4 Questions to Consider on Your CallingPublished December 27, 2016
Before we had children, my wife Karen and I dreamed of what our family would look like: two boys two years apart. After Trevor was born, our second pregnancy was timed just right to fulfill the family we had envisioned, but ended in grief.
Losing a child in pregnancy caused us to consider how God wanted us to expand our family.
Adoption had always been on our hearts, though we figured it would be in response to a family member or someone in our church who needed parents for their child. Now, we opened our hearts and looked at international adoption as just the right way to complete the dream of adding a second boy, two years apart. Easton came home from Russia a few days after his first birthday and our hearts were filled with joy as we realized our dream.
We thought we were done having children.
But as it turned out, God wasn’t done. He had more expansive plans for us. Who knew that three years later God would turn our lives upside down!
We didn’t know it at the time, but our openness to consider four questions prepared us to be ready to accept an expanded calling.
- What do you have?
Our church was in the midst of a message series on injustice and my wife and I were wrestling with how God was prompting us to play a role in bringing justice to extreme poverty. We knew we didn’t have millions to invest in drilling wells all over Africa. But we took an inventory of what we had: a great marriage, a home, access to clean water, food, education, health care and experience with international adoption. For weeks we considered options, dancing around the possibility of adopting again.
- Are you listening for God’s whisper in unexpected places?
At the 2007 Global Leadership Summit, British filmmaker Richard Curtis shared his journey of bringing justice to extreme poverty (watch the video HERE). Imbedded in his session was a short video clip of a little girl in a yellow dress. Clearly in the developing world, night falling around her, she spread a tattered blanket out on the sidewalk. Pedestrians and street traffic passed her by as she curled up, alone, on her bed for the night. With tears in our eyes, God used that video clip to confirm his calling for us to adopt again.
- Are you willing to step out of your comfort zone?
We set out to research agencies, considering countries and envisioning the addition of an infant girl to our family. Our research landed on a specific agency and revealed Ethiopia, a country lying in extreme poverty, had a bureaucracy supporting international adoption. As we completed the “paperwork pregnancy,” we wrestled between two options for our next child: an infant girl or an older boy. Then the agency called us with a possibility that we had not considered—an infant girl…and her five-year old brother. That seemed way beyond our comfort zone, which is exactly where God prefers we live.
- What are the people around you saying?
We told the agency yes and started preparing to double the number of children we had. Skilled friends added walls and relocated light switches to transform our dining room into a bedroom to accommodate the unexpected jump to four children. Within months Josiah (age five) and Kenzie (10 months old) came from Ethiopia to their new home. The relationships around us rallied, which only affirmed the calling.
So – what happened next?
It was Karen who first spoke the words that God had another child in our future. Both of us knew how hard it is for older children to find homes, and it didn’t take long to confirm that calling together. With so much experience in adoption, why wouldn’t we add a fifth? Ayelech came home from Ethiopia at age 12. Our neighbors provided bunk beds to make the most of the square footage in our home’s small (by US standards) girls’ room.
Today, we are done saying we’re done. I am absolutely convinced of God’s calling to adopt each time. It was clear, unshakable and somehow made sense in our hearts each time. Five children is not the life we envisioned. It’s not the parenting we talked about. The cute little family of four with rainbows and unicorns is now a beautiful mess causing people to speak the words, “You are insane,” which somehow come from their lips as, “What you are doing is amazing.” To us it’s not amazing. It’s a calling to God’s Grander Vision.
It’s likely the thing that others will find amazing, you will simply see as doing what God asked you to do.
Walk through the questions above. Discern and listen.
Then take the plunge to experience God’s Grander Vision for you.
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About the Author(s)
After 19 years as a local church pastor, Dave Bushnell is now a US Field Team Director for Global Leadership Network, growing the GLS across 13 Western states. He traces his most impactful GLS moment back to the prompting he and his wife, Karen received at a GLS to expand their family from two children to five through international adoption.