I just finished an excellent book by Josh and Amy Bottomly called From Ashes to Africa. Josh and Amy struggled with infertility and eventually their faith. But God led them to adopt from Ethiopia and it changed their lives in a remarkable and way.
I so resonate with the Bottomly family’s description of the awakening they experienced as they entered the adoption process. They began to read and watch movies, learning about Africa, about poverty, about AIDS. They were initially motivated by a responsibility to learn about the country that their child would be born in. But they more they learned, the more they were moved, and the more they hungered to learn more.
They realized that this place called Africa wasn't just a mythical place full of lions and zebras. Africa is real. And It is hurting. It is filled with more suffering than we can fathom. So much that we have a tendency to just shut down when we hear about it. The statistics are mind-numbing and incomprehensible. Today there are 143 million orphans in our world. The child that will soon live in my home will daily tell me and others the story of this tragedy. The story of the mothers, forced to abandon children that they love dearly because of unspeakable poverty. The story of fathers who died without seeing their children grow and blossom because of the horrors of AIDS. The story of parents whose lives could have been saved by drugs that we Americans like to hoard so that we can get richer, pretending that none of these stories of suffering and dying are happening. Meanwhile we spend our energy debating what movie we will see on Friday night and what restaurant we will spend $50 at to eat food that our bodies don’t even need.
Josh writes about how he felt when he first saw the movie Hotel Rwanda:
The movie tells the story of one man’s courage in the face of the Rwandan genocides, where members of the Hutu tribe killed over 800,000 from their rival tribe, the Tutsi tribe. After the movie ended, I felt disemboweled and sat in stunned silence with Amy for a long time. The Rwandan genocides had occurred when we were seniors in high school, and yet no one had ever brought it up. Neither Amy nor I could recall one prayer request for the Rwandan peoples, let alone a prayer vigil at our churches or schools. Instead, we attended Bible class each day, and after the daily devotion, we prayed for Aunt Maud’s sore toe, along with the smattering of “unspoken” prayer requests. All the while, nearly a million innocent men, women, and children were being butchered to death by Hutu machetes.
Just how ignorant I was began to hit me, and specifically, how insular my life had been up to this point. I also began to realize that for Amy and me, God was not only moving us toward each other and into each others hearts, but he was moving us outward into a bigger world, a world ravished by stupid poverty.
All the problems just seem so huge. So unbelievably and terribly overwhelming. What in the world am I supposed to do about 143 million orphans? About all the suffering because of poverty, famine, AIDS? I’ll tell you what I’m not going to do – nothing. I choose to not be overwhelmed and guilty. I am doing something. I choose to give life, love, and hope to one child, and it gives me just that – life, love, and hope. Life, love, and hope. That’s what I want my legacy to be.
A friend recently warned me – adoption is risky – what if our child wants to return to his own country someday? My reaction? Praise God! That is my heartfelt prayer! What joy it would give me if our son returns to Ethiopia someday to minister to his own people and help to be a part of the solution. Oh Lord, help us to raise him so that will be the desire of his heart. Thank you, Lord, for the awakening that is taking place in our hearts.