I did something that I’ve never done before last week. I stepped onto a stage in front of 2,500+ people…people who have a heart for those who have been hurt and rejected and wounded so early in life, people who have a deep conviction to create spaces where healing and love and hope can be birthed, people who believe that God is asking them to respond to the plea of the orphan.
And there I was – the “orphan” – standing right in front of them, ready to invite this orphan and foster care movement to “listen.”
NOTE: It’s important to be careful how we use the word, “orphan,” but that’s another post for another day.
Christian Alliance for Orphans – Summit 9
Let me back up…I keep learning about this big adoption world – this mass of people who have chosen to grow and change their family through adoption. But, for me, I never wanted to be in this world. Adoption has often felt like a distant “event” that includes loss and grief and silence, dismissal and denial. It’s been a world where (seemingly) lots of people focus on rescuing the needy and forgotten and hopeless. It’s been a world (seemingly) where the gospel has been twisted and mis-used to help make people feel good about doing good.
But the gospel, the good news, is that Jesus came to initiate new life, hope, restoration, freedom…for ALL of us.
That means we get to be a part of one another’s healing, not just the “orphan’s” healing. That means we need the “orphan” just as much as the “orphan” may need us.
This was my message. This was my one BIG idea.
We need one another.
So, I walked onto that stage feeling the weight of all those little babies represented in that really, really big church. Hoping, praying, pleading that the Holy Spirit would awaken and refresh and reframe the hearts and minds of those really, really good people.
I was nervous. I was calm. I was in total awe.
It felt risky. It felt dangerous.
I had this sense, that that platform, in that moment, was holy ground…for me, for my voice, for the adopted person’s heart.
And it was.
I’m not implying that I know how thousands of people felt that night, but there was something profound and beautiful happening in those 8 minutes – I mean 13 minutes (ha!). Maybe, in that moment, people were beginning to lean in, be still, be present, and listen…to the adopted person’s heart, maybe even to their own hearts.
Perhaps they listened.
I’m quite certain that I (we) was receiving as much as I was giving. I’m quite certain that when all those hands stretched forwards and upwards, God’s Spirit was moving.
My prayer is that all those really, really good people would walk away knowing that the more they are able to connect with the heart of Jesus, the more they will be able to connect with the heart of the vulnerable – those who have been given the title, “orphan” – and in return, together, experience more of heaven on earth.
I offered my voice on behalf of those the world has defined as “voiceless”…and on behalf of the 13-year-old girl who was watching me from the “green room” who turned to her mom and said, “She gets me.”
This is the heart I was echoing. This is the story that needs to be listened to.
I’m so, so deeply grateful and humbled to have been invited to speak…up, on behalf of adoptees, representing their our hearts. Perhaps this is why tears rolled down my cheeks. I just happened to be the live human standing there, speaking, asking…but I tell you, it felt as if the adopted voices around the world joined one another in that moment, rallying together – unified, courageous, hopeful, strong – saying,
“Listen. Please listen. We need you to listen to our hearts.”
And that is why I agreed to do this – this crazy, risky, daring thing.
She…that 13-year-old girl…she is why I use my voice.
Me…that little girl inside of me…she is why I use my voice.
My voice…it’s one voice, giving voice.
Some of my favorite Summit pictures:
Me, Tara Bradford, Melanie Chung Sherman
Melanie Chung Sherman (Tapestry), Me, Amy Curtis (Tapestry)
Breakout Session: Finding Me (haha!)
Bill Blacquiere, President, Bethany Christian Services and Hudsonville, MI buddy
Finding my roots in the airport.