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Our good friends at Show Hope are offering “Empowered to Connect” conferences in two locations this spring. Dr. Karyn Purvis, author of The Connected Child and a dear friend of Hope for Orphans, will be speaking on hope and healing for adopted children.

Show Hope’s Empowered to Connect conferences will take place in Dallas, February 17-18th at Irving Bible Church and in Denver, April 20-21 at Mission Hills Church.

If you have the chance, I encourage attending either of these events. More information is online at showhope.org/connect

Press on,

Paul

Hey friends!

Here’s a list of San Antonio area Chick-fil-A’s participating in the fundraiser for Hope for Orphans this Wednesday. As I mentioned before, these restaurants have committed to donate all brownie sales on Wednesday, December 14th, to Hope for Orphans! Please tell any friends in the San Antonio area!

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Hope for Orphans is kick-starting a promotion with Chick-fil-A restaurants in the San Antonio, Texas area and we need your help! This fundraiser will significantly help Hope for Orphans continue to serve the Church and orphans in 2012. Please help us spread the word by passing on this information to family, friends, and those serving in the military who live in the San Antonio, Texas area:

On Wednesday, December 14th, every San Antonio area Chick-fil-A restaurant will donate all proceeds from their brownie sales to Hope for Orphans!

Stop by any San Antonio Chick-fil-A restaurant and pick up a delicious, moist, gooey, fudge nut brownie or two – or even a whole tray! And, don’t forget to pick up some extra brownies for your friends and let them know that a brownie can help Hope for Orphans this Wednesday.

Let’s help every participating Chick-fil-A in San Antonio sell out of its brownies by the end of the day on Wednesday!

Please thank our friends at Chick-fil-A for their generosity and your purchase will help us reach more churches to reach more orphans. And, feel free to forward this message, or post it on Twitter or Facebook. Call ahead to order your brownies or stop your local Chick-fil-A restaurant on December 14!

“Our adopted children had homes but what about all of the orphans in countries that were labeled “un-adoptable” for one reason or another? (Can you imagine your own children crying out in hunger and not being fed? Waiting all day, every day in a crib—waiting for someone to love them?)

What about the little boy who had begged Becca to take him with her as she left the orphanage?

Were we in this just for the children God brought to us or were we in it for all of them?”

Click here to read the rest of this story about God moving in one church’s orphan ministry (a post by Hope for Orphans volunteer, Camille Wheelock).

Leaving Blissful

Until very recently, I lived in a place called Blissful. Just as the name would imply, it was a terrific place to grow up.

So nice in fact, that you may find it hard to believe that since I left it, I’ve never wanted to return.

Seems strange, I know. Why would anyone ever want to leave? Peaceful, prosperous…not perfect maybe, but what place is, this side of heaven? The people of Blissful care deeply for each other, and spend time together in fellowship (awesome potlucks), meaningful worship, and inspiring bible studies, youth group activities, & baby showers.

If you come from a place like Blissful, I probably don’t need to say much more.  You already know what it’s like.  A welcoming place where everyone is loved and cared for, warm and fed. Why would anyone want to leave Blissful?

Certainly not me.

No one has ever really wanted to leave this comfortable place. Well, Grace being the exception. Grace has always wanted the best for me, even though we don’t always see eye to eye.  For as long as I can remember, Grace took up residence in Blissful.

But you can count on Grace to always be on the move.

It should have been no surprise when one day Grace gently led me beyond the skies of Blissful to a place on the outskirts of the city. We climbed a hill so high that, from the summit, I could see farther than I’d ever seen before.

The view was not what I expected. I’d always known that other people didn’t live in places like Blissful, but I have to admit, I wasn’t prepared for the reality.

I saw was misery…everywhere. Destruction. Disaster. Death. Lost and despairing people. Ruined lives. From the top of the hill, to this place where Grace led me, I could also see how close the ugliness came right up to the grassy borders of Blissful, even up to the very edge of the city. So close…

How had I not seen this before?

Read the rest here.

Still There

Fall leaves at Holt Korea

Molly Holt is a second generation fighter. Her parents, Harry and Bertha, were farming in Oregon when they heard about children across the ocean orphaned by the Korean War. They wondered how to adopt children internationally. They pushed and prayed. And prayed and pushed, til Congress and the House of Representatives moved, passing a bill, giving them the right to adopt. The Holt Bill of 1955 led to the formalization of international adoption in the United States.

Fast forward sixty-some odd years. I’m sitting a bus, leaning forward in my seat to hear Molly Holt speak above the traffic outside Seoul. She reminds me of my grandmother, but in a hanbok.*

We chat about Korean grammar. She tells me about her extended family back in the States. She misses them, but fits comfortably here, in her traditional clothes and fluent Korean. I’d seen that for myself.

I’d walked through the campus of Holt Korea, a huge complex of buildings and dormitories which is one still-budding fruit of Harry and Bertha Holt’s prayers. (In fact, they’re buried on top of the mountain where the campus is built.) I’d been hugged by some of the people who Molly serves—smiling faces with Downs’ Syndrome, or cerebral palsy, twisted joints and lists of disabilities I could not begin to name.

My heart hurt because that morning I’d held a baby whose complicated medical condition Molly summarized as being born with only part of his brain. I’d had my hands held, too, in the days before by perfectly healthy little children whose hope for forever-families was growing dim.

And I was impatient…am impatient…because God has not moved on their behalf yet. They are still waiting. As adoption in Korea is attacked by church and government leaders who oppose international adoption for nationalistic reasons, and as the orphanages continue to fill—“How long, O Lord?” is a prayer Korean social workers understand.

I ask Molly, “What is the biggest overarching lesson God has taught you in your years of serving?”

“Trust Him,” she says simply. Then she lists off times of God’s faithfulness.

She warns me against placing limitations on people. She warns against viewing them in terms of their mental powers instead as beloved people who carry the image of God. Molly tells me about her father–explaining that his Christian background wasn’t always devout; that God doesn’t necessarily pick people among the strong-and-perfect to show how great is His name.

But she comes back to the exhortation to trust, like the chorus to her song: “There were many times we nearly lost our ministry,” she says. “But God provided.” Trust.

It hit me while sitting on that bus, speaking loud over the hum of traffic, the life of the lady next to me is a living testimony. Holt Korea lives on the trust that God will continue to make a way.

Molly carries on a long legacy of hearts that have hurt with the weight of compassion, and yet have trusted. As a token of that confidence, she’s spent her life in the Lord’s service, serving alongside American and Korean co-laborers, watching and waiting for Him to move. In spite of the temptation to be discouraged, Molly realizes its an endurance race. Orphan ministry isn’t a place for sprinters.

Some sixty-odd years after an Oregon farmer and his wife began to pray, the obstacles to adoption in Korea have not yet collapsed. But with patience born of trust, orphan care workers still serve; social workers still campaign, and churches are arising to appeal on the side of children. The Holts are still there.

“I can hardly breathe,” I told my wife. And I meant it.

We were in an old elevator headed to the third floor of a battered women’s shelter in downtown Taipei just seconds before meeting our two new daughters. They were 5 ½ and 3 ½ and were just as nervous as we were.

The social workers blandly announced to the girls, “here’s your mama, and here’s your papa.” They handed us a bag of clothes that did not fit and sent us on our way.

No fan fare, no celebration, no instructions. It was one of the greatest days of our life. It was also the culmination of years of conviction, hard work, bureaucracy, patience (impatience!), and prayer. The most common question we heard through the whole process was, “Don’t you already have kids?”

What they meant was, “why would you adopt when you can obviously have kids biologically?” We had three biological children but it never crossed our mind that we should not add to our family through the gift of adoption. Here are the factors that were the driving force behind our decision to adopt.

We are committed to life. For our entire marriage we have supported many pro life causes. But we always felt that if we were going to encourage unwed girls to give birth to their babies, then Christians should be in line to be ready to adopt those who would be given up. It was our way of “putting our money where our mouth was.”

We are committed to the helpless and disadvantaged. James (1:27) makes it clear that one of the evidences of our faith is how we respond to the “affliction” of widows and orphans. Taking care of these two groups is time consuming, messy, and sacrificial. But it is a central part of the Christian life. We wanted to make sure that our family was heavily invested in this important admonition.

We are committed to biblical manhood. Men are called to lead, provide, and protect (Gen. 1-2, Eph. 5, I Kings 2:1-9, 1 Pet. 3, Col. 3). This is a fundamental teaching of the Bible and it does not merely pertain to the four walls of one’s home. Men should be looking for those who need protection and provision. There are fatherless children all over the world. Every year I meet women who are burdened for adoption but their husbands won’t budge. It’s usually something about retirement, college costs, or they are finally able to afford that boat they always wanted. In our home, the men lead and sacrificially give of themselves for the good of others.

We are committed to Gospel-centeredness. The doctrine of adoption is at the heart of the Gospel. We are born outside of Christ, but it is through Christ that we receive “the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry ‘Abba! Father!’” (Rom. 8:15) Physical adoption is a daily living picture of this spiritual reality. It is a constant reminder to our family and others of the grace and mercy of God and His love for the lost and care for the fatherless.

We are committed to the nations. Not everyone is called to international adoption but the result is a reminder of God’s love for every “nation and tribe and language and people.” (Rev. 14:6). Every week the Lord adds people to his church and tells you and I to love them. They may not look like us, smell like us, have the same socio-economic background as us, or talk like us. But that’s the beauty of the Gospel. Twice we have brought into our home children from another country and told our other kids, “they don’t talk like you or look like you, but here’s another one, love them.” It has been one of the biggest blessings in the whole process for us and has dramatically shaped our view of the whole world.

Maybe the next big decision in your life will involve a vacation house or a boat or a car that you don’t need. Maybe it will involve trying to sock away even more money for that early retirement you have been hoping for. It might even involve contributing to a monument or building with your name on it. Or just maybe it will involve an old elevator in another country with your mind in a whirl, your heart racing, adrenaline rushing, and your lungs struggling inexplicably for their next breath. And in making that decision, it might not even cross your mind that you already have kids.
_____________________________
Randy Stinson is the Dean of the School of Church Ministries and the Vice President for Academic Innovation at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY. He also serves as the Senior Fellow of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (www.cbmw.org).