Sunday, January 29, 2012

Can Doing God's Work Screw up your Kids?

I can honestly say this is probably not something most Christians ever even wonder. I think most people I know would say of course not, how could that be possible? I bet if you ask a missionary though, you'd get a response like, "Well.............." If they were being honest anyway. Very few of us are ever put in a position of even thinking about this. We are never pushed to think perhaps there is even a chance of us doing something that might not be in the best interest of our children or even thinking God would ask us to do this.

This had been weighing on my mind a bit lately (more as to why in a bit) when I received an update from a missionary family our church supports. Within it was the following:

It was one of the harder letters I’d ever written. The gist of it was this: “Boarding isn’t working for your child, despite all the support you and we are offering.  You need to make a change.”

Let me clarify what a “change” implies: For a bush missionary whose child doesn’t “make it” at boarding school, almost everything about life must change. It may mean bringing that child back to the bush/village and homeschooling them, which may require one parent giving up part or all of his/her ministry. It may mean the family needs to move to a different location where the child can be a day student – giving up home, ministry, church, and friends. It may mean a return to the home country, giving up all the above as well as “Africa”. Whatever the cost, letters like mine are among those missionary parents hope never to get.

You can imagine, then, why this family’s humble and open response brought tears to my eyes. The gist of what they said was: “Thank you for sharing this. What should we do? We are praying for God’s wisdom and help in meeting our child’s needs.”
Seriously? I mean, I can't quite fathom having to wrangle with God on this. Here this family is doing what they believe God called them to do in the middle of stinking no where Africa for a people group they've been lead to, and it's wreaking havoc on their child. How could this not be screwing up their kid, and their family? Just think if they end up leaving and this kid knowing he/she is the reason their parents had to stop doing what they thought God wanted them to do. Holy smokes, that's heavy!

I had been thinking on this just a bit myself because I have been spending a decent amount of time organizing some missions opportunities for our church and I found myself telling my little boys, "no I can't play right now because I have to get this trip organized and some information out tonight!" I immediately felt bad about it, but then told myself this is what God has asked me to do right now, surely it won't hurt my kid's feelings too bad. Will it?

Please don't think I'm at all comparing my few Sunday afternoon and evenings of short term missions planning instead of tossing the football in the yard or playing the Xbox for the umpteenth time with my boys anywhere near this families struggle. It just got me thinking as both events occurred within the same week and as I dive more into short term missions, orphan/adoption advocacy, another adoption, and other generally "Godly" endeavors on top of my regular work a day life.

I don't have any answers other than God has my family and this missionary family in His hands and His grace is so overflowing that it will be ok, I hope, it will, right? So how does one balance God's callings and kids?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

C'mon man, this is crazy!

Do you ever find yourself asking, how did anyone live without the global connectivity and speed of the interwebz? I mean, coordinating a group outing by actually calling everyone on their home phone is so 2007, right?! I even recently pondered, how in heaven's name did missionaries actually get anything done in terms of communicating their activities, vision, and fundraising? How did anyone ever plan a short term mission trip for crying out loud with a missionary in the field? Are you serious, pick up the phone at some predetermined time to call half way around the world to have a sketchy conversation at best and try and organize something? Or God forbid have to do it by writing letters back and forth! How did God mobilize his armies and people around the world? How did He do that without all of this technology? I mean, seriously? C'mon man, how did all that stuff actually get done?! I seriously want to know how Moses created the first flash mob to make a run for it out of Egypt?

Just this week alone I've coordinated a mission trip to Honduras in 140 characters or less, Skype on my cell phone connected to a public wireless access point, and a crap load of email blasts. This alone was exhausting, I'm on the verge of carpel tunnel. I think I'd have to take the pencil to my eye if I had to have written everything i've digitally composed this week with said pencil!

Annnnd, we received a most amazing update on our advocacy for Xiao. Through the last blog post and a few emails from that, we received the following from someone on the ground, in China!

Last night we spoke to a US family living in Xi'an who are willing to bring him into their family as a foster child (and in this way we can get the right investigations done, get their immunisations done to international standards, and get them on ARV's (which they almost certainly are not on when they are in their orphanages)
Seriously, how crazy is that?! Now I'm not saying just because I was killing time surfing Google+ late one night in bed, and emailed an article to Melissa about a boy in China with HIV being neglected, then wrote a blog post about it, which had Melissa bumping around the interwebz for all things China, HIV, orphans, etc... to then run across someone on the ground there, who she emailed, who read our blog, who posted some feedback on our blog with another contact, who we emailed, and then began digging a bit, is why Xiao might be having a family to foster him... but C'mon Man, this is craaaaazy!

What an amazing example of how all things we create, dream up, build can be used to God's glory and to accomplish His mission. Keep praying for Xiao and we'll keep blasting emails, tweets, FB posts, and blog posts until we know he is where God wants him to be.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

You are ONE

What If?

You were misunderstood, isolated, never held, never educated, had to wash your bedpan, had no concept of mom or dad, weren't allowed to touch anyone else, but were actually perfectly normal by all appearances (except one unseen diagnoses)? As crazy as this sounds, this is the story of Xiao Ling, a 3 year old from Zhonshan, China.

For many reasons, beyond being discussed in this blog post, HIV is not something China has a lot of experience dealing with. Subsequently, many of the same misconceptions, misunderstandings, and unjustified fears of years past are the norm. Xiao is HIV positive but is being dealt with as if he has leprosy and can't be touched or isn't worth educating. Through a random posting I encountered this article about Xiao and it has touched something deep within me and Melissa.

I should probably back up and explain why. In November we attended Lifeline's annual fundraising banquet which we always thoroughly enjoy. It's extremely encouraging to be around so many like minded people wanting to defend the fatherless. The theme was ONE, that you can help one, it only takes one person to make difference, etc... is something we've always shared with people who ask why we've chosen the path we have for our family.

Heading into the banquet Melissa and I were at the point of praying for where God would lead us next on our orphan advocacy journey. We both had prayed and agreed we were not supposed to go down the traditional adoption path again; fill out application, pick a country, wait for a referral, etc... We simply agreed we knew we were to be at the ready when God calls to act, and this is where we've been for many months.

In the midst of the banquet while David Platt was speaking, our new path became apparent to me. We were to advocate and seek for the orphaned in China who have been diagnosed as HIV+. I didn't mention this immediately to Melissa as I needed to make sure this "stuck" if you know what I mean. We've all been swept up in the emotion of an event to only wonder later what in heaven's name were we thinking?! The clarity around this never subsided in the coming weeks so I finally shared my heart with Melissa at the next opportunity. I told her we should tell Lifeline we are willing and ready to help ONE child in China who has been diagnosed HIV+, she hardly blinked and said YES.

Very shortly after while searching adoption and oprhan stories in Google+ I found the above article and simply sent it to Melissa because it was in line with our discussions. Not so much to say here is a child, but to begin the discussion around the apparent need. If you had read the article it states this boy is not adoptable (which isn't correct) and it didn't state what orphanage he is in. Through some internet sloothing I believe we've found the orphanage and have talked with Lifeline, who has previous experience getting HIV+ children adopted into the US. They have indeed been able to help us locate him and we are now waiting to hear what can be done for him. At the minimum he needs someone to go there and love on him. So at this time we are advocating for Xiao. Whether he is to be a Freeman some day is unknown but we are trying to see if there is a foster family near him willing to take him or anything to get him out of his "jail" like conditions.

He is ONE boy, made in the image of God, who needs ONE person to make a difference. Please join us in praying for Xiao and how God can use us to help and advocate for him.