One of the great lessons I learned in working with New Hope International Ministries was the “What Now Principle”. It was one of the most important elements of our “debriefing” of mission teams that returned from serving Christ in various places around the globe. We always pushed our team members to ask themselves, “Now that I have had this experience, what is the next thing that God would have me do in response?” The idea was that we did not want the mission trip to just be “something that we did that one time,” but a transformational experience that led us to deeper maturity in Christ – whether it be increased prayer burden, more financial giving, further service, change in lifestyle, or whatever God may be asking us to do in response to or as an extension of what we have experienced. In short – “What now?”
My first mission trip was to a children’s home in Guatemala. (I’ve blogged about the trip before - you can read about it here.) That trip was a very moving, life-changing experience for me. I began to think about God and the world in wonderful new ways. And it was then that I was first touched by the plight of the orphan. As I asked myself that important question – “What now?” – God began to speak to me about serving the least of these, and about adoption.
Fast forward several years to 2006 when we jumped into the adoption process, looking to fulfill both our dream and a passion that we believe God placed in our hearts. Through frustrations and two failed adoptions, we finally arrived in Ethiopia in March 2009 to bring home our beautiful twin girls. But first we were privileged to travel to our girls’ village near the Sudanese border to meet their birth family and see the orphanage where they had stayed. While there we met some amazing boys at the orphanage – bright, happy boys who had little prospects for being adopted due to a combination of factors that included their age, their gender, their remote location, and, perhaps, their skin color. As we returned home from that life-changing trip with our girls in tow, once again we began to ask ourselves that question that we had been trained to ask – “What now? Now that we have done this, what would God have us do next?”
Last month, we believe we received an answer. We found out that in Ethiopian adoption law, a family can adopt again within a year and use their same dossier from the first adoption. (Adoptive families can testify what an arduous task that can be to compile and submit.) So…we began to think about bringing home one of those boys that had touched our hearts. We wrestled with the decision and the excuses that arose – it’s too soon, it’s too expensive, we can’t afford it, we don’t have enough money, it costs too much. (Notice how many of those excuses revolved around money.) We decided this was an open door, and we should walk through it. We identified a 7-year-old boy and moved ahead.
When we told the girls they were getting a big brother, they were very excited. But Essie was concerned. “We are two sisters,” she said. “We need two brothers.” We began to think about the benefits of two - the boys would have each other, it is less expensive to do two adoptions together rather than one now and one later, we don’t know how long Ethiopian adoptions will continue smoothly, etc.
The same big question kept rising: “Can we afford to FEED and CLOTHE four children?” The praying and agonizing began again. After a night of fitful sleeping and stressing about our finances, I realized that I didn’t want to stand before God someday and say, “Sorry, Lord. I didn’t welcome that child into my home, because I was afraid it might make my life uncomfortable, and I like to eat out from time to time.”
So what now? We have started the process of adopting two boys, ages 7 and 10, from the same orphanage where our girls were. We don’t know where the money is going to come from, and we know that we are going to have to make some serious changes in our spending habits, but God has shown us the next step, and we are taking it. Please pray with us.