An Adventure in Proverbs - Chapter 17 - Don't be this guy

My freshman year in college I lived in a humongous dorm on the campus of the University of Texas. Like most dorms the people on my hall were a random assortment of dudes from all over Texas with a variety of backgrounds and belief systems. Many of us got along great and developed bonds that would last for many years. However, in any situation where random people are put together in a long term living situation there will be some people who don't quite fit in with everyone else. Most times these folks are just a little awkward or "different" and we had some of that on our hall. When reading Proverbs 17 this week I was reminded of a particular guy on our hall who wasn't awkward or terribly weird, but he definitely didn't fit in well with the rest of us. I thought of him (I don't remember his name) after reading this verse:

Provers 17:5
Whoever mocks the poor shows contempt for their Maker;
    whoever gloats over disaster will not go unpunished.

The reason I thought of him was because of the following horrible story that caused this guy to become an outcast on our hall. There are quite a few homeless people in Austin, and at the time many of them lingered around the University of Texas. According to witnesses; this soon to be vilified hall mate saw a homeless man lying on the ground. He proceeded to approach the man and then offered him a candy bar asking "Would you like this?"  When the man responded and reached out for the candy bar he laughed at him and then ate the candy bar himself taunting the man who was clearly not in a good place and most likely very hungry. When we heard about this on our hall, even the most callous person wanted to fight our hall mate. It was truly disgusting behavior.

It seems that everyone, regardless of their awareness of scripture, agrees this is horrible behavior. Let's take it to the next level though, how often do we gloat over someone else's disaster? Maybe not in your community, but I think our culture has created an environment where we do gloat over the disaster of people who are more well known than we are. It seems the country, the press, and twitter users are anxiously waiting for some celebrity to fall from grace, make a mistake, go through a divorce, or have a mental breakdown. Our willingness to pile on these people is equally disgusting. While it is specifically wrong to mock the poor, it's also a real problem if we seek to make ourselves feel better by relishing the bad fortune of someone who is rich or famous or powerful or all three. Let's stop participating in the cultural pile on and instead remember that while "famous" people may look like their life is some kind of pleasant fantasy, the reality is they have at least as many problems as the rest of us and probably more. Maybe we should take some time to pray for them from a distance instead of mocking them from a distance.

Our adoption and God's Provision

So here is the long awaited followup to our announcement about adopting our third daughter from China.  We have indeed, decided to call her Ava, so barring any last minute changes of heart, that will be her name.

What follows is the story of how God has provided for all of our needs. I hope it encourages and amazes you.

International adoptions are expensive. Actually, all adoptions are expensive. I can’t personally speak to the specific expenses for any other kind of adoption. All we know is that for an American family to adopt from China through our agency, the cost comes out to roughly $22,000. This includes the travel costs for 2 people.  Since this amount is nearly half of our families annual income, just entertaining the idea of adopting is a matter of faith, or lunacy. Sometimes those two things are relatively similar.

When we started praying about it in the summer of 2010 we knew that the expense would be a big challenge.  Last Christmas we decided to definitely pursue adopting another girl from China. Soon after we made this decision we received some extra income that we weren’t counting on, that made paying for the first $11,000 in expenses totally doable!  That was awesome.

So in January of 2011 we (mostly Jessica) started doing paperwork, filling out forms, organizing all of our official documents, and all the rest of the stuff you have to do to adopt. By August, it was all finished and sent away, we were approved, and the whole process process. 

By this point we had paid out roughly $11,000 in expenses.  We were in Colorado on a family vacation, and Jessica reminded me that we would have start paying for the rest of the expenses pretty soon (sometime in the next year) now that the paperwork was done. She was concerned about how we were going to come up with $11,000.  We had already talked about and looked into various options for ways to raise that amount, via an online fundraiser. Jessica was feeling burdened about the work to raise the money by certain deadlines. I was relatively laid back about it (I know, this sounds like a lie, but it’s true). I figured we have lots of friends and acquaintances that would be happy to donate to something like this, and we could get 100 people to give a 100 dollars, or some catchy idea like that. After discussing this for a day or two, we prayed about it.

It wasn’t a desperate prayer, or an urgent prayer, or even a very specific prayer.  It was simply a prayer acknowledging that we needed help, and we were open to any kind of solution God would provide. Including a solution we hadn’t considered.

The next day Jessica received an email from one of the staff at our church, Cindi Lomax, asking if we knew anyone who was adopting from China and might need help with the expenses.  Now, at this point, Cindi did not know we were adopting again. The only people who knew were our closest friends and our family. We kept it a secret for 8 months!!!!  Therefore, it was totally random that Cindi happened to send us that email. Yeah, random, totally, wink, wink.

Jessica responded to her immediately, letting her in on the secret that we were, in fact, adopting from China again. She had no way of knowing that we had just prayed about our expenses in the past 24 hours.

We exchanged a few emails with Cindi, where she was a bit cryptic. She was trying to figure out what the Lord was up to. She asked us to send her an email, sharing “our heart” in the adoption process.  After that she asked us to send a list of our remaining expenses, which totaled roughly $11,000.

Cindi responded, telling us that there was a family at our church that felt that God was specifically telling them to help someone bring a child home from China.  Our church has quite a few adoptive families, and a clear vision for helping families who want to adopt.

However, at the time, our church had an emphasis on adopting from Columbia. So, it was odd for Cindi to hear a family say that they felt like the Lord was clearly telling them to help someone adopt from China.

A little while later she informed us that the family who was looking to help someone bring a girl home from China would help us, and that they would cover ALL the remaining adoption expenses!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We had not dreamed or imagined that someone would be willing to be so generous, or that this would be the method by which God provided.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.  Ephesians 3:20-21