Seven of our grandchildren have now been baptized by immersion. Eight have been sprinkled. In some cases, the act of baptism represented a dedication on the part of the parents to rearing their child to know Jesus. Their actual "personal salvation experience" will come later. In all the others, baptism was the act of obedience that followed the child's acknowledgment of sin in their lives, the acceptance of forgiveness offered by Jesus Christ, and their commitment to Jesus as his/her Lord and Savior. Every time it has been a miracle. We have been so very blessed to know that our grandchildren are being reared by parents who are believers, that they are in church regularly, and that they are learning the truths of God's Word. But according to Jesus' own words in John 6:44 -- "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day." So, do you see? The fact that the God of the Universe drew these children to Himself is a wonder almost beyond my comprehension. It would be more difficult to grasp if I hadn't experienced that "drawing" in my own life.
Last Sunday, though, we witnessed a miracle that truly amazes me when I stop to consider it.
Thirteen years ago, David Platt preached at a missions conference in the church where Matt was pastoring in Wynne, Arkansas. Part of Platt's emphasis was on international adoption as a way to spread the Gospel of Jesus. Matt and his wife Katie knew almost instantly that God was calling them to adopt internationally.
So, now, think this through with me.
The whole world was before them as a place from which to adopt a child. (They wanted a daughter to join their family along with their 2 sons).
According to UNICEF statistics, there are 153,000,000 orphan children in the world.
After months of interviews and testing, Ethiopia became their country of choice.
A family member had brought Birti to an orphanage in Addis Ababa when she was very young because they were unable to care for her adequately.
Matt and Katie through many layers of red tape were connected to that particular orphanage.
Among all the children in that orphanage, Birti was determined to be the child that matched best with Matt, Katie, and their family situation.
International adoption is extremely expensive. The people of Wynne Baptist Church in Wynne, Arkansas were very generous with their support. Read Matt's story here about how that church, then FBC El Dorado, AR, then The Church at West Franklin contributed so much to them and to Birti's adjustment and acceptance of Christ.
Matt and Katie's plane touched down in Little Rock, Arkansas, in late July 2012 carrying 4-year-old Birti. She knew a couple of words of English. They knew a few words of Amharic. Those early months were unbelievably challenging, but by Christmas of that year, Birti's ability to understand and communicate was astounding. If only the rest of us could learn a new language so quickly.
Here she is with her siblings and some of her cousins at her very first Cousins Camp in 2013. Her assimilation into our family was immediate. We, along with her other grandparents and family members on both sides, prayed for her months before we knew her name, and we loved her at the first sight of photos sent to us from the orphanage.
But, then the Holy Spirit began the work that only the Holy Spirit can do, and last Sunday morning was the beautiful result.
Let me encourage you to watch Birti's baptism for yourself. Click on this link, then click on "full service" and start watching at minute 8. It will go through minute 12. So many tears were shed during those moments.
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, 5 having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, 6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.
7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace 8 which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, 9 having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, 10 that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him. 11 In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, 12 that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.
13 In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.
Birti was chosen out of all those 153 million orphans in the world to be a member of the Pearson family and now the family of God. She has all the "rights and privileges" of Matt and Katie's other two children and of our 14 other grandchildren. You, too, can be adopted as a son or daughter into God's family. It's a free gift waiting to be accepted.