Archives For human trafficking

An orphan no more….

November 19, 2014 — 2 Comments

IMG_2996“Veronika has a little sister in a different orphanage she doesn’t know about?” What were we to do? Could we handle Veronika AND Larissa (she was three years old at the time)? In addition, the cost of adopting them both was nearly double what we had saved for, not counting the extra weeks we would have to pay for housing and food to remain in Ukraine. But… what if? What if the Lord wanted us to trust Him to make a way? What if the Lord wanted to blow our minds?

We decided we would reach out cold-turkey to our family and friends via social media to try and raise the funds to adopt Larissa. Due to the cost, it would take a miracle. And the full amount would have to be raised in the span of days. It just simply felt impossible. We went live with a blog post to family and friends asking for the funds on a Friday afternoon from Ukraine. Saturday morning, I made it to a local coffee shop in Kiev to see if anyone had contributed. When I checked it (less than 24 hours later)… wait for it, wait for it…the full amount for Larissa’s adoption had been given. To say I wept would be an understatement. photocjphotocj1

How God loves the orphaned…. And I bless God for those who may never adopt but sacrificially gave to make Jubilee Larissa’s adoption happen. If God isn’t calling you to adopt, opportunities abound for you to financially help families who are called. They need you. And you’ll feel the pleasure of God as you do.

But know this too: He loves you, child. He did whatever it took to pursue you, rescue you, and call you His daughter or son, even when it meant He gave Himself up on the cross. Yes, on the cross, Jesus cried out to His Father and got no answer. Jesus reached up His hand for His Father and only got the air.* He did that for you. On that cross, Jesus was orphaned for you, so that you would be an orphan no more. He was orphaned for you so that when you cry out you can know the Father hears; and when you reach out, you can know He’s there to take your hand.

I get to be that to my little girls. They once were orphaned, now they’re rescued. When they cry out for a daddy in the night, I am there to answer. When they reach out their hand for daddy to help, I am there to hold them close.

Adoption is the gospel.jubsjj

* Pastor Tim Keller

When she said, “Yes!”

November 12, 2014 — 2 Comments

Salt-N-Pepa‘s “Pump Up the Jam” was blaring over the small radio box in the Orphanage’s assistant director’s office. It was the day we were to meet 8 year old, Veronika (pronounced “Veer-oh-NEE-kah”). This was the little orphan girl we would call “daughter” forever. The only picture we’d seen of her was outdated. So we had no idea what she looked like at eight.

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The wait inside the little office was excrucating. Would she like us? Would she be afraid of us? Would she want us? Would she let us be her family?

Josiah was having a “moment,” so I walked him into the hallway to get some air. Still, my thoughts were on Marni. We’d come so far. What if she didn’t want us to adopt her? Suddenly, a little girl whizzed by me in a bright orange dress and in flip flops that were hanging on by a strap. She was carrying an unpeeled banana in her right hand. Abruptly, she turned back and looked at me. I knew in that instant it was Veronika. Her long black eye-lashes and those big brown eyes took my breath away. She smiled that precious gap-between-her-two-front-teeth smile.

I was smitten like a shy schoolboy. So smitten that I turned away like I didn’t recognize her and sprinted into the AD’s office. “It was Vernoika, Christie! I think I just saw Veronika!”

Moments later, Veronika was escorted into the office by one of the orphanage workers. She was seated before our family of four. We couldn’t help but gawk at this beautiful creature of God. Right then I thought, “Dear God. How does this child not have a mommy or daddy? Who could give her up?”

Candy and stuffed animals are a cross-cultural language, of course, so we drenched her in that. We learned her favorite colors, games, and the like. We did all we could in the few minutes allotted us to drink in the lifetime of this little girl, and to share ours with her.

Then it was time to pop the question. In our presence, with all eyes fixed on Veronika, the assistant director asked: “Veronika, do you want to be adopted by this family?” All the air was sucked out of the room. While we held our breath, Veronika looked down at her hands, smiled, and in Russian, and in her cute raspy voice, answered: “Yes! Very much!”IMG_2224

That moment changed all of our lives forever. A little girl who faced a potential future of doom was not only rescued, but given the life many orphans will never know–a life with a mommy, daddy, siblings, pets, days at the beach, her own clothes, plenty of food (and candy), and most of all, the practical love of God through Christ through a family to rescue her, give her a new name (Marni Veronika Jones),and a new life.

Adoption is the gospel. It is the gospel in living-color. Every day Christie, the boys, and I, and even Marni and Jubilee see, hear, and feel God’s passionate rescuing love through adoption. It’s hard at times. It’s glorious at times. It’s the gospel at all times.

Could God be leading you become the gospel-in-living-color for an orphan? For more information contact Lifesong for Orphans HERE. If you are a Grace Community Church family or friend, email our Grace Foster and Forever Family Ministry at: GFFF@graceoc.com
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A gift two times over: One, the adoption of our girls, Marni Veronika and Jubilee Larissa, from an orphanage in Ukraine a tad over a year ago; and two, our dear and incredibly talented friend, Austin Abbott, who was waiting at our home with other friends and family to capture the girls homecoming on film. Thank you, Austin, for this wonderful gift to our family this Christmas!

And thank you, family and friends, for taking the time to watch this six minute film and enjoy this gift with us. If you want the back story, details, struggles, joys, tears, and miracles of God as we experienced it during our adoption journey, click HERE

(To view more of Austin’s work go HERE.)

Our daughter, Marni, whom we adopted from an orphanage in Ukraine in 2012, has a best friend named Masha. Masha remains in an orphanage there (In fact, that’s Marni with her arm around Masha at the orphanage, below). Masha is the last little girl left from a close group of little girls at the orphanage who have all since been adopted. Can you fathom her fear and loneliness? Breaks my heart! (To read more details about Marni and Masha, click HERE). But Masha is soon to get one of the greatest Christmas gifts she will ever get in this lifetime. She is getting a mommy, a daddy, and two brothers! Personal friends of our family, and Grace Community Church family members, Cynthia and Andy New are leaving for Kiev, Ukraine in less than four days (December 16)!

Yes, you read that right. First of all, Cynthia and Andy are sacrificing Christmas with their sons in order to get to Ukraine for Masha. Secondly, they are flying into the teeth of the darkness and the upheaval of that country with faith and confidence in Christ, and on mission to bring this precious little girl home!

Would you join my family in praying for them? Pray for their finanical, emotional, relational, and practical needs. Pray for their safety. Pray for their patience and strength. Pray for their favor with all the officials and red tape they will encounter. Pray for Masha, who still doesn’t know (or just very recently found out), that she is being adopted by the New family. Pray for instant connection and joy when she meets her new mommy and daddy. Also, if you are able to give toward Masha’s adoption, you can do that by clicking on the poster below. To catch up a bit on the News Family Adoption story, click HERE! Please pass on! Thanks!

 

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Jarrod and Christie, I never do this. But would you please find Masha [aka Naomi] a home. The orphanage workers say she is the most precious little girl. But due to her features and health, she will never be adopted. Please find her a home.” – Our facilitator in Ukraine

That was nine months ago. Those were the final words of our facilitator in Ukraine after we adopted Jubilee and Marni. I promised her we would find Masha a home.

See the top picture above. See the girl that Marni is hugging? The little girl with the crossed eye? That’s Masha. She’s crying because Marni is leaving.

Now brace yourself for this one. The other little girls in the next picture had been like family to each other all their short lives. One is not pictured because she was adopted a year before we adopted Marni. The little girls in that picture above have now all been adopted and have a mommy and daddy. Except Masha. 

Masha remains in an orphanage with mostly older kids in a very poor region of Ukraine. I am horrified by the loneliness that she must feel, and potentially what she’s experiencing.Tears come to my eyes as I write this.

In October 2012, after arriving back home in America with Marni and Jubilee, I resumed my pastoring and preaching duties. Following a sermon, a couple came to me at the front of the stage, weeping. The lady said, “I know that God is calling us to adopt.” I said, “Okay, do you know who?” She said, “I have no idea.” To which I said, “I do. I know exactly who you are supposed to adopt. Her name is Masha.”

Since that moment, the New family has been on a mission to get Masha and bring her home. She is already loved and called “daughter” by the New family. They are now in the final stages of paperwork. Their home study is complete, dossiers being finalized, and they should be able to adopt Masha at the end of the summer. However, there’s one major obstacle for the New family to overcome to bring Masha home at all, or sooner rather than later: Financial support.

I’ll tell you from experience that this adoption is not cheap. It is a tremendous financial sacrifice to adopt, not to mention medically caring for and parenting Masha once they arrive home. The New family needs financial help to adopt Masha. They are currently doing all they personally can to raise funds. With help from family and friends, they are doing yard sales, raffles, parties, on-line auctions, and so forth.

Andy and Cynthia New are part of the Grace Community Church family. Christie and I have gotten to know them a bit over these last few months. We have been impressed with their story, their passion, their fight for Masha, and their resolve to bring her home.

On their behalf, I come to you Grace family. And I come to you my friends and family from abroad. Will you prayerfully and financially help bring Masha home?

To get to know the New family, go to their adoption journey blog, HERE.  If you are willing to give on-line, you can give through their blog. In the right margin of the blog, underneath Masha’s picture, you’ll see a donation button and link. Click on the link to give. Again, go HERE to their blog.  If you would rather give by other means, please email Cynthia personally at cynnew24@gmail.com .

If you are a member of the Grace family think about this with me: How amazing would it be to help the New family adopt Masha and reunite her with Marni? How powerful would it be that we as Grace Community Church financially contribute together and join the New’s in being her “family”!? How joyful would it be to know that ALL those little girls pictured are rescued from a potential future of doom and death? Of course the invitation to give is not just for the Grace family, but for any who read this and are moved in their hearts to give.

Will you join me and my family in financially supporting the New’s journey to bring Masha home? If you’re willing, please go to their blog HERE and give, or contact Cynthia (cynnew24@gmail.com) for more information and/or to give or support in other ways.

Also, would you please share this post and opportunity with all your friends and family to be a part of something very special: Helping provide a family for Masha!!!

Let’s do this!

I can’t help every family adopt in the ways I would like. But I hope to do for at least one family what I wish I could do for every family wanting to adopt. And it goes without saying, this opportunity is especially close to my heart. Personally, on behalf of my family, and especially the New family, thank you for whatever you are willing to do and give to help bring Masha home.