KathrynNOTE: In 2013, CUMC will focus on Orphan Care as we explore ways to fulfill James 1:27 and make a difference forchildren desperate for love. On Jan. 6, orphan cards were inserted into our Sunday bulletins for members to take home to begin praying for a child. CUMC member Kathryn Naifeh began praying for a child last year on Orphan Sunday and never could have imagined how God would work…she shares her story with us as a call to prayer.

joseph clothese

It all started on Holy Grounds. Yes, literally, I was at Holy Grounds coffee station, but I had no idea just what the Lord would begin that day with our family. As I made my way back to Seabrook Hall, my eye caught a sea of precious faces accompanied by the words “Pray for me.”  I couldn’t resist.  I learned quickly it was Orphan Sunday, and we were offered an opportunity to be part of it through prayer.  “Lord, how am I to pick a child for whom to pray? Help! All of them are beautiful!” I prayed.  And so He connected me with Joseph, soon to be named “Joseph in China” by my family.  Joseph was a familiar name to us as God had increased our family 10 years ago through adoption with a little boy from Beirut, Lebanon whom we named Joseph.

joseph2And so began our journey with “Joseph from China.”  I began the commitment to pray by putting Joseph’s picture in my Bible and saying a small prayer for him each time I opened it. “Lord, let Joseph know of Your incredible love for him today,” or “Lord, I pray that Joseph would grab hold of the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ.” Something small for me to do, but something that had much bigger meaning in God’s kingdom.  It progressed as I learned more about Joseph from Stephanie Harding who had been to see him many times. He was 13 years old, was in the Shepherd’s Field Orphanage in China, had a heart condition and would “age out” of the adoption pool as unadoptable in roughly a year.  Joseph became grafted into our hearts, and we grew to love him although we had never met him.  We inquired about his needs and spent a few days gathering those items along with cards we made, encouraging him with God’s very words from Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you’, declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.”  We sent the package to him and were thrilled to get an email back with pictures of him opening up the package and reading our cards and smiling about the items he received!

For the next year, we continued to pray for Joseph, even recruiting my sister and her family, who adopted their son five years ago from Guatemala, to pray for him.  This past summer, we heard the amazing news that a Texas family who had already begun the process of adopting another boy from China had decided, through God’s leading, to also add Joseph to their family.  “Joseph from China” or Kai Joseph, as his adoptive parents call him, came home to Texas at the beginning of December 2012 just a few months shy of “aging out” of the adoption list. Our God showed us His glory and Sovereignty by adding another child to this family.  And He used the name “Joseph,” which means “Jehovah increases” or “God adds another” to give us no doubt that He planned this from the beginning!

God is Sovereign and does not need our help in accomplishing His work. However, in His grace and goodness, He INVITES us to be a part of His work here on earth.  In accepting His invitation to be a part of orphan care through prayer, we get a front row seat to His Sovereignty in the lives of those children desperate for love from a family.  Thus, we rise up to please Him in His call from James 1:27, “to look after orphans and widows in their distress.”  I encourage you to answer the call by doing something BIG and something SMALL.  Do something BIG by saying yes to pray for the child found in the January 6 church bulletin.  Do something SMALL by putting the child’s picture in a place you visit often throughout your week and say a SMALL prayer for the child to know the love of the Lord and for God’s will to be accomplished in his or her life.

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