Here’s the latest on our adoption: we’re done with our part of the home study process and we’re waiting for it to be approved by our agency. Once this happens things will start to progress pretty quickly which means we’ll have some checks to write soon.
I have an uneasy relationship with the fundraising part of the adoption process. I do like to say that when it comes to deciding whether or not to adopt, money shouldn’t be a deterrent. God places children in families. The money is His. He can distribute it as He pleases and we saw this over and over again when we adopted Gus. Every time we needed money we had exactly what we needed.
That being said, I think it is appropriate to let people know that we don’t have all the money we need to finish this process. In our own personal giving, we sometimes have money to give and don’t know where to give it. In those cases I always appreciate it when people let us know they have a need.
We’ve got a couple of things moving forward to help us raise money. This weekend we’re having a little garage sale on Saturday morning (April 27th) at 140 Summer Winds Drive here in Savannah. If you’re in the area and have something you’d like to donate, let me know. Also, drop by and see if there’s anything you need.
Second, we’ve got a t-shirt sale in the works. We’ve got the design and hope to have some to sell in the next couple of weeks. Keep checking back here if that interests you.
Finally, if you’d like to contribute there’s always the little paypal button in the upper right hand corner of this blog. We are SOOOOO thankful for all of the people God has used already to fund our adoptions. And I know I’m way overdue on writing a post to introduce this little guy.
I’m still learning to pray. Most of the time I tend pray general prayers rather than specific. At best this is a reflection of my lack of creativity. I’m just not that good at thinking of things to ask for. At worst this is a reflection of my own lack of faith. “If I ask for something too specific and it doesn’t get answered then what?” I love what John 15:7 says I just don’t always pray in light of that promise.
Recently Erika and I were challenged by another family who has adopted. I’ll guarantee you this woman did not mean to challenge us when she told Erika their story of adopting from China. But the Holy Spirit used it like a sledge hammer in my heart. A few years ago they adopted a little boy with special needs from China. They had the audacity to pray that their little boy would have significant contact with other people in his orphanage. They prayed he would be held, hugged and loved. This is no insignificant thing in a Chinese orphanage. Plus, they prayed that he would have already heard the name of Jesus. THEN, they prayed that he would be familiar with the English language.
Do you see what I mean about creative, specific praying? My prayer that God would help us bring him home soon pales in comparison to the way these people are coming before their Father in heaven specifically on behalf of their little boy!
So they get to China, pick up their boy and can’t figure out how to make him eat. For a couple of days their struggling until one afternoon an American woman walks up to them and asks is that “_______” from such and such orphanage? Why yes it is. They talk about their problem with the woman who then goes out and buys exactly what the little guy likes to eat from the local Wal-Mart. (Who knew they had Wal-Mart over there?) You can probably see where this is going.
They soon discover that this American young woman had moved to China to serve in THAT orphanage. She is a Christian. She had been holding, singing to AND telling their little boy about Jesus. Oh, AND because of her influence he understood some English.
“If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”
We are working to change how we pray. I know this doesn’t count as creative (is there some kind of plagiarism rule when it comes to prayers?) but I’ve started praying the same thing. I’m praying that our boy is being loved and sung to and that he’s heard about Jesus. And I’m even praying that he’ll know a little English.
This weekend I realized that I really needed to do a follow up post on our adoption. Thus far we’ve been mired in the paperwork part of the process. I know some people are overwhelmed by the cost of adoption. Honestly, I find the paperwork to be the most daunting task. There is a mountain of documents to be filled out, notarized, checked, rechecked and mailed.
I don’t mean this to sound all super-spiritual, but I depend on God for the money. Unfortunately, I have to depend on the government bureaucracies to help me get most of these documents. Prayer beats an automated phone system any day.
So here’s the update: we mailed a stack of papers on Friday. This isn’t everything but it’s a big step forward. We have a picture of a little boy in an orphanage in China. Every day our dossier isn’t finished is another day he has to wait before he comes home.
As you continue to pray you can ask God to get these documents onto the desks of people who will move them along quickly. Right now we’re dealing with offices in 3 states. You can also pray that God will continue to provide the money we need. Thus far, we’ve had every dime we’ve needed.
I’ve got some big plans for blogs over the next few days. We’ve got some other specific things we’re praying for. We’ll also be sharing some more specifics about the little guy soon. So keep checking back. And if you happen to work in a government office and you’re responsible for filling requests for birth certificates and marriage licenses, keep in mind that some little kid thousands of miles away may be waiting on YOU so that he can come home to his forever family.
The Clelands are adopting again. We’ve identified a four-year old boy living in an orphanage in China with special needs and we’re about to start the process to adopt him. We begin on Monday when we travel to Atlanta to meet with our agency. Erika and I couldn’t be more excited and our children are thrilled.
This will be our fourth adoption. Every time we’ve done this God has used the experience to strengthen our faith and shape us in ways we never expected. Once again we need to be depending on Him every step of the way. There is nothing easy about it. But there is a boy in China who needs a family.
First of all we covet your prayers. Pray for our little boy as he sits in that orphanage. Pray that God will move workers in government offices to act quickly on the documents that we need. Pray for Erika and I as we endure what can often be an up and down process. And pray for our family as we look forward to bringing a 5 year old into our home for the first time.
Second, we cannot do this unless God once again opens His storehouses and provides the money we need to bring this little guy home. Last time, He provided EXACTLY what we needed right when we needed it. And we trust that He will do so again. After all, He’s the One who sets the lonely in families.
We’ll be using this blog to keep everyone updated throughout. For now, we have one specific need. We started the process anticipating that we would soon be receiving the amount of money we needed to get started. In God’s providence that money hasn’t arrived. But we know that He provides in many ways. Please join us in asking Him to provide before Monday.
I’ve been reading Melanie Kirkpatrick’s excellent book Escape from North Korea. There are many notable things about the book from the horrible testimonies of oppression to the inspiring accounts of those who risked everything to escape. But most surprising is Kirkpatrick’s observation that North Koreans are turning to Christianity in droves. Kirkpatrick pinpoints the reason for the attraction of Christianity among North Koreans: “Much of the informal assistance that refugees receive comes from Christians, especially local Chinese. Christians are the only people who seem to care. In a country where helping North Koreans is against the law, there are few others to whom a refugee can turn for protection and support.” (p. 156)
Many North Koreans who have just crossed over into China have little or no knowledge of Christianity. For some their freedom depends upon which door the knock on first. Many Chinese are happy to report refuges to the authorities or worse, make a little money by calling a broker who will sell the women as brides. A knock on the door of a Christian’s house is often the first step towards freedom, not just from the oppression of the Kim family, but also from sin and death.
In I Timothy 3:15 Paul calls the church “the pillar and support of the truth.” In the architecture of the ancient world the job of the pillar was not just to support the roof. It was to make the structure beautiful. Paul is saying here that the church of the living God doesn’t just support the truth but it makes the truth beautiful. To harbor illegal aliens is strictly forbidden in China and could lead to fines and imprisonment if discovered. These Chinese Christians are obeying Paul’s command to make the truth beautiful by their sacrificial compassion for these North Korean refugees.
How can we, the church in the USA, obey Paul’s command to make the beautiful? Are we living in such a way that someone would say, “You should find a Christian and they will help you?” Those Chinese Christians are examples of Christ’s command that His followers be salt and light in the midst of darkness. Clearly God is using their example to bring the lost to Him.
As faith in Christ continues to decline in the West we should take notice of Christians in other parts of the world who are experiencing the power of the gospel in ways that we know almost nothing about. In spite of their lack of obvious talent and resources people are coming to Christ in droves because of their example. We have powerful men and full bank accounts but that can’t compare to the power of one poor Christian peasant in China who makes the truth beautiful by opening his door to protect and feed a foreigner.
I’m sure the whole world is waiting to hear my thoughts of the state of Christian publishing. My thoughts seem all the more important now that I realize my last blog post was on April 11. But I was glad for this blog by Kevin Deyoung because his thoughts (as is so often the case) reflected some of my own. I especially appreciated point #5:
I’ve seen many books in the past few years that I would put in the category “Really good stuff, but I’m not sure it was book worthy.” These are books that might have been excellent sermons or terrific blog posts or could have been a wonderful long article, but a stand alone book they feel underwhelming.
I agree. I’ve become reluctant to buy much that is new and hot because I often put the book down feeling like I wasted my money. Going to a book store and reading the back cover, the introduction and the conclusion can often tell you everything you need to know AND save $20.
One observation that I would add: I’d like to see more guys waiting a little longer to publish their first book. I’m sure it’s cool to be an author. I almost certainly wouldn’t turn down a book advance or the opportunity to go on a book tour. But might it not be wise to wait a little while before putting your thoughts down on paper for the whole world to read? I’ve really appreciated Doug Wilson’s admonition to young/aspiring writers.
“Know something about the world, and by this I mean the world outside of books. This might require joining the Marines, or working on an oil rig or as a hashslinger at a truck stop in Kentucky. Know what things smell like out there. If everything you write smells like a library, then your prospective audience will be limited to those who like the smell of libraries.”
In the end I totally agree with DeYoung that we should be thankful for the “embarrassment of theological riches in the English language.” I love finding a book that I just can’t put down. Even better is finding that rare gem that challenges me, convicts me and helps me become more like Christ.
“He is risen, just as He said.” We revisit this text every Easter for obvious reasons. But this year, perhaps for the first time in my life, I actually managed to notice the second half of the angel’s statement: “Just as He said.”
In Mark’s Gospel Jesus three times explains to His disciples that He must suffer and die and on the third day rise again. The response of the disciples after each time is interesting. After the first, Peter tries to correct Jesus and is swiftly rebuked. Immediately after the second Mark tells us that the disciples were arguing about which of them was the greatest. After the third, James and John come to Jesus and ask to sit at His right and left in glory.
Move forward a short time to the morning of the resurrection. Still no one seems to have noticed the second half of Jesus’ statements. No one is expecting Him to rise again. One would expect that perhaps one or two of His disciples would have gotten up early that Sunday morning just to see if anything happened. The women are going to the tomb but they clearly expect to be tending to a corpse. Upon hearing the breathless report from the women Luke tells us that the disciples believe they are speaking nonsense!
How did they miss this? “He has risen, just as He said!” He couldn’t have been clearer. He told them ahead of time exactly what would happen. Could it be that they didn’t hear because they were preoccupied with other things? Like who’s the greatest?
I think Jesus has said a lot of stuff that for various reasons I have missed. Maybe I’m preoccupied. Maybe I’ve never paid attention. Maybe I’m willfully refusing to pay attention. He’s been clear and if I have failed to notice it is my fault. This insight had driven me to try to dig out from under all of my preoccupations. But in spite of this I’m sure that there are many truths that will keep my asking, “How did I miss that?” long into eternity.