Saturday, June 7, 2014

Good news….and bad news

Habakkuk 3:17-19
"Though the fig tree should not blossom 
And there be no fruit on the vines,
Though the yield of the olive should fail
and the fields produce no food,
Though the flock should be cut off from the fold
And there be no cattle in the stalls,
Yet I will exult in the Lord,
I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.
The Lord God is my strength,
And He has made my feet like hinds' feet,
And makes me walk on my high places."

So which do you want to hear first?  The good news?  or the bad news?  How about if we sandwich the bad news in between the good news?

On Thursday this week, after several weeks of waiting with no news at all, I received this text from Monica, the sweet mom who hosted Igor last summer:

                     "I just heard that they are allowing evacuation of orphans from Igor's region…"

After several messages back and forth it was confirmed that her New Horizons for Children coordinator had heard directly from Nastya, the facilitator in Ukraine, that 500 orphans from the region of Lugansk were being evacuated by train to Odessa.  I was overwhelmed with praise to God!  Surely, Igor would be one of those children being transported to a safer place!  And then later that afternoon, after two and a half months of silence, the teacher at his orphanage, finally replied to my email with this short message:

Hello Kimmy. Sorry for the late reply to your letter. We very dangerous. There is a war, kill women and children. Today all of our school children were evacuated to a safer place in the city Odessa.

Just that morning I had been reading the headlines on and was very discouraged to see that the violence in Lugansk was only escalating.  There seems to be no hope of peace on the horizon.  
We are overwhelmed with gratitude to God, that he has transported these sweet children to a safe place for the time being!  And we began to get our hopes up that now, perhaps we could reopen the discussion of continuing our adoption, now that Igor was in a safer region of Ukraine.  I had already arranged to talk to Nastya on the phone on Friday morning, because I had many questions that were not being answered and I thought it would be helpful to talk to the facilitator in Ukraine directly.  As we spoke, it became very clear that she held no hope at all that our adoption would be able to be completed.   She informed me that just because Igor was now in Odessa, that did not mean that we could continue the adoption from there.  Igor would have to be officially transferred to another orphanage in a different region for us to be given permission from the SDA to continue the adoption.  Nastya was very clear that this had NEVER been done before.  In order for this to happen, first the orphanage director would have to ask for the transfer, then it would have to be approved by the children's services and education department in his region.  She said this would take months to do.  She also gave very little hope of peace being restored to Lugansk.  She told me that the people there want to be a part of Russia.  She said it's very dangerous there now.  Bombings, fires, shootings, bridges being blown up.  Even if we were given permission from the SDA to go into Lugansk, travel would be very difficult.  She compared Lugansk to Crimea and told me that many families were unable to complete their adoptions after Russia took over and she felt that we were probably in the same situation.  
     I also asked her if there was anyway she could bend the rules and allow us to host Igor with NHFC this summer, even though we were way past the deadline to sign up.  She informed me that that would be impossible.  Bad news and more bad news.  This adoption is quite impossible and we can't host Igor this summer.  
     But while this is by far the worst news we have heard in this adoption process, I was not discouraged after this conversation with Nastya.  I had an unexplainable peace.  A peace that seemed to be very elusive to me over the last few weeks.  Ever since May 16th, when our dreams of traveling to Ukraine to bring our boy home were put on an indefinite hold, I have struggled daily to hold onto truth.  I would have good days where I was believing the promises of God and filling my mind with His truth, followed by days of desperate despair where I felt like screaming at God,  "I can't do this anymore!!!"  At one point I even told Jim,  "God has obviously said no to this dream, so I'm not going to pray about this anymore.  You can keep praying if you want to, but I'm done."  Only a day or two later, God gently chided me for this attitude through the encouraging words of our daughter, Ellie.  She had recently read a book about persevering through prayer and she gave me these two illustrations to remind me that we "should always pray and not give up".  
     Imagine a family, who lives in Raleigh, decides to go on vacation to Disney Land in California.  They spend 5 days driving, traversing thousands of miles.  5 miles before they reach Disney Land they become extremely discouraged with how long the trip is taking and they decide to give up and just go home.
     Or imagine a football player just received a pass from the quarterback and he dodges tackle after tackle and runs 58 yards towards the end zone.  When he's just 2 yards from a touchdown he suddenly stops, sits down and decides he can't do it.  
    Pretty silly, huh?  At the same time, in my own Bible study, God was showing me where I was getting off track.  As I was waiting on God, I was confusing His ways with His will.  Remember the story of Joseph in the Bible?  God revealed to Joseph in a dream that he would one day be a great ruler.  But what was the next thing that happened?  He was betrayed by his brothers, thrown into a pit and sold into slavery….and from there ended up in prison!  For 20 years!!  Slavery and prison??  You have to believe Joseph must have questioned God about this during those 20 years.  He must have wondered at some point if he had heard God wrong.  How could this be carrying out God's will??  Let me quote from "Live a Praying Life" by Jennifer Kennedy Dean:

     When you treat prayer as if you have the right to tell God how to do His work you will be disappointed.  When you realize God's ways are not your ways you will not be thrown off balance when circumstances seem to be leading away from God's will.  You can trust that God is steadily moving forward in the direction of his will……God's delays are loving, purposeful, profitable and deliberate.  God wants to do more than we can think or imagine and sometimes that requires a waiting period.  He wants us to see the Lordship of Jesus in areas that never occurred to us before.  When God builds a waiting period into your life it means that what He is doing requires it.  He is working out circumstances so that his power and glory will be on display.  

I realized that my faith had shifted from God Himself, to the works of God.  When the ways of God were beyond my understanding my faith began to crumble.  And so in repentance, this became my only prayer….Father, not my will, but yours be done.  Father, glorify your name…whatever it takes….glorify your name.  And as that became my only prayer….peace returned.   So when Nastya told us that this adoption was virtually impossible….I was not discouraged.  Because hasn't that been our prayer all along?…that God would move in a way to accomplish this so that all would know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that ONLY GOD could have done this.  So now we are in a perfect position.  A position for God to magnificently and powerfully work out His will.  A position to give God all the glory.  No matter what.  And that's the best news!  

But even as Nastya shared these hard words with me on Friday, she did give me a bit of hope that there may still be a way to host Igor this summer.  There is another hosting organization that brings children to the US in August instead of July.  She gave me the name of this group and encouraged me to contact them.  I did, and the director was very encouraging that he might be able to work this out.  We are checking into that now.  

So prayer warriors, here are some ways you can be praying for us in the next few weeks:
- Praise God!  He has moved Igor and the other children to a safe place!
- Continued protection for Igor and the children
- God to do His will in His way in His timing
- God to glorify his name
- Protection for us from the onslaughts and lies of the enemy
- God to work out the details for us to be able to host Igor through a different hosting organization
- God to move mountains, to do a new work that has never been done, to do the impossible.
- That we would be bold to share the gospel through the "glorious unfolding" of this story

For those of you who are local, our dear youth pastor has asked if they can have a short time of prayer for our family and this adoption in the youth service on Sunday (June 8th).  It will begin at 9:30 in the chapel and we'd love to have your join us.  It shouldn't be more than 15 minutes.

I close with this verse that God led me to yesterday,
Revelation 3:7-8
…He who is holy, who is true, who has the key of David, who opens and
no one will shut, and who shuts and no one opens, says this:  "I know your deeds, 
Behold, I have put before you an open door which no one can shut, because you
have a little power, and have kept My word, and have not denied My name."

If God has closed this door…No one can open it…and if God has OPENED this door…
NO ONE can shut it!