Recently I was meeting a good friend of mine, Matt, for coffee to discuss our upcoming trip to Ethiopia to attend the KIDMIA Seed Adoption Conference in Addis as part of our orphan care partnership ministry. He picked a great little coffee shop close to both of us off West Anderson Lane in Austin, Tx. Before heading out, I quickly programmed my internal GPS via Mapquest and off I went. As I was driving and approaching what I thought was the correct area I kept thinking, “why would Matt pick this place, it doesn’t seem to be close to both of us at all”. Instead of stopping and calling Matt to confirm, I simply kept driving and exited off on Anderson Mill Road. I must have driven back and forth on that road trying to figure out where this coffee shop was. After about 10 minutes, I finally stopped, prayed and then realized that Matt said “West Anderson”, not “Anderson Mill”. I had gone to the wrong “Anderson” part of town! So needless to say I called Matt told him I was running late and why and drove like crazy to meet up for coffee.
Well as you all know by now, Dawn and I are moving forward and proceeding with our adoption from Uganda. The funny thing is, for Dawn, she has known for some time that we would be adopting, for me…not so much and as you will see, I had to pull over and clarify my destination with the Lord before coming to that realization.
Last year, prior to Dawn and I heading off on our first mission trip to Africa, I had been humbled and broken to tears when I heard Richard from Uganda pray at the close of service at church. I had never cried so hard in my entire life and I currently understand why I was so broken. Dawn asked me what was going on but I honestly had no answer, I didn’t know. All I did know was that the Lord told me to go to Africa with Dawn and that I had broken down listening to a man from Uganda pray. Nothing made sense. A few days later, I came across a mysterious Kindred Spirit magazine in my house. Kindred Spirit is a publication from Dallas Theological Seminary. On the label was my name and address, but I had never contacted DTS nor had I ever given them any information on me. I asked Dawn about it and she had no clue to how it arrived. Obviously I was intrigued, especially after my experience at church, so I decided to read through it in hopes of making some sense of everything. As I opened up the magazine I was drawn to an article on Howard Hendricks, a professor at DTS that was retiring. I have never met Howard Hendricks and had only heard of him recently from a pastor friend at church. So I read the article and came across a “professorism”, a quote that he was famous for. It read, “You can do many things, but be sure to do the ONE thing that you MUST do.” Well that got my attention, so much so that I began weeping again and called out to God, “what is the ONE thing I MUST do?” As I prayed I opened the magazine up again and this time I came across a picture of African boys. So what? Well, this edition of Kindred Spirit had nothing to do with Africa. It was about immigration and the one article on Howard Hendricks. Nothing in the entire magazine was about African boys or orphans. So using the logic of Wiley Coyote, I calculated that Africa + Uganda + Orphans + DTS = go to DTS for seminary in cross-cultural studies. Ok, that must be the ONE thing I MUST do, that was what God was asking me to do and it was so far removed from what I would have studied, He must have been using these bizarre events to get my attention. So I applied and was accepted to DTS and off I went following the Lord, or so I thought.
Just prior to starting DTS, I was thrown a curve ball. My church called me up and wanted to interview me for a pastoral position. My dream of ministry had come true, but wait a minute, I had just committed to going to seminary. In addition, this program required that I complete 50% of the classes in Dallas, 3 hours north. Why would the Lord ask me to go to seminary, have that be the ONE thing I MUST do and then open the door to being a pastor that would require 100% of my time and was in Austin. Something was off and I began to question everything.
So I placed seminary on hold for a year and began my work in ministry. When Dawn came back from Uganda and told me about her amazing time and about meeting an adoption attorney by chance, I began to wonder if adoption was something to consider and if so, why was I so convinced that I had to go to seminary. So I decided to retrace my steps and returned to that Kindred Spirit magazine. I wasn’t prepared for what I saw.
I reread Howard Hendricks’ quote, “You can do many things; but be sure to do the ONE thing you MUST do.” Ok, Lord, I thought seminary was the ONE thing, what’s up? Then I turned to the page that had the African boys but this time something appeared larger that life that I had completely missed the first time, a scripture verse was above the picture. How did I miss that? How on earth did I miss a scripture verse when trying to sense God’s direction? Especially this scripture verse… Mark 9:37, “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me.” That’s when I first had the thought, what if adoption was the ONE thing I MUST do?”
I’d love to say that at that moment I was fully committed to adoption, but I wasn’t, I was willing to begin praying and opening my mind for that possibility. Truth be told, I was mourning the loss of a dream. What dream you ask? You see, I had fallen in love with Africa and missions. It’s crazy, I know, but I felt so strongly that we were going to be involved in missions with Africa that in some small crazy way, staying in American and simply adopting seemed like a cop out. Crazy, I know.
Anyway, rather than dive right in, I took several months to contemplate everything and simply pray. Prayed about seminary, prayed about church, prayed about Africa, missions and most of all adoption. Then I finally heard that quote, but this time it was personally addressed to me. I heard in an inaudible voice, more of a whispering thought, “John, you are able to do many things. I have equipped you to be a Stephen Minister, a Peacemaker, a Sunday school teacher, a hospitality leader, a marriage mentor, a missionary and a pastor. Not only are you able to do many things but I can and will send you many places. However, John, I have one thing for you that you MUST do. You know what that ONE thing is; and now that you know, you will be blessed if you do it.”
It was then that I fully believed and confessed to Dawn that I was fully in. So here I am, arms open and heart pounding walking in faith with my wife and children in the journey of adoption. Thank you all for your prayers, they are coveted and appreciated.