Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Together For Adoption Recap Pt. 1

Not only was T4A an amazing opportunity to glean more information about adoption, orphan care, orphan care ministries, HIV, and so much more it was also about meeting precious friends who I've "known" in blog-land for the past four years. Certain people stand out and in this process there are some you just know will be forever friends. When I signed up for this conference I hadn't met any of my room mates, I was flying alone and I couldn't wait.

Where do I begin? After spending an entire weekend with over 800 like minded, Jesus loving, orphan advocating men and woman I can hardly put into words what this did for my soul. I only hope I can put into words what was represented.

This conference was completely centered around the gospel. It wasn't always comfortable, it was challenging, honest, forth right, and not a watered down gospel message in the least. I was in my element. I was with people who like me, desired to do more, wanted to be challenged, and were up for the call of challenging others. It was a breath of fresh air for my soul.

Aaron Ivey did an incredible job leading worship. Hearing 800 people singing to our King was breath taking. Aaron wrote the song in the video below to his son as they waited for him to come home from Haiti. It's incredible. So moving. Aaron is extremely passionate, his band did a fantastic job with leading worship, Aaron's leadership is amazing, his love for the Lord overflows through his music.

Dan Cruver opened up the conference talking about keeping the gospel as the center of orphan care ministries. Also the need for pastors to lead their churches in advocating for the orphan. It made me so incredibly thankful for our pastor, elders, and the stand they take in advocating for orphans, orphan care, and adoption. We are blessed to have a church supportive of adoption and loving the least of these.

The world is not as it should be, no child should be without a father and a mother, no child should have to starve to death. No mother should have to choose between feeding herself or feeding her child. The latest numbers show that there are 163 million orphaned or vulnerable children in the world. That's staggering. We can't ignore the need. The global orphan crisis is HIS mission. Jesus Christ cares for every last one of His children.

I can't shake many of the things said by JD Greear, the pastor of Catalyst Church. His message was pure. Straight up and left me in tears. Here's a sampling from my notes.

This is not about statistics this is about human individuals. Those who love Jesus will want to serve and love on others out of their great love for God. Our lives are not our own. Not to be spent for acquisition. Not an accessory for our lives. How we care for the person in need is an incredible sign of Christianity. It is the gospel lived out.

Why are our churches characterized by their political opinions rather then their pouring out of themselves for others and their great needs?

That last statement was one that hit me like a ton of bricks. There are things the church does well. There are other things the church does not do well. The church is made up of imperfect people, we can always do better. Pouring themselves out for others is an area the church seems to struggle with. I'm not talking about hosting a little dinner party or an event at the church. I'm talking about bringing people INTO our homes. Building relationships with people that the world has deemed "unworthy". Why is it that we shirk that responsibility when it is so very clearly stated in scripture that we are to do exactly that?

Gods plan is to put orphans in families. WE are the ones that get to love on these children. We adopt out of our great love for Him and our love for others. I'm honored to parent these children. It is one of life's greatest blessings for David and I.

A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows,
is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families, he leads forth the prisoners with singing; but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land. Psalm 68:5-6

Matt Carter, the pastor of Austin Stone church also spoke - here's a small excerpt from his session.

How can a child understand the great love of a heavenly Father if they’ve never experienced the love of an earthly Father?

Why is Hollywood a louder voice for the plight of the orphan then the church is? We need a movement within the church. Big buildings, programs, are cool but there are 163 million kids running around without families.
Something needs to change. It starts with us.

Robert Gilenas - A Pastor in CO spoke about adopting from the foster care system as well as from Ethiopia. They thought their family was complete with two boys and two girls. Then they were told about a young Ethiopian child and wound up bringing home two more children from Africa. Incredible testimony. Here's some of what he shared.

How do we live in a country with a half a million orphans and do nothing about it? 19,000 children a year age out of the system here in the US. They are never brought home into a family. These children never know the love of a father and mother. Psalm 68 - A Father to the Fatherless. If the church would get involved and do something about the orphan crisis here and abroad we wouldn't have orphans. God places the lonely in families. He places them into the empty bed in our houses. He places them in the empty seat in our minivans.

If God is a Father to the fatherless.......the church is the mother.

Robert used an example of a church with less then 50 families - they continue to take children into their homes - a 130 children now - each family makes less then 19,000 a year yet they continue to adopt/foster these children.

Project 127 started to bring churches together - When they began four years ago 875 children were in foster care in CO - Robert told his church he’d promised 10% to be placed in families that first year. He explained that these children needed to be finding homes in our homes. Further more he stated that issues of the heart and issues of the wallet are the biggest issues when it comes to adoption.

Your heart can’t tell the difference between a biological child or an adopted child. Money should never get in the way of a child having a home.
What do we mean when we say “I can’t afford to adopt”? We are saying God won’t provide for His children. Are we saying He’s a deadbeat dad? Not so. He will provide.

In the church the way it should look is for every 1 Family that adopts there should be 3-5 families that come together to support the family and make it happen. Working together through finances, services, and support. The church needs to get involved.

I'll post part two tomorrow - Dr. Purvis deserves her own complete post. She is an amazing woman and such an incredible wealth of knowledge.

Here's a few pictures from the weekend!

Ashley. Sweet Ashley. This gal is the one who will call us with news of our referral. It was awesome meeting her and talking with her. Can't wait to be on the phone with her hearing about our little girl!
These lovely ladies challenged me, encouraged me, and made me laugh SO hard! Love you gals, grateful to have served along side you both. Check out the new fall gear at 147 Million Orphans! I LOVE my new stuff!

Only God could orchestrate this. Justin and David used to work together when we all lived in Oregon. Shauna and I met shortly after and we hung out as couples (us with a couple kids and them with one on the way). After a couple years we went our different directions in life, 9 kids between us and we "bump" into each other in blog land. We had a mutual friend and connected that way. Seeing each other for the first time in 10 years at the conference was incredible! God has been working many of the same things in each of our hearts all these years and each of our families have adopted which is just amazing. So fun seeing you guys! We'll have to get our families together one of these days!

Natalie Teabo! Love this mama! So excited that she's moving to Atlanta and will be that much closer to me!
On the last night we all went out to dinner at Hula Hut on Lake Austin. Very fun!

While I was gone David had adventures of his own. Olivia tripped over the super cute curtains we had just put up in her room. She landed dead center on the corner of the wall. A trip to the ER and six stitches later she's on the mend. None of our kids have ever had a broken bone or stitches so this was a new one. I never would have guessed it would be Liv that would be the injured one. When David called my mama heart broke. I wanted nothing more then to be there to hold my girl. I knew she was in good hands but I still bawled. I'm thankful for a precious friend who prayed with me and lifted my girl up to the one who loves her more then I ever could. I bought her a Tacky Headband from Every Mother Matters and she's worn it every single day.


Alison said...

Oh, I would have bawled too! She is so precious...glad she is doing better! And the conference sounds like it was amazing! Wish we could've been there!!

Teresa said...

Awesome, Awesome, Awesome! I really need to get to this conference next year. Sounds absolutely amazing! Thanks for sharing. Can't wait for part 2!

Jodes and Boz said...

Incredible! Thank you so much for sharing your notes with us!! Being in Chicago i wasn't able to make it to T4A - next time i hope!! So much jumped out to me as i was reading your post, but i think above all, what really got me was this section:
Your heart can’t tell the difference between a biological child or an adopted child. Money should never get in the way of a child having a home.
What do we mean when we say “I can’t afford to adopt”? We are saying God won’t provide for His children. Are we saying He’s a deadbeat dad? Not so. He will provide.

Wow. I am really looking forward to Part 2!! Thank you again for sharing.

Shauna said...

God is awesome, hu? I loved having an "old friend" with all my "new friends" - gave it an extra feel of home! David HAS to come next year! Love the pic and may steal it :)!