“Have you suffered so much for nothing…” Galatians 3:4
Our Thailand journey ended this summer. Although we’ve been back for over four months, we have five boxes still unpacked. Many people have been asking how we are doing with our adjustments, and I often reply, “We are doing good.” It’s easier that way. But, deep within me, I have been wrestling with the feelings of defeat and confusion over all that had happened the past two years.
Although we were able to help the Four-Year-Team settle and engage in the vision of our church pretty well before leaving, our hearts remained heavy with sorrow. As a family, we suffered greatly, because we had deep spiritual and emotional struggles there and had to surrender our personal dream in the end.
Our hope was to adopt Narada who was abandoned soon after birth, left near the gates of the government orphanage. We dreamt of bringing her back home with us. Our hearts were shattered when we finally faced the reality, after holding on until the very last day, that she couldn’t come back home with us given the time we had due to challenging international laws. We each shed tears of pain individually and as a family. We are trying to move on without her, but it hasn’t been easy for any of us, especially for Kathy.
I felt defeated and was filled with guilt for coming home without Narada. I questioned God why He allowed us to have her live with us for 9 months and not answer our prayers to bring her home with us. A pastor’s wife name Esther comforted us greatly in Chiang Mai by encouraging us to place all things into God’s hands and not be crushed by guilt. She also told us that Satan was the one that wanted us to live and be paralyzed in guilt, to prevent us from pursuing God’s will further.
I asked myself many times why God allowed us to experience such pain in our lives. I couldn’t make any sense, until God spoke to me. Recently during my Bible reading, a verse jumped out at me. I felt God was speaking to me directly. I’ve read the book of Galatians many times, but this verse never spoke to me before.
Galatians 3:4a says, “Have you suffered so much for nothing…” and immediately God caught my attention and felt my heart thump loudly. The obvious answered was “No,” I did not suffer for nothing. Then, I started to reflect on the past few months for evidences of God’s grace and mercy upon our family.
First, there was Diana, who had served in Vietnam for 3 months. She came into my office for debriefing. I asked her what was the most difficult thing she had to do. She said, “Leaving behind all the orphans.” I started to cry as if I was the one being debriefed, because I knew her pain.
Secondly, someone told me that I should try to meet up with a missions pastor in Katy. So, I went to the website, and his sermon for the previous Sunday was titled “Orphan Sunday.” It was encouraging to hear this message about the need for Christians to adopt orphans domestically and globally.
Thirdly, when I clicked on a link for “Orphan Sunday,” the first page showed a Bible verse from Isaiah 1:7, “Defend the cause of the fatherless.” Once again, my heart was drawn to the Bible verse as if God was asking me directly to carry out the command. I now am fully convinced that God is asking me to defend the cause of the orphans, and He will use our pain and disappointments to make us more passionate about caring for the orphans locally as well as globally.
Last month, NLF Missions Ministry Team recruited people to begin a “Defending the Cause of the Fatherless” ministry, and the response was overwhelming. Thus, I am currently working to put together a team to research about local fostering and adoption processes and help families in our church to adopt orphans from Texas, U.S., or abroad.
My wife is a courageous woman, because she has done much of the research already. Last Saturday, we went to an information meeting to learn about fostering and adoption in the state of Texas. We were told that there is no age limit to adopt Houston children in the CPS (Child Protective Services) care, and the process is free. Our application will take about 6 to 9 months to receive a state license to foster and adopt children from Texas.
From that meeting, we learned that in Texas in 2009 there were 165,000 reported cases of child abuse, neglect and abandonment, and 68,326 were placed in CPS care. In Harris County alone (the county I live in), there were 20,671 reported cases for CPS, from which 4,122 children were placed in foster care, and 1,471 were “freed” (a term to state that the parents had no further rights over the child) for adoption.
Because of our painful loss, my once deaf ears are now open to the cries of those children who are defenseless. I feel the Lord is telling me that the time has come for us to demonstrate the evidence of God’s grace more fully through this ministry. I hope you all will pray for us as we begin this new journey.
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