A Fundamental Change

Before Africa.

I think I remember my world before Africa. Some days it feels like a shadow, like a dream that I awoke from.

I believe my world was smaller. I believe it was more about me. I think even though I believed in justice, it wasn’t something that kept me up at night.

I remember that.

All that changed the moment I stood on African soil. The moment I looked into deep brown eyes and felt hands so quickly grab mine own. The moment I really saw what “fatherless” really meant. The moment that I understood poverty, not from a statistic, but putting rice in a bowl to serve to a child. The moment we decided that we meant to parent first through adoption.

Here’s the secret they don’t tell you about mission trips or adoption: It creates a fundamental change in your world. It causes you to lose sleep over the fact that there is significant injustice in our world. It causes you to wonder what you can do to be part of the change in our world. There’s a critical change that you experience that reorients your world.

All those verses about justice? They make sense.

He has told you, O man, what is good;
And what does the LORD require of you
But to do justice, to love kindness,
And to walk humbly with your God?

Thus says the LORD,
“Preserve justice and do righteousness,
For My salvation is about to come
And My righteousness to be revealed”

Thus says the LORD, “Do justice and righteousness, and deliver the one who has been robbed from the power of his oppressor. Also do not mistreat or do violence to the stranger, the orphan, or the widow; and do not shed innocent blood in this place.”

When we had the opportunity to give our adoption testimony at church, the worship leader led the church in “The Solution” by Hillsong United. It was the first time that I heard that song. I was absolutely mesmerized by the lyrics (which was a bit of a challenge right before we had the opportunity to speak…). It reminded me that I can’t just sit idly by and not make a difference anymore. Now that I know, I am responsible.

This honestly keeps me up at night. The idea that by virtue of “luck”, I was born in the U.S. does not excuse me from not doing something about the basic inequality that exists in this world that we share with 7 billion other people. As one of my heroes once wrote,

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” – MLK, Jr. Letter from Birmingham Jail, 1963

There’s no good reason that 1.4 billion people live on less than $1.25 a day. (Global Poverty Project)

There’s no good reason that since the beginning of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, almost 60 million people have been infected with
HIV and 25 million people have died of HIV-related causes. There’s no good reason for there to be 14 million orphans due to HIV/AIDS. (With anti-retroviral medications, HIV/AIDS is considered a chronic, but manageable disease. These deaths are now inexcusable.) (UNAIDS)

There’s no good reason why 3.5 million people should die due to water related disease. (Water.org)

There’s no good reason why we continue to allow an estimated 1.2 million children to be trafficked every year are a victims of sexual abuse or slavery. (Love146)

Because where you live shouldn’t determine if you live.

If these sorts of statistics keep you up at night also, check out any of these organizations and help fight injustice:

World Vision
Lifesong for Orphans
Brighton Their World
Charity Water

(This list is not exhaustive by any means- there are many other great organizations out there as well!)


When we are not enough

I’m sometimes reluctant when God calls me to something. Today I’m really struggling with something that God has obviously placed in our path. I really struggled because I feel too small for the task that is in front of us. I’m not the voice that is persuasive or inspiring.

I’m just me. And today I feel like this “me” is very small.

I think about people who stand up and are courageous. They have no fear. They speak with authority and they are ready to change the world.  They are inspiring. They are bigger than life in my mind because I lack the courage to be them. I sit in wonder and look at their ability to stand up, speak up, and move people to justice. I am in awe of these folks. They are incredible super heroes in my mind.

And then there are people like me. The people who feel like they are too small, too not ready, too quiet and unsure of themselves. God calls us too, even when we tell Him we’re not up for the job, talented, or even equipped.

Today I’ve sat and pondered what God really means by this potential opportunity to speak for the vulnerable, the “least of the least”. I could say that I have a legitimate reason to object to this opportunity, and I do. But the real reason I want to object is that I’m scared. I don’t want to go along because it frightens me to be on the frontlines. Unfortunately for me, God hasn’t asked for my permission for His plan. He is seeking my obedience to His plan. He has called; will I obey?

Because throughout God’s story, He has used people who have said they weren’t enough: prepared enough, eloquent enough, equipped enough, brave enough, educated enough, adequate enough, or talented enough. But that’s the point right? God’s grace is perfected in weakness – when we aren’t enough.

Honestly, I’m terrified. I look at His hand before me, calling me out onto the water where trust is a means of survival, no longer a “luxury” and I don’t know how to move. Because it often comes to this question: Do I trust You?

God knows my concern. This morning I was reading in Isaiah and came across 41:10:

‘Do not fear, for I am with you;
Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you, surely I will help you,
Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’

Because no matter what God calls us to, the greater purpose is learning to trust God in all things. To not fear, to recognize that He strengthens us in all things. I probably am not “enough” of anything, but my God is. And He who begins a good work in us will see it to completion. I don’t need to be terrified because He is with us.