Thursday, March 26, 2015

Just Another Week

Jasper Speaks:

It has been a good week spiritually for me. My quiet times have been fruitful and convicting. Men's Group at church on Wednesday was one of the best we have had. Even my mundane meetings went surprisingly well. Tonight our son began spring flag football which he loves. Kendra has been busy with Junior Achievement and her Simply Said business. We have been busy.

But still our minds drift to a country where we have yet to go. We think of our child who we have yet to meet. I have worked on more paperwork for our adoption dossier this week. We have checked email and physical mail boxes waiting for the word from the grants to which we applied. They have remained silent.

It seems that the days are just passing by in an ordinary way. But I find myself daydreaming of a child I have not yet held. I think about this child whose name I do not know but I already love. I long to complete this process and bring that child here to live with us and be a part of our home.

When you are waiting, you think about a lot of things. What will the personality of your child be like? Will they be athletic? Will they enjoy the arts? Will they be outgoing or shy? Will they excel in school or find it to be a struggle? Will they bond to us quickly or will it take time?

I don't have the answer to these questions but I do trust in a God who does. As I have read through the prison epistles this week, I have been overwhelmed by the adoption imagery in them. As an adoptive father already, I understand the love you can have for a child that is not flesh of your flesh. My son could be no more my son if we had shared DNA. God loves me that way. Although I was rebellious and wanted nothing to do with him, he wanted me. Before I knew how powerful his love can be, he chose me. He took me, who was not his own, and adopted me into his Kingdom. His love overcame by orphan status.

I know that this same God loves our child in Uganda. I know that before time began, he chose that child to be a part of our family. I realize that no week is just another week. Every week is a week closer to offering that child the love I have seen expressed by my Heavenly Father to me. I long for the day that I will take that child into my arms and declare my love. I look forward with great anticipation to the day I can adopt that child into my family. Even if this was just another week  I know that in this week God is preparing my heart for this next chapter. As I get impatient I must remember that God has perfect timing and when the time is right --- for us and for this wonderful child --- the doors will open and just another week will bring our family together forever.

For now this is just another week of trusting in the plan. It is just another week of learning how much God loves us. It is just another week of praying with all my heart for the safety and well caring of our child. It is just another week closer to forever.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Church Planting In The Poorest Places

Jasper Speaks:

Over the past five years, God has taught me a lot about poverty. I grew up in the inner city of North St. Louis. My father was a pastor. In the late 1980's we lived on his salary of $75 a week and the generosity of others. Thankfully, God provided our home through an apartment above the church. I knew American poverty. I lived American poverty. We used food stamps because we had to. I usually don't like talking about those things because in this country the poor come with a prejudice that is often denied but nonetheless exists. I thought I knew poverty but God showed me something else.

In 2011, I took my first trip to Ghana. Working in the region of the capital city of Accra, known as Nima, I saw what poverty looks like in a third world country. I was overwhelmed. I saw what happens in a country that cannot support its poor. I saw families of five or more living in a room the size of my small church office. There were no beds. There were simple furnishings but not anything that you would see even in the most modest homes in the US. I saw a place where the cooking was done outside in community fire pits. I saw children in clothes that had been used several times over and hung from their bodies, stained by the dirt and overuse. I saw people without shoes or any hope of them. I began to understand the difference between global poverty and American poverty.

I found myself suddenly taking offense at the Facebook statuses of "friends" who would complain about sending aid to foreign countries when our own people had needs. I started to sense a call to be a global Christian. That call has resulted in four other trips to Ghana and plans to go for my sixth time this summer. That call brought us to the adoption journey in Uganda. All this happened because of one six day trip into the third world.

For a few months I have been following a ministry called Living Bread on Twitter. I have recently started learning what they are doing in the poorest parts of our world. They see that humanitarian aid is not enough to help the poor. They need the light of Christ to provide hope. Their ministry started in Brazil, in very low income areas. They plant churches to shine the light of Christ in these desolate locations. I think they are a worthy ministry.

You can find out how you can help by going to:
http://www.livingbread.org/

Here is a video to tell you a bit more about them: