I met Jason McMullen a few weeks ago at Summit VIII. He’d come on business unrelated to orphan care and adoption—representing the company that published Upended. But something totally unexpected happened to him while there. I asked Jason if he’d be willing to share about it on the blog, and here’s what he wrote:
A few short weeks ago my life changed! No, I didn’t meet the woman of my dreams, did that almost 9 years ago! Didn’t have our first baby. We currently have five, and baby number 6 is due any day now. I didn’t win the 640 million dollar jackpot, although that would’ve been swell considering the aforementioned. What happened to me is I was simply oriented. What does that mean? Good question. Well, Webster says it means: intellectually, emotionally or functionally directed. That’s HUGE, and I’m telling you I got all three. My heart, soul and mind were intellectually, emotionally and functionally changed by the gospel.
Through a series of events I found myself at the Summit Conference at Saddleback Church. Now, I “knew” what the conference was about, so I thought. It was about orphans, simply put. However, I was woefully unprepared and unsuspecting as to the impact this gathering would have on me. I came with a set of objectives and plans that were all delicately put aside the moment I walked through the doors of the church. I was overwhelmed with emotion! I kinda still am… You ever had that feeling of wanting to burst into tears but you aggressively fight back, swallow hard in an attempt to keep composure? Yeah, that was me, and I’m sure you can relate. What made it worst is I had no idea why I was feeling this way. I’ m a man that’s not afraid to cry, but I at least want to know why I am crying. As I thought and thought it hit me, maybe what I was feeling was what The Father feels about this issue. My heart was feeling and sensing that which is near to His heart, the plight of the orphan.
I positioned myself in the back of the church, attempting to “lay low,” only to be hugged by Pastor Rick as he entered the room (the odds), but interestingly enough I happened to sit behind two young ladies who’s t-shirts read: “Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you” – James 1:27. I thought to myself “God this is not fair”, not that He ever plays fair. If He did we wouldn’t have grace, right? I didn’t come here to cry, to weep or to be convicted, challenged and changed! However, The Father meant for me to.
Well, I had to phone my wife. I thought about how not-so delighted she was going to be about the epiphany I’d had. We already have five kids and one in queue. Maybe I could down play it and say something like: “you’re so good at this, why not one more”? I mean we’ve discussed adopting before, but it was just that, a discussion! Something that began and to date hadn’t really resurfaced, but that always changes when God’s in it. The years and months prior He was just laying the groundwork.
It so happen that when I called her to explain the freshness with which I’d rediscovered something I’d always known, namely that adoption is at the heart of the gospel and rightly understanding that has implications for our lives as it relates to those that are literal orphans, she was in line at a certain eatery who was celebrating “Foster Day”. What are the odds, not of my wife being hungry, that’s normal when pregnant, but to walk into a place who was promoting a cause intricately related to an event I was attending thousands of miles away? “WOW”, was all we could say. Suddenly, she too had been invited into this thought process via her own experience, which was now our experience. I laughed so hard and so did she at the brilliance of The Father and how He was speaking to us both in big and small ways about something that was a BIG deal to Him!
We’re pretty much done praying, it’ time for preparation. We know what The Father desires for us and how this is for the increase of our joy, His glory (albeit a messy process) and to impact those He would allow us to adopt. I heard the intense impact through stories told at the conference. Pray for us!
Everyone may not take up signing legal adoption papers but all of us are called to care. Join us in simply trusting The Father as He shows us all who have been adopted into His family what our role is to be in modeling this for those who need His love. I can’t think of a greater way to evangelize and disciple someone than to SHOW them what is at the heart of the gospel. I can only believe it will be the beginning of their being oriented; intellectually, emotionally and functionally directed as a result of The Father’s love.
When Jason and I talked by phone after Summit, he confessed not knowing all the ways these convictions will play out. With a baby on the way, adoption isn’t going to be an option in the short run. But he recognizes that God’s heart for the fatherless can be expressed in myriad ways—from the Orphan Sunday activities he’s already planning for November at his church, to getting involved with mentoring children in the foster system. It was beautiful to hear the passion in Jason’s voice: God has stirred his heart, and he’s the kind of guy for whom that experience doesn’t fade without consequences. It will echo—in his family, in the church where he sometimes fills the pulpit, and in the lives of many children in need.