Our Journey To Ethiopia video
Thursday, May 31, 2007
We also were able to complete the Adoption Information Sheet to Gladney along with our first payment of $50. I think this will probably be the cheapest payment we will have to make during this entire process!!! I am trying to look for the positive, can you tell?
Monday, May 28, 2007
Saturday, May 26, 2007
“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” Ecclesiastes 3:11
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
First of all, Brad had been able to travel to Asia many times for business and also for a mission trip. During his travels, he developed a great love and respect for the Asian culture and hardworking people. We also had spoken to our children’s pediatrician who was in the process of adopting from China and she spoke of the inexpensive cost of China as well as the very stable process they provided for adoptive families. Many years prior to our decision to adopt, we had attended a Family Life seminar with Steven Curtis Chapman. He spoke about his decision to adopt and his ministry called Shaohannah’s Hope. As he shared about adopting several times through China, his testimony pierced our hearts and the desire to adopt resurfaced and began stirring in our hearts. As we tearfully watched his video, “When Love Takes You In”, the realization of adopting a child who may not physically look like us began to biblically resonate how we are all made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27). We left the seminar with packets full of information on adoption and our hearts full of anticipation of the Lord’s future plans for our lives! This experience, along with many others made a lasting impression on us as well as thrusting China to the forefront of our minds.
Shortly after this conference, we began the process for our adoption. We were informed that it would probably be around 10-12 months after we completed our paperwork when we would receive our child. Yet, as the months went on, that length became greater and greater. By the spring of this year, we were told that it would be three years or more until we would receive our daughter. At this point, we began discussing and praying about other possibilities. It was our desire that our adopted children be close in age to our biological children for obvious reasons. Thus, after this very difficult period of time, we decided that we needed switch our agency to Gladney to allow us follow our hearts to a newly opened country: Ethiopia.
This rather “sudden” change has caused several family members and friends to ask, “Why did you change to Ethiopia? I thought God called you to adopt from China.” This type of question certainly deserves a proper response: one that is logical; yet, most importantly biblical.
As we sought to answer these questions, we were, once again assured of the sufficiency of God’s Word. It seemed as though when our loved ones asked these questions, they were expecting a response that included signs, wonders or dreams. And, although God can most certainly do whatever He chooses, it remains clear to us today that He speaks through His Word and the illuminating work of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, just as we could not “pin-point” a place in Scripture that said, “Go to China!” so we could not find a place that said, “Now, go to Ethiopia!”
What we realize, however, is that God has sufficiently revealed His will to us in the Word of God; and where His Word is silent, we are free to act (so long as our actions do not contradict His revealed Word). This concept of our freedom in Christ is something that a friend of ours impressed upon our hearts several years ago, and it is now a principle that we live by. In other words, God has said, “I love adoption, I love the nations, you are free to act accordingly.”
God has told us to care for the widows and orphans. How we chose to fulfill this command is within the realm of our Christian liberty; however, we have chosen to fulfill it through adoption. Some Christians volunteer at Nursing Homes. Others given money to international orphanages. Still others participate in short-term mission trips in order to work with the fatherless and the widowed. Each of these examples certainly fulfills the commands of the Scriptures. However, none of these are explicitly stated in Scripture.
Therefore, as the wait time for international adoption from China kept increasing, we realized that we should at least consider the possibility of changing countries. Then, once we looked into Ethiopian adoption, we fell in love with the people of this ancient land.
We are very well aware of the racial tension and race issues that may surface with our decision to adopt internationally; however, we cannot be swayed by the societal norms that are sadly unbiblical. We must follow the calling upon our lives and be obedient to our Lord and Savior even though we know we might face storms that rage ahead of us. We are confident in our Heavenly Father’s guidance who assures us in Deuteronomy 1:30, “The Lord your God, who is going before you, will fight for you....”. All of our children are bathed in prayer and we will teach them the precepts in God’s word, so they will have a strong foundation, a clear understanding that they were created in God’s image and the promise of eternity with Him so long as they follow Him and Him alone. The Lord calls us to follow Him, but He does not say we will not endure hardships. “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” (2 Timothy 3:12) Interestingly enough, I came across an old African proverb that so perfectly states:
“Smooth seas do not make skilled sailors”
We have certainly not “abandoned” China as some have suggested. However, we realize that given the changes in circumstances, China was no longer a feasible option for us. It is possible that we may return to adopt from China some time in the future, but as of now, we are confident that God is pleased, and will be ultimately glorified, in our decision to adopt from Ethiopia.
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
This next reason that we have for adopting is one that we would not originally have put down. However, given our experience through these many months, this truth has become a reality in our lives. Simply put, adoption involves sacrifice.
We are not wealthy people. In fact, in order to finance this call on our lives, Brad has had to work multiple jobs. However, as difficult as this has been, it has given us, yet again, further insight into our own salvation and adoption by God our Father.
When mankind fell, God did not simply wave some cosmic ‘magic wand’ and declare us righteous. If He had done that [a hypothetical impossibility], He would have violated His own divine justice. In other words, His justice and wrath had to be satisfied. Therefore, the Lord Jesus Christ took up our sins, as our representative, and suffered the eternal, infinite wrath of the Father in our place! In short, our adoption as children of God required a sacrifice of absolute perfection! There could have been no greater sacrifice.
5. International adoption reveals the glory of God.
Our final reason for adopting internationally involves our desire to reflect the glory of God, not only in our individual lives, but in our family. In a recent broadcast of the Albert Mohler Radio Program, Dr. Albert Mohler, President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary asks the question concerning transracial adoption – Is it nothing more than a form of cultural imperialism and institutional racism? This is, no doubt, a question that many have thought of, yet, few will actually admit. I, myself, have often feared that our decision to adopt trans-racially would be received and taken by some as an extension of a ‘white man’s burden’…a desire to impose our ‘superior’ white culture on ‘inferior’ and ‘primitive’ African children. Yet, this could not be further from reality. After a great deal of self-reflection I can honestly say that our desire and decision to adopt internationally was born out of a desire to reflect the glory of Almighty God in our lives and in our home.
Over the past several years, I have begun to realize the profound implications of the truth of the doctrine of the Trinity. This may seem a rather strange statement to make in the context of international adoption; however, I feel it is hugely applicable. The Apostle Paul is quite clear in the first chapter of his Epistle to the Romans that ‘since the creation of the world His [God’s] invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made…’ [Romans 1:20]. One such aspect of God’s divine nature is that He is Trinity. As Dr. James White, in his book, The Forgotten Trinity, states, ‘Within the One Being which is God, there exists three coequal, coeternal persons, namely, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.’ Therefore, God’s nature is both unity [His divine nature or essence] and diversity [three distinct, coequal, coeternal Persons]. Thus, it should surprise no one that in God’s creation we observe both unity and diversity. In fact, if we are to reflect God’s glory [which is certainly a biblical pursuit], then we, too, should reflect in our lives and in our relationships, an understanding of both unity and diversity.
The next reason why we have chosen to adopt from Ethiopia is that adoption exists as a picture of salvation. The truth fills the pages of the New Testament. Author and theologian Robert Reymond writes, ‘Throughout the New Testament, the concept of adoption is ever-present. The writers of the New Testament often used words such as ‘son’ [2 Corinthians 6:18; Galatians 3:26; 4:6-7; Hebrews 2:10; 12:5-8; Revelation 21:7], ‘child’ [John 1:12; 11:52; 1 John 3:1, 10; 5:2; Romans 8:16, 21; 9:8; Ephesians 5:1; Philippians 2:15], ‘little child’ [Hebrews 2:13-14] and ‘sonship’ [Romans 18:15, 23; Galatians 4:5; Ephesians 1:5; Romans 9:4] to demonstrate the change in relationship with the Father that we experience on the basis of the finished work of Jesus Christ.
Furthermore, the Westminster Larger Catechism [answer to Question 74] addresses the question of our own adoption as children of God, stating, ‘Adoption is an act of the free grace of God, in and for his only Son Jesus Christ, whereby all those that are justified are received into the number of his children, have his name put upon them, the Spirit of his Son given to them, are under his fatherly care and dispensations, admitted to all the liberties and privileges of the sons of God, made heirs of all the promises, and fellow-heirs with Christ in glory.’
In other words, as the New Testament writers so clearly state, our adoption as children of God involves:
- His choosing of us in Christ because of His gracious love towards us.
- Our receiving of Father's name (Ephesians 2:19; 3:14-15) and our assurance of His protection and provision as His children
- Our "sealing" by the work of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13), and the comfort and hope of knowing that we can never lose our salvation. It is certianly noteworthy that when Paul was writing in the first century, it was Roman law that an adopted child could never be "disowned" as a biological child could. No doubt this was part of the reason Paul appropriated the concept of adoption with our salvation.
- The hope and joy of our future inheritance and blessing in Christ as co-heirs with Him (Romans 8:17; 1 Peter 1:4-5)
Clearly, each of these four, biblical aspects of our eternal adoption is present in the practice of domestic and international adoption. Consequently, when one then begins to understand the miracle of our eternal adoption by our Heavenly Father, then the picture of ‘earthly’ adoption gains a new, far richer, and more beautiful dimension.
The second reason that we have chosen to adopt, specifically internationally, is because of God’s revealed love for the nations. As far back as Genesis, God reveals His plan to bless every nation through the descendants of Abraham [Genesis 12:1-3]. In Psalm 2, the psalmist, speaking of the ‘inheritance’ of the Son of the LORD, writes: ‘I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance, and the very ends of the earth as Your possession.’ Also, in Psalm 22:27, we read, ‘All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations will worship before You.’
I am currently in the process of preaching through the Book of Acts, and two truths that God continually reveals in this book are: (1.) every individual, regardless of race, is a sinner in desperate need of a Savior; and (2.) the Gospel is, indeed, the universal power of God for salvation, for all who believe. The Jewish leadership of the first century, particularly the Pharisees, held to a tradition and a conviction that God in some way favored the Hebrew race above all others in the world. This primitive form of racism; however, could never be supported biblically. Further, it reflected a belief, on the part of the Jews, that there was something ethnically inherent to the Jewish people that God in some way ‘preferred’ over the Gentile nations. At its root, this type of racial exclusivity demonstrated that the Jews believed they were in some way more ‘like God’ than all other nations.
However, YHWH our God is fundamentally different than everyone and everything. He is the eternal, infinite and transcendent Creator who created ex nihilo, out of nothing. He is the uncaused Cause, the unmoved Mover. There was never a time when He was not, and there will never be a time when He ceases to exist. He is in need of nothing. In fact, God had no compelling need to create. He was fully self-sufficient from all eternity. In his classic work, Desiring God, John Piper rightly asserts, ‘Within the triune Godhead (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), God has been uppermost in His own affections for all eternity. Therefore, God has been supremely happy in the fellowship of the Trinity.’ Thus, God is essentially [in His essence] unlike anyone or anything.
For this reason, no man, no nation, no culture may rightfully claim to have the ‘inside track’ with God [It was always God’s plan and will to save Gentiles (see Isaiah 49:6)]. No individual or group of people, to include ethnic Jews, is any more God-like than the rest. This was, indeed, the point the Apostle Paul was making in the first three chapters of his Epistle to Romans. This section culminates in the great passage in Romans 3:
But now apart from the Law of righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for their is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
Commenting on this passage, Douglas Moo writes,
'[Paul's] 'no distinction,' as we would expect, has to do with the absence of any basic difference among people with respect to their standing before God. Jews may have the law and circumcision; Americans may lay claim toa great religious heritage; 'good' people may point to the works of charity; but all this makes no essential difference to one's standing before a righteous and hold God....Paul, then, is indicating that all people fail to exhibit that 'being-like-God' for which they were created.....'
Therefore, regardless of culture or ethnicity, an impassable gulf separates us from God. It is a chasm that no man, regardless of how ‘righteous’ his is, could ever even begin to cross. Yet, it is not until one understands this infinite gap that separates sinful man from the one true, living, and holy God, that he or she can even begin to grasp the unfathomable miracle revealed through our adoption into God’s family. We are finite and sinful…God is infinite and holy! No degree of human effort, regardless of how sincere, could even begin to bridge the gap that separates us from our Creator. Yet, God, who is infinitely rich in divine mercy, chose, in accordance with the council of His own will, to condescend to us, through the Person of Jesus Christ, and save His people. It is through the redemptive work of Christ, and the regenerative work of the Holy Spirit, that God the Father has adopted us as His children. This is, indeed, a miracle of infinite proportions…one that the mind can never fully comprehend.
It is only when we understand the infinite gap that separates us from God that the ‘gap’ separating us from other humans in other races is ultimately put into proper perspective. People often stress to Kimberly and I the great cultural and racial gap that will exist between us and our Ethiopian children. Yet, such concerns ultimately fade completely from our view when considered in light of the infinite, eternal gap that God bridged, through the work of Jesus Christ, in order to reconcile us to Him.
This seems to be the most common response that we receive each time we tell someone that we are adopting. Then, almost without exception, the next question is, ‘So, why are you adopting from Ethiopia?’ Both of these questions are certainly appropriate; and ones that deserve proper answers. However, it seems that many times when friends and family have asked these questions, they expect an answer like, ‘Well, I was asleep one night and I had a vision of the ancient land of Cush, and the Lord spoke to me saying, ‘Go!...’
However, no such vision has ever occurred. In fact, we have had no ‘supernatural…super-spiritual’ experience which has in some way served as our ‘call’ to adopt from Ethiopia. Rather, through prayer and reading of the Scriptures, Kimberly and I are convinced that our LORD has called us to pursue international adoption in the county of Ethiopia. Although there are many reasons why we are confident in our call to adopt from Ethiopia, there are at least five that that are clearly and sufficiently revealed throughout the Scriptures, and worthy of further exploration.
1. The Scriptures command all Christians to care for widows and orphans.
The first, and, perhaps, the most scriptural reason we have to support our decision to adopt is the biblical command to care for widows and orphans. James 1:27 states, ‘Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress…’ Yet, this truth, of protecting the fatherless and the widow, is present throughout the Scriptures. Even in Deuteronomy, Moses speaks of ‘the orphan and the widow who are in your town’ being allowed to come and eat and being satisfied, ‘in order that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hand which you do’ [Deuteronomy 14:29]. Later in Psalms [146:9] and Isaiah [1:17; 23], the LORD reiterates this sentiment, speaking through the prophet Isaiah, stating, ‘Learn to do good; seek justice, reprove the ruthless, defend the orphan, plead for the widow’ [Isaiah 1:17].
Most certainly this biblical command to care for widows and orphans finds its rooting in the biblical principle that we are to care for those who cannot care for themselves. This principle also holds true in our own salvation. God saved us when we could not save ourselves. In his nighttime meeting with Nicodemus, Jesus tells the Pharisee, ‘…unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.’ The Greek root of the word translated cannot is the word dunamis, meaning ‘power or ability.’ In other words, Christ was saying that, ‘unless one is born again, by the sovereign, gracious power of almighty God, he does not have the ability to see the kingdom of God.’ Therefore, we, as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ were once no different than the widows and fatherless. Moreover, were it not for the gracious, lovingkindness of our Heavenly Father, who chose us to be His children through adoption as ‘sons’ in Christ, we would have remained fatherless, dead in our sins, and rightfully condemned for eternity.
Monday, May 21, 2007
Our decision to adopt goes back as far as our childhood. During different times in our childhood, we both felt our hearts being called toward adoption even though it seemed so far away. As we begin dating and eventually became engaged, our conversations were always “peppered” with talks of adoption still seeming light years away. We married on September 16, 2000 and thus began our whirlwind of a life! We began to plan for children immediately and “our “ plan was to have three biological children and then adopt two children, Lord willing. We had our precious little girl, Isabella Grace in 2002 and were so surprised to learn that her adorable little brother, Elijah Arrington would follow 14 months later in 2003 (with a much bigger surprise of arriving 2 weeks early and weighing in at 10 lbs. 2 oz.!!!) Several months after Elijah was born, we were involved in a new start-up church where Brad became the pastor of our new church, Grace Reformed Baptist Church . He continued to work at his job and his seminary training, when he took on a small Bible teaching position at a local private school as well! I stayed busy with my “Irish twins”, attempting to find time to sustain my “hobby-turned-business” of making bows, onesies, socks, quilts, etc. and somewhat recently transitioned into coordinating the children’s ministry within the church! Whew! We were so thrilled with the Lord’s blessings in our lives, but were so busy with what was in front of us, we didn’t have time to think about what was ahead of us! We continued on with “our” plan and were feeling extremely overloaded and overwhelmed at our life to say the least! We began to pray about what God’s direction was in our lives and how we were going to be obedient to His will. After much prayer, it became abundantly clear what things we needed to “purge” out of our lives – many of which seemed good and seemed to bring glory to Christ but actually were being used as distractions. As we look back, this process was preparing our hearts to hear “His” plan for our lives instead of following our own plan.
Although He has blessed us with two beautiful children, our God has increasingly impressed upon our hearts the truth of our own adoption in the Lord Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul clearly states, “He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will” (Ephesians 1:5). As Paul wrote these words he was no doubt well aware that one could not disown an adopted child in the Roman society. As the Holy Spirit has taught us this truth over these past two years, we have been both humbled and convicted that as chosen children of God, we have the unique opportunity to demonstrate the love of Christ to a child unknown to us, but certainly known by the God we are so privileged to serve.
Our original plan for adoption was a far distance from now, but the Lord began to tender our hearts towards this incredible journey within His timing and His plan (not ours), which is now! At our wedding, we had purchased a family Bible in which we inscribed this special verse:
“Therefore, be ye imitators of Christ, as well-beloved children, and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Ephesians 5:1-2
We are to imitate Christ and be examples of His love for His children and do it sacrificially just as Christ did for us. What a privilege! What an expectation! What a blessing!
We must admit that we have no idea how we are going to get through this process – both emotionally and financially. However, we are confident of this – that the Lord would not call us to something that He would not equip us for. As trite as this may sound, we realize that our God is the Sovereign Creator and Sustainer of all that is, and, as with all things, He will ensure that His will is accomplished in His timing. Yet, even though our journey has only begun, we have already found it difficult, at times, to trust in His provision for the process that lies ahead. Please pray that we will remain obedient and trust in His will and His timing, not our own. We are so encouraged and strengthened by the many testimonies of those who have taken this journey before us. We thank each of you for sharing them with us!
Sharing in His passion and pursuit of His children,
Brad, Kimberly, Isabella, and Elijah
“Anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes my father who sent me.” Mark 9:37
Sunday, May 20, 2007
As many of you know, I have been writing down all of the important events of our adoption and our life throughout this process. We documented our journey to China on another online site and when we changed countries, we began writing about it privately. We wanted to make sure that we were solely listening to the Lord when we switched countries and that we were not being swayed but outside opinions from others that may not be rooted in God's word. So now, we have decided to put our entries online (and will post them with the date as they actually happened) with the hopes of catching others up with what has transpired throughout this unique process and how the Lord has truly moved in our lives! We have watched in awe how the Lord has continued to provide for us and guide us through some difficult and uncharted territory for us!
The decision to change countries was very difficult for us and took many of our loved ones by surprise; however, our prayer is that everyone will ultimately see the hand of our Lord in our children and understand our desire to adopt is purely a calling from the Lord. We must follow Him where He leads us and be obedient to Him, giving Him all the glory!
Like many others who are also adopting, we have been asked many times:
Why we are adopting? Why internationally? and Why Ethiopia?
So we, (really Brad), decided to write out a few of our reasons in hopes to answer these important questions and help others understand our desire to adopt. We have posted these answers in several parts so as not to overwhelm (or maybe even bore you!) in a very long explanation!
We have experienced such grace and provision from the Lord throughout this entire process. Our hope is that you will follow along with us through our journey to bring home our children from Ethiopia!
Soli Deo Gloria!
Brad, Kimberly, Isabella & Elijah