This past Saturday Jesse and I, as well as some of our friends, were able to attend the Connecting Hearts Conference in Downs Illinois! This conference brings awareness to and provides information, and resources for Orphan Care, Foster Care, and Adoption. It was such an eye opening and encouraging day!
The day opened with some music from His Little Feet. A group of children from countries such as China, India, etc. who have all been orphaned at some point in their life and now are adopted. They come tour the US and sing with His Little Feet for a year and then go back to their country and family.
Next they had a guest speaker, who works for Lifesong, open the day with some thoughts about orphan care. There was one thought that stuck out to me most. He said that as we consider orphan care, adoption, or foster care we need to be aware of our motive. If we are getting involved with any of these things out of guilt, to make ourselves look good, or even to try to earn Gods favor our efforts will not last. As Christians who have experienced Gods love and awesome power in our lives we need to be getting involved with these missions because we want to pass on the love we have experienced from God, to these children. All these missions will be very difficult at times and if we are in it for impure reasons we won't last through the difficulties. We have to realize our strength to do anything comes from Christ and it is for His glory that we are open and willing to allow Him to work through us to care for His children. I loved the thought because it is so easy to go to a conference and become very excited to do all these great things but if we don't begin with lots and lots of prayer and seeking God's will for how He wants to use us, all of our efforts will come to nothing or possibly even cause more damage than help. When we first decided to adopt we wanted to fill a gaping hole in our hearts with a child as quickly as possible. God knew that wouldn't be enough for the journey He had planned for us. He had to be the one to fill that hole in our hearts and only then could He use us to fulfill His purposes in providing a loving Christian home to a child. In our time of waiting before we began the adoption process God worked all those things in our hearts and created in us a pure motive for what He has called us to! We are so excited to get to pass on the love that we have been shown from Christ, through adoption.
At this conference there were about 10 different classes available and you could choose three to attend throughout the day. We choose one from each category. Our first one was on Foster Care. We were able to hear about one families journey with Foster Care and learn more about how it works and what difficult circumstances to expect as well as the blessings of Foster Care. It is always incredible to me to see people willingly making themselves vulnerable to the hurt and frustrations that go along with foster care all to show Christ to a hurting child!
Next we went to an orphan care class about why the Church must care for the orphans. It was a great class and I realized just how much our church actually does for the Orphans through World Relief and the orphanages in Mexico, Haiti, and Dominican. One thought that really stood out to me was this; When we care for the orphans we must do it through our church, not on our own. There may be times we can accomplish more and at a quicker pace when we set out to help the orphans on our own but when we go through the church and all work together to care for the orphans we build the body of Christ and create a strong group for the orphans or adopted/fostered children to depend on. These children need the whole Body of Christ not just one individual!
Lastly we went to a class called Beauty from Ashes. A couple shared with us their experience with infertility and how they worked through the hurt and sorrow and eventually were able to use this for God's glory as they adopted two children from Ethiopia. It was incredible to hear what God brought them through and the little things along the way that God used to show His presence and just how He works everything out in His perfect way. It was also encouraging to see how we too have worked through many of the same feelings and have been able to come to a place where we are at peace with God's plan for our life, whatever that may be. It is awesome to see what God can do with ashes! One thought that was expressed was this; Ashes can be used to bury or they can be used to bring forth life! There is a seed waiting to turn into a beautiful flower but are we going to use the ashes of our life to fertilize that seed or to bury it away in bitterness and anger never allowing it to blossom into what God had intended. I loved this thought and am thankful that God has worked in our hearts to give us the desire to use our ashes of infertility to bring forth life and help us blossom and grow in Him.
At the end of the day there was more music from His Little Feet and some of the children shared their stories of being orphaned and how God provided for them. We also heard another testimony of a young woman who was adopted from Haiti as a child because of the compassion one 60 year old missionary had on her. It was an incredible story of how ONE person having compassion on ONE child can make all the difference in the world! This young woman who was adopted from Haiti now works for Compassion International, which is an organization that connects people with helpless children all over the world through sponsorship.
It was an awesome day and gave us a lot to think about! I am so thankful for where God has brought us and it is going to things like this conference that make me so excited to see where He will take us in the future!