October 21, 2010

The Beauty and the Gospel of Adoption

Many months ago, I posted about friends of ours, the Oberhauser family, and their adoption story. They are adopting a special needs little boy from Eastern Europe named Vanya, and he will be their sixth child.

They are in Vanya's country, meeting him for the first time and beginning the process to finally bring him home! I've been following their journey through their Facebook group, and I've been moved to tears watching everything unfold. This little boy is so loved--by God, by his family, and by people who have never even met him.

The "Obies" sent this message out a few days ago, and it is one of the most beautiful things I've ever read. I wanted to share it with you:

To the Extended Bringing Vanya Home Family,

The day before yesterday, our adoption facilitator here in Nikolaev said a couple of things that reminded me what this whole adoption process is ultimately about. Her name is Sasha, and she was talking about the paperwork that should have been kept up-to-date for Vanya. For most orphans in Vanya's orphanage ("The Baby House" - an excellent facility), medical records, etc. are kept in good order so that if and when someone should come to adopt them, the process can go smoothly. In Vanya's case, however, many of the things that should have been kept tidy were not, and now Sasha really has her work cut out for her to get things ready for a court date. The reason Vanya's records have fallen into such disarray is the fact that he is blind and may have other special needs. Because of this, most people working with his case felt that his records did not need to be kept up-to-date, since there was practically no hope that he would ever be adopted.

Wow. No hope. This statement reminded me of Ephesians 2:12, where Paul describes our spiritual state apart from Christ:

"Remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated...having no hope and without God in the world."

At one time, I was without hope. Before I knew Christ, I was trapped hopelessly in the Orphanage of Sin, with no power to remove myself from that state. If Vanya is not taken from the Baby House, he will eventually be transferred to an institution for special needs children, where his quality of life would be extremely poor, and his chances of ever being united to a family drop to almost zero. Similarly, if I had never come to be united with Christ, my eternal destiny would have been eternal separation from God in hell.

About a year ago or so, Reece's Rainbow (the adoption ministry from the States that we are working with) began advocating for special needs orphans in the Baby House. Since that time, a number of other "hopeless" orphans have been adopted into loving homes. This has been nothing short of amazing to those associated with these children here in Ukraine. Orphans like these are very undesirable to most Ukrainian families because of their inability to provide for their parents as they age. Shasha described it like this: "To us, it seems like you people are from another planet or something."

This statement stopped me in my tracks. It drove home the fact that in my previous state of lostness, I needed someone "from another planet or something" to come and rescue me. Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this world," (John 18:36) and he came to die on the cross to rescue me. Or as Paul puts it in Ephesians 1:3-6:
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places {another planet or something}, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved."

Adoption is one of the clearest pictures of what happens in our salvation. We are blinded and without hope in our sin, powerless to escape our destiny. By no merit of ours, the Father chooses to save us by his sovereign, glorious grace, even when we shouldn't be desirable to him. And that's not even the whole story. Not only are we unable to get ourselves to God, we are enemies of God (see Romans 5:6-10). Talk about not deserving to be adopted.

Our adoption of Vanya (and every other earthly adoption) is simply a shadow of the much greater spiritual reality that takes place any time our Heavenly Father adopts a sinful human through faith in his Son Jesus Christ (see Ephesians 2:1-10). So this adoption is not just about us bringing home an unwanted orphan, but it is more ultimately about reflecting the greater truth that God brings home undeserving sinners. We had no hope. He came from "another planet or something" and chose us for adoption as sons. So please pray with us that Sasha and others will see this ultimate reality of adoption and that God will get all glory through this adoption.

Some other prayer requests:

Pray that Sasha will be able to correct and complete the necessary paperwork for us to have a court date this week. Right now, this does not look likely, so pray that God will once again surprise us with his providential power.

Pray for Valentin, Vlad, Ruslan, and some other young Ukrainian boys that have been hanging out by the fence of the orphanage while we've been visiting Vanya. They speak a small amount of English, and I've been able to make a bit of a connection with them. I've been giving them some American dollars and some gospel booklets written by John Piper that have been translated into Russian. Today, they asked me if I was John Piper - I got a kick out of that! Please also pray for Anton, Sasha, and Dasha, some teenagers Jimmy and I talked with at our favorite pizza place tonight. I gave them some of the booklets, and they thought we were part of a cult or something.

Pray that more believers will be obedient to God's call and care for these orphans (James 1:27) by bringing them into Christian homes. There are so many in just Vanya's orphanage that are in desperate need. God is calling you to be involved in adoption and orphan care in some way; pray that you would have the wisdom to see what role you should play...

Tobi, bok (For You, God),
The Adopted Oberhausers

That, my friends, is why Kurt and I are adopting. That's why we're doing something that only God could have ordained and called us to do. WE have been sacrificially saved and adopted through the blood of Jesus Christ. There's no clearer picture of the gospel than adoption.

What is God asking of you? Kurt and I are not perfect people; we have been disobedient to Christ before. We've learned throughout our lives (before marriage and since being married) that being in God's will is incredibly liberating, exciting, and so abundant. We've also learned that sometimes doing His will involves sacrifices and hard times. But we've experienced no greater joy than walking in His truth (3 John 1:4).

Seek the Lord and ask Him how you need to help with the orphan crisis in our country and world. There are so many ways to serve. It is a commandment of our Lord to take care of the orphans and widows (James 1:27). What will you do with that command?

Like the Oberhausers, we are praying that God will use our story of adoption to call others. Be open to hearing God's word for you. This isn't a guilt trip! It's just what we've come to realize about living in God's will.

Seek Him and live! (Amos 5:4)
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