November 8, 2023 | Jeff Patton
22 years ago, my wife Jenna came to me one morning and said, “I feel strongly that the Lord wants us to adopt a child”. To say I was “stunned” is an understatement. I responded with what seemed reasonable at the moment; “We don’t have enough money, we already have 3 wild boys under 5, etc, etc, etc,”. The NO I gave her was firm and strong, a sort of ‘talk to the hand’ reply. For the next few months, she never mentioned adoption again but, and this is a BIG BUT, she was praying her guts out that God would either change my heart or hers. What she didn’t know was that over the next several months God was wearing me down with story after story of folks who had adopted children. Some stories came from people I both knew and didn’t know at all. It seemed like everywhere I turned God was nudging me toward His heart for adoption. Then, late one night as I was scrolling through TV channels, I came across a documentary about a family that had adopted 11 children, all siblings. The couple were followers of Christ, and as I listened to them and saw with my eyes those 11 children, I literally rolled off the couch and fell face down on the floor and WEPT.
I confessed my cold heart to my wife’s suggestion. I recognized and affirmed to the Lord that he indeed had been chasing me down like he chased another rebellious child (Jonah) of his down. Bluntly, I gave up power and told the Lord I would indeed obey him and adopt a child and thanked him for both his chastising and patience with me. “I give up” was my only plea and the Lord has used that very night a many of time to remind me of both who I am and who he is.
The next morning I grabbed Jenna by the shoulders, told her to look me in the eyes and said, “The Lord dealt with me last night and I know he wants us to adopt a child.” WOW…WITHOUT WORDS! She was certainly in shock as we cried and danced around the kitchen. P.S. Fellas, watch out if your wife is praying for your hard heart-LOL!
Fast forward to 2023: Our adopted daughter Joelle is 21 years old and thriving as a Senior at Liberty University where she runs track. Was adoption hard? Heck yeah…but no harder than parenting birth children, that’s for sure. Parenting is hard work…period! But oh the joy this girl has brought to our home and the joy this home has brought to our girl. Besides coming to Christ and getting married to my JennaBean, this was the best decision of our entire lives.
But let me be clear, adoption is NOT for EVERYONE! Even as an adoption evangelist, I get that. However, the entire body of Christ can be a huge encouragement to those God does call to adopt. They can pray and give their time, talent and treasure to help those families. Instead of adopting, one can ‘foster’ a child or adopt a child virtually in another country to help them be able to stay with their parents by supporting them financially.
This is exactly why, for the last 18 plus years, we have attempted to build an ‘Adoption friendly culture’ at Fellowship Bible Church. To assemble a team of folks who can help others understand the NEED while at the same time resourcing them to KNOW what and where they can go to further investigate the ways they can be involved. A culture of LIFE. A culture of GIVING. A culture of ENCOURAGEMENT. A culture of LOVE…all for the least of these.
God has been so kind to bless this effort over the years. Nearly 40 children have been adopted by folks at FBC from all over the world. Many families have fostered countless children. Checks have been written to couples to help with their expenses. Knees have gotten sore from PRAYING for these families. Orphans have been visited internationally to give them both the gospel and hope. It’s been a beautiful journey and I feel confident that God will continue to move in us and then through us to the children around the world.
Spiritually speaking, adoption is at the heart of the gospel because, in Christ, we have first been adopted by God! Read Paul’s words in the book of Galatians: “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons and daughters”. The truth of us being spiritually adopted by God has many similarities that will help us think clearly and biblically about adoption.
- Adoption was (for God) and is (for us) costly.
- Adoption brought us, and brings our children, the rights of being heirs of the Father.
- Adoption was (for God) and is (for us) planned before the foundation of the world.
- Adoption was (for God) and often is now (for us) from very bad situations.
We look so forward to you joining us this coming Sunday for ‘Mercy Found’. Personally, it’s one of my favorite Sundays of the year. You’ll get to hear more about the structures in place to help families who are interested in adopting or foster care, hear the stories of God’s grace in the three families that brought home children THIS PAST YEAR, and hear about the roles you might play in the lives of the families in our body that God calls to adopt. Plus, there will be ample opportunity to see all the organizations we team up with so that you to might join in.
If ya ever doubted how Jesus viewed children, listen to his words in Matthew 19: “Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people, but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” They are precious to him, and we are to be about His agenda. May the Lord find us faithful in doing so.