Caring for Orphans, Part 2
About the Guest
What do a nurse, an futures trader and an empty nest mom have in common? They’ve all heard God’s unmistakable call to go near and to hear the cry of the orphan. Join us today, as we hear three remarkable stories of three ordinary people doing extraordinary things – as they obey God’s call to help the fatherless.
What do a nurse, an futures trader and an empty nest mom have in common?
Caring for Orphans, Part 2
Beau Fournet: In the middle of 2006, the elders in our church asked me if I would go to Africa with them. I get there and I’m up in Northern Uganda and one little boy catches my eyes. I see this little boy and I am watching him and just realizing that he doesn’t have a father, doesn’t have a mother. I am looking at him and he turns around and he goes to walk away and he had on a jersey and on the back of the jersey was the name Caleb which is my oldest son’s name. The boy was about 3 and my son was probably 4 or 5 at that time. It just hit me really, really hard.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Friday, September 17th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife Dennis Rainey, and I am Bob Lepine. Beau Fournet is not the only one who heart has been moved by the plight of the orphan, the heart of God has been moved as well.
Welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. I am just wondering who knows, but I am just thinking about going to the Orphan Summit event in April of 2011. We were up at the last Orphan Summit event back in April of 2010. We sat down and talk to all kinds of folks who are doing all kinds of things to rally support for the needs of the orphan. I am just wondering is it possible if there is anybody we are talking to today, who when we get to the Orphan Summit next April, we may be sitting down and talking to them and hearing their story. They hear something today and they go, I can do that.
Dennis: You know one of the things I have enjoyed most about doing FamilyLife Today and I think you love this too Bob. We love to connect with people who are just grassroots heroes. They are not paid to be good, they are good for nothing.
They are making a difference in the lives of orphans through the foster care system here or maybe in the lives of orphans across the pond in a foreign country. They have decided that doing nothing is not an option. We had a chance to talk to over half a dozen heroes and we have chopped it down into a condensed version of their story. It’s powerful.
Bob: Yes, one of the guys we talked to is businessman from Texas, a guy name Beau.
Beau: I am in the money management business and work for a hedge fund in Dallas. I have been blessed with a calendar that allows me to invest a lot of time in my local church and with my family.
Bob: He went on a mission trip with his church and while he was in the middle of that mission trip God grabbed his heart for the orphan.
Dennis: God opened his heart and you know what, he didn’t step back, Beau, stepped up.
Beau: In the middle of 2006 the elders in our church asked me if I would go to Africa with them to help them to how we create a ministry in Africa. I really thought I was going primarily to teach. I thought like a lot of things in life, I was going to serve someone else and it's often the case, God has been a place because he wants to grow me and disciple me.
We heard the dream of the leader of the ministry that we were partnering within Uganda to care for children and there were two or three orphans that they were caring for. Then we came back to the church and said we want to help you however we can. We built a model with local churches in Uganda to care for children. A lot of them are in kinship care so the mother and father will die and a relative or a neighbor will take them in and some of them are in child headed households.
A child headed household would be a family where the oldest child, generally under the age of 18, is the head of household for the family. You will have three or four children live in a home with the 12 or 13 or 14 year old leading the family.
It’s something you never get used to. We have seen several of them. We have been building new homes for them trying to find families to take them in. I don’t think I will ever get accustomed to or comfortable with seeing a home with a 12-year old caring for everyone.
The first trip I went on I visited Eastern Congo, a town called Goma and went to visit an orphanage. There were 62 children in this orphanage. There was one caregiver who was the leading the orphanage that was about 9-months pregnant. She was the victim of rape and caring for 62 children.
You would see a twin bed with a four or five year old that short enough that would just line them opposite on a twin bed, so you could have five, six or seven kids sleep in one bed. Not have the concept of a father or a mother in a society that is a paternalistic where if you don’t have a father, it is hard to get a job with 50% unemployment. It’s an agrarian society where your family has land much like biblical times where that land provided an opportunity to work and provide for yourself. And so when you are an orphan in that community, your means of being able to provide for yourself to be able to work is completely blown away, completely blown away.
The Lord at that point called my wife that I have to go back and adopt children from Africa. He built an entire passion in our church body through a number of families going down that route of loving the orphan and wanting to provide for the orphan.
We start with what we are able to do. We did realize that as Americans with a very different perspective on a community and society that we have to have local partners. We had to start small and then grow it as quickly as we could. The greatest obstacle is our self. We have such a strong perspective in America of wants versus needs that is largely inconsistent with scripture. So we could go and want to institute, not biblical care, but an American form of care in these communities.
You could go to a head of a family and say, we will pay for your child to go to school. But if the water for the family is five hours away that child can’t go to school even if you pay for it, because somebody needs to walk five hours to get the water. So you need to drill a water well in a community if you want to be able to get children in the school.
If you want to make sure you deal with injustice you have to, not just care for the child, you have to go to the government leaders in the community and teach them about biblical approach to leadership to resolving conflict, to end the fighting in the community. So you can’t have the too narrow of a focus but always make sure we do it in and through local churches with local leaders.
This was not solely about social justice. This is not just about feeding a child or providing a child with education, but this is first and foremost about the gospel. This is about sharing the love of Christ with the children that that would be the eternal Savior, every bit as much as I do.
If God could change me, when I was 25 years old to love Christ and to stop a lot of things that brought no glory to God then I think that God could change anyone, including the 10-year-old boy in Uganda where you think there was no hope. God can do that.
Dennis: We have another guest that we interviewed at the Orphan Summit.
Bob: Yes, this is an interesting story because this young woman, her name is Jodie.
Jodie: I do remember adoption being part of our neighborhood growing up and it was never an awkward thing or anything, it was just part of life that several families had adopted children. I think God just places that tenderness in the heart of a lot of girls and it was something that came pretty naturally.
Bob: She has a heart for adoption, but she gets a chance to see the issue from a very different perspective.
Jodie: In my early adulthood, I worked for a reproductive endocrinologist in the field of infertility as a nurse. That really shaped my views on adoption versus infertility treatments and that kind of set the foundation. It’s a touchy subject with a lot of people.
Biology is obviously important and God gives us a draw to have biological children as well, but just my heart for orphans coupled with the struggles I saw in their office really led me to a place where I realized that often God has another plan for us.
I saw a drive that was so strong to conceive a biological child that it was all consuming. It was hard for some of them to see beyond that next step in the process of infertility treatment. There was always, you know if you failed one time, there was always that next step. The question is when do you stop and when do you pause and consider if you are a Christian, what God’s plan is in at all. That’s hard when it's such an all consuming process and the doctors will tell you what’s possible, but not necessarily point you to what’s best. What is God’s best plan for you?
It's a tough balance because we all have our passions and we know what God’s word says about orphans and about adoption. But everybody is at different stages of the process and what I have been through has led me to where I am now and the perspective I have now, but I can't expect somebody that’s just beginning into the infertility process to be at the same place where I am so or if they ever will get to the same place.
I say that we didn’t struggle with infertility, but we did try for a year to conceive and after a year our passion for orphans building beyond that. It's just God just started laying adoption on our hearts and we started going in that direction and really didn’t look back.
We checked out a lot of different options as far as adoption was concerned and we were led to a great little agency that did Russian adoptions. They were the first agency that presented us the idea of adopting two children at one time. We liked that idea because we’re very frugal for one thing and we were kind of looking at it from a financial aspect at the time. We knew it be going back and in a couple of years if we didn’t adopt two at the same time, so we just decided to go for it.
Probably, I think it was nine months later we ended up in Russia meeting our Boys. I just remember being our oldest son’s orphanage. He had just turned three when we adopted him and he was one of the youngest in his orphanage. We got to spend quite a bit of time there on the playground with the kids and even in the room where he played. Whenever we’d step into that room, just a group of kids who just charge at us and they would all be showing us their shoes and chattering at us.
Throughout that process and all that time we spent there we just realized that obviously we can't adopt them all. I think God opened our hearts to the huge need that was really there. We thought we were going there for children to build our family, but this was about something much bigger and we needed to bring that back and to figure out what God had for us in that.
Bob: We talked to a mom at the Orphan Summit, a mom named Jill. God enlarged her heart and her husband’s heart on the subject of adoption and it became not just something personal for them, but also something that they started calling others too.
Dennis: Yes, the interesting thing about Jill is when she started contemplating this, you are going to hear her talk about this, she didn’t know any orphans. It's kind of like where do you find the one, but she began to pray, began to ask God. Listen to what happened.
Jill: It started with feeling like we were called to adopt and I hadn’t been overseas, hadn’t seen any orphans, didn’t know any orphans, but in reading God’s word, it kept coming up.
That led to just not being able to erase it. James 1:27 says that in God’s view this was pure and undefiled religion. My son who is 18 now, was 12 at the time, walked in the kitchen said, mom if you had $10,000, would you give that money so that someone could become a Christian. I said, yes well if I have the money. He said, well then why wouldn’t we adopt from China? And I said, well…
Bob: That was just out of the blue?
Jill: Out of the blue. Anyway, he came up with that. God speaking to me through his word. Even reading through the Bible with the children of Israel and they are forming a nation and God keeps bringing up this group. Why God, do you keep bringing up this group?
Bob: The orphans.
Jill: The orphans. Now I know it's because he hears their cries. He hears their prayers every night and it's close to his heart and any parent can understand that.
It was actually one of your radio programs one day, when you were talking about this and everything you said was like that is exactly how I have been feeling. I have grabbed his hand and we went in the guest bedroom and shut the door and we listened to that online, the radio program.
I cried to the whole thing and when the program ended he said, let's do it. We are still waiting. We have been in the process for four years waiting for a special needs child from China. Then while we have been waiting for the China adoption, we are also in the process of adopting a five-year old little girl in Liberia and her name is Rebecca. We are getting close, so Both of these adoptions are coming soon.
The more I realized the problem, the more I realized that God had a plan for this problem and the plan was the Body of Christ. We are the ones with the mission and noBody should bypass Christians in caring for orphans. We are the ones that have that calling. So that led to we have got to start an orphan ministry at our church.
Hope for Orphans is such an incredible resource for churches because it gave us tools. They motivated us. They encouraged us. They gave us the biblical basis for all this. God’s heart for the orphan just in a Book form and incredible speakers and they gave us what we needed to launch.
It's a scary thing to launch especially if you’re layperson. The pastors in our churches their plate is full.
Jill: What is so neat is to walk through the halls of your church and see, for example, we have a husband and wife who came to our church. We had a magazine in our church at the time and we put six kids who would have been adopted on the cover and had an article aBout adoption and foster care and orphan care in the magazine. She saw that. That led them to take foster parent training.
Now you walk through the hall, they got a two year old and a three old—little girls that were from a terrible situation. There they are in your church learning aBout Jesus. They are being loved and they have blossomed. I could say that story over and over and over.
Two little Boys adopted from Ethiopia and you see them in the halls of our church and they look like they are at Disney World because their lives have totally been transformed because someone stepped up.
The cool thing to me aBout orphan ministry is it can be pretty discouraging, because you might not see fruit for a while. It is hard work and it's spiritual warfare because Satan’s plan for these kids is playing out and you are trying to interject in there. Then all of a sudden, you will see oh this couple is going to adopt. And this couple is taking the foster parent training.
On Orphan Sunday last year, we had the song, “There are no orphans.” Then the pastor came up with two little Boys who had been adopted from Ethiopia and there are tears. I mean what gets to your heart deeper than that? I mean it is the visible gospel. It's the visible gospel.
Bob: I wish I could have been in her church last year on Orphan Sunday, because I bet it was a powerful moment. I am thinking aBout Orphan Sunday weekend that’s coming up here in November 5th, 6th, and 7th this year. This has been put together by our friends at the Show Hope Foundation with Steven Curtis and Mary Beth Chapman, Focus on the Family. We are helping to do it through our Hope for Orphans initiative and a number of other partners who are part of the Cry for the Orphan campaign.
Dennis: And it is going to be broadcast over the internet, so that means everyBody can connect with this.
Bob: A webcast, it's very flexible, you can use it wherever you want to in that weekend and it's going to hosted by Francis and Lisa Chan. There is more information aBout it on our website at www.familylifetoday.com you can go online and get the information and find out how your church can participate and who knows. We had a service at our church that focused on the orphans last year on Orphan Sunday, and I remember a guy coming up to me and saying that may be the most powerful church service I ever sat through my life.
Dennis: That’s cool. I was sitting here at the end of this broadcast and I have to just tell you, I just got a big smile on my face. What a privilege, I mean this, what a privilege to do a broadcast on behalf of those who have no voice.
Bob, you and I could be doing a lot of things with our lives right now. I like this is the right stuff. This is the right stuff. Now the question is for the listeners, what's the right thing for you to do? I only give you two of the things you can do. One, is you can go to the Orphans Summit which is going to be in Louisville as Bob mentioned again, information is at www.familylifetoday.com.
Or you can connect on our website and find out aBout Hope for Orphans and how Paul Pennington and his crew can equip you to start an orphan care, foster care or adoption ministry in your church. I just want to tell you, you are going to be amazed with who comes out with the woodwork.
People have been impacted by adoption and you are going to church with them. They would like to do something, but they need to kind of gather around together bring their gifts to the table and talk aBout and plan aBout and pray aBout, how can we as a church make a difference in orphans here in America and around the world?
Bob: Well the website to go to, if you want more information is www.familylifetoday.com. Again it's www.familylifetoday.com, click on the link you find there for Hope for Orphans and you will see the resources that we are making available many of them can be downloaded for free.
Again www.familylifetoday.com or call 1-800-FL-TODAY. 1-800-358-6329 to ask aBout what resources are available. Let me just mentioned, I was talking to some friends of mine recently who are in the process of adopting and I said, have you read Russell Moore’s Book Adopted for Life and they said no. I said you got to get a copy of that Book, it's a terrific Book and we have it on our FamilyLife Today Resource Center as well.
I would encourage you, whether you are thinking aBout adoption or not, this is a profound Book that helps you think not only aBout adoption differently, but even helps you understand our relationship with God, our adoption, in a way that I bet you have never thought aBout it before. Again the Book is available on our FamilyLife Today Resource Center online at www.familylifetoday.com.
And let me end this week by saying thanks to those of you who help support the ministry of FamilyLife Today, in fact I’ll give you a round of applause. We appreciate your financial support and all you do for the ministry. We appreciate your prayers as well.
In a very real sense this daily radio program is made possible by folks like you who from time to time or on a regular basis provide the financial support we need, so thanks to those of you who have made a donation in the past and to those of you who will be able to help with a donation today or in the future, we appreciate your financial support very much and want you to know that we think of you as a part of the team and we are glad to be teamed up with you.
And we hope you have a great weekend. Hope you and your family are able to worship together this weekend and we hope you can join us on Monday when we are going to introduce you to a woman who experienced great trauma in her childhood, one that left severe scars on her soul. She is going to share with us aBout God’s gracious work in her life over the years and I hope you can be with us for that.
I want to thank our engineer today Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team on behalf of our host Dennis Rainey, I am Bob Lepine. Have a great weekend. We will see you back Monday for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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