Jim & Melissa are a very cool couple at our church that I’ve had the privilege of getting to know over the past year or so. I wanted to include their story in this Generosity series because, well you’ll see when you read their story. I had a chance to do a little interview with them this past week:
Melissa and I joined a group called Wycliffe Bible Translators shortly after we were married. Ã‚Â I had trained in aviation so that I would be prepared to fly missionaries living in difficult situations. Ã‚Â We served with this mission for 16 years. Ã‚Â I flew in many challenging situations and I thank God for his care. Ã‚Â We experienced living in several different countries, mostly in Africa. Our oldest son is 21 now and he was a baby when we first went overseas. Ã‚Â Our two other boys were born in Africa. Ã‚Â Luke is 17 and Trevor is 12. Ã‚Â We left Africa in 2001 to return to California. Ã‚Â I think all 3 boys have a very broad perspective on the needs of the world because of the places they have lived. Ã‚Â We have lived in California for the last 7 years and I have continued in aviation by working in the private jet charter industry.
We have always been a family that is willing to take risks. Ã‚Â I have tried to teach our kids that nothing in the world is more important than people. Ã‚Â In the past we had done foster care for needy kids, and we even looked into adoption several years ago but nothing really came together. Ã‚Â We really werenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t looking to adopt anybody when this situation came to us. Ã‚Â During the summer of 2007 we agreed to host an 8 year old girl who was visiting California for 3 weeks with a group of orphans from Ukraine. Ã‚Â After we got to know her we couldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t imagine sending her back to the orphanage with no hope of having a family. Ã‚Â Kamila wanted to belong to us more than anything, and we couldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t say no, so at that time we agreed to start the official adoption process. Ã‚Â We didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know how it would all work out, but we knew it was the right thing to do.
When Kamila returned to the orphanage in Ukraine last year we promised that we would stay in touch with her during the adoption process. Ã‚Â A few times we have actually succeeded in talking to her on the phone. Ã‚Â She doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t speak English, so it has to be a conference call with a Russian translator. Ã‚Â It was during one of these conversations in March that she announced to us that her two older sisters had just joined her at the orphanage! Ã‚Â She was anxious to know if we would adopt them too! Ã‚Â This was a shock to us, so we decided to look into the situation. Ã‚Â I made a trip to Ukraine in April and spent a few days at the orphanage gathering information about these kids. Ã‚Â It turns out that they are the sweetest girls ever. Ã‚Â Their mother died almost 2 years ago and the girls have been in separate orphanages until recently. Ã‚Â We knew it would take a miracle but we were convinced that we had to try to rescue them.
Through blogs we have come in contact with many other people who have also been involved with adopting. Ã‚Â We have been able to share ideas and information, which has been a big encouragement. Ã‚Â It has also given us a great tool to keep people informed on current developments with us so that they know how to pray and support us.
We have learned a lot of patience! Ã‚Â ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a very long and tedious ordeal, but we have tried to keep focused on the end result. Ã‚Â We began the process 15 months ago and I wouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have believed then that we would still be trying to finish now. Ã‚Â If itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s hard for us, I know it really seems like forever for the girls.
When we told the girls that we would try to adopt all three of them I knew that it would take a miracle for us to fund it. Ã‚Â Even adopting one girl was going to stretch us to the limit financially. Ã‚Â I had some periods of serious doubt and anguish. Ã‚Â I was grieved over the possibility that I had given the girls false hope for something that was impossible. Ã‚Â Melissa suggested that we let all of our friends and family know about the situation and see if people wanted to contribute financially. Ã‚Â This would be a sign as to whether we should proceed or not. Ã‚Â To our amazement, money started coming in! Ã‚Â Last week we just sent the final payment of fees to the adoption agency! Ã‚Â Now we are actually about to travel to Ukraine for our appointment with the adoption ministry on November 17.
I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t think you would ever regret helping people in need. Ã‚Â James 1:27 tells us that true and pure religion is to help widows and orphans in their distress. Ã‚Â IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve been encouraged by Galations 5:13 which says, Ã¢â‚¬Å“serve one another in love. Ã‚Â The entire law is summed up in a single command: Ã¢â‚¬ËœLove your neighbor as yourself.Ã¢â‚¬â„¢Ã¢â‚¬Â Ã‚Â DonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t be afraid to step out on faith and do what is right. Ã‚Â If God is with you it will be a blessing.
We would love to have prayer support and encouragement from everybody at LifeChurch! Ã‚Â Melissa and I and our son Trevor are about to go to Ukraine to see if we can finish up this process. Ã‚Â It should take about 2 or 3 weeks to finish up the legalities. Ã‚Â ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s going to be an adventure and weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re not sure exactly what to expect. Ã‚Â We may have to make a second trip a few weeks later to actually bring the girls home. Ã‚Â We would love to have the church make them feel welcome and included when they finally arrive. Ã‚Â People can follow our progress on our blog. Thanks, Alex, for asking about us and letting us share whatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s going on!
I love hearing the ‘story behind the story’ in people’s lives – these are the kind of people that are sitting next to you in church, just living out their faith, being extrordinarily generous. It’s encouraging and challenging at the same time. Would you join with us as we pray for this family and follow their story?