Thursday, January 10, 2013

Back To Ghana

Jasper Speaks:

February 1-9, I will be returning with a new team to Ghana to minister with Trinity Baptist Church. We will be working to help the people of Nima, Accra, Ghana learn about hygiene and basic first aid. We would appreciate your prayers for us. Here is a list of how you can be praying.

Before the Trip:
Pray that we will be diligent in preparations . Pray that all monies need to provide for the trip will be received. Pray for team members to have confidence and not be nervous about the flights and trip.

During the Trip:

February 1 – Please pray for safe travel for the team to NYC and onto Accra. Pray for the families of team members as they begin their week without their loved ones.

February 2 – Please pray for a restful night’s sleep in Ghana as the team prepares for the week of service

February 3 – Pray for the team as they share their testimonies in Sunday School at Trinity Baptist Church and for Jasper who will preach. Also, pray for God to reveal Himself as the team prayer walks through Nima. Pray for the team’s preparations for the week.

February 4 through 8 - Pray for the team as they share hygiene habits in the morning sessions and basic first aid in the afternoon sessions. Also, pray as at the end of each day’s service, the team goes into Nima’s neighborhood’s distributing hygiene kits. Each day the gospel will be shared. Pray that hearts would be softened to the love of Christ.

February 7 – Pray for the team as they return to Trinity Baptist in the evening to minister to the young people of the church in a special worship service.

February 8 – Pray for safe travel from Accra to Amsterdam. Pray that customs would go smoothly. Pray for on time arrivals and departures as the team travels from Amsterdam to Detroit as well as safety in that flight.

February 9 – Pray for ease through customs as the team returns to the US in Detroit. Pray for safe and uneventful travel from Detroit to St. Louis. Pray that the team will get much need rest from their week of service. 

Team Members: Jasper Rains, Kendra Rains, Heather Bond, Aaron Ferguson, Mike Laws and Brad Thomspon

Thank you for your prayers.

Learning About God Through Adoption

Jasper Speaks:

Our church will be spending a weekend soon celebrating the sanctity of human life. As an adoptive parent, I know well the difference life can make. As I prepare for Kendra and I to share our story with our congregation, I recall the amazing path to parenthood we were blessed to take.

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heaven. Ecclesiastes 3:1
Kendra and I wanted to be parents for a long time. God did not bless us in the traditional way. He had a better plan for us. In his time and in his way he taught us so much about his love by giving us our son through adoption.

Eight months before Jackson came to live with us; our adoption agency told us of a little boy who needed a home. He was a newborn at the time and had some health issues because he was a preemie He had a birth defect with his intestines involved and was in foster care with a former NICU nurse. We never saw a picture ort got to meet him. Every month or so we would get an update from our social worker saying they were trying to get an "adoption staffing" together for him. An adoption staffing is when all the interested parties in the baby's life come together a to review home studies and pick the family that will be the best for the baby.

On February 22, 2007, the final staffing was schedule to occur. We purposely did not tell anyone about the staffing in case it fell through. On the 22nd, we were very nervous all day as we awaited word on the outcome of the meeting. I prayed a lot that God would work things out in the best interest of the baby. About 3:30 that afternoon, we got an email from our licensing worker telling us they had decided to give the baby to another family. The main reason the other family was chosen was because they had a stay at home mom and at that time, Kendra was still in the workforce.

We were hurt. Our hearts were invested and we couldn’t understand why God would allow this to happen. Every day for eight months, I had prayed for this baby. I asked God to care for him. I asked God to prosper him in his future. We were sullen. We spent that night in mourning over the loss of our child. It was a difficult time in our lives.  However, God had been teaching us a lesson for a few months that we were forced to put into action.

This was not long after the movie Facing The Giants was released. I had seen it many times and encouraged everyone I knew to watch it and take its message of God’s plan for our lives to heart.  Throughout that movie, the main character, Grant Taylor, says repeatedly, "We are going to praise God when we win and we are going to praise God when we lose". That night, after we found out the baby would be going to another family, Kendra and I prayed that prayer. Perhaps it was halfhearted at that moment but by the next morning, we began to live it. Though we were sad, we were praising God that He still had a great plan for our lives and the life of that baby. We were doing our best to rejoice in the situation. God had taught us that He is always in control and we began living that out. We moved on with our lives and found things to praise Him for, even though the child we wanted would have to wait to come into our lives.

Two weeks later, I opened an email from our adoption-licensing agent. She said that the family who had been chosen to take the baby had some issues and decided that they could not take him. Then she asked, "Are you still interested?" My heart skipped a beat and I immediately called Kendra. When I told her what the email said, she was as shocked as I was! We wrote back and said, "Absolutely we are still interested!" The baby's social worker was contacted and we missed church that night to meet with her.

We learned all about his background and saw a picture of him for the first time in that meeting. The next night, the social worker brought him to our home and  left us alone with him for an hour or so and we quickly agreed he was the one. Instantly in love, he came to live with us early the next week. The adoption was finalized in about six months.

Through the experience of giving us a beautiful baby boy we learned to praise God when winning and when losing. It is all part of his perfect plan. We learned so much about God and His power and love. We learned so much about trusting in His design for our future. Praising him in the dark times can be difficult but in our house we made a promise that we are going to do our best to rejoice when things do not work in the way we think they should. Every time we look into the face of our now 6 ½ year old boy, we are reminded of God’s grace and the power to praise him in all things. As an extra reminder of the film that God used to teach us this lesson we gave Jackson the middle name Grant after the character from the film. As he gets older I look forward to explaining that name choice and helping Jackson understand God’s perfect timing as well.