Who are the needy, and what is our responsibility toward them?
How can we transcend the materialism and selfishness of our age for a fresh vision of God’s creation?
Bethany and I are changing on the inside. Our hearts have been breaking for a few years now. It’s difficult to put into words what’s been happening, but it started with hunger, I think. Did you know that in the Asian, African and Latin American countries, well over 500 million people are living in what the World Bank has called “absolute poverty”? Every year, 15 million children die of hunger. And then there’s the whole “AIDS thing”: There are 43 million people living with AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa. Four million of them are babies. 44,000 people die every week from AIDS… 5 people every single minute. It’s unimaginable. It’s incomprehensible. It’s absolutely beyond all things measurable with our human hearts.
We’ve wept together. We’ve cried out to God. We’ve stared, angrily and helplessly into the computer screen and watched – horrified at what we’ve seen.
Yeah, our hearts have been breaking for a few years now. But we haven’t really done anything about it. We’ve prayed. We’ve tried to share with others about the travesties that are going on “out there.” But that’s not enough. And it’s certainly not what we’ve been called to do.
“So, now what?” we asked.
Bethany has an amazing heart and a true desire to help. Her convictions have led her to study and learn and passionately seek out the needs of others. She follows no fewer than 30 blogs a day. She is constantly “Googling” information about the desperation and unfair disadvantages of individuals thousands and thousands of miles away. For a couple of years now, she has been not-so-casually bringing up the topic of adoption. “There are so many babies dying… So many African children who have no chance of survival… How can we sit back and watch them die? Every. Single. Day…”
But what can we do? I mean, really. Sure, we could bring a baby back from Africa or India or China or Russia or Latin America and give him or her a better home, with more food and clothes and water and safety than he or she would have otherwise… but that’s just one kid. More than 150 Million babies are starving to death right now. It’s overwhelming. It’s paralyzing. But it is, in fact, what we are called to do. So, we prayed about it. We’re still praying about it.
“Lord, we want to do something great and powerful and wonderful in your Name. We want to be Jesus to ‘the least of these’. Lord, do a mighty work in us so that you will be glorified. Lord help us show and share your grace…”
I can’t remember the date or time of day, but a little less than a year ago, we received a phone call from the Ohio Department of Human Resources. It seems Bethany’s cousin noted our family as Number Three on a list of three to whom she would entrust the care of her newborn son. Numbers One and Two declined…
What? What does that mean? ‘Care for him’? I don’t understand. Does she want us to adopt him? What’s wrong with him? What’s wrong with HER? How does this work? What do we say? What are we supposed to do? This doesn’t look right. This isn’t what what we’ve been praying about… is it?
The phone calls kept coming and more and more information about the baby trickled in over the next few months. We decided we’d do whatever it took to ensure this child’s safety and try to help enable the Mom to “rehabilitate” and re-order her life. For her… and her son. It’s the least we could do.
About 10 months have passed since the first phone call from Ohio. In preparation for his arrival, we have completed Foster Care classes and First Aid classes and Interstate Compact for the Protection of Children… stuff. We’ve filled out no less than a thousand pages of paperwork, gotten blood taken, been fingerprinted and interviewed and interviewed and interviewed. We’ve been waiting for this child longer than the normal gestation period of a “normal” new addition. At times, we’ve lost sight of the “goal.” We’ve allowed our own selfishness to get in the way of what’s at stake here. I am certainly guilty of pride, and there have been times of “look how gracious and selfless we are.” I admit that I have forgotten what we’re called to do.
I have been praying through a lot of things lately: Job, Money, Community, Family, Marriage, Friendships… Just last week, I very confidently expressed to several people that “I think this is going to be a big week. I think God’s gonna move and make great things happen…”
After all, that’s the attitude we should all have every day. We should expect that in our communion with the Creator of the Universe, great things can and will happen. Every day.
But last week came and went and nothing really changed. I had several meetings and a few lunches that were certainly enjoyable and enlightening , but no life-altering “God Showing Up” things happened to drive home my claim. No job offers. No mysterious checks in the mail. No breakthroughs in marriage or family.
And then, on Friday afternoon, the phone rang.
On June 5, Bethany and I will travel to Tiffin, OH to meet Quinn for the first time. Three days later, we will bring him home. We will bring him to our home. We are bringing Quinn back to his home. With us. He will be considered a “foster case” for a while, but all signs point to the very real possibility that Quinn will become an “Ivey” more sooner than later.
You know what I think? I think God creates change in us. I think God allows hearts to break and lives to get rocked to the point that we become more and more open to and reliant on His promises to “fix us” and prepare us and better use us to show and share His grace.
For us – right now – He’s using Quinn. And I can’t wait to meet him.