Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Our Friends in Liberia... and our Ministry Moving Forward

I had the privilege today of listening in on a special conference call. This call was hosted by the Executive Director of Lifeline Children's Services (our adoption agency), along with Garth Thorpe, who works with Lifeline's sister organization, (un)adopted. If you were at our Orphan Awareness and Fundraising Event last year, you probably remember Garth who helped host and bring awareness to our community. Garth is currently in Liberia, west Africa for several weeks where he is partnered with a Christian community there, following God's command to "care for orphans in distress" (James 1:27). Today's call was for anyone interested to hear how God is working through their ministry in Liberia. I am so glad that God opened the eyes of my heart during this call and I would love to share a little with you.

Liberia has been ravaged by civil war. These wars ended about 11 years ago but the devastation remains. The wars killed hundreds of thousands of people and displaced close to a million others. As you can imagine, the orphan crisis has escalated considerably over the past decade. This impoverished country has certainly become one of "the least of these" among us.

Garth Thorpe with Lifeline (unadopted) is currently on the ground in Liberia, working with an associate pastor named Destiny, who is a Liberian native. Destiny shared a little about his ministry on today's call. Garth shared details about (un)adopted's role in Liberia. They have set up "life skills camps", impacting children from 17 orphanages in Liberia. Children from these orphanages come to these camps for 5-10 days where they learn life skills that will help them survive. These skills include sewing, carpentry, farming, etc.

While the missionaries on the ground are training and caring for orphans, the church in Liberia is also being awakened! Everything that Lifeline and (un)adopted does is gospel centered so it would never be enough to simply teach these orphans how to survive. They are teaching trainers of trainers about the gospel and how to disciple others. Churches from the U.S. are taking mission trips here to help spread the gospel and love on the fatherless. Brook Hills Church in Birmingham, AL just made the trip and Garth was encouraged by the impact!

Garth was excited about the work God's doing through these camps. Real life success stories. Stories of children who were able to provide for themselves and for their families later in life, all while hearing about and accepting Jesus Christ!

So, how can we help? Garth shared some practical ways.

First, share the success stories in Liberia. Share this blog post. Tell others about the struggles of those in this country and the good news that God is present here, through His people!

Pray. Pray for the people of Liberia. Pray for the fatherless children who are blind to hope. Pray for Destiny and his church. Pray for the ministry and work of (un)adopted within Liberia. Pray that relationships continue to grow and form through these camps. Pray that awareness of Liberia's crisis would spread like wildfire. Pray that hands and feet would respond to the crisis. Pray specifically for Destiny and his family. His youngest son, Emmanuel, has heart disease of some sort and is currently in critical condition. Destiny's passion for God was inspiring, as he was willing to speak with us about God's work there, despite how ill his son is. If you are a prayer warrior, please include Destiny's family in your petitions to God.

Fund. Donate to (un)adopted's ministry in Liberia. Think of creative ways to give. Host a fundraiser for this cause. Organize a group at church to travel to Liberia with Garth. BE the hands and feet on a mission trip to this country.

Unfortunately, Liberia is not a country where children can be adopted. They closed international adoptions in 2009, due to corruption and numerous issues. Otherwise, I'd suggest y'all go get a kid! ;)

Hearing about Liberia today and being in prayer with these brothers in Christ prompted me to continue on my path of discernment. Discernment about where God wants me and Seamus, and in what capacity we are to continue with global orphan care. We are so thankful to have been called to adopt Emily Hope. We are convinced this is only the beginning of a lifelong call to be the hands and feet of Jesus for these helpless children around the world. At this point, we don't know if God will call us to adopt more. Perhaps my ministry will be through writing. Or what a privilege it would be if God sends us as "goers" to travel and witness to others around the world. Maybe we will be advocates for specific children who need homes. As our lives begin to look a little more "normal" (ha! as if there really was such a thing), Seamus and I are currently in prayer, asking God to lead us according to His will.

In this moment, I feel called to share the news about Liberia and the mighty work that The Lord is doing there. It's an honor to be able to share this with you and to encourage each of you to take one small step toward furthering His kingdom on earth. Remember, orphan care is God's ministry. It's his number one priority. We know this by looking at the cross, the perfect and most sacrificial example of adoption. "...God sent his son that we might receive the full rights of sons." (Galatians 4:4-5) Please pray about how you can help with (un)adopted's mission in Liberia. Consider it pure joy to sacrifice what you can for something so worthy. (James 1:2) "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." (Galatians 6:9)

When Seamus and I began the adoption process, I shared a video that touched us deeply, and continues to. It helped to sum up the answer to "why" we were pursuing adoption. The video focuses on Liberia and the discussion today reminded me of this moving video...



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