Janet DeCastillia and her husband, Jeff, are dear friends of mine from church and faithfully follow God’s leading in their lives. I know you’ll be blessed as Janet shares this week’s story about how God called them to advocate for two girls in a Mexico orphanage.
In 2002, our home church, Sonlight, planned a mission trip to Mexico. We learned they especially needed experienced trades people so, with my husband’s electrician background, I encouraged him to join the team.
Jeff thought he would go along to do some volunteer work and feel good about himself. End of story. However, God had other plans!
After that first mission trip, he was hooked. When he returned home, he couldn’t stop talking about his experience in Mexico.
Our 25th wedding anniversary was that same year, and we wanted to go someplace special but couldn’t decide on the destination. The Lord put on my heart that we should go to the Mexico orphanage for our anniversary trip so, in October 2002, I made my first trip to the orphanage with Jeff.
Shortly after our trip, we both felt God directing us to adopt a child from the orphanage. Believe me, I struggled with this. We were empty nesters at the time and asked,
“Did we really hear from God? Do we want to become parents again?”
We spoke with others who’d adopted children from the same orphanage and researched what the adoption process involved. Adoption is certainly not for the faint of heart!
We went back to Mexico several times and, in 2003, got approval from the orphanage director to ask one of the thirteen-year-old girls we were fond of if she would like us to adopt her. We made our request through interpreters because she didn’t speak English.
She said yes, and the grueling two-year process began, which included home visits, financial statements, background checks, etc. in the United States, and hiring a lawyer in Mexico to work through their court system. We were so blessed to have Spanish speaking friends at church to interpret documents and assist in phone translation on multiple late nights (3-hour time difference) with our lawyer in Mexico.
Many times throughout the adoption we didn’t know how things would ever work out.
There always seemed to be one more document needed, one more visit to Mexico required, one more court date scheduled. During the up and down emotional roller coaster ride, we had faithful friends praying for us every step of the way.
James 5:16 meant so much during this time.
“The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” (KJV)
As God promised, our daughter came home with us in September 2005.
End of story … right? Nope.
Way back in 2002, Jeff sensed God calling us to adopt a certain girl but when we first returned to the orphanage, she was no longer there. Out of the blue, just a few months after our first adoption, my husband received an email from that girl asking if it were true that we wanted to adopt her. It shocked us!
We thought this adoption would be easier since we knew the process. Wrong! This child was already fifteen, so we were on a stringent timeline since, according to the adoption guidelines, she needed to be adopted by the time she was sixteen.
Our God works on His own timeline.
During this period, Philippians 4:4-7 became vital to us when it seemed the adoption wouldn’t happen.
“… the Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
As always, the Lord came through at the right time and two years after we started the adoption process, at age seventeen, another daughter joined our family.
This period was one of the hardest in our lives, yet we have never been more confident of the Lord’s direction.
At times, absolutely nothing could be done except pray and let God work out the details.
God worked out the financial details for us as well. His timing is perfect. After the second adoption, we were blessed through my employer’s new adoption assistance program and a friend’s contribution.
James 1:27 says, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”
Our journey began with a mission trip.
More than likely, if you go on a mission trip, you won’t come home with two girls, but you will come back with an experience you’ll never regret. Maybe you aren’t called to adopt a child but, with James 1:27 in mind, what tangible steps can you and your family take?
Perhaps you could contribute financially to an orphanage like Hogar Manna Children’s Home in Guatemala (another orphanage we and our church visited), volunteer with Meals on Wheels, become a foster parent, or donate to your local food bank. Be creative … there are so many ways you can put this Bible verse into action.
I hope Janet’s story has inspired you to ask God what part He’d have you play as an advocate for a hurting child. Several of the novels I’m working on deal with abused children, foster care, and adoption. It’s my prayer that God will use stories, fiction and non-fiction, to offer hope, change lives, and impact His kingdom for good.
Join the conversation. Have you ever gone on a mission trip? Has God ever asked you to do something way out of your comfort zone? Have you adopted a child? Been a foster parent? Share your experiences.
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