Kelly and Nancy Tate“But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, and took him to an inn and took care of him.” Luke 10:33-34
"Religion that God our Father accepts
as pure and faultless is this:
to look after orphans and widows
in their distress and to keep oneself
from being polluted by the world."
Here's Part One of Three from Nancy ~
I graduated with a degree in Elementary Education and I remember being one of the only (if not THE only) future teacher in my class who PLANNED on going directly to the inner city to teach. For five years, before I became a mommy, I taught. My cities of choice were Newark, NJ, and NYC (the Inwood section of Manhattan, to be exact). I will spare you the details of all the exciting things that routinely happened to my car while I was up in my classroom, but suffice it to say, it was never boring. The inner cities of America are rough. Life there is hard. It is often violent. It is often BROKEN.
Fast forward eight years. I am the married, mother of three great kids. Our family has been asked to take in the fourth child of a single mother about to give birth. We go through the whole process, only to have it fall through at the end. She changed her mind. My heart is broken wide open.
I tell God, “Our heart is to adopt, but You will have to do it. It will have to fall into my lap. Only then will I go there again. Only then CAN I.”
I pushed the idea to the back of my mind in an effort to heal. My husband's company relocates us 700 miles from home, so I quickly forget and busy myself with new things in Charlotte, NC.
Fast forward six more years. We have been relocated again. This time back to the northeast, which feels much more like home to me. (Philadelphia - the home of CHOP - #1 Children's Hospital in the country – this will come in handy shortly.) I am wondering what I will do with myself here. I am a stay-at-home mom, with three big kids (affectionately referred to as “the BIGS”).
October 5, 2011: I sign into Facebook to check in on my friends all over the country. A friend I taught across the hall from in NYC is holding a baby. He doesn't have a baby, so I just have to ask. “Who is the baby?” There I go, sticking my nose into everybody's business again.
Or maybe it was just me, taking one step toward the brokenness – without even knowing.
This ten month old boy had just arrived in America on a medical visa from Haiti. He had been rescued in Haiti, severely malnourished, disabled, and near death. He needed donated medical care and a family to stay with. There was no donated care to be found. His issues were too extensive. There was no family willing to “go there.” He had no family to whom he could return. He had been abandoned. It was not looking good for him. He would most likely return to Haiti, to a friend's orphanage...
...and he would die.
I began typing a response we Christians tend to use a lot. It is quite passive actually, and tends to make us “look” concerned. I said, “ I will pray and spread the word.”
The problem with this statement was that I could feel myself actually being disobedient as I typed it. I could feel myself putting down good words, with good intentions, but I was actually squishing out the obedience to the Spirit of God that I was being called to right in that moment.
I heard the Spirit say, “Backspace.” What? Backspace? But I said I would pray about it. That's good enough, right? Then the whole “hands and feet” thing flashes before me.
I hear the Spirit again, “This boy is for you. He is broken. He needs a family.”
Um, LAP MUCH?!?!
God, is this that “falling into my lap" thing I had mentioned years back? Sheeesh! I think a boy has just landed in my lap.
In a series of emails between my friend and I and the orphanage director, I hear the words: deformities, broken femur, fixable, developmental delays, fragile. Let me just say right here and now, those words did not BEGIN to touch what the next 15 months would bring to our family. We moved into the role of “host family” within a month and are in the adoption process right now. We have endured over 100 days and nights in the hospital and nine surgeries and several horrible, stinky casts. We have three therapists a week in my home, and night nursing. Feeding pumps, feeding tubes, and CPAP and suction machines.
Bryon and Jason
There were times where my flesh crept up and said, “Nance, you should have cut and RUN while you had the chance!!!” But immediately following those moments of weakness and lack of eternal focus, there would be the random person who would email or text me and say that I had inspired THEM to adopt or that my life was an inspiration. Or the hospital employee that would pull me aside and ask me how I had found him. They would always end up crying. I started carrying Kleenex with me. Crazy.
How did I get here?
How did I become this walking billboard for Jesus?
Does Bryon have any idea how many lives he has reached already?
You see, the problem is this. Any part of me that would have or COULD have said “no” to this lap moment from God would have been shellacked with selfishness. There is no getting around that fact. Selfishness drives a lot of what we DO and DON'T do. We had put our Bible knowledge to the ultimate test. As my pastor says, “You really only believe the parts of the Bible that you DO.”
Hmph. It was our moment. Our moment to step into obedience. To show my Bigs that we put our Christian money where our mouth is (or hands and feet are). We have been brought to our knees in exhaustion and tears many times.
But the bottom line is this. Do I, at the end of this life, want to be remembered for my stuff, or my fun, family trips, or better yet, my “me time"?
Nope. I don't. Will my children remember a life that was lived for a greater eternal purpose, rather than the fleeting stuff we all tend to strive for in the life? Have we demonstrated to my Bigs that mommy and daddy are serious about the Word of God? Do we show them it is real by the choices we make? I sure hope so.
Marinate over the passage from Luke 10 above. Look up the whole passage to refresh your memory. Where do you find yourself in the story? Are you the injured man on the side of the road? Are you one of the many who walked by and pretended not to see him there? Or are you the Samaritan?
Oh, that my life would reflect a sacrifice on some weak, human level, to show my gratitude for what Jesus did for me. May there by obedience daily to His heart's cry for the poor and needy, and may my hands be DIRTY at the end of this life from helping the needy in tangible ways on earth. He is there when I am uncomfortable. He prefers me to be uncomfortable, because that is where I am desperate for His presence. Outside of my flesh. Dependent on the source of my strength.
This story is long, and huge, and so detailed. This is a tiny piece of what got us here. If nothing else, please ask yourself these questions today:
Am I living courageously?
Am I looking for ways to tangibly move toward the brokenness?
When I see broken people, do I make excuses for why I can not be the hands and feet?
At the end of my life, will I be so poured out of myself, that I look much more like Jesus?
I ask myself these questions often. I re-adjust and re-evaluate, and with His help I get back to the business of sacrificing MY wants for HIS. In the words of Paul, “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Phil 1:21
(Bonus: when we said,”yes” to this boy, we had no idea how we would pay for all of this. Bryon was able to be added to our private insurance, and within months, God gave my husband a huge bonus that would pay in full for his adoption. Wow God!)
Megan, Joshua and Jason
Part Two is here: Comfort In The Wilderness
Megan, Joshua and Jason
Part Two is here: Comfort In The Wilderness