Every life story reads differently, with its own foreshadowing, plot twists, and outcomes. Yet in the stories God writes, themes often emerge across very different storylines. These common threads show us what matters to the heart of God. Among many other themes, we recognize that God cares about the fatherless and vulnerable.
The Mast family of South Carolina is currently waiting to bring three new children home to join their family; the Coblentzes of Ohio already brought their adopted son home. Although the two families share a vision for adoption, they came to this place by different routes.
The Mast Family Journey
Davy and LuAnn Mast are the parents of five biological children who joined their family in quick succession. Although the Masts had talked of adoption early in their relationship, the idea was shelved as their young family grew. “Then we started praying for more children,” LuAnn shared. “Because of some health issues, our prayer was that God would grow our family His way and according to how He made us.”
Conversations about adoption surfaced again, but doors didn’t seem open quite yet. “Then God brought us to Light of Hope [DNI’s orphanage in Mexico] to visit a brother,” wrote LuAnn. “[God] spoke to our hearts and brought several encounters with three different children to us. We were faced with the decision of walking forward in trust or walking away and forgetting His voice. We chose to walk forward and allow Him to direct through opening or closing doors.”
Four years of waiting have followed the initial decision as paperwork and bureaucracy have repeatedly slowed the process. Even with the costs, trips back and forth, and piles of paperwork, the Masts can’t imagine missing this journey. “I have never had a sense of working hand-in-hand with God as much as I have with this decision to grow our family this way,” said LuAnn.
The Coblentz Family Journey
For Phil and Elsie Coblentz the path to adopting their son, Joseph, took a different route. The Coblentzes never thought they would adopt. They had seven biological children and were content with their family. But then their children started doing terms of service at Light of Hope Orphanage in Mexico. Three of their children have completed terms as caregivers and one son is currently serving.
“Elsie and I made numerous trips to visit [our children],” wrote Phil. “We witnessed firsthand some of the challenges the staff faces as well as the desire of the children to belong and to have a family. We also witnessed … children going through numerous caregiver changes and how difficult that is … We began to see that although this is a great orphanage with many faithful, committed servants, it is still an orphanage. [It is] there to serve a definite need, but what God ultimately wants for all children is a family.”
Like the Masts, the Coblentz family wouldn’t want to have missed this part of their story. “It has been a long journey, and we know it is a lifetime journey. Yet, it has been a blessing. To just watch God do so many times what we can’t do has been a joy.”
The Family of God on a Journey
Looking at the stories of others, it’s easy to appreciate God’s leading and admire their willingness to follow Him. It’s harder to imagine God could lead us in the same direction. But why wouldn’t He?
Orphan care is a topic close to the heart of God. Over and over again, God instructs His people to care for the fatherless. In the first chapter of his book, Orphan Justice, author Johnny Carr explores some of these passages and informs us that, “Jewish scholars point out that God’s care for orphans flows directly from His position as king over all the earth. God’s people are commanded to care for orphans as a direct result of who God is.”
Although not every family should adopt, both the Coblentz and Mast families believe more families should be pursing adoption. “I look around our Mennonite communities and see so much blessing,” remarked Phil. “Put into that same picture six million orphans … There seems to be something missing.”
Davy Mast agrees. “I believe it is time for us as a church, as followers of Christ, to be willing to … open our homes to these children. Imagine how many children could be reached if there would be a waiting list of Christian families ready to adopt as soon as a child is placed into an orphanage or foster care! Adoption and foster care are hard work and the adoption process can be painfully slow and tedious, but if we delay or do nothing, these children continue living without a family.”
The statistics surrounding orphans and at risk children are daunting, but for these families statistics aren’t the motivating factor. The motivation is more than a nameless, faceless mob – but rather individuals. “We are adopting,” explained LuAnn, “because I saw a question in a boy’s eyes asking if I had room for him, and because the hugs and eyes of a girl haunted me for a month, and because the boy with dimples just had to be loved. When I said good-bye, he peeked up at me with tears in his eyes. … There are a dozen children I could tell you about who desperately long for a home. They ask us to pray for families for them because they are praying for a family.”
“Each family must look into God’s heart and make [a] decision for themselves,” wrote Phil. “I would simply encourage each family to open your eyes and heart to the cry of a child that simply wants to belong … and then ask God what He wants for you.”
God writes our stories in many different ways, but since His heart is for the vulnerable and oppressed, we can expect that He will lead us to be His hands, His arms, His home, His family reaching out to the fatherless.
Written by: H.L.
1 For example - James 1:27, Psalm 10:16-18, Psalm 68:4-6, and Isaiah 1:17
2 Orphan Justice by Johnny Carr is published by B&H Books. Copyright 2013. Quote taken from page 17.