Monday, April 25, 2011

Post-Easter Thoughts... HOPE!

I hope you all had a blessed Easter weekend. Over the course of the past week or so I have been asking God to help me to see the story of Christ’s death and resurrection with fresh eyes, to reveal something new to me and He did. One of the revelations, so to speak, that God gave me over the past few days had to do with the idea of hope

Hope. It’s something I’ve been struggling with lately. I’ve been home nearly three months now and despite all my best efforts, despite all my prayers, nothing has changed for my kids. It’s getting harder and harder to see the hope in their circumstances… I look at Andrey, my big teddy bear. His grant keeps growing, it’s at nearly $5000 now, yet no family has stepped forward for him. Still overlooked, still waiting, still yearning for hope… I think about the rest of “my” kids, the ones not yet listed for adoption, the ones waiting to officially be waiting. I have tried everything I can to find out if they are available for adoption yet still I’ve heard no the news. It’s beginning to feel like a hopeless cause… I struggle to see hope for these kids but I will not give up. Their time may be running out but it’s not up yet and as long as there is a just glimmer of hope, I will choose to keep believing that their day will come.

Then I remember Tanya and Marina and the countless others like them; older children whose time has run out, children hidden behind closed doors, confined to their beds, no chance for anything more. Where is their hope? To that I have no answer...

In the lead up to Easter, God began to speak to me. In the Bible, specifically in the New Testament, hope isn’t described as the promise of a problem-free life, it is not the promise of a life no longer filled with suffering. As a matter of fact, if you look closely, hope is not a promise for this life at all. The New Testament makes it very clear that hope, our hope which lies in Jesus Christ and the sacrifice He made for us on the cross, that hope is for eternity. We live in a world full of evil and unspeakable suffering that I will never understand. The reality is, that will not change until that day that Jesus returns. As long as Satan remains the “prince of this world” (John 14:30), evil and suffering in this life will remain. Yet I feel as though God has given me a whole new understanding of what Jesus did for us on the cross. We can ask, “Where is God in all of this?”, “If God is good, why does He allow innocent children to suffer without hope?”. The answer is, He is hanging on a cross, ensuring that all this suffering will one day come to an end. His ultimate sacrifice was also the ultimate proof of His goodness, the ultimate display of hope.

So, where does all this leave me? I am still heartbroken by the suffering of innocent children around the world. We are not off the hook. We are still called to pray, to give, to advocate… to fight for the least of these who have no voice of their own. Yet I find myself face-to-face with the reality that we cannot save them all and it is in those instances that God has given me a new understanding of hope. For those who will never experience relief in this life, their relief will come in eternity. And somehow, though my human mind will never comprehend it, deep in my spirit I know that when that day comes, all their suffering on this earth will seem light and momentary in light of the glory of eternity. As I sit and meditate on this truth the clouds part and I see it once again… HOPE. Because of what Christ has done for us, there is a bright ray of pure, everlasting hope for all who believe…

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade.”
(1 Peter 1:3-4)

Monday, April 18, 2011

In our own backyard...

As you all know by now, I am passionate about international adoption. As I said last week however, I believe that every child deserves a family, no matter where they live. So today, I want to share this video with you...

There are currently over 30,000 children living in foster care in Canada who are waiting to be adopted. 127,000 children in the US foster care system waiting for families. Children just like the ones you just saw; all alone with nowhere to belong, no one to love them, no one to tuck them in at night, their hope fading away as they dream of a family of their own. This is the reality for children right in our own country...

What are we going to do about it???

Monday, April 11, 2011

What Next???

Ok, it’s time. Time for me to answer the question that has been asked countless times over the past several months… What next?

Actually, more often than not, the question has not been “What next?” but instead, “Where next?”. And, if I’m going to be honest, that is one of the reasons why it has taken me so long to answer.

Nearly two years ago I left my job in full-time ministry with Youth For Christ with a sense that God was calling me back to the missions field overseas to be a tangible expression of His love to forgotten and unwanted children. What a year it has been! It has without a doubt been the hardest and at the same time the most fulfilling year of my life. I have had my eyes opened to suffering I had only ever heard of. I have had my heart broken into a million pieces, many of which I have given to children all around the world, pieces which I will never get back. I have drawn closer to God than ever before and I have seen Him in His power and glory, bringing beauty from the ashes, joy in the midst of pain. I have had the privilege of representing so many of you as an ambassador of God’s love around the world and seeing firsthand how God is using us in the lives of these kids. The past 15 months have been painful, they have been beautiful and I wouldn’t change one single moment.

When I left my job with Youth For Christ, I vowed that I would stop looking to God to provide me with a plan for the rest of my life but instead would simply start following Jesus one day at a time. When I first embarked on this missions adventure, I was fully prepared to give the rest of my life to overseas missions to orphans but I was also open to whatever God might have in store for me. When I look at all that God has been doing in my heart, one thing is clear: my heart is for orphans but, even more specifically than that, my passion is adoption.

The more time I spend with orphans around the world, the more I come to believe that no orphanage, no matter how good, can take the place of a family. I have spent time in what I would classify as one of the best orphanages around and I have spent time in orphanages that are far from the best. What I have seen with my own eyes is this, no matter how much love and care these children receive, one thing is missing – someone to say, “you are wanted, you are chosen, you belong here, always and forever, you are mine”… a Mommy and/or Daddy of their very own.

I continue to be passionate about orphan care ministry and I will always support those working in orphanages around the world because the sad reality is, not every child will be adopted and there will always be a need for people to care for and love on those left behind. Ultimately however, I believe that every child, no matter how sick or how healthy, no matter how young or how old, no matter their background or ethnicity, every child deserves a family and I want to be a part of making that happening.

For those of you who don’t know, my educational background is in social work and right now I am looking for a job in the field of adoption. To be honest, I’ve been kind of worried about what people would think. So many people have supported me over the years, so passionate about the ministry that God has given to me. Now, every time I hear the question, “Where next?” a little voice inside my head wonders, “What are they going to think? Will they be disappointed?”. No, this certainly isn’t the same kind of adventure I’ve been living over the past few years but I would still so appreciate your prayers and support. It may not be considered ministry in the traditional sense but to me it’s still ministry, the next chapter in following God’s plan for me one step at a time.

There are not a lot of jobs in this field and if I’m not able to get a job in adoption I’m not sure what I’ll do. For now I’m just stepping out in faith, believing that if this is where God wants me He will open up the right doors and, if not, then He must have something even better in store.

So, there you have it… the adventure continues, this time on the home front. I would so appreciate your prayers over the next weeks and months, that God would pave the way ahead of me wherever he would have me go. And, as always, I’ll keep you posted!

Monday, April 4, 2011

In case you missed it...

For those of you who were not able to make it to my presentation yesterday, I'm afraid I do not have it in me to type out all that I said but I wanted to at least post my slideshow for those of you who would like to see it...

Finally, I couldn't let the day go by without acknowledging that today is my sweet Igor's birthday. My heart breaks to know that no one is celebrating with him today, that the significance of this day has likely slipped by unnoticed...

Sweet boy, the words "Happy Birthday" don't seem fitting for today... So instead I want to say that I am thanking God for you today, for the precious gift that you are, and I am praying that by some miracle this might be your last birthday in an orphanage. I am praying that next year your birthday will be celebrated with cake and presents and countless hugs and kisses from a mommy and daddy who love you just as you are. In the meantime, I pray that God would deliver this message straight to your heart today:
I love you and I am celebrating you today, even from thousands of miles away...