Sunday, August 14, 2016

The End of a Road, the Beginning of Life

Her time with us is nearing an end. In 4 days, I will fly to Chicago with Fu Yi to meet up with her host group, where they will depart together for their return to China. While we are sad to see her go, God has been preparing our hearts for months. From the beginning, we were fully aware that her travel visa allows her here for 30 days. This hosting experience gave us an opportunity for Fu Yi to stay in our home for one month. We knew this time would eventually end. We knew it wouldn't be easy. But it's what God called us to. And for good reason.

First and foremost, our goal through this hosting program was to show her the love of Jesus. We vowed to pour in to her, showing her true love that she's never experienced before. We promised to love her fiercely, leaving our hearts exposed and vulnerable. By the grace of God, this love had a visible impact. We've witnessed physical, psychological, emotional, spiritual, and cognitive growth. The impact of physical touch, soothing voice, strenuous activity, nutritious food, affection and attention are astounding. There's no doubt these experiences over the past month have had miraculous implications. We give God all praise for this work in her life!

Our second mission, as we felt God intended, was to find her a forever family where she could continue to know the love of Christ. We prayed that her identity as a helpless, voiceless orphan would change to that of adopted, protected, and cherished child. Our prayers have been answered! Her family now fights through the process to bring her home. She no longer waits on a list for someone to notice her. She now waits for her Mama and Baba to bring her home. The paperwork, home visits, training, approvals, and reports will take about a year and at the end of the adoption process, she will be home where she belongs.

This story is nothing short of miraculous. Please stop and thank God now for the privilege of witnessing His amazing work. There was a little girl half way around the world who was abandoned and sat in an orphanage, for 5 long years. A file was all she had to identify her. As far as the world was concerned, she didn't exist. But God, in all His mercy, plucked her from the pit. He called our family to simply say "yes" to one step at a time. We didn't know what He'd do with it but we were willing. He gave her a voice, a face, an opportunity to know love. Then, He called another family to answer the call to love her forever, the way He has loved them. "We love because He first loved us." (1John 4:19) This once nameless orphan has been deemed worthy and forever loved. "Praise be to the LORD, for He has heard my cry for mercy. The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and He helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise Him." (Psalm 28:6-7)

The miracles that have occurred through her visit have gone well beyond what is currently visible. What we do know is that hundreds of seeds have been planted, seeds that God will faithfully water and produce fruit from. People have seen the face of the orphan and hearts have been softened. There is a greater awareness of the reality of the orphan crisis around the globe. Fu Yi's light is so bright and shone for so many to enjoy. Without words, she explained to every person she came in contact with that God is good. She is an image-bearer who reflects His glory from within her eyes. May her memory always point us back to how faithfully God provides for His beloved.

So while you may be tempted to feel sorry, to be sad, to regret what has to happen next, please don't. God's promises are real for Fu Yi. "I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you." (John 14:18) God has worked mightily on her behalf and we dare not doubt His love for her, now that the tide rises. He draws closer as we need Him more. He never fails, He never leaves. Do we believe that the God who currently holds her in His hand will no longer hold her when she returns to China? Yes, Thursday will be hard for many of us. But we choose to trust the creator of her life, who never disappoints. We give Him praise and worship for all He has done and for all He promises to do. There is no sadness in His sovereignty and the love He pours out through it. There should be no regret in a journey that He has clearly ordained and promises to complete. Our faces are turned to the One who always comforts. We have asked God to guard our hearts, and of course Fu Yi's. He is already providing in this. We now ask for your prayers of gratitude. Let's storm the gates of heaven with our praise and thanksgiving for all that He has done!

We love you, Fu Yi. You are a treasure and we give thanks for God's redemptive work in your life. "You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent. LORD my God, I will praise you forever." (Psalm 30:11-12)

Friday, August 5, 2016

A Princess is Crowned

About 3 months ago, God presented an opportunity to us. He made it very clear that it was His will that we follow through and live out what He had planned. We had no idea how faithfully He would provide through our obedience in simply saying "Yes." We had no idea the heartache it would cause us. Or the joy.

Almost 6 years old, Fu Yi arrived to us on a Monday. She came with Down Syndrome, scared, exhausted, confused, hungry. She would be staying with us for one month. Our goal, as we felt God intended, was to love her fiercely and pour in to her in a way she's never known. Our secondary mission was to find her a forever family. We would post on FB, tell friends, pray over her, hold open houses where people could meet her, BEG God to soften hearts. She immediately stole our own hearts. Her sweet little stature, that body that appears to be owned by a 3 year old. Her smile and belly laugh that came out in spurts, more and more as time went on. The Mandarin babble she fills the silence with. Her heavy body hanging straight as we hold her tight. She doesn't know how to be loved this way, but she would learn. The nervous chewing of fingers. The eyes that told us so much. All of it. It stole us. So much trauma. Even more beauty. We fell in love.

But would another family fall as hard? I know God has a plan. I know he'll produce fruit from this scenario He's called us to. But what? When? Can we really trust?.....  One, then ten, then a hundred, more messages every day. "Please tell us how to pursue Fu Yi. Can we meet her? When? How much will this cost? How long will it take to bring her home? Can you help us? Have other families inquired? Are we too late? If Fu Yi is not our daughter, still we choose to adopt because of her. Please tell us how to proceed." They flooded in. My personal, heartfelt responses turned in to a game of copy and paste. We couldn't keep up. How can this be? How would God determine who it will be? It was beyond us. It was bigger. It was more than I could keep up with or even comprehend.

Before others, 2 families had contacted the agency at essentially the same time. Both families submitted an application to move forward with the adoption process. 2 families fell deeply in love with Fu Yi. We fell deeply in love with both families. When it became clear that both families were sure Fu Yi could be their daughter, the agency ceased all advocacy efforts on Fu Yi's behalf, as did we. For about a week and a half, the pain was searing, the anxiety was intense, knowing that in the end, one family would not be chosen to parent her. The agency insisted that both spend time with her, that we spend time discerning who would be a better fit. We gave our unbiased opinions of both families and strengths of both. 2 amazing, God-fearing, beautiful-beyond-words families. Please Lord, don't let this be a contest. Reveal to us quickly who her family is. Nothing. Until today.

I received the phone call. "We've made our decision, one of the hardest ones we've ever had to make. Ben and Michelle will be her parents." The family from Maryland who we fell head over heals in love with wouldn't be chosen. This family who we prayed with numerous times, laughed with, cried with, worshipped with, went to the beach with. This family who flew their entire family here to be with Fu Yi, to be with us, most importantly to do what they knew God was calling them to. Not them. Oh the pain. The grief. The feeling of loss and confusion. It's all fresh right now, almost more than I can stomach. God will heal. His plan is perfect and we are so thankful for the rock solid faith this family has in God's sovereignty. We mourn with them but we mourn with hope, knowing His plan is better than ours. Gently God, you break us, all for the glory that you promise to reveal in time.

Ben and Michelle. This other family who we also just met and love so dearly. From the moment they laid eyes on Fu Yi, I am sure they knew. They knew they would love her forever. And we knew we loved them too. Gentle, compassionate, kind, faithful are only a few words to describe this amazing couple who has decided to stand in the gap for Fu Yi. They saw Fu Yi and just knew they had to say "Yes!" They did. Out of beautiful obedience, they are trusting the Lord with each step forward. We are humbled and awestruck by their faith in His plan for their lives and Fu Yi's. Among all the other miracles we have witnessed, it happens that this family lives one hour from us! Yes, Fu Yi, we look forward to watching you grow up in south Louisiana, where you will cheer for the Tigers, sip sweet tea, maybe even suck some crawfish heads.

Oh, my God. You are more. More than I ever imagined. You are beyond my comprehension and my finite faith. You, who are blowing our prayers out of the water, the one who so clearly adores this child, is the God who walked on water, the God who commands angels, the God who rose from the dead, and granted salvation to your enemies. Your miracles are countless and you put them on display for the world to see. I want to see your face God, the face of the One who has not only redeemed Fu Yi but literally hundreds of lives through this ministry. Why us, God? Why do you love us so much that we get to hear your call? Why do we get to sit on the front lines of your unending miracles for the most vulnerable lives, the ones you adore more than any? I am not worthy. I fall at your feet, in awe of the glory you so willingly display.

Fu Yi's story has only just begun. Already she's affected thousands of people. Because of her life and her time here, seeds have been planted, hearts have been encouraged, and quiet longings have morphed in to cross-carrying action for the orphan, the very heart of Jesus. Fu Yi has a family who is fighting to bring her home. Her life has been redeemed and the fruit of that will bud beautifully for all to see over the years to come.

Fu Yi existed as a mug-shot photo orphan with no voice to give life to her generic, inaccurate paper file. God, in all His mercy, has lifted her from that and set her upon a pedestal for all to admire. This beautiful, image-bearer has received the crown she deserves... a Christian family who will love her forever. More importantly, the crown of an heir... heir to her heavenly father, the crown only a princess to the One true King can wear. She has received the promise of eternal riches from her creator, who has pulled her from the pit of despair. May her life here be a beautiful example of what God has done for each of us. From rags to riches, orphan to heir, it's her story. It's my story. I hope it's yours too. Faith in this story is the only requirement to make it so.