Amy Carmichael once received a letter from a zealous young lady who thought God might be calling her to be a missionary. “What is missionary life like?” she asked Amy.
To which Amy replied, “Missionary life is simply a chance to die.”
Throughout the past seven months, as I have chronicled our family’s struggles here on this blog, an unspoken question has hung in the air, intensifying as our predicament also intensified.
“Now that you’re experiencing post-adoption distress, surely you’ll tone down your advocacy for these children. You couldn’t ask other people to make those kinds of sacrifices, could you?”
Hanging in the air I say, thick enough to choke on.
Growing up in my parents’ home, a rich store of books about extraordinary Christians of the past filled my mother’s bookshelves. I read them all, some more than once.
Now, many of the same titles are lined up along our bookshelves, titles like, “The Man Who Believed God,” “Nothing Daunted,” “To a Different Drum,” “The Triumph of John and Betty Stam,” “Through Gates of Splendor,” “Dauntless Women,” “No Time for Tombstones,” along with collections bearing more generic titles, such as “Missionary Stories for Young People.”
I grew up closely familiar with the stories of missionaries in dangerous lands, martyrs of the faith, heroes of the persecuted church, sometimes in their own words.
These books brought alive the stories of William Carey, Adoniram Judson, Mary Slessor, John G. Paton, Isobel Kuhn, Hudson Taylor, Gladys Aylward, Jonathan and Rosalind Goforth, the ten Boom family, Watchman Nee, Georgi Vins, Richard Wurmbrand, Jim Elliot, and the list goes on and on and on, both the well-known and the obscure.
Then there were the missionaries our church helped to support, all household names, some of whom we met personally when they visited us on furlough. I just looked online for the five missionaries I could remember after more than thirty years and found that they’re all still actively serving in the foreign countries where God placed them.
All of them were teachers and examples to me of what it looked like for imperfect humans to know Jesus intimately and follow Him wholeheartedly into difficult places. Often they were called to work hard for many long years without seeing much fruit from their labor.
When I turned sixteen, my parents gave me what I most wanted for my birthday, my own hardcover copy of Elisabeth Elliot’s “A Chance to Die,” the life story of Amy Carmichael.
These childhood heroes have come to mind so often during these past months, and I’ve closely identified with them like I never have before.
The lives of these obviously flawed, ordinary people bear startling witness to an unseen reality.
We are called to die, so the life of Jesus can shine through us.
At the same time, we humans can be so drawn to the comfortable, the known, the easy, the familiar, the safe. And that’s not innately a bad thing.
It only becomes problematic for us when God sends us in the opposite direction and we don’t want to go.
Will we as Christ’s people shrink back in fear from His path of sacrifice? And call it “counting the cost?”
Will we set our hearts on our own visions and ideals for our lives and families more than we set our hearts on following after Him? And call it “the abundant life?”
Will we preserve for ourselves treasure on earth rather than giving Him our last mite with abandon? And call it “being a good steward?”
Of course we will and of course we do. I feel the pull toward ease and comfort every time my alarm rings early in the morning, doing what I always said I could never do!
I need life infused into my dry, dead bones every bit as much as Katie and Tommy do.
We had a vision for what we wanted our family to be. It was a good vision, friends, not a bad one!
But it wasn’t God’s vision for our family. His goals for us are so much greater than our goals for ourselves. He’s so much more interested in making us better than He is in making our lives better.
Our family is so privileged that He has sent us these two children, at the same time using us to transform them into the people He intends them to be and using them to transform us into the people He intends us to be.
So, friends, if you’ve questioned whether I’ll be so bold as to ask others to freely give their lives away and bring Owen or Tiya or Brandon or Mikah home…
You’re absolutely right. I couldn’t ask people to make that level of sacrifice.
But not because I want to spare others from making hard sacrifices.
It’s because calling people is not my job, it’s His!
Bringing life out of death? Breathing life into dead, dry bones, both ours and our children’s? That’s the specialty of our God!
Across the ocean are children without parents, who have been rejected by their societies because they have disabilities, who are being warehoused in institutions, who are legally available to be adopted.
On our side of the ocean are parents like the missionary heroes I read about while I was growing up.
Ordinary, imperfect human parents who don’t shrink back from whatever sacrifices He might ask of them in order to follow where He leads them.
Parents who are willing to loosen their death grip on their own cherished visions for their families in exchange for His vision for them.
Parents with a sturdy faith who know that their God can be trusted because He is good, and who are willing to have their faith tested, grown, and refined by Him.
Parents who consider children, all children, to be a gift from the hand of God.
We have watched in awe as God has called many parents like this to bring home older children from the Pleven orphanage, children who would never be considered by the overwhelming majority of potential adoptive parents.
And we are fully confident that He can bring parents like this for five-and-a-half-year-old Owen, who did not grow up on the top floor of Pleven but needs to be in a family to reach his potential~
I can hardly wait until I start hearing about the parents God sends to these special little ones! It’s a wondrous thing to walk alongside the other Pleven families and witness the transformation wrought in their children!
Please pray with us that God would send parents to Owen, Tiya, Brandon, and Mikah!
Please feel free to share their names and photos with others!
If you think God may have one of these children for your family, please email Shelley Bedford at email@example.com and she will be happy to tell you more!
The hand of the Lord was on me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry.
He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”
I said, “Sovereign Lord, you alone know.”
Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones:
I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life.
Then you will know that I am the Lord.’”