Monday, May 6, 2013

For Mercy's Sake

We are inundated with news everyday that is discouraging, even downright depressing. As Christians we believe in our heads that God is Sovereign, that "light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it" (John 1:5), that the gospel of Jesus redeems and transforms lives. But when the news continues to bombard us, we sometimes forget. Testimonies of God at work encourage our hearts and fuel our hope. This, the story of a family at my church, is the first of many I hope to share of the gospel on display. It is written by Mercy's dad.

I’d like to tell you the story of a little girl.  For reasons we may never know, this little girl’s family wasn’t able to provide for all of her needs.  And in January of last year she was placed in an orphanage in northern China.  On that exact same day, half a world away, a family whose hearts had been stirred by God to bring another child into their family was officially accepted into China’s adoption program.  Though the child and family knew nothing about each other, God’s perfect plan was already unfolding.  Almost a year later, the first day that child’s name appeared on China’s shared adoption list was also the first time our family was eligible to be matched from that list – and the Lord’s sovereign hand connected our paths for good.  Though there was a huge distance between us, and she still had no idea we existed, we loved her and were willing to take on all of the obstacles in the way to bring her into our family.

For those who don’t know our story – this is Mercy, and yes she is Chinese, but she has a condition known as albinism.  Her body does not produce normal levels of pigment, so she has very pale skin and white hair.  As a father (and mother), we look at her picture and feel a love in our hearts for her that is unexplainable, save that we are made in the image and likeness of God.  And this process has given us such fresh insight into the heart of God for His children.  Mercy’s story is also my story (and your story.)  My earthly family was not capable of providing for all of my needs, but there was a heavenly father that could.  And though there was a huge gap between us, and I still had no idea He existed, He loved me (and He loved you.)  And He was willing to take on all of the obstacles in the way to bring us into His family.  While we were still rejecting Him or ignoring Him or just otherwise oblivious to Him, He paid a heavy price in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross to open the door for us to be adopted into His glorious kingdom.

Though it was nothing like His sacrifice, we also had to pay a heavy price in time and resources to allow our daughter to come home (which we are now on the brink of accomplishing).  But we have been blessed by tremendous help from our family (and that’s all of you!)  From the start of this process we have been shown overwhelming support, and we wanted to take this time to deeply thank you all.  Our spaghetti dinner (believe it or not) was a year ago yesterday.  And it humbles me to this day to remember the willingness and eagerness that so many of you showed to give of your time and energy as well as financially.  So much food and so many auction items donated; so many hands volunteered to do the work of setting up and cooking and serving and cleaning up; such a blessing to our souls to feel the unconditional support of our church family!  And that was just the beginning.  In the weeks and months that have passed since then we are constantly asked “How are things going?”, “What can I do to help?”, “Here’s something I thought you could use?”, and “What specifically can I pray about for you?”

And let me tell you we have felt those prayers all along the journey.  God has provided consistently, “exceedingly abundantly more than we can ask or imagine”.  Making sure we had all of the funds we needed exactly when we needed them.  Connecting us with complete strangers who had kids with similar conditions as Mercy to encourage us when our spirits were low.  Having a couple of seats open up on the “fully booked” flight we wanted appear just as we called to make a reservation.  But most of all – providing a supernatural sense of peace about bringing Mercy into our home – even in the face of doubts and fears.  I don’t want to paint an unfair picture – those doubts and fears still do come.  Like countless others before us, no matter how many times God provides, we still question “But what about this?”, “Can I really trust you to provide that?”  But God has been faithful to bring us peace in our hearts when we remember to focus on Him.  And thanks to so many of you who have helped us to get our focus back on Him when we needed it most.

Adoption is not easy (and we’re just getting started!)  There are so many of you here that have gone before us, and have so much more to tell than we do.  And we have benefited greatly from your friendship and experience and wise council – thank you so much for your time and patience, sharing your journey with us and illuminating God’s work in the lives of your families.  We look forward to being able to do the same someday, and share our stories of God’s grace to those who take this journey next.  Let me encourage those who may be hearing the call of James “to care for orphans” in your lives, but are filled with fear or feelings of inadequacy – we have those feelings too, but we are not in this alone!  When I first thought about putting Mercy’s picture up on the screen – the thought struck me that I don’t even need to!  Because most of you already look at her picture every day.  She’s hanging on refrigerators and bulletin boards, in picture frames and on computer desktops all around this region.  The world looks at her and sees a poor little orphan girl without a family – but the reality is she has a huge family!  A family that is anxiously waiting with open arms to gather her in.  Eagerly anticipating her arrival to shower unconditional love upon her.  And at the front of the line is Jesus Christ himself who longs for her to know Him, and trust Him, and love Him as He loves her.

Our ultimate prayer is not that Mercy will have a better life, or have her medical needs met more effectively, or bring joy to our home – though we do hope for all those things.  Our deepest prayer is that she would know Jesus and receive His salvation from sin.  And we are so glad to have all of you, as her extended family to help her to find Him.

Isaiah 43

1 But now thus says the Lord,
he who created you, O Jacob,
he who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.

2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.

3 For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
I give Egypt as your ransom,
Cush and Seba in exchange for you.

4 Because you are precious in my eyes,
and honored, and I love you,
I give men in return for you,
peoples in exchange for your life.

5 Fear not, for I am with you;
I will bring your offspring from the east,
and from the west I will gather you.

6 I will say to the north, Give up,
and to the south, Do not withhold;
bring my sons from afar
and my daughters from the end of the earth,

7 everyone who is called by my name,
whom I created for my glory,
whom I formed and made.”

We leave for China this Friday.  If all goes according to plan, Mercy will be in our arms on Mother’s Day – what a gift, right? 

Thanks for being such good stewards of God’s grace.  Thanks for supporting us, encouraging us, and lifting us up in prayer.  Thanks for opening your hearts to our Mercy, just as you have to Michaela, Matthew, and Mason and for sharing your walks of faith with them.  We couldn’t do this without you.

Thank you!

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