It is a beautiful spring day and I have no idea where my children are… and it is glorious. As I look across the open fields of Brier Hill Farm, I casually scan for them with curiosity, but without concern. I have seven children, so I spend much of my life counting to seven.
“Time to go! One, two, three, four, five… where’s your sister? Six, seven!” “Umm, has anyone seen Von? I’m only counting six... wait, he’s at a friend’s house. We’re good!” “How many burgers did they give us? Seven – great!”
When we go to the zoo, we bring the zoo, too. And don’t even get me started on my feelings about parades and amusement parks. My wife is an amazing cruise director. She organizes the daily comings and goings of our life with such precision that I rarely need to focus on the details. My life is beautifully chaotic, and I have one job: don’t lose any.
And today, I’ve lost them all. I am alone, in a field with almost 200 children and I have no idea where mine are. But these are no ordinary people I am with. This farm is packed with over 500 people representing every corner of the James 1:27 journey.
“Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” James 1:27
On June 4th, Sacred Selections invited all their families to reunite in person and the fruits of the work they have done at a distance for the last fifteen years. I tear up just thinking about it. The fields are ripe with the beautiful harvest of young souls that now live in Christian homes because of the work done by so many hands and hearts to land them softly in their families.
Every person at the farm today, has a vested interest in the physical and spiritual safety of my children. They are loved, honored, and safe. Now, I am currently holding the hand of some child that is leading me to push them on the tire swing. I have never met them before, but we are best friends now. Honest.
An Adoptive Family: The Picture of Heaven
Folks this is what heaven feels like. A shared faith in a shared God who provides us with a common work which leads to a common love. We are all going to get back in our cars at some point and get back to the work of advocating, adopting, saying ‘yes’ with fearful, faithful voices, and begging others to see what we do. Every soul needs a home.
But today, it’s waterslides and lazy rivers. Today, I’ve lost my kids to the safety of a large family that loves them and has sacrificed to bring them home. It isn’t heaven, but it sure feels like a sneak peek.
As I wander the grounds, I see one of my kids at the top of the waterslide, terrified. Before I can do anything, another older child climbs up and helps them through their slippery journey down. They come down one right after the other, only to get back in line – fear turned to fun.
This is the other thing I am seeing today: a generational shift. After fifteen years and over 400 children coming home, there is a whole crop of adults who grew up with adoption and James 1:27 as a part of who they are. Baptized adults that started out as Sacred Selections kids are now the next wave of faith. I’m watching the next era of faith in these young Christians who are getting ready to launch their own families. I had to be led into the world of adoption – they are leading from the front line.
At the lunch tables scattered all across the field, I am seeing grass roots evangelism. These kids are becoming men and women that get it. They know that love is an action, and they are action people.
This is evangelism. Say it with me: THIS. IS. EVANGELISM.
Each of these children has their best shot to know Jesus. For those thinking about adoption (for the first time or the tenth) the question, “should we really adopt” must shift to, “should we tell another child about Jesus?” That’s because evangelism is what Christian adoption is. Christian adoption is telling another child about Jesus by giving them a family He built.
Jesus said, "Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel's sake, 30 but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life.” Mark 10:29-30
As I chat with family after family (still no idea where my kids are – they’ll surface for food, I’m sure) there are literally hundreds of stories of trial and difficulty. Adoptive parents that endured rough beginnings or loss to have a heart for children with rough beginnings. Sometimes, however, it’s the opposite. That is, adoptive parents that left the comfortable and easy walk to step out in faith to add another plate to their table. Each story is different and beautiful, but they all share the common thread. That thread is God built families bound by faith, not blood.
The above verse from Mark is a promise that if we make the sacrifices to follow Jesus and let Him build the family, the ties will be stronger, and the love will be deeper. That’s what this reunion reminds me of – when God builds the family it gets really, REALLY, B-I-G.
Brier Hill Farms on a sunny June day in Tennessee may not be heaven, but it sure feels like a slice of it.
Sacred Selections father times six.