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Ethiopia/China – April 2013

22 Apr
IMG_4340I am back from my trip around the world….9 days and 3 continents including the one I normally reside on.  We saw so much and did so much while we were gone. It was a blessing to be a part of the team visiting Ethiopia and China seeing different ways that God is reaching those who are orphaned to no fault of their own. God is raising up His church to love on those who need to be loved.

As Tamara and I began our journey in marriage, we felt like we were open to adoption and as we began our family we thought we would like to continue to seek the Lord in His timing if that is what He wanted for us to do in obedience to Him. As you know, we began that process May 5, 2010 and spent almost three years in waiting. We have had many questions and not many answers other than to continue waiting. As we have continued to seek wisdom, pray, and trust God together we recently came to a decision to terminate our international adoption process and regroup with regard to our specific responsibility with orphans. What we are confident of is: 1. we could not do anything else with regard to adoption while we were on the waitlist with the agency we were using and 2. we are unwavering in our desire for our family to care about the things and people He cares about (of which the orphans certainly are one of those groups). Outside of our relationship with Christ we are all the orphan without a family eternally and yet God, in His grace and mercy, saw fit to sacrifice His only son to pay the penalty for our sin and cancel our debt before Him for all who believe and confess with their mouths that He is Lord. We are no longer spiritual orphans but are adopted into the family of God and given full rights as sons and daughters. Praise God for His mercy!

One of the coolest moments on the trip happened just prior to our leaving. Most of you know I am a planner, but for this trip I was only a participant and not the planner. To make a long story short(er) in the city (Addis Ababa) of somewhere between 4 and 8 million people we ended up at same guesthouse I stayed in on my travels last year. This was a great gift from God as I was concerned about how or if I was going to have any opportunities to see my Ethiopian friends from last year. God was so good to orchestrate this!  The money paid for our lodging at the guesthouse, also helps to fund the ministry to street children we served last year and a team from our church will be going back to serve again in a few weeks.

On Monday of last week, we spent time at the drop in center for the street children which honestly was outside the scope of this trip, but God was orchestrating things between my friend who invited me on the trip and my friends in Ethiopia that serve street children. To get to be a part of that was awesome!

China was fascinating and challenging all at the same time. It was wonderful to experience the culture and seesunday historic sites in and around Beijing like Tiananman Square, The Forbidden City, and the Great Wall of China. Our host was very kind, warm, and hospitable and our accommodations were very nice as well. China is a very performance driven society and academics are very heavily emphasized, as is the pursuit of status through accomplishment. The children we visited were very sweet and loving and yet the idolatry of the society will make it difficult for the children to live as strangers in this present world. In the same way I would ask you as I have asked myself, how does your life (actions, attitudes, words, pursuits, and dreams) look different because of who you are in Christ or better yet because of WHOSE you are? My life belongs to another and so my life and all its pursuits should reflect the image of the one I was made to reflect – my great God and King. Hopefully that makes sense to you and while I do not have all the answers I do know that we are called out of this world to live different than those in this world for the glory of His name.

I am grateful for the opportunity to go to Africa again and China for the first time. I am grateful for God’s provision in making a way for me to go and continue to see what He means when he says that EVERY tongue tribe and nation will worship at the feet of Jesus and that He is ransoming a people unto Himself from all peoples. This does not mean that all will worship and proclaim Him as Lord and so we go or so I will continue to go. God’s name and His glory mandate me to go and share this glorious good news and then I get to watch His Spirit move in the hearts of people. The blind man simply said upon asking about how he gained sight, “All I know is I once was blind but now I see.” I know the One who makes the blind see, the lame walk, the deaf hear, the dead come to life and the one who holds the world in his hands forever.

Grateful to be Joyfully His,

Written by Stephen Martin

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