Can God Be for Me While His Hand Works Against Me?

Can God be for me while his hand works against me?

Photo by: The Archibald ProjectThis is the question I found myself wrestling with during the latter half of last year. I started from what I know to be true: God is for me. This much I knew for sure. But on the other hand, there was something else that I knew with certainty: God had called me to adopt this little girl from Africa. We had been pursuing this adoption for over a year and half and it seemed and we had run into nothing but roadblocks and frustrations. At first I blamed each setback on The Enemy. “Satan hates adoption.” I told myself. “He’s trying to distract me with sideways energy.”

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“Fight for Her”

So many of you have asked so many questions about what has happened and what is currently going on with our adoption. The goal of this letter is to give you a brief summary of the events that have transpired which have brought us to where we are now and what lies ahead.

In December of 2010 my wife Kelly and I began the process of adopting a little girl from the babies home that Journey sponsors in Uganda, Africa.

Our first Ugandan court date was scheduled for November of 2011. It was subsequently cancelled and rescheduled for April 2012. After our court date in April, we were awarded guardianship of Chloe and immediately began the process of immigrating her to the US.

In June of 2012, the US Embassy in Uganda denied our request for a visa saying that our case was “not clearly approvable.” They sent our case to the US Citizenship and Immigrations Services field office in Nairobi, Kenya. It was during this process that we fully anticipated being granted our visa. However, after several months, we were sent a request for more evidence. With the help of an attorney, Kelly traveled back to Uganda to collect the information they required. Nevertheless, in October the USCIS informed us of their intent to finally deny Chloe a visa, giving us 1 more month to change their minds. We hired a new attorney to fight for us during this process and we have been waiting to hear back once again.

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Why We Chose to Adopt

In case you are unaware, we are in the process of adopting a little girl from Uganda, Africa. We receive questions all the time. And with all of the recent difficulties surrounding Josh and Tasha’s adoption process (see below for details), I thought it would be helpful for me to address the most common questions here.

Why adoption?

Simply answered, we believe God has a heart for adoption. Scripture encourages us to care for the widows and orphans. Spiritually, we were all once orphans and God adopted us into his family. When called by God, why would we not respond by doing for someone else what he has already done for us.

Why Uganda?

As a family, our hearts have been tied to Uganda ever since before we were married. Over 10 years ago, I actually proposed to my wife on the Nile River overlooking some falls in Uganda. It was that same trip when my Ugandan friend and mentor Godfrey Wanamitsa (Director of Arise Africa International) took me to an area of land called Bukaleba. I felt like Abraham as he took my brother Josh and me to the top of this hill overlooking all the land and he said “As far as you can see in nearly every direction, God is going to give us this land.” In total it was about 5 square miles of land right on Lake Victoria. He went on to explain how they were going to build an orphanage, and a pastor’s training school, and a hospital, and many other things. Several years later, God blessed this great man of faith, and he did in fact give them land free of charge. Soon thereafter, through a series of miraculous connections and partnerships, Arise Africa broke ground on the orphanage. Our church family along with many other people were able to partner with them in the building of “our orphanage.” In September of 2010 the first phase of the orphanage, the “babies home” was completed. In October of 2010, we had the opportunity to visit the orphanage one month after the first phase was completed and were able to see the very thing that had been a labor of love for so many years. It was then, that we very specifically felt God’s call on our lives to adopt a child from “our orphanage.”

Why now?

We believe that God created one of these dear Ugandan orphans to be a member of our family, and it is our greatest desire to bring her home. Her name is Laiti. Even though we have only met her once, we have already accepted her into our home and family and consider her our daughter. Our girls talk about her and pray for her often and are eager to have her home. We are simply in awe of God and how He has and is working in our hearts through this adoption process. It is only because of Him that we have the love, family, time, care, and affection to give to this precious little girl that we don’t yet truly know but already love.

What’s going on with Josh and Tasha?

Some of you may be aware of the recent difficulties and setbacks that have occurred with my brother and his wife and their adoption process from the same orphanage. The short version is that bureaucratic technicalities may keep a little girl from a chance at having a family. The issues are more than I can adequately explain here, but I would highly encourage you to follow their blog to get the full story. It’s worth your time. You’ll need the password: TRUTH. They certainly need your prayers and support. Most of all they need a BIG God to do something BIG on their behalf. Furthermore, it would seem that my wife and I may be about to walk into the same $#!%-storm that they are going through. Please pray for God’s favor on them and us. Please pray that God is allowing this to happen so that he can do something amazing that only he can take credit for.

Also, please pray for us. Pray that we can figure out all the issues causing the problem with their visa approval for their little girl so that can hopefully fix those issues in our case if at all possible. Lastly, please take some time and send Josh and Tasha some love and support. They need it now more than you can possibly understand. You can contact them one of the following ways:

Facebook  |  Josh Twitter  |  Tasha Twitter  |  Josh’s Uganda Cell: 011-256-77-778-4652

Share Our Shoes

Our church recently helped S.O.S. (Share Our Shoes) collect and box a TON of shoes to take to Haiti. S.O.S. collects asks for people to take their shoes that are not being used and just taking up space in their closet, and donate to the people of Haiti. Jennifer Pierce, Founder and Director of S.O.S. personally delivered these shoes which numbered over 300,000.

Here is a video of just one of her experiences. Notice the shoe that she holds up to the camera. This is the shoe that she just removed from that little girl's feet. 

Bungee Jump Over The Nile River

In case you didn't know, one of the things I do here at Journey is oversee the production of our creative elements which mostly involves videos, graphics, etc. We attempt to stay three sermon series ahead so that we can plan and prepare appropriately. Everyone once in a while we get even further ahead than that.

We've known for about 4 months that we were going to do this series called "Jump" in January, which allowed me to get some pretty unique footage for a video. When I was in Uganda back in October, we captured footage of me bungee jumping over the Nile River. In case you missed this weekend, here it is again.

Arise Africa – Bukaleba Orphanage – Phase 1 Complete!

I just received word that Phase 1 of the Arise Africa orphanage at Bukaleba is finally finished! Praise God! Thank you to all and any of you who helped this happen. God has huge things in store for Arise Africa, as they continue to make Jesus famous in their country. The Bukaleba project has only just begun. There is still much work to be done.

Below you will find a picture slide show that follows Phase 1 from groundbreaking to completion.

Uganda 09 Rewind: Prayer & Reflection

The following is a prayer I recorded in my journal on the day of our departure from Uganda earlier this year.

Loving Father, thank you for another fruitful trip to Uganda. The task here never seems to grow smaller, less daunting, or easier. There is so much work to be done. I know that we cannot do everything. Please help us to have a singular vision united under Godfrey through the fellowship of your Holy Spirit. Please give us focus on what it is that you have called us to do so as not to spread ourselves too thin so that, though we may do many things, I fear we would not do anything well. Please send more workers! Not arrogant Americans, but anyone who is able to humble himself and do nothing more than enable Uganda's own heroes to rise up in the power of the Holy Spirit as a shining light in a dark world. If Uganda is going to be saved spiritually, physically, economically, or any other way, it is not going to happen through Americans who have even the best of intentions. It is going to happen through her own heroes who rise up in faith through the Holy Spirit believing and trusting in God with every fiber of their beings. These people don't have faith in some outcome. Their faith is the person of Jesus Christ, the character of God the Father, and the power of the Holy Spirit. I have seen more faith displayed this week in one man than perhaps I have seen all of my life prior to this week. Father, grant that I may have that kind of faith. Lord God, I believe that there is coming a day when you are going to remove your hand of blessing from America. My prayer today, my only request, is that when that day comes may your hand of blessing come to rest on Africa. May it come to rest on Uganda. I know that no one is deserving of your blessing, but these people are perhaps the "least undeserving." May it be your good pleasure and your sovereign will to bless them beyond measure.

Uganda 09 Rewind: Africa’s Heroes

While I was in Uganda back in October, I read the book Wide Awake By Erwin McManus. The book was not about Africa, but toward the end he made a statement that rang true with me while I was there.

Africa cannot be fixed; it must be re-created. Not by us who have even the most noble of intentions, but by her own heroes. We must serve them and make their journey less perilous where possible – and possible where impossible. It is they who must reimagine Africa and lead in her re-creation.

I couldn't agree more. This is why we will continue to partner with Arise Africa. It is not us that are going to be able to come in and fix Uganda. We have no illusions that what we do, no matter how good it is, is going to be some magical fix for the people of Uganda. What we can do, however, is provide support for Africa's own heroes. Heroes like my good friend Lillian who continuallly had medical issues until they ultimately led to her death. She had multiple opportunities and invitations to come and live in the States where she could received proper medical attention, but she always refused because her calling was to her people and her country. She knew that staying in Uganda would mean that her lifespan would be shortened, but she told me on multiple occasions that she was fine with that, because she couldn't wait to "go home" anyway. Heores like Godfrey, Susan, and Nelson the leaders of Arise Africa who decided to go without taking salaries for a year so that they could put that money back into the ministry. I once asked Godfrey (who has 8 children, by the way) how he managed to provide for his family. He responded simply, "Pastor Smooth, God hasn't let me down yet." I truly believe that it is they who will be able reimagine and re-create their great country through the power of the Holy Spirit. It is our duty, our obligation, and our honor to help them, support them, and enable them in any way that we can.

Uganda 09 – Team Interviews Take 2

Uganda 09 – A Message from Mary to Janet Via

In June of 2009, Janet Via gave some money to this woman for medical attention which saved her life. She asked if I was express her deep gratitude to her. So we put her on video and uploaded it.