In the spring of 2000, my daughter Jesula was born into poverty in Haiti. That same year I signed up for my first mission trip to Haiti with the church I attended at the time. I had no idea why I signed up, I just did. I had never been interested in international mission work. I was the prototypical Americanized Christian. Too much about me and my family, accumulating material treasures, with a dash of church and God added in for flavor. As it turned out, the trip fell through. I wasn’t disappointed. God knew I wasn't ready.
Fast forward 10 years to 2010. With God's mercy I had experienced significant spiritual growth. I was on the right track and picking up steam. The blinders were off. I had come to the realization that material things are merely distractions. I was eagerly searching for God's will in my life. God knew I was ready, even though I didn't know what He had planned.
In the spring of 2010, for the second time in my life, I signed up for my first mission trip to Haiti, later that summer. God was giving me a "Second Chance" to go to Haiti. At the time, I was heavily involved in local ministries and was planning to start a new local ministry project. But, I had developed a curiosity with Haiti that I couldn't quite put my finger on. I had seen the news about the devastating earthquake in Haiti that January. I signed up without knowing why, not knowing what to expect, having no real purpose in mind. I just had this feeling deep inside that I was supposed to go to Haiti.
Leading up to the trip people asked me, "Why are you going to Haiti?" I responded, "I don't really know. I hope I'll find out". Others asked, "Are you going to adopt?" I quickly responded to that with a heart-felt, "No, never, I assure you, that’s not for me". My wife and I had talked on more than one occasion about the fact our biological children would soon be out of the house. The month before my trip to Haiti we vacationed in Hilton Head Island, SC. We have vacationed there for many years. We talked about retiring there one day. We even looked at property while we were there. Adopting was not even on our radar. That was for other people.
I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. ~ Jeremiah 29:11
Then God hit me with His spiritual defibrillator. On August 20, 2010, I stepped off the plane in Port au Prince. I rode through the streets. Block after block, mile after mile, I witnessed the poverty. I saw the devastation. I smelled it. I met the people. I looked into empty eyes. I sensed the hopelessness. I was surrounded by hundreds of children at a school and church that met under a tarp in the midst of a slum. They touched my arms believing they might be blessed. I served in a medical clinic treating hundreds of people that waited in line for hours for our help. I felt their suffering. They hurt for months and years with infections we cure with 2 pills a day for 7 days. They had no access to basic medical care and medicines. I was broken by the sight of people living in isolation and starving in mountain villages. I was overwhelmed with the feeling of embarrassment for how I lived.
Seven years ago this very day, August 26, 2010, I walked onto the porch of an orphanage high in the mountains of Haiti. And for the first time laid my eyes on a beautiful little 10 year old girl named Jesula. I still vividly remember my first glimpse of her like it was yesterday. She was sitting alone in thought, watching the other girls play. I wondered what she might be thinking. I wondered what the experiences of her life would reveal. I wondered what her future might hold. Then I walked over and met her.
Within in a few weeks the adoption process for Jesula was underway. The more I learned about Jesula and her past, the more honored I felt that God was entrusting me with her future.
On December 15, 2012, after a grueling 2 year, 3 month, and 8 day adoption process, this chapter in God’s plan came to fruition. That day, Jesula and our other adopted Haitian born daughter Redjina, left Haiti with us to be a part of our family in the states. In the 5 years since they have both grown so much, in so many ways, and have become such beautiful Christian young ladies.
Looking back, I know it was God's plan for Jesula to be my daughter. God knew she would be my daughter the year she was born, the same year He first placed it on my heart to travel to Haiti, in 2000. I know that God knew I wasn't ready yet. I know God prepared me for 10 years before He finally led me to Haiti for the first time to meet Jesula. I know God planned for Redjina to be my daughter as well. That’s an incredible story too, that I’ll share another day.
My Haitian brother and friend Alexis is known for saying “God knows.” This is so true. God does know. He knows the plans He has for you. I believe that God has a perfect plan for my life. And I believe that God has a plan no less perfect for your life.
What is God calling you to do? Make that first mission trip? Sponsor a child? Something else? He created, provides for, and directs every one of our paths. But, He leaves it up to us to discover that path with Him. The only way to walk God’s path is to walk it with Him.
Seek and trust God’s plan for your life. I assure you it will be an amazing adventure.
Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand. ~ Proverbs 19:21