Why Ethiopia?

So I’ve received a few questions and thought I’d begin by answering the big one first:

Why international adoption and why Ethiopia?

I have to confess, I almost cheated on this one. I’ve heard and seen wonderful explanations on blogs and websites articulating far better than I ever could the reasons to adopt, to adopt internationally, and to adopt from Ethiopia. Beautiful, eloquent and heart-wrenching. The statistics are staggering when it comes to the need just because of the sheer number of kids who are orphaned & abandoned. I figured, no one would mind if I did a little cut and paste. : ) Because, truly, they are good reasons.

But you didn’t ask why they adopted from Ethiopia. You asked why we are adopting from Ethiopia.

Well, the short answer is, because God said so. But that’s probably not good enough for some of you. : )

As I mentioned before, Joe and I have always been open to adoption, but never felt the Lord give us clear direction or a specific timeline on how to proceed. So we decided to remain open and see how the Lord might lead. Honestly, the whole thing was slightly overwhelming to me as to how to even begin adopting, and with all the other things on our plate, I decided He would have to give us clear direction through a person or agency or association, and we would go from there. I actually thought if we ever did adopt, it would be a domestic adoption—connected to a specific child we met, perhaps while serving a local orphanage.

Instead, God brought us a family. The Shubins moved to Florida from Arizona a month ago (you read that right--we've known them for 4 weeks). Originally moving to Tampa, they changed their rental agreements last minute so they could live in St.Pete and be a part of LifeBridge Church. This is after Dave had attended twice and the rest of the family was still in Arizona! We fell in love with their four kids: Skyler, Nicole, Olivia, and Silas-their youngest, whom they adopted last year from Ethiopia. (Link to Erica's blog here.)

Silas

We heard their story, felt their heart for Ethiopia, and caught their excitement and vision for all that God could do though a small group of people dedicated to loving and serving the people of this country. As a church, we were moved. Another couple, already planning to adopt internationally, decided to adopt from Ethiopia. Our church mission trip, which had been originally planned to Guatemala but had to be canceled, was rescheduled to Ethiopia in January of 2010. And we began paperwork to start an adoption assistance fund & ministry in our church, where we as a church can support families who are feeling called to adopt. In a short amount of time, our church was developing an international arm of ministry to a specific country in specific ways.

And all the while, we felt God moving in Joe and myself. As soon as we met Dave and heard that they had adopted, Joe and I knew it was no accident that they were becoming a part of LifeBridge Church. To have someone who had “been down that road” and had a heart to help others walk that same road, seemed too good to be true.

Let me add something else to the mix. When Joe and I felt called to plant a new work, I thought we’d end up overseas. Our heart had been broken for the poor and we longed to be a part of bringing justice to those who live in abject poverty. We were ready to abandon everything and just go.

But God led us to stay in the U.S. and to plant a church in this country, which is the 5th largest mission field on the planet. Quite frankly, I was bummed at first. It seemed easier to me to go to a country where these trappings and trinkets wouldn’t be there to distract me from my contentment in Jesus and Jesus alone. Where I would be “on mission” every moment instead of getting sucked in to the rat race, and the desire to accumulate things would seem silly and trite. A place where I would always know and tangibly sense…this is not my home…my home is in heaven.

Why did we come to Florida to plant a church? Because God told us to. Despite what we thought, he wanted us here and we know we are in the center of His will.

And why are we adopting from Ethiopia? Because God told us to. I wish I had something more for you to sink your teeth into, but all I can say is, it is our family’s way of loving the world in a tangible way. We will serve in soup kitchens and play with orphans and visit retirement homes right here in this county. But our family will seek social justice for the poor in this world-- as God commands us to-- in a more permanent and sustained way through adoption. We feel God is using us locally. This is how He will use us globally.

It isn’t everyone’s reason. It isn’t everyone’s story. But it’s ours.

5 comments:

Erica said...

sob sob sob. I wrote my post for my blog early this morning. My post (which will show up shortly) is so crazy similar to your post its crazy. Crazy amazing how God was working in our hearts, your hearts, and the hearts of life bridge from across the country. When I was in Ethiopia earlier this year my prayer was that somehow we would be able to make an even bigger impact in Ethiopia. I didn't know how and honestly it just seemed so huge I couldn't wrap my mind around it. Watching this all unfold I'm humbled to be apart. Humbled to watch the Lord work and beyond excited to see what HE has planned. Love you. THRILLED you are APPROVED and on your way!! Praying for sweet kiddo Walser!!

Saxon and Shannon said...

So very excited for you. It will be the adventure of a lifetime I assure you...and we haven't even RECEIVED our referral yet! We have been completely in awe at what God has taught us through this experience. Hold on...it's quite a ride! :)

Carrie Sterner said...

You don't know me but I am an internet friend of Erica's. I went here from Erica's blog and am sharing praises with you as you soak up all that God is doing. You have reminded me again that God's plans are so much bigger than we could ever imagine. Love that! We serve a big God don't we!

I will be watching God work in and through you in this, knowing that you ARE on the precipice of fulfilling your dreams to change the world. To Him be glory!!!

Maybe sometime we could connect in the world of internet. My husband and I and our 5 kids are preparing to plant a church in Madison WI in about 10 months through Acts 29 network. I would love to hear about your church planting journey as we too have been called and are several steps behind you. If it works, here is my email address, www.csterner@southslope.net .

Singing His praises with you.

Sarah said...

Congratulations! How amazing God works! I'm excited to follow your blog, and read about your journey to your new little one! Love on those Shubin kids for me! :)
Sarah

danielle-laryn said...

i just started peeking around your blog, came over from Linny's, and saw "Ethiopia: and had to stay! My hubby and I are in the homestudy process and she only works with domestic, which is the way we thought we were going, but...my heart has been aching for ethiopia!! is that crazY?? we live in FLorida too...any suggestions for us as to where to start?? and i will be figuringout how to donate= never did this way before, sounds cool and crazy! many blessings to you!