Will You Help Zander Find a Family?

“… Take up the cause of the fatherless …” Isaiah 1:17

Hey TD!

You have an opportunity to fufill what God has commanded us to do … take up the cause of the fatherless!  Here’s how you can help.

Keep Zander in your mind, heart, and prayers; and then just mention him in your conversations with others, including adults, asking whether they or someone they know have ever thought about adopting a child in need of a family.  If they show an interest to hear more, let them know about Zander and refer them to the video above, where they can learn more about Zander, see his personality, and feel his warmth.

If you want to know more about Zander, contact our very own Bring Me Hope (BMH) intern, Angela, who made the video and who is advocating on Zander’s behalf to find him a “forever family.”

You can also email her at angela.hsieh@bringmehope.org.

For more information about Bring Me Hope, visit http://www.bringmehope.org.

C’mon TD! You never know what God will do when His people join together selflessly, loving Him with all we’ve got and loving our neighbor as ourselves.  If we pray and act, God could use us to help change Zander’s life forever!

In the coming weeks, we’ll highlight more children that our other BMH interns are advocating for.  Stay tuned.

How awesome would it be if we could help a few children find families to call their own this year? Let’s do our part, TD!

 

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One Less Orphan

Hey TD,

On Friday, I read you Isaiah 1, a passage that makes me cringe, as God reveals how He feels about people tantamount to “good Christians” that we mistaken for actually being true Christians.   He gives His solution for how to get out of that false Christianity that so often passes for real Christianity.  It’s not complicated, but it needs to be acted on.  Here it is:

“… Cease to do evil,17 Learn to do good; Seek justice, Reprove the ruthless, Defend the orphan, Plead for the widow.” Isaiah 1:16-17

As you all know, my family is in the final stages of our adoption process.  But adoption isn’t the only way to defend the orphan.  As you are in the final preparation stage before you reach adulthood, you NEED to heed the Lord and build into your life a regular and consistent ministry to the “least of these,” especially the orphaned and the widowed.  That is written all over Scripture.

At TD, we want to help you cultivate that heart and extend opportunities to obey – through your monthly contributions to our 7 sponsored orphans, participating in our monthly orphanage visits and convalescent home visits (full of widows), caring for orphans in China in the summer, becoming an orphan advocate intern (we have 4 this year, participating in V4V, etc.

” … you NEED to heed the Lord and build into your life a regular and consistent ministry to the “least of these,” especially the orphaned and the widowed. “

I found the following article interesting and helpful in cultivating  a broader perspective in this regard and hope you’ll read and glean from it. – Arthur

One Less Orphan

How Do We Keep Families Together?

Orphan care has been the topic of many conversations within the local church over the last decade. By God’s grace, many families and churches have stepped into ministries of foster care and adoption. Foster care and adoption captured our own hearts as we prayed about how we might grow our family.

Of course, like many Christians, when we thought about orphan care, we immediately thought of James 1:27, the command for Christians “to visit orphans and widows in their affliction.” Often when the topic of orphan care comes up in Christian circles, it’s not too long before this verse is on the table. Praise God that many people today are aware of, and passionate about, orphan care. But in recent years, we began to learn of situations that challenged how we had grown to apply James’s familiar command.

Bigger Than Adopting

We were foster parents to a three-month-old baby girl, excited to welcome this little one into our home and shower her with love. We changed diapers, did middle-of-the-night feedings, and adjusted our other three children around the schedule of this new addition.

“Christian orphan care is more than middle-class families welcoming children into their own homes.”

When we began to consider adopting this baby girl, however, we discovered that she had a biological grandmother living a few states away who was interested in adopting her, despite some significant financial and bureaucratic hurdles. As we began what became a yearlong process of trying to support our foster daughter moving to her grandmother’s house, we started to realize that foster care and adoption were not the only needed ministries for orphan care.

For many, the practical application of James 1:27 is to call individual couples and families to foster and adopt individual children. This is good, but it doesn’t meet every need. If James 1:27 is calling us to look after the vulnerable children suffering in our midst, it requires thinking not only about the children, but also the families and communities these children come from. It challenges us to consider not just the adopting of children, but also the reconciling of children to their original biological families when possible.

For this to happen, orphan care needs to grow in a theology that encompasses the entire gospel story. Christian orphan care reflects the major beats of this gospel — creation, sin, redemption, restoration — and the major themes of the gospel story: themes like grace, justice, reconciliation, and adoption. These major beats and themes then influence our priorities as we consider how best to care for the vulnerable children in our communities.

Mercy Upstream

A theology that includes the full biblical story will recognize that sin — and the brokenness that results from sin — operates not only at the individual level, but also at family, social, institutional, and cultural levels. If we are to be faithful in the battle against sin, it will mean making it more than just a personal fight. It will also mean marshaling our resources to confront sin at every level.

In the case of orphan care, this will mean looking upstream to the sources of sin and brokenness that lead to a child needing to be fostered or adopted. In our own situation, we found systemic challenges to getting our little girl to her grandma within a reasonable time frame.

“As much as we need to foster and adopt, we can do even more to promote biological families staying together.”

Since then we have worked with other mothers who have fulfilled all the steps necessary to have their children returned to them, only to see the courts cancel appointments due to backlogged cases. Their children languish in the system months (even years) longer than necessary. We have seen mothers handcuffed by immigration status, at risk of losing their children permanently due to the extra challenges of finding work.

Orphan care requires more than middle-class families welcoming children into our own homes. Foster care and adoption are relief work — good and beautiful relief for a child from the brokenness of this world. But orphan care will involve more than just relief. It also includes seeking restoration and equity. It involves engaging in broken child-welfare systems and looking to prevent child abuse by walking with those who are isolated and battling poverty and addictions.

Reconciliation is at the heart of the good news of the gospel — in particular reconciliation between God and the people he created. In Christ, God moves toward us in grace so that ultimately he might bring us into fellowship with him.

The fact that reconciliation is a major theme of the gospel storyline will soon make us realize that as much as we still need to foster and adopt, we can do even more to promote biological families staying together. Families reconciling and reuniting is one of the ways we “echo” the gospel and thus bear witness to the God who is reconciling an entire people to himself.

The Savior We Really Need

This side of heaven, we will always have need to foster and adopt children. But the message of the gospel also motivates the wider community of believers to go to the most broken and isolated family units and share the good news that, in Jesus, all things can be made new. It also inspires members to leverage their vocations, legal skills, and political advocacy to shed light on systems and structures within the child-welfare system that are suffering from the decay of sin, and in ways that perpetuate injustice and harm biological families.

As we built a relationship with the grandmother of our foster girl, we began to see and grieve the brokenness that came from generations of both systemic and individual sin: brokenness that led to the mess that this girl and her grandmother found themselves in, and brokenness within the government system that added unnecessary burdens to an already painful situation.

“This side of heaven, we will always have need to foster and adopt children.”

But we were also able to step into their mess and be present with them in their suffering. By God’s grace, we were able to walk with them over the course of a year, to the point where this grandmother, at long last, was able to adopt her granddaughter. One less orphan.

It can be easy to welcome foster children into our homes as though we are their saviors. But that’s not what God calls us to when he tells us to care for orphans. Instead, God calls us to point the vulnerable, the suffering, and the broken to the only Lord and Savior everyone in our world needs.

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(@PastorVP) are longtime foster parents and are involved in promoting adoption and foster care initiatives. They are parents of four children. Vermon is the lead pastor of Roosevelt Community Church in Phoenix, Arizona. Dennae (@dennaepierre) is Executive Director of the Surge Network in Arizona.

Video – TD’ers at Bring Me Hope Summer Camp 2017

Hey TD!

Here’s that great video our Bring Me Hope team showed at TD on Friday (thanks Megan!). I’ve been singing this song all day today (ok, maybe not singing, since I don’t speak Chinese, but definitely humming!). Study the faces of the orphaned children and consider what their lives may be like.  Look at their joy, pride, … and dignity, and then please say a word of prayer for the millions of orphaned children they represent.  Then begin praying what future part you will have in His story in the lives of some of this world’s orphaned.

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” James 1:27

Vlog update – TD’ers Bringing Hope to the Orphaned Overseas

 

Hey TD!

Here are a couple of vlogs from our team in the Big Country, serving orphaned children with special needs with God’s love and care at a summer camp with Bring Me Hope.  It’s been quite the challenge for our team as they have been stretched in every way.  Our Father has provided, however, and they are doing well.

Here are a couple of updates:

“Things have been really busy, but time with the children has been really good. Some of us have been brought to the end of our patience and love, and it’s been good recognizing our need for ___. I’m sure it’s been illuminating for many of us. [One on our team] said that he actually appreciates what his parents do so much more because of this and we felt that it’s helped us appreciate the story so much more. Sometimes we strive and work endlessly to love these kids only to be pushed away, spit at, or yelled at. At that moment, it really lights up ___’s perspective as we continue to follow the kids although we are filled with sorrow. Man I really do thank ___ for how His unending love. Overall though, we recognize how we know so little about these kids and we’ve had to take in faith that as we change their diapers, dance with them, or swim with them, they recognize our love for them. They’re super cute and this week basically all of them have some form of disability.

With translators, I think we’ve all been building relationships with them as we’ve had to rely on each other to care for the kids.
We’re all safe. We’re all healthy, but we’re all super tired. Prayer for strength, patience, and ___’s love would all be appreciated. Please pray that we also find time to meet because we’ve been so caught up with our kids.”

“… I had a great time dancing with one of my kids. He really loves sticking to the legs of people. We rolled all over the floor because he cannot walk at the moment due to cerebral palsy. He’s been such a great example of tenacity. Apparently, last year, he used to be on a wheel chair but now he’s using a walker. He has the biggest smile and the best laugh of all the kids. He always jokes that he’s dying because of laughter. He loves being held and moved around and is very thoughtful at times. He loves to run super fast on his walker and he fills the room with a distinct loud screech. Sometimes he screams with joy. I’ll say more about him later. 

My other kid is a lot harder to work with. He whines a lot and loves taking others things. He often says bad things to others and really disrespects authority. Most of all, he REALLY desires sugar and balls. At first, I was really frustrated and really felt like crying when he told me to go away at one point. However, as I talked with translator, we realized that a lot of the behavior could just be a result of his upbringing. He’s quite weak and I wouldn’t be surprised if other kids stole his items often. Not to mention, he can be super thoughtful and caring at times. I was convicted by my lack of patience, love, and care.”

 

Please lift our team up to our Father in prayer as they break new ground towards fulfilling James 1:27:

“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”

TD – Help Bring Supplies for Orphans This Friday

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Hey TD!

Your help is needed to bring supplies for the orphaned children in China that our team will be meeting up with next week during their trip with Bring Me Hope.  They are running low on supplies.  If you can help pick up a few of these items and bring them to TD THIS Friday (or on Sunday), that would be much appreciated.

Though you aren’t going on the trip to serve, you can still serve the Lord and these kids by contributing and sending these items with our team.

Please give your items to Megan, Calvin, Josh Chang, Elissa, or Melody Tang.  The others have already left and will meet them there next week.

– Swim diapers (especially larger sizes!)
– Lice shampoo
– Pool toys
– Pipe cleaners
– Rubber bands
– Craft sticks
– Big beads
– Brown paper bags
– Hot glue sticks
– Colorful plastic straws

 

Thanks for your help!

 

Voiceless For the Voiceless Info!

Hey TD’ers!

Well, the social media portion of Voiceless for the Voiceless (V4V) is underway! From the sounds of it, it’s been doable, but getting tougher each day. The daily email small group devotional discussions have been insightful, thoughtful, and engaging. If this is a taste of our small group discussions to come, we’re going to have a powerful time together this weekend, when we’re not only without social media, but without our voices as well!.

*** IMPORTANT CHANGE TO NOTE ***

The pick-up time from my house is  now 6:45 p.m., NOT 8 p.m.  My family has to leave the house at around 7 p.m., so please plan to be picked up accordingly.  But don’t worry! We’ll still be having a yummy dinner together and an awesome time of debriefing!  🙂

Our time of being voiceless remains the same, however – 12 p.m., Fri., 3/3 – 6 p.m., Sat., 3/4.

Author and War Orphan Stephanie Fast at V4V Friday

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As you’ve undoubtedly heard, the author of the book that so many in TD and in church are reading, She is Mine, will be at V4V on Friday.  Please feel free to invite your families and sponsors to come.  It will be worthwhile to hear.

We will be meeting in the chapel in the Main Campus at 7:30 p.m.  I would recommend that you come at 7:15 p.m., as it seems like we’re going to have a full house.

A Story I Won’t Stop Sharing

Hey TD!

Well, V4V is underway and it’s been a huge blessing for many of us already!  The energy is live! In that spirit, I wanted to share with you this riveting essay (and video), written by an adoptee from Holt International (the agency that we are working with to adopt our two girls). Once orphaned, her adoption changed her life … but she still was curious about her birth mother …   – Arthur

A Story I Won’t Stop Sharing

For most of her life, Holt adoptee Molly Martin viewed her adoption as something that just “happened.”  But after traveling to Thailand to meet her birth mom, she developed a completely different outlook — and a deeper understanding of how loved she truly is. Molly’s story was a finalist in Holt’s 2016 adoptee essay contest. 

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For someone who was adopted at a young age, being adopted seems, for lack of a better word, normal. For as long as I can remember, except for a few blurry memories, being adopted is all that I have known. I don’t really remember what it was like not to be adopted, so being adopted has always seemed somewhat natural and definitely not really anything worth talking about. However, at the same time, being adopted isn’t normal. While I can’t speak for all kids that have been adopted, I think a lot of us, at some point or another, have entertained the thought that our situations aren’t normal. Surely, not looking like my family wasn’t normal and the thought that my biological family did not want me was always in the back of my mind. But those aren’t exactly things that most kids want to talk about.

Because of the seeming normality of my adoption, it was never something that I felt compelled to talk about or share with others. It didn’t feel important or like it was a part of who I am. People would often ask me where I am from and I would instinctively respond, “Raleigh, NC” when the real answer they were looking for was “Bangkok, Thailand.” Telling people “Yeah, my parents are white” in response to questioning looks they gave me after meeting my parents became the norm and I would typically zone out when people found out I was adopted and gave me the, “Wow, that is so amazing!” spiel. Because honestly, to me, being adopted wasn’t amazing. It wasn’t great. It was just something that happened that I had no control over (don’t get me wrong, I am SO thankful to have been adopted by my amazing family!). It was just a part of my past that I did not care to talk about.

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However, recently, that has all changed. Over Christmas of 2014, my adoptive family and I traveled back to my homeland to meet my birth mother for the very first time. A few years prior, I told my parents that I wanted to meet my birth mother if at all possible. I’m not exactly sure what prompted me to make such a request; I think I was just curious to know more about my heritage and my background. My adoptive parents very graciously took my request in stride and contacted Holt to see if it were possible. After years of planning and being in touch with the social workers in Thailand, they had contacted my birth mother and set up a date for me to meet her. And before I knew it, I was boarding a flight to Bangkok, Thailand for what was going to be a life-changing experience.

Going into the meeting, I had absolutely no idea what to expect. Meeting the woman who gave birth to you for the first time at 19 years old isn’t exactly a common experience. I couldn’t exactly go up to my friends and ask them, “So, what was it like meeting your birth mom?” And secretly, I thought my birth mother was selfish. I knew from my records that my birth mother had given me up for adoption because she was too poor to properly care for me. To me, that just meant that she was too selfish to work harder or to get a better paying job. While that sounds extremely harsh, I just couldn’t understand her reasoning for putting me up for adoption, and I definitely didn’t want to accept it.

 

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I don’t think anything could have properly prepared me for that experience. As I stood in a private room with my adoptive family, waiting for the Holt social workers to bring my birth mother into the room, I thought my heart was going to explode out of my chest. When they finally brought her in, I was shocked. The woman standing in front of me was the spitting image of me, only aged by a couple years, and crying. And she cried for what seemed like forever. It was extremely awkward, as I didn’t know whether to hug her or just stand there. One of the social workers prompted me to give her a hug and when I did, she clung onto me, with tears still streaming down her face.

Eventually, my birth mother was able to stop crying long enough to talk to me (through a translator). She told me that for the past 19 years she had carried with her so much guilt, hurt and sadness for putting me up for adoption. When I was born, she knew that she was too poor to give me a good life. She gave me up hoping that I would get adopted by a family that could give me the life that she would never be able to give me. It wasn’t a lack of love that made her put me up for adoption, but it was her abundance of love.

Meeting my birth mother completely changed my outlook on my adoption. Rather than being something that just ‘happened,’ it is something that has shaped every facet of my life and my identity. Instead of growing up without a father, I have an incredibly strong and loving father. Instead of growing up without an education, I am excited to say that I will be graduating in 2017 with a bachelor’s degree in social work. And instead of believing that I am unloved, I know that I am incredibly loved — by a birth mother who gave up being able to see me grow up and have me call her ‘mom,’ by my adoptive family that has loved me even when I’ve had nothing to offer them, and by an amazing adoption agency that worked so hard to give me a forever family. Adoption will forever be a part of who I am and a story that I won’t stop sharing.

Molly Martin | North Carolina

After meeting her birth mom, Molly created a video about the experience, which she gave us permission to share:

To learn about birth search assistance and other post-adoption services available to adoptees, visit Holt’s Post Adoption Services website!