Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Lord Is Faithful!

Michaela and Sophia

Keyolla and Teyolla having fun with Silas

Amy Lingamfelter (family support staff and Derek's assistant) with Silas

Leeann swimming with Silas

Part of our tribe hanging out in the hot tub!

Sasha loved being able to float in the water!

Tiffany Larson (family support staff) and Silas

Gabrielle Spears (family support staff) with Ethan

Keyolla and Silas having a blast!

This past weekend we were blessed to be able to take our entire tribe of 11, and 3 family support staff helpers (who are quickly becoming like family now) to the Great Wolf Lodge indoor water park. We had a great time together and it was so much fun seeing our three new boys come alive as they experienced a water park for the very first time! Our girls loved playing with them and we all had a great time creating new memories!

It's been amazing to see the transformation of our 3 new little guys. They are all thriving and coming to such a place of life. Ethan, who was the very quiet, unresponsive one when we first met him, is now the wild one! He loves to get rowdy and he plays hard! Silas is still the ham and we found out on our weekend adventure that he loves corn on the cob! Wow, he dug into that cob like nothing I've ever seen before! We all laughed so hard! Sasha, loved floating in the water. He had a life vest on, so he was able to really enjoy himself!

Every time we have said, "yes" to adopting, the Lord has always provided everything we've needed... from finances, to strength, wisdom and guidance. We are so blown away by His faithfulness! It's a true testament of God's hand working on behalf of those who step forward and begin taking James 1:27 seriously. I am saying this to encourage any of you who are thinking about adoption to just go for it! Begin to believe that He will make a way where sometimes, there seems to be no way! He will move on behalf of the orphan and He will provide all you need as you begin to take these precious ones in to your family and make them your own.

In Isaiah 58 it talks about true fasting. In verses 6-11 it says this:

vs.6 "Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?

vs.7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?

vs.8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.

vs.9-10 Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness and your night will become like the noonday.

vs.11 The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.

God bless you today and may He encourage your heart with his love!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Orphans No More.... Safe In the Arms of Their Father

The pictures at the bottom of this post are of two orphans, Margarita and Katarina who were from an orphanage in Ukraine and have now have passed away. These orphans were two orphans who were on the Reeces Rainbow Adoption Site. This is the site run by our precious friend, Andrea Roberts. She is the one who has faithfully helped so many of us by making us aware of precious ones waiting for their forever family. Another one of our friends who works very hard, alongside Andrea, is Meredith Cornish. She is another amazing woman who does so much to support and encourage during and after the adoption process.
We are very proud to know her as well. She wrote the poem that accompanies the pictures below.

This coming Tuesday and Wednesday, our brother and sister-in-law, John and Tracie Loux, and our friends Chris and Mary Malone, are returning home from Ukraine with 4 more children (2 in each family), who have been rescued and have found their forever families. The three boys we recently adopted from Ukraine six weeks ago, were in the same orphanage as the four children coming home this week. My heart can hardly contain the joy I'm feeling right now knowing that soon they will all be home!

When Derek and I left the orphanage in Ukraine with our three boys, we were so excited! We couldn't wait to take them home to meet the rest of their new family and to get them the medical help they so desperately needed. At the same time we were so heartbroken to have to leave all the other orphans behind. I think of them everyday. Our family looks at the Reeces Rainbow site almost daily and we pray for all those left behind.

We desperately want to encourage you to remember the orphan. It would be so easy for some to go about their day, not even giving them a thought. Many aren't aware of the horrors that orphans face... some are aware but don't do their part to act. If some of you will go to the Reeces Rainbow site, you will read a verse at the top of the page that is such a good reminder of this very thing. It's found in Proverbs 24:12 and it says: Once our eyes are opened, we can't pretend we don't know about what to do. God, who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls, knows that we know and holds us responsible to act. I encourage those of you who can't adopt, to help a family who is able to adopt, by supporting them financially. Those of you who have been thinking of adopting, please contact Meredith Cornish or Andrea Roberts at reecesrainbow.org and talk to them. They would be glad to help you with any questions you might have. Reeces Rainbow focuses on special need's children, and although we would encourage you to explore this as an option, they can also direct you to children without special needs. You would be sewing into the life of a child, in other words, doing your part to do James 1:27 (true religion that God our Father accepts is to care for the orphan and the widow.) We can all make a difference if we all work together! Thank you!

While we were eating...
... they were hungry
While we were playing...
... they were restrained
While we were tucking our kids into bed...
... they were alone
While we turned up the heat...
... they laid in the icy cold
While we wrapped our children in blanket sleepers...
... they laid in their own excrement
While we sang songs and listened to music...
... they listened to the screams and cries of those around them
While we rocked our babies...
... they silently rocked themselves
While we hugged our kids...
... they scratched at their own faces and pulled their own hair for stimulation
While we cried over scraped knees...
... they moaned in their loneliness
While we brushed our daughters' beautiful hair...
... they had their heads shaven to stave off the lice
While we fought off the flu with love and nourishment...
... they got the flu and went Home.
No longer suffering... but so many more still are.
In memory of those that have never felt the love of a family, but have passed away alone.

By: Meredith Cornish



Monday, March 16, 2009

Mother Teresa

If you can't feed 100 people, then feed just one.

Mother Teresa

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Derek's Poland and Thailand Trips: God's Heart Is For The Orphan! Let's Do Our Part!

Derek will be sharing with you about his recent trips in this post and in another post (part two) a little later on. Unfortunately he does not have any pictures of his trip to Poland. Our friend Joel Karum, was able to take pictures in Thailand so you will see some of the wonderful photos he took there.

Trip to Gorzów Poland

Three weeks ago I had the incredible privilege of traveling to Gorzów Poland and speaking at a conference. The chosen theme was “The Father’s Heart & the Spirit of Adoption”. It was the second time I have been asked to travel and minister an entire weekend on this subject. This coming weekend I travel to Ft. Wayne Indiana to speak at another “Spirit of Adoption” conference. Have there always been “Adoption” & “Justice for the Orphan” conferences? I sure can’t remember any over the years that I’ve been in the church and in ministry.

The Lord is clearly stirring this truth among His people in a global way. I love going to Poland. I love the Polish people. I love their history, their resilience, their faith, their worship, and their Grzeski’s (chocolate wafers). The Polish believers know how to love God and love people. They know how to worship and pray, but also how to love, eat, and fellowship in a way that is deep and meaningful. Some of the people I feel the most affection for in the world live in Poland, and this conference was a complete joy to do. The believers in Gorzów have such a hunger for the Lord and I believe were deeply stirred regarding the plight of the orphan, the responsibility of the church to care for them, and the need for modern day abolitionists to stand up and fight human trafficking and modern day slavery. The Poles are a people with a rich history of defying the encroachment and oppression of evil, and standing for righteousness. I believe as God raises up modern day abolitionists, and sex slaves in Europe are set free, that the Polish church will rise to be a place of refuge and restoration for the broken and demoralized. Thank you Pastor Bogdan and the saints in Gorzów! I was incredibly blessed to be with you and partake of the Jesus you reflect so beautifully!

Chiang-Mai Thailand Part 1
Three days after arriving home from Poland I led a ministry team to Thailand. Yeah, I know, not the most convenient thing to do right after you adopt three handicapped children, but let me explain (Renee did give me the green light – what an incredible woman!). The Lord has been orchestrating an incredible opportunity for OJC (Orphan Justice Center), to establish an orphanage house of prayer in the northern hill tribes, with the purpose of restoring orphans who have been rescued from sex-slavery. This story will be several years in the making, but the doors are swinging open, and so we are walking through them. I had to take the trip this month for a number of time sensitive reasons and so I unpacked from Poland, ignored jet-lag, played hard with the kids, re-packed and headed back for the airport.

While in Thailand, we split our time between investigating human trafficking in Chiang-Mai, and meeting with pastors and orphanage directors in the north. We spent a couple evenings sitting and interviewing prostitutes that were working the many bars lining the streets of Chiang-Mai. The girls we talked to all wanted to get out, but they felt trapped. Most come from poor families in the northern hill tribes, feel a cultural indebtedness to their parents, and so they move to the city to work as prostitutes, so that they can send money back home to help support their families. They all said that their parents didn’t know they were prostituting themselves and that if they had a legitimate employment opportunity, they would take it. We shared our stories with a few of them, telling them about our wives and families, and sharing the gospel with them. I looked into the eyes of these young girls (18-25) and I felt the grief of the Father’s heart for them. They weren’t dirty hookers, they were precious young women that were hurt and broken and desperately needed to know the love of the Father. I couldn’t hold back, I prophesied the heart of God to them and we told them how precious and valuable they were, and that God’s love wasn’t the kind of love that wanted to use them and then throw them away, but that he had paid the highest price for them and offered them life freely.

While walking these streets, we saw several westerners 50-60 yrs old, who were walking down the street pulling girls as young as 12-14 yrs old behind them. This was so nauseating. I felt the hot anger of the Lord when I saw this kind of abuse and perversion. There are brothels in Thailand where thousands of children are held prisoner and are sold over and over again for sex. Many poor parents sell their children to traffickers in order to buy food and basic supplies. These children are enslaved, raped, and abused 8-10 times a day, most of the time committing suicide or dying from diseases caused by the abuse. The Lord clearly told His church that it was their responsibility to take care of the orphan, and yet in virtually every nation the church has abandoned this role to the government.

We were just given information about some of the horrors that happen in many of the Ukrainian orphanages. Some of the directors themselves will pimp out the prettiest girls on the weekends. In Thailand police are involved in the trafficking and prostitution of children, and in America, children end up in one abusive foster home after another. At the same time, we ask God to end abortion and bring justice to our lands, yet we are unwilling to fulfill the simple and clear definition of true religion set forth by James the brother of Jesus; “to take care of orphans and widows in their distress”. We’ve handed one of the pillars of basic Christianity over to secular governments, and now 270 million orphans in the earth suffer. Beloved, it’s time to rise up, take our place as fathers to the fatherless, and bring justice to the orphan. Maybe then we would begin to enjoy the beauty and joy of pure and undefiled religion.

Just look at that smile

We rented these bikes and took a ride up the beautiful mountainside

A Buddhist temple

Derek joined a group of elderly musicians and added his own music to the band

Daniel Petrilli and a new friend

We had a wonderful time visiting with all of the children from this orphanage!

Mike Harrison and some of the children from one of the orphanages

The Myanmar border

A couple of the beautiful children we got to meet

A precious Thai believer we had the privilege of sharing a cup of tea with

Derek interviewing Pastor Chamnung

Daniel Petrilli and Mike Harrison

Dan Petrilli, Mike Harrison and Derek

A Thai believer who would like to partner with us/Orphan Justice Center in building an orphanage in Thailand

Some of the precious orphans in one of the villages we visited

Joel Karum, Dan Petrilli, Derek, Pastor Tawee, Mike Harrison, Judah Becker, Pastor Chamnung

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Thank You!

Yesterday I took Ethan to an Ear Nose and Throat doctor at Children's Mercy Hospital. They examined his ears and said that his ear canal is unusually small (narrow). After further examinations, it was determined that Ethan needs tubes surgically put in his ears. This surgery will take place in April. It's a same day surgery so he will go in to the hospital in the morning and come home that night! We're all happy about that!

Silas will have surgery to close the hole in his heart sometime in May or June. He will be in the hospital between 5-7 days.

I was having my time in the Word today and became overwhelmed by God's goodness to us and to our kids. By now, if Ethan was still in Ukraine, it's very possible he would not be alive today. He weighed 11 pounds at 5 years old, when we left the orphanage with him and he is now 20 pounds. He had pneumonia when we arrived in the U.S. from Ukraine and was breathing in a very labored way. Now he receives breathing treatments and was treated with good antibiotics and is doing 100% better. Sasha who once had horrible issues with fear and anger is sleeping through the night with only a small night light on. He doesn't scratch, bite, hit us or pull our hair anymore :). He is a child in a place of rest and peace. Silas will be having his much needed heart surgery in a couple months and will soon be on the road to much better health. Our boys are laughing and thriving! The Lord's hand of protection has been over these precious ones and even though they have some health issues to deal with, they are so happy and loved and living in a place where there is excellent medical care. They are learning to know Jesus' love for them and we are continually praying for their healing!

I'm just amazed and so grateful by all the love and support we've been given. Many of you supported us by providing us with dinners every night for over a month! Not just any ole meal, amazing meals that took much time to prepare. We are humbled, very humbled, by your love and support. We also have the most awesome family support staff, made up of people who are a part of our ministry here as well as very good friends. They show up everyday from 8:15AM-1:15PM and volunteer their time. They have a scheduled curriculum that they use to teach our three boys. They also play instruments and sing with them. They help clean up and help cook the boys their lunches. It just blows my mind. We are so blessed!

I also want to take time to thank our girls again, for all the love they daily show their brothers. There was an especially precious moment two nights ago that occurred as all of us were gathered in the boy's room playing with them. We put music on and the girls began dancing with the boys in their arms. Our oldest adopted son Sasha is 6 years old, and as most of you know, has spina bifida, and is paralyzed from the waist down. He army crawls everywhere. Our girls turned up the music and Sophia, our 11 year old daughter said, "May I have this dance Prince Sasha?" Sasha reached his arms up to her and she picked him up. She was dancing a ball room type of dance with him and as she would twirl him around, his little lifeless legs were hanging down like a rag dolls, flopping everywhere. My eyes filled up with tears as I watched our sweet Sophia twirling around with her brother. She treated him like a true prince and that night I know he felt like a prince being held by his beautiful princess sister! I am blessed beyond belief to watch our girls growing, maturing and giving out so much love to see their brothers healed and restored!

I am so blessed by so many of you who have pledged your lives to helping children without families of their own, by bringing them into your home and giving them a forever family of their own. They are being restored through God's love and yours! Thank you! Those of you who have faithfully prayed and/or financially supported those of us who have adopted, or are in the process of adopting, you are our heros! We couldn't walk through the journey of adoption without your support! Many of you have given sacraficialy to help financially, giving money you didn't really have to give, to see a child rescued. Those of you who have prayed, helped move mountains on our behalf. You were part of saving these precious children and I want to remind you of that, and to tell you that your love and passion for the orphan has been seen by God and will be rewarded by God. You will truly have more of Christ in you. Thank you for living out James 1:27! We love you and are so thankful!