The Together for Adoption Conference last week in Austin was a rousing success, not only in numbers, but especially in the vibrant spirit of everyone present. The simple truth is that there is something remarkable about Christians who’ve become passionate about orphans. They’re electric. But this is no self-generated electricity, or enthusiasm that is mostly about their own personal “branding.” No, it seems to me these people have grabbed a high voltage live wire. They’ve begun to touch the heart of the God who describes Himself as a “defender of the fatherless.” In some, this electricity crackles; in others, it is a quiet, steady glow. But whatever the expression, it almost makes one’s hair stand up just to be around them.
I saw it in Jodi, who next week heads for Uganda to bring home a sibling group of three orphans she and her husband are adopting; I saw it in Zach, a pastor/blogger/musician who is using each of his platforms to convey God’s heart for the orphan, and how orphan ministry must always remain intertwined with the Gospel; I saw it in Melanie, who’s relatively new to this realm and is waiting with her husband to be matched with a child from Ethiopia; I saw it in Gwen and Suzanne, two stay-at-home moms who raise a ruckus (and lots of funds for orphans) selling t-shirts, jewelry and more; I saw it in Keith, who helps Christians catch a vision for fostering and adopting kids from the U.S. foster system; I saw it in Matt, an adoptive dad who is helping create a project to enable Ethiopian Christians adopt orphans in their own local community; and in so many others I could never hope to list them all.
One particularly electric couple, Kiel and Carolyn Twietmeyer, left me with words that continue to echo. In addition to their “Project Hopeful” ministry, the couple has adopted two groups of 3 siblings each from Ethiopia, several of the children HIV+. We were discussing the inevitable, “How in the world do you stay sane with 13 kids?” question. Kiel mused, “When we just had four [biological] kids, I did have more money. But strange as it sounds, I think I felt a lot more stressed then. Just worrying about stuff and trying to keep up with everything. Now I just feel more peaceful, even with all that’s going on. And we just see God at work like we never did before. I mean, really, really at work. Really providing, in big ways. We love it. And so do the kids.” I’ll confess I still can’t imagine ever ending up with 13 children, but I pray I’ll reflect that same kind of willingness to follow God’s invitations, wherever they lead.
Beyond all this, I want to express deep respect and appreciation for Dan Cruver and Jason Kovacs at T4A, who do such a tremendous job anchoring this burgeoning movement in the Gospel. From start to finish, the conference championed this life-giving truth: we love the orphan because God first loved us. May we never settle for any lesser motivation. Thank you, T4A, for being such a champion of this all-important truth!