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Posts Tagged ‘Jesus’

Last April, my 6-year-old grandson Ben was with me on a playground in Texas on a perfect evening just before sunset. Ben had been expected to die 3 years earlier, because you see he was born in Korea with a single ventricle, which meant he had about half of a normal heart. But on this late afternoon, through God’s grace, with no oxygen tubing to interfere, he played on the playground full of joy.

By this time, Ben’s condition was so severe that his legs were very unsteady, so he was very careful about falling. On the playground, there were these little platforms with poles where a child can jump from one to the next and reach a perch on the other side. I asked Ben if he wanted to try it. He smiled and said, “Oh no, Papa.”

To my complete surprise, a few minutes later Ben came to me full of courage and said, “Papa I want to do it.” Amazed, I helped him up and held his hand as he jumped to each successive platform. When he reached the last platform, he swung around the pole in triumph and looked me in the eye, saying, “Papa, I Made It!!”

I looked back at him and said, “You sure did, Ben.

”

The next morning, Ben slipped away to be with Jesus in the arms of his mother, our daughter Elizabeth. He had told us for months that Jesus was coming to pick him up, and on that gorgeous Texas Spring morning in April, Ben “made it.”

Around the world and in the United States, there are millions of children without families, whose hearts have little hope. But the Church of the Living God is stepping up to be Christ, a kinsman redeemer to these children. It only takes one church to make a difference. One family to make a difference in the life of a child whom the world often says does not even have a life worth living.

November 6th is Orphan Sunday. During that week, as we do once a year, we and our partners at Cry of the Orphan and The Christian Alliance for Orphans seek to raise awareness and provide on ramps for orphan ministry in the North American Church.

We have two great suggestions for you to rally your church and family to this cause this year. First, The Orphan’s Table. This family-based activity will help you to give vision to your family by spending one meal during Orphan Sunday week eating a meal that would be typical for orphans. There is a discussion guide to help you. You can learn more by clicking here.

The second suggestion is to use the Cry of the Orphan Campaign’s new DVD called Answer the Cry: Faces of Hope. This 30-minute program, hosted by Eric Metaxas (author of best-selling biographies on Dietrich Bonhoeffer and William Wilberforce) will take your small group, Sunday school class or church into the lives of believers God has used to bring hope to orphans. There are three ways to get Answer the Cry: Faces of Hope.  Starting on October 14th, this DVD presentation will be available for free at your local Family Christian Stores.  Or you can sign up today at cryoftheorphan.org and your DVD will be mailed to you around Oct 14th. Last, the entire show will be streamed in High Definition starting in late October.  More information can be found at cryoftheorphan.org.

One of the stories featured on this program is that of my grandson Benjamin.  As I’ve said, Ben taught us a lot about God’s love for orphans, both physical and spiritual.  Help your church go near the orphan by showing this short video.  Please participate in Orphan Sunday this year by taking advantage of these opportunities, which will surely lead to more fatherless children “making it” into a family and experiencing the love of Christ.

Blessings,

Paul

Paul Pennington is the Executive Director and Co-Founder of Hope for Orphans. He and his wife, Robin, have six children. They live in Dallas, Texas.

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I see you there hanging on a tree
You bled and then you died and then you rose again for me
Now you are sitting on Your heavenly throne
Soon we will be coming home
You’re beautiful, you’re beautiful

When we arrive at eternity’s shore
Where death is just a memory and tears are no more
We’ll enter in as the wedding bells ring
Your bride will come together and we’ll sing
You’re beautiful, You’re beautiful, You’re beautiful

Phil Wickman

Sunday was Easter. Two weeks ago yesterday, my 6-year-old grandson Benjamin woke up, ate breakfast with his sisters and brothers and then had a “cardiac event” as the medical folks call it. Less than 15 minutes later, he arrived at eternity’s shore and full of faith. Ben had told his family several weeks ago that he was ready to go see Jesus. You see, Ben was born with single ventricle and pulmonary atresia. Basically half of a normal heart. But, the really hard thing was Ben had been put into the care of an orphanage shortly after birth. Fortunately he was born in South Korea and he did have a foster family. But Benjamin was not going to live long in South Korea. His best chance for sustainable intervention was in America. It turns out that God’s plan for him to have a family was in America too.

Our daughter Elizabeth and her husband Mat heard about Ben. It was not the kind of adoption most families, even Christians, pursue. It was a choice to enter into pain and even suffering from the beginning. The doctor here told Elizabeth, “Best case he will live to about 20, and worst case he will make it only to 2.” For a military couple with a biological child with severe heart disease and another little boy, this was a big decision. But as they considered the Spirit’s leading, they came to believe that not only was Ben “theirs” but that if they walked away, he would still have to face this road alone. For him to face it with a family and be introduced to Jesus, was their privilege. Later the Lord brought two more biological children to Ben’s new family; one of these also had a severe heart problem.

So it was that little Ben joined our family 5 years ago. More than once we were told he would not survive for 30 days. The Lord did not read that memo and Ben was here for another Christmas and birthday and another. He was ours and we were his. Robin and I have watched as our daughter and son-in-law have entered into what the Bible calls sharing in the suffering of our Lord. Along the way of surgeries, oxygen tanks and wheelchairs, something remarkable happened…God gave this child faith along with a family.

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matthew 19:14)

Ben believed in Jesus. He understood that he would not live long. He had such faith that Jesus would take him home, he even told us once that He would pick him up in a red car. We laughed, but listen to Jesus’ words: “And he said: ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.’” (Matthew 18:3)

I was there when Ben’s mom, my first little girl, whispered to him, “It’s ok…you can go see Jesus now,” and because he was a little boy who loved and trusted his mother, and more importantly believed in heaven…he obeyed and his breathing slowed down and he slipped away. The presence of the Lord was strong. The angels were in the room. And a little boy who had earlier been released at an orphanage, left his family to join the family of the Lamb in heaven.

At Ben’s funeral, one of the Pastors made a wonderful observation. He said that this life is like the front porch. It is not the whole house; it is not even inside the house. Once we have been inside, like Ben, for the first million years we will look back at our time on the front porch as so very short. But, important decisions are made on the front porch of life here on earth. Will you change and become like a little child? Will you be willing to join Jesus in His suffering when He calls you? Will you see the lives of orphans with special needs and even terminal conditions as lives worth living, lives worth grafting into your family? Mat and Elizabeth did through God’s grace. As a result, we had a wonderful grandson who taught us that life on the front porch is all about knowing who is going to pick you up and loving those whom you can hug today.

So in the end, Ben’s story was not an adoption story. It wasn’t really a story of heroism. It was about a little boy that was really ours, who taught us in a fresh way how Jesus loved us before we loved Him. How it pleased Him to make us His real children, when we had nothing to offer Him.

What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
And what if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are Your mercies in disguise

Laura Story

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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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I posted up a blog this morning to my personal site & thought the content was relevant to one of the things we do here at Hope for Orphans, which is to remind believers of where they came from.  A clear & honest appraisal of our life before Christ helps encourage us to engage in the orphan crisis with more compassion, commitment & creativity.

I’ve been thinking about my adoption lately. Not my adoption of sweet Abigail which was completed nearly three years ago. And not my current adoption of Joshua – which will hopefully be completed before the end of this year. No, I’ve been mulling over my own personal adoption into the family of God. It occurred to me a couple of weeks back that sometimes I have the tendency to view of my own adoption through the same lens as Abigail’s adoption. Here’s what I mean – we brought Abigail home at 16 months. She was young…she was innocent…she was absolutely adorable & she came to us willingly –as if she’d been in our family her whole life (don’t read this to imply that we didn’t have to work through some attachment issues when she got home). For all these reasons & more – our affection for her came pretty naturally.  And so sometimes when I think about the way the Lord has adopted me into his family it’s colored by my own personal experience with Abigail.

But Scripture doesn’t paint me with the same colors I’ve painted Abigail. I was not an orphan that was cute, innocent, adorable or willing. According to God’s word I was… CLICK HERE TO READ MORE

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