(UN)ADOPTED 3RD ANNUAL R(UN) FOR ONE

runforone-lifeline-bannerOn Saturday, August 16,  Lifeline Children’s Services is hosting a 5k run and a kids fun run to raise support and awareness for their (UN)adopted ministry at three different locations: Birmingham, AL, Louisville, KY, and Fayetteville, GA. (UN)adopted exists to make a difference and initiate effective change by proclaiming the message of the Gospel to orphans worldwide to provide immediate and eternal hope for those who have never heard the good news. Help support this wonderful cause by bringing the whole family out and enjoy a great day of running/walking for orphans! For more information and registration, please visit http://runforone5k.org/.

Unfailing Love Retreat

unfailing love retreat bannerThe Unfailing Love Retreat is a weekend of encouragement, education, and rest for adoptive and foster mothers. The 2nd Annual Retreat will be held at Ross Bridge Resort and Spa in Hoover, Alabama on September 5th and 6th, 2014. The main speaker, Traci Newell, is part of Lifeline Children’s Services as the Education Coordinator in the Domestic Department. Through helping people with the process to foster/adopt, she discovered a God-given love and passion for empowering families through training and that passion is still alive today. This will be a wonderful opportunity for mothers to come together and encourage one another. If you are not able to make it, please consider donating to this event. For more information and registration, please visit http://www.unfailingloveretreat.org/.

Response to the documentary “Children Underground” & Ministry Hightlight for Lifesong’s “Indigenous Adoption” Program

Response to  the documentary “Children Underground”  & Ministry Hightlight for  Lifesong’s “Indigenous Adoption” Program 

I really did not expect the documentary Children Underground to tug at my heart the way it did. As a documentary about street children I expected it to be sad, but after seeing the very terrible conditions these street children were living in and knowing that they were easy targets for human trafficking and sexual exploitation I was  beyond sad…i was angry, but most of all I was reminded  about a personal encounter I previously had with a “street child.”

About a year ago, for the first time in my life, I had an interaction with a street child. I remember not being able to eat or sleep for days after meeting her because she was constantly on my mind. She was 15 years old at the time and she was train-hoping with two other guys she met on the streets and happened to be in my city for a few days when I met her. She had been living in the streets for about 2 years because her mom was very abusive and bi-polar and made her sleep with older guys for money. When she turned 13 she decided to run away from that life, and had been living on the streets ever since, but to me she was the most beautiful and most happy girl I had seen in a long time.  She  had the biggest dreams for her life, she shared with me her love for planting things and how she wanted to own a big farm one day and plant healthy, organic food. She shared that with me while taking a bite from a two day old cold McDonalds hamburger, telling me that she knew how unhealthy that was for her, but so grateful to the worker from McDonalds who gave her so much food two days earlier. I spent three special hours talking to her and the two guys she was with, but the most special part of the day was praying with her and talking to her about the LORD. After our prayer time, I went in to give her a hug and she refused to hug me because she said she had not showered in two weeks and was not smelling pleasant, but after insisting she finally hugged me really tight, and with tears streaming down both of our faces, I spoke words from scripture over her and told her she was loved, special, and a daughter of the King. It was such an eye opening experience for me and as I watched this documentary, this experience kept playing back in my head and I thought about what possible solutions to the fate of street children could be.

The documentary suggested that putting these street children back home with their families or putting them in shelters would help eliminate the problem, and while I think that is a good solution, I also think that providing other loving homes to these children is a good way to keep them out of the streets. While no family life is perfect, most of the children that choose to be in the streets do so because they have had very bad home experiences, and sending them back to these homes with their scars is almost like giving them a death sentence. I would recommend that a solution is for Christians to take care of the street children in whatever community they are living in, and show them what a healthy family looks like because I know that unconditional love can change people.

On that note, I would like to highlight a ministry that does a good job of getting Christians in a community involved in the fate of the children in their community. Lifesong for Orphans has a program in Ukraine called Indigenous Adoptions which seeks to encourage the body of Christ in Ukraine to adopt locally. Their premise is that while it would cost an American family $25,000  to adopt a child from Ukraine, it only cost $500 for a Ukraine family to adopt a child, so they encourage churches and families in America to support Ukraine families that are seeking to adopt.

I think this is a great strategy in getting local Christians to serve the people within their communities who need help, and also letting them enjoy the benefits of opening up their homes to orphans. For more information on how to support this ministry contact Rich Metcalfe – rich@lifesongfororphans.org.

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By Salem Afangideh

Salem Afangideh is a second year law student at the Jones School of Law. A native of Nigeria, Africa who is currently interning with The Adoption Law Firm and Personhood, Alabama. You can find her blog about her law school experiences at lawschoolstruggles.blogspot.com.

AGAPE: Women’s Prayer Breakfast

TAgape Women's Prayerhere are very few things more beautiful than a group of women getting away from the stress and business of life that constantly pulls for their attention, and getting together to pray. Agape of Central Alabama is giving women the opportunity to do just that.

On September the 4th 2013 from 8am – 9:30am Agape will be hosting a Women’s Prayer Breakfast at the Wynlakes Country Club. With some special moments like getting to hear U.S. Rep Martha Roby give a keynote speech, and a time to honor women that have made a difference in their community, as well as praying for those that are seeking God’s will to make a change in our world – you will not want to miss this event. So please make plans to attend. To order your ticket or for more details, please go to  http://www.agapeforchildren.org/women/.

Repairing Broken Tapestry

AfangidehTim Keller, in “Every Good Endeavor:  Connecting Your Work to God’s Work,” talks about the role of Christians in repairing the areas of the world that have been broken. He encourages Christians, in whatever field of study they pursue, to embrace a worldview that looks past the brokenness to see how things are supposed to be, why they are not the way they should be, and what we can do to return things to the way they should be.

One area in our world that is broken today is the area of orphan care. UNICEF has estimated that there are between 143 million to 210 million orphans in the world today, and statistics have projected that in 2015 there will be nearly 400 million orphaned children worldwide. 400 million children – innocent, vulnerable children who through no fault of their own will find themselves in a position without a mother/father to love, discipline, and teach them…unless Christians do something about it!

The good news is that every year, about 250,000 children are adopted and brought into their loving “forever families,” but sadly every day 5,760 more children become orphans (Orphan Hope International). There is a lot of work to be done if we want to see the end of this sad trend of increasing orphaned children.

Like the The Hague Adoption Convention Preamble so beautifully says;“The child, for the full and harmonious development of his or her personality, should grow up in a family environment, in an atmosphere of happiness, love and understanding.” To have a healthy next generation, we need families to open their eyes to the problem of orphaned children all around the world, and families that are willing to open their arms and their homes to these orphaned children.

Most Christians will probably agree that adoption is a beautiful picture of how God relates to us. When we get to verses in the Bible that talk about how God has adopted us as His children, and has brought us into His family, we are so filled with joy in her hearts and so thankful. Yet the thought of adopting orphan children fills a good number of Christians with dread and fear and with the justification that only certain people are “called” to adopt children. However, James points out that “Religion that God our father accepts as pure and undefiled is to look after the orphans and widows in their distress.” And throughout other places in scripture, God repeatedly commands His children to look after the orphans and fatherless. God’s heart clearly beats for the orphans and fatherless and Christians are entrusted with the same responsibility whether that means foster care, actually adopting, providing financial resources to those that are able to foster and adopt, providing quality legal or medical services to adoptive families, or something as “small” as providing free (or cheap) babysitting services to aid those in the front lines of orphan care.

Tim Keller further goes on to say that “to do justice means to go to places where the fabric of shalom [peace] has broken down, where the weaker members of societies are falling through the fabric and repair it.” Our orphan care system is broken, and we are in need of the people of the LORD to stand up, pick up the broken pieces and stand up for these approximately 147 million vulnerable people who are so close to the heart of the LORD. The universal Church of Jesus Christ has been called to “repair the broken tapestry of orphan care.” Will we answer the call?

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By Salem Afangideh

Salem Afangideh is a second year law student at the Jones School of Law. A native of Nigeria, Africa who is currently interning with The Adoption Law Firm and Personhood, Alabama. You can find her blog about her law school experiences at lawschoolstruggles.blogspot.com.

About Today – Salem Afangideh

Michael Swan - 11-28-2011 - SJMTwo little boys gained a “forever family” today. I was blessed to witness the legal finalization of those adoptions, and in the middle of the Court house in Elmore County, Alabama I was once again brought to the realization that Adoption is such a beautiful picture of our relationship with Our Heavenly Father.

As the two families each came into the court filled with smiles because they knew that today would be the day they got to formally take these precious children to be theirs, I thought about the anticipation that fills the heart of the LORD when He knows that one of His children will officially choose to take on His name. As the parents under oath promised to take care of these little boys and shower them with unconditional love, I was reminded of the heart of God when He showers us with an undeserving unconditional love even when we hurt Him over and over again. The reality that the Heavenly King knowing all the different ways we will hurt His heart still chose to adopt us as His sons and daughters is still mind-blowing to me.

So thankful for my internship with The Adoption Law Firm, and the opportunity to see Gods heart anew through the beautiful and stressful process of adoption. Even though today was a pretty easy day in court, I am also aware that not all adoptions are smooth, some can get very messy, but unconditional love is strong enough to overcome all barriers…and that is the love that ABBA Father has for His children.

Salem Afangideh
JD Candidate
Jones School of Law ’15

Milky Yellow in the Sunrise by Anne Louise Pass

The backbone of this story was told to me by a friend in Rwanda, and although I have added details and chosen to leave out some of the more graphic specifics, everything in this story is based on fact. These things really happened, and they happened to real people. To me, this is much more than a story. It is a testimony to how powerful family is, and it has given me a new way of defining the word “orphan.” An orphan is more than someone without parents. An orphan is someone who has no one to love them and provide for them, and we are called to care for them all, in whatever strange way that may be because if we are honest with ourselves, we realize that they have always been part of our family anyways. The man who this story is based on inspired my heart. He taught me these lessons and gave me the courage to speak the truth even when it is difficult to say. That is why I chose to write this story, and I pray that I have done my friend justice. He is truly a remarkable man, and I am blessed to call him “brother” as a part of God’s family.

 

The moment when terror becomes your only friend is the moment that you are no longer human. You are Satan’s supper, and these people who have masqueraded as your friends, these beings that you have smiled at and frowned at every day of your life are actually forks and spoons and knives. And machetes.

Machetes: tools for growing life sustaining food… and for snuffing the light of life out of beating hearts.

Friends: hands that wipe the tears from your eyes and then cut them out from behind your eyes, without any hesitation.

How unashamed the demons were! They came in broad daylight and walked through open fields, the neighbors watching, but never stopping them from their march. They marched on steadily, feet pounding the dirt, sweat from their brows watering the crops. Then they reached my doorstep. Their familiar faces had a unexplainable wildness about them that frightened me. I hid in a mud pit behind the barbed wire fence and watched my father and sister come out to meet them. They were greeted with the usual smiles of their friends. Then, with no change of visage, the animals spoke, telling them of their fate, of how they would be slaughtered.

There is something about a slaughtering, some terrible magnetic pull, that makes it impossible to tear your eyes away from it, even when the eyes of those in front of you are being torn out. Terror, the big brother of petty fear, pierced my soul, as I watched my father and sister being torn apart. One by one, I heard their bones break. Their screams invaded my tender ears, never, ever leaving them.

When it was over, I pumped water for my father while my sister lay still on the ground. I looked at my father slowly. This once strong and proud man had been reduced to a babe, though less complete than a fetus in the womb. They had torn his arms off! I remembered the school boy who had torn the arms off Lillian, my sister’s sack doll. My father’s work worn and calloused hands had gently taken the doll, wiped the tear tracks from Berthilde’s face, and sewed the shoulders back into place. How my heart longed to do the same for him! But I could not sew.

“Be a good man,” my father said to me as blood poured from his arm sockets. “Forgive as Christ forgave his crucifiers. Care for the one who has no one- the orphan.” Then he rested, Berthilde beside him in the dust. He was so strong and so broken. My eyes rejected him, and my legs started running, dragging this corpse I had become, my senseless body, along with them. But then the terrible truth set in. I was not a corpse. Father and Berthilde were the corpses, and I was alive.

I ran. I could not stop for fear that fatigue would overcome me, and I could not allow that to happen. I could still see the animals in my mind, the icy demons inside them betrayed in their eyes, and I began to drown in my terror. These animals were not the dogs that run wild in Rwanda attacking its people. They were not the villains of fairytales or ghost stories. They weren’t the creatures that lurk in the shadows of the night that strike fear into our children’s hearts.

They were my friends. My doctors, teachers, pastors, cousins, classmates… my friends. With machetes and hatchets in blood-lined hands, they stalked me in my home, but I was not running from their blades. I would escape the blades. Instead, I ran from my father’s body lying on the stones and his arms on the grass and his blood chasing me on my pastor’s hatchet. I ran from my sister’s ripped hair on my doctor’s shirt and her tooth caught in my teacher’s beard. I ran from the stick carrying my sister’s torn dress. It was no longer hers. She and my father had been overcome, and they lay broken in the dust, the lesser and kinder animals– the dogs– presiding over their funeral.

And so, with one dull blow of a machete, I became an orphan instead of a son. Instead of a citizen, I was a refugee, and there was no refuge for me. My country had betrayed me and had opened its mouth to drink my blood and grind my body to dust. In church, my pastor had preached warnings against the power of Satan. Now he had been consumed by that power. I had met Satan… face to face. He was no joke, not a red creature with horns and a tail, and he was ruthless. He knew my weaknesses, and he was consuming everything around me. But I was determined to hold on to truth. I would be a good nine-year-old man, and I would trust in God’s hope. It was the only way to survive in a world where there was no rest.

For three months, I ran, taking refuge in the homes of murderers and thieves. I ate scraps from the dogs and drank dirty water when I could find it. The churches had become morgues. Whole congregations had been baked inside them. One million people were slaughtered in three months. Bodies and pieces of bodies covered the roads like cobblestones, none distinguishable from any of the others. They were a sickening milky yellow color, not resembling the rich ebony their skin had in life. This was what my nine-year-old eyes saw in the sunrise. This was the genocide.

The genocide will never be confined to something of the past, for those who lived it, because the terror still lives somewhere in all of our hearts. It is a poison that rules our nightmares, but we will not let it break us. Why I forgave, how I healed no one will ever understand. I had a choice. I could either forgive the animals, the men, or fall to the demons myself. And then what grounds would I have to judge the men? For God and my daddy, I became a good man, and by the grace of God, I was not the only one. The country of Rwanda, my friends, knew that we could either forgive one another and care for this new population of orphans or be destroyed, and we could not fall. God was the master of our lives, not Satan. We sought out each other and cared for one another. We became a new family, the Best Family. God’s family.

This is the story I tell my children, the babies I find alone in the streets. I pray expectantly that it will remind them of the hope they have in Christ. If I can give them nothing else, let it be said that I have given them hope. Christ’s hope, his promise to sustain me, was all that I had those three months when I was nine. And though I was a refugee with no hope, God picked me up and sewed my heart back together until I was overflowing with His love. Now, it pours out of me into my children. Now, as I turn out the lights, looking over these children, this new generation of orphans God has entrusted to me, I am reminded of the promise I made to my father long ago. I will be a good man. I will forgive, and I will love and care for those with no one else. I will be a father to the fatherless.

I walk silently to a certain bed and place a kiss on a certain boy’s head. He favors his dead father, except for one small detail. His wild eyes betray no demons. There is no malice, no bloodlust in his heart. Instead, the boy’s eyes have passion, determination, and a deep love for truth. I recognize the look. I saw it every Sunday for the first nine years of my life, staring down at me from the pulpit. I wonder, what do his father’s eyes look like now in heaven?

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About the Author

Anne Louise Pass has grown up with a passion for orphans, which she credits to her family. Her father is an international missionary for Visiting Orphans, and she has two adopted siblings, one brought home from China and one adopted domestically. She has traveled to orphanages in China and Haiti and plans to go to Rwanda with her father in December to visit two orphanages and her twenty year old “sister,” Amèlie, the girl her family has fallen in love with and considers family.

 These experiences have given Anne Louise a unique perspective and fostered a mission to “speak out for those who cannot speak for themselves,” as she says. As an eleventh grader at The Montgomery Academy in Montgomery, Alabama she plans on continuing her education in order to bring glory to God and share his hope with those who have none, wherever that may take her.