In the fall of 2002, my wife, Susan, heard a broadcast on Christian radio about a family adopting a little girl from Asia. She was convinced that day that we were supposed to do the same thing.
I told her that she was mad. After all, we already had two wonderful little boys, and we didn’t have any money. Besides, I was in the middle of a ministry transition from one church to another. After we talked, I promised Susan that I would pray about it.
For 18 months, I prayed almost daily and asked God to reveal if and how He wanted to enlarge our family. Then, in February 2003, Susan heard Dennis Rainey speak about adoption. I don’t remember everything that he said that night, but one thing stuck with me, “If Christians are going to call ourselves ‘pro-life,’ we need to be adopting children.”
As I heard those words, God began answering my prayer. When Dennis finished speaking, I sat as still as a statue. I didn’t dare turn to Susan because I knew what she was thinking.
Unbeknownst to me, she was uttering a little prayer of her own. It went something like this, “Dear Lord, I don’t want to nag him about this, but if it’s Your will, make him bring it up tonight.”
When we got back to the hotel, I said to her, “So, I guess you want to talk about adoption again.” She was walking away from me, and I’ve never seen her turn around as fast as she did that night. “You brought it up!” she said. I must’ve looked like a deer in the headlights … I knew I had really done it this time.
Our eventual decision to adopt was one of the more significant decisions we’ve ever made—and it couldn’t have been more right. It was a long process with many challenges along the way. God had to stretch our faith and provide financially in ways we never dreamed of, but it was all worth it. It wasn’t long until Susan and I returned from Asia with a little girl we’ve named Frances. She had been abandoned in a public place the day after her birth with only a piece of masking tape with her birth date written on it. We still have that piece of tape as a precious keepsake.
The trip to get Frances really opened our eyes to the culture, the superstitions, and needs of the people in that country. We were saddened that there seemed to be so little spiritual interest or theological understanding, and this burdened our hearts. In time, God began to lay on our hearts that He was calling us back to Asia, but this time as missionaries.
I was the first one to bring up the subject, and Susan thought I was a little crazy at that point. “You mean, we’re going to move our family halfway around the world?” she said. When she was a teenager, she sensed that God might call her overseas some day, but now overseas missions became a very different concept for her when she thought about uprooting a nest of five.
I really wrestled with the Lord, but it became increasingly evident as He brought the needs in Asia before us over and over again. He showed us that He had equipped us, and that we could, with His help, go over there and serve Him.
Susan and I wrestled with this for a good year and a half before we finally came to terms with the decision to leave the pastorate and go on to the mission field. We will be pursuing evangelism and discipleship, and I will be involved in training church leaders.
Adopting Frances was a transformational event. Not only had our family of four grown by one, but we are now a cross-cultural family. The impact of what we’ve experienced is changing the course of our lives.
Copyright © 2006 by Jeff Johnson. All rights reserved.