I decided to write a different kind of letter this year. It seemed trivial to write about our achievements when none of them matter for eternity (with the exception of our newest addition, Keturah Joy:) and someone's life hangs in the balance. This is the letter I sent, instead:
Dear Family & Friends,
Merry Christmas! Instead of a traditional Christmas letter, we want to share with you what God has placed on our hearts in hopes that you will partner with us in changing lives.
Earlier this year, I prayed that God would break our hearts with what breaks His. Turns out, there is much that breaks His heart and the pain is almost overwhelming at times.
Most of you have heard us talk of Reece's Rainbow, an adoption ministry focused on finding homes for children with Down syndrome (and other disabilities) in other countries. Here in the US, there is a waiting list of families looking to adopt a child with Down syndrome. (There is also a termination rate of 90% for Down syndrome pregnancies, but that's another topic.) In other countries, when a baby is born with Ds, that child is left at the hospital and then sent to an orphanage, or "baby house", where they are available for . Once the child reaches the age of 4-5, they are sent to a mental institution (Please, please click on the link and watch. It's difficult to watch, but necessary to fully grasp what we are trying to communicate.) This particular institution is in Serbia, but very similar to those in Ukraine, Bulgaria, and Russia.
Elizabeth is a little girl who enjoyed an early childhood in one of the better orphanages (they actually have toys to play with). She was recently transferred. Please see some cute pics of her and read her story here.
Can you imagine? Can you imagine the fear and confusion she felt when she was transferred? Can you imagine the fear and hunger she feels right now as you are reading this? Can you imagine one of your children experiencing that? We can, and it's breaking our hearts.
"Once our eyes are opened, we can't pretend we don't know what to do. God, who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls, knows what we know, and holds us responsible to act." Prov. 24:12
Patti, a fellow mom of a child with Ds, is determined to see that another little girl, Olga, does not have to experience a similar fate. Olga in nearing transfer. Patti's family doesn't meet the income requirements to adopt, themselves, but she is working to see a Christmas miracle of a fully funded adoption account for Olga. So many families are willing to adopt, but the cost (around $20,000) is prohibitive. If Olga's account is funded, a family will step up to adopt her, to save her from life in a mental institution. When Patti started her efforts to spread the word only 10 days ago, Olga had less than a hundred dollars in her fund. Now, she has over $10,000! We are halfway there!
Visit Patti's blog to learn what the current count is and to find out how to donate. Pray and ask God what He would have you do for the "least of these". Ask Him how He would have you save a life. Be part of a Christmas miracle this year!!!
Please, visit the links I've provided and learn more. Feel free to pepper us with questions, as well! There are currently in the world today. We cannot save all of them; but, we can save this one!
And the King will answer and say to them, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.' Matthew 25:40
We challenge you to pray, as we did, that God will break your heart with what breaks His this year. Be prepared for Him to rock your world. :)
With much love and gratitude,
Shawn, Tara, Michaela, Elliana, Atalia, Benaiah, Zakkai, Simeon, & Keturah Lakes