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Archive for the ‘China’ Category

In James 1:27 the believer is instructed to visit widows and orphans in their distress.

As American Christians, I think many of us have not considered the implications of what distress really means for kids in foster care and many other orphans throughout the world.

Many North American believers have awakened to God’s love for fatherless children. In some circles, unfortunately, and sometimes dangerously, it is even becoming a badge of spirituality to adopt.

Still, God has given thousands of children the joy of a forever family. The growing adoption movement is a visible illustration of God’s plan to overcome sin and brokenness through His adoption of us, made possible by the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus. As for the Christian families adopting these children, the blessings for both them and their children have been nothing short of a demonstration of the reality of God.

However, what many people have not always understood is the magnitude of pain, hurt, fear, need, affliction, or “distress” as it were, that many children bring with them. When we love these children with special needs or who are coming from dark places, that means that this distress becomes a part of us…our marriages and our families. Some, maybe most, who are adopting have no idea of how to prepare themselves, much less their children and spouses.

This includes not really grasping the level of sacrifice that God is sometimes calling families to in adoption. In Hebrews 11, we all remember the recounting of the victories and miracles that God performed through people of faith, but what we forget are those lives talked about in verses 35 through 38. These are equally lives of faith; believers who endured mockery, scourging, chains, stoning, death by the sword and affliction. They, like those who experienced victory, also gained approval through their faith for something better.

Sometimes adoption is full of victory, miracles and joys unimaginable. But sometimes it brings with it the sufferings, confusion, doubts and struggles that can only be faced through faith and with the power of the Holy Spirit. When families are called to such adoptions, they often need help. The Church should be a place where they can turn and get that help.

There is a crisis brewing and spreading almost as fast as God is mobilizing the Church to serve orphans. The crisis is coming about as a result of the rapid increase in believers who are adopting older, special needs and at-risk children, but are not fully equipped to do so. The crisis is manifesting itself in an increase in the number of families struggling to cope with some of the issues their new children bring to their homes, and in an increase of post-placement risk of disrupted adoptions as well.

Next year, some experts estimate that 60% of all children adopted from China to American families will be special needs kids. In Ukraine, like many other parts of the world, it appears that future adoptions will be skewed greatly to older kids and sibling groups, in addition to those with severe emotional and medical needs. In America, we understand more instinctively that children from foster care are often coming from hard places.

At Hope for Orphans, we believe that God’s solution for meeting this crisis (and the whole orphan crisis for that matter) is THE CHURCH. The Church was designed by God to be that safe community where members of the body serve one another when the wheels come off in life. The Church should be a place where families can be honestly prepared, maybe even helped through self-assessment in advance of entering the process to adopt older, special needs, or at-risk children.

This September 16th and 17th, we will be hosting the Hope for Orphans Institute at the Hope Center in Plano, Texas. The purpose of this two-day conference is to equip orphan ministry leaders, pastors, counselors, social workers and others with biblically-based skills and tools to serve families called to adopt older, special needs and at-risk kids. We will have nationally-renowned experts providing insights to help families and leaders to meet this growing need. This event will be hosted and moderated by Ryan Dobson, who is himself an adult adoptee.

We believe that the Church is the key place that the needs of struggling adoptive families can be met in-depth and in sustainable ways. For social workers and professionals partnering with the Church in serving families in acute need, the principles from this conference will give new power to help make a difference. To learn more about this event and how God can use you to help others in your church and community, go to www.HFOInstitute.org.

 

Paul Pennington is the founder of Hope for Orphans. He and his wife, Robin, have six children. They live in Dallas, Texas.

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During this time of year, as we see the excitement and magic in the eyes of our children and grandchildren, if you’re like me, it takes me back to those days of my childhood when Christmas was full of wonderful food, grandparents laughing, speculating about presents and the warmth and comfort of knowing you had a family that loved you. In short, for me growing up and being at my Mam Maw’s house at Christmas meant feeling safe and loved unconditionally.

As we are now the ones charged to help a new generation see and know that a baby came into the world to give us life, we should stop to remember there are millions of children who won’t have such an experience, much less a family, this year.  It’s staggering to think that more than 16 million children under the age of 18 in Africa alone have lost one or both parents to AIDS.

Hope for Orphans believes that the Spirit of the Most High God can mobilize thousands and thousands of churches to touch orphans around the world. We know this because we have seen what He can do through just one church and just one family…one child at a time.

God accomplished a lot of amazing things in 2010 through the ministry of Hope for Orphans. We were able to go near the orphans of Haiti and help almost 25 come home to families after the horror of the January earthquake. We have seen more churches launch orphans ministries. We have seen the seeds of orphan ministry on the college campus come to life and students saved through going near the orphan. Hope for Orphans Kids is bringing vision to children in churches across America. But still it is the stories of specific children that stick with me and show me that God is truly at work.

When Yang Wen Sha was born in China, there was a problem. She could not hear. Soon she was in an orphanage, but through God’s providence, there were Christians at the orphanage caring for her. A few years later, our friends Dr. Andy and Trisha Wells connected with Yang Wen Sha through a Hope for Orphans contact.  Dr. Andy is an ENT, and with his help, Yang Wen Sha was able to receive the specialized hearing aid that she needed.  It was not just a coincidence that Andy and Trisha came into the life of this child.  You see, God had been working on Andy and Trisha’s hearts for some time about adoption, and now they dared to pray and ask, “Could Yang Wen Sha be our daughter?”  They had ears to hear how the Lord wanted to use their lives.

In a story of divine intervention (which perhaps we can share one day through our e-newsletter), the Lord did what only He can do and in July of this year, Yang Wen Sha became Kari Christine Pennington Wells. She now lives in a beautiful home in Augusta, Georgia with the forever family that God chose for her. I sort of think maybe in her little 5-year-old mind that when the Wells welcomed her into their family, she could hear the angels singing in her ears.

Our ministry is about providing the vision, resources and onramps for millions of Christians to step forward to love the fatherless. This month, we have an amazing opportunity to grow our ministry. A donor has agreed to match, dollar for dollar, all gifts to Hope for Orphans received before December 31st. If the Lord leads, please help us help more churches to bring the Hope born in Bethlehem to more orphans in 2011 than ever before.

Happy New Year.

Paul

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Next week, Monday through Friday, FamilyLife Today will host Steven and Mary Beth Chapman.  The Chapmans have been tireless champions for the fatherless for years and have continued to speak up on their behalf, while helping mobilize the church to care for them in many ways, through their ministry, now called Show Hope.

In the first three days of interviews, the Chapmans will talk about, among other things, how they met, Mary Beth’s new book, entitled Choosing to SEE: A Journey of Struggle and Hope, and some of the darker times in their lives, including the tragic accident that took the life of their precious daughter, Maria Sue, and the way God has demonstrated His grace in the midst of those times.

On the final two days of interviews, the Chapmans will talk about Maria’s Big House of Hope — the latest initiative from Show Hope — a six-story, 60,000 square foot orphanage that houses and provides medical care for special needs orphans in China.  They will also share music from and talk about Steven’s latest CD, Beauty Will Rise.

Please be sure to tune in to the broadcasts next week, August 30th through September 3rd by clicking here.  Also, take this opportunity to share this link with family and friends who may not be aware of what God is doing through the Chapmans and others on behalf of orphans all over the world.  You and those in your circles will be richly blessed by these programs.

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This post was written by Missy Leventhal – wife of HFO Ops guy David Leventhal.  Missy & David have four children and are in the process of adopting their second child from China (a three year old little boy).  Missy recently reflected on what she’s learned through the waiting process.  Missy does her blogging at www.theleventhals.com & her Twittering at @missyleventhal.

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I’ve had several people ask me recently how I’m doing with the wait.  So far I think I’m doing pretty good.  We’ve had enough to distract us with buying a new house and preparing to move, along with the normal hustle and bustle of keeping up with the other four, that I haven’t had much time to sit and think about the wait.  Don’t get me wrong, I think about my boy often!  I’ve just done a better job this time around not letting the wait control me.

I’ll explain…

As we got to this point with Abigail’s adoption I was consumed by blogs and yahoo groups.  I would check them multiple times throughout the day to see if any of the families ahead of us in the process had gotten word of travel approval.  I would get caught up in this cyberworld and WASTE hours upon hours glued to my computer. Daily.

It was not good.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with blogs or yahoo groups…I obviously have a blog and I still participate in a yahoo group.  They are great outlets and great sources for support.  However, when you are so consumed by them that you can’t even step away to play with the children already in your home, or when they stir up anxiety and anxiousness it’s just not good.

Also, the first time around I feel I fantasized about Abigail quite a bit.  What she’d be like, how she’d act, what we’d do together, how the other kids would play with her…it was dreamy!  She was perfect!  I fell in love with a picture and a perfect, made-up child.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with being excited and anticipating how things are going to change.  But at some point the expectations formed through this anticipation are going to meet up with reality and some adjustments are going to have to be made.

For me the depths of my expectations did not help me with our transition, and it took me months to figure out that the disconnection I was feeling with her was due, in a large part, to my unmet and unrealistic expectations.  As I’ve come to understand my own heart more through much prayer, educated myself with some great books like The Connected Child, and surrounded myself with other godly adoptive families through our church’s adoption ministry (Watermark Tapestry), I’ve learned that I must evaluate and adjust my expectations so that they are more realistic.  I must love my daughter for who she is and for how our God has created her, rather than try to make her into something she’s not.  This is not a new concept to me, but it is one that took me being very intentional to really change my heart.

So, I guess you can say, I learned my lesson the first time around!  I do get excited about meeting Joshua and discovering his personality.  I can’t wait to have him home to love on him, play with him, and cuddle him.  I can’t wait to see how his little life is going to impact the lives of our other children.  But I’m trying to be more realistic and almost hold my emotions an arm’s length away so that I can fall in love with him, and not what I imagine to be him!  Does that even make any sense?

Do I like waiting? No.  I’d have him home today if I could.  But I know waiting is part of the process.  I know that my Lord loves him even more than I do, and I know that He can take care of Chang Shun just fine without me.  I know that He has invited me into this process and is giving me the privilege of being this little boy’s mommy for a time.  I know that all of my kids are HIS before they are mine, and so I must hold them with an open hand and trust in His loving care…much easier said than done!  But I’m working on it!

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