out the details...always!

The E family has other fundraisers on the horizon, and I will keep you posted on those.

If YOU would like to host a fund raiser to help the E family bring home Avalyn, please just leave a comment.  No effort is too small.  No donation is too small.  It's like the loaves and never seems like enough, and yet, in God's mighty hands, it multiplies and is more than enough.