Three years ago today, God’s plan to bring awareness to the orphans crisis was fulfilled through me and the girls on my dorm floor. It was such an incredible experience that I will never forget and left a profound impact on my life. In celebration of what God accomplished in this time, I want to share the full story about the experience, based on some previous writings. I hope that in this story you can see how God desires all of us to response to this need, and how God was a part of what happened on my dorm floor that semester.
“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after widows and orphans in their distress, and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” (James 1:27 NIV84)
This verse has taken on a whole new meaning to me. It is basically telling us that looking after widows and orphans isn't just a good idea; it’s a call on every Christians’ life. It’s of equal importance from keeping ourselves from worldly pollution. It has become clear to me that specifically in regards to orphans, part of what looking after them means is bringing them out of their distress by helping provide them with a forever family.
At the beginning of that semester I ask the girls on my dorm floor to help me raise money and awareness for the fatherless. We started by collecting change on our floor as part of Show Hope’s “Change for Orphans” campaign. I also made bracelets made out of strips of bandannas to remind the girls to pray. I did everything I could to inform the girls that were helping me about what Show Hope is all about and the need to care for orphans. Then about the middle of the semester, I invited an adoptive father, Troy Nelson, OCC’s executive director of admissions, to tell us about his and his wife’s adoption of a little girl from Taiwan. Troy talked to us about the blessing that she had been on their lives and how much they learned to trust God through the process of adoption. This was about the time I began to notice a difference in the girls’ hearts towards the project.
As the semester continued, I began to realize that one of the biggest reasons I had become so interested in the orphan crisis was the family and friends in my life that were adopted. This was the motivation of many of us involved in this project, and I didn't want us to forget our gratitude for those who have been adopted. So we decorated one of the walls in our dorm hallway with posters of the children in our lives that are adopted, posters of Scriptures about adoption, and posters that explained the ministry of Show Hope. We had posters that represented the adoptions of 20 different children. We made the posters on bright-colored scrapbook paper that filled that section of the wall. We had it on display during our dorm open house. It was a fun project that eventually had a big impact.
As that semester was coming to an end, I was concerned that we would not raise the all the money I had committed to raise. My request to be allowed to take up an offering during our open house was denied and it almost seemed like a dead end. Then we saw God work when we were given permission to do a presentation and an offering in our weekly chapel service. I prepared the presentation that I gave by myself on May 1, 2012. I was pretty nervous about it, since it would be the largest crowd in front of which I had ever done a presentation. I was told just before chapel that most offering bring in between $300 - $500, but not much more than that. We were praying that we would be able to match our goal (since we only had about $65 at that point), but we had no idea what was about to happen.
Later that day, I was told that without our money, they brought in over $600. This was our final total.
Needless to say, we were all pretty excited! When I told the girls, we cheered joyously together, and rejoiced at what God had done through our efforts. As we talked about what happened, the girls told me that there was something different about people’s reaction to the offering appeal that day that what usually happened with chapel offerings. They noticed a change in the way people reacted as they collected the offering. More people gave than usually, even the people that didn't usually give. One of the girls even told me, “It seemed like everyone wanted to give to help orphans!” I knew in that moment that God had worked on our students and faculty to compel them to give, and we had been a part of something much bigger than ourselves. We took these pictures at our last weekly devotions for the year, in celebration of what God had done through us for the cause of adoption.
God was at work during this time in so many ways. This project helped to unite my dorm floor in a special way, for we became a lot closer through this project. Our view of adoption was forever changed and our trust in God has increased. But most importantly, our passion for the fatherless has been kindled and we are all grateful to know that we helped bring another child into a forever family. I can’t wait to see what God does in each of our lives as we continue to care for His children.
Part of me is still in awe of what God was able to accomplish through my dorm floor that semester. I still have a scrapbook containing all the posters we made for our adoption wall, and I love to look through them every once in a while. I continue to marvel at the stories that were shared and the results of our efforts. By all logic, we shouldn't have been able to raise all the money we did. We shouldn't have been able to even work out to do a chapel offering, but God blessed our efforts for His glory. I was just blessed to be a part of His plan.
Since this time, although I have not done any other fundraising efforts, I continue to be a voice for the fatherless in whatever ways I can. I have become sensitive to find the stories of those that have been adopted, and have found great joy every time I heard a new one. I have come to view those who have been adopted in my life to be a blessing that God chose to be in my life. My personal desire to adopt internationally continues to grow (although I want to be married before I pursue this path). God has heighten my awareness and sensitivity on this issue, and I am still amazed that He laid this on my heart and gave me the passion to do something about it.
I am so grateful for those who have taken up the call to bring children out of their distress and into a forever family. I am grateful for the girls on my dorm floor that helped me take up this huge call to make a difference in the lives of orphans. But most importantly, I am thankful for the One that brought me out of being spiritual fatherless and chose me to be His child through the sacrifice of His Son. That should be our ultimate motivation to "pay it forward" and make a change for orphans. I encourage everyone to see what they can do to learn more and be involved in some way with the miracle of adoption. You won't regret it.
[If you are interested in learning more about the heart and ministry of Show Hope, watch the video below, and visit their website: showhope.org]
[If you are interested in reading my advocate story on Show Hope's blog, click here]