Tuesday, February 1, 2011

My Modern Family

As crazy as our Christmas break was, it was a good opportunity for me to reflect on how God has shaped and grown my idea of family. My husband and I are among the few blessed with parents and siblings who have our backs no matter what. It’s all we could ever need in a family. I’m not sure why, but we are also among the even fewer that have experienced the blessing and challenge of welcoming others into that family. I say “others” with a grain of salt because somewhere along the way, “they” have become an integral and crucial part of “us.”

Over the holidays we spent time with many people and I would like to share about three of them.

  1. Y was born in Korea. He has two parents that love him very much. They loved him so much, they sent him to a far away land to have the opportunities, they believed, could only be found in America. He came to live with my husband’s family about 4 or 5 years ago as international student. Of course, in line with my in law’s luck, Y happened to be the CRAZIEST Korean student to probably ever come over. We all fell in love, almost instantly. He is kind, helpful, thoughtful, and freaking hilarious. What is really cool about our newest brother is how his story has unfolded over the last couple of years. He did not know Jesus when he first came, and comes from a family that is not super excited about Christianity. But at a conference he attended with the youth group, his whole life was turned upside down. He met Jesus and as often happens; he has never been the same since. His focus in life has changed from getting a good education so he can find a good paying job to doing and being all that God intended him to do and be. He has fallen in love with music and using it to worship Jesus. He loves the Lord so evidently, it is definitely contagious. I’m glad he came to the US, after all, he met the Lord here.
  1. M lives with us. We met him through the shelter and he was placed with us when his case and previous foster family fell through. He has been with us for about 6 months and our lives will never be the same. When we first heard about M, we thought we would be temporarily providing a home for an 18 year old that needed a hand up. I don’t think either of us expected to fall in love. He will forever be our family. His biological family lives in Honduras. Although they are still very close, M is determined to over come the extreme poverty he grew up with and sees America as the only option for that. His story of coming to this country is horrific. He was beaten, held hostage, and essentially sold into slavery. Thankfully, he was apprehended by the police and eventually handed over to the shelter I work with. He does not know Jesus, but I pray that he is experiencing His love through our family and Christ community. Having him in our home has been a huge responsibility, but also a beautiful gift. I can see how God is pursuing him and it is amazing to be apart of that journey. Words cannot express the blessing he has been to our family. His struggle for citizenship has now become our struggle for justice. For those of you that know me, I can be pretty feisty when it comes to something I feel strongly about. Let’s just say I might raise some hell if this kid gets deported. It just isn’t right.
  1. L is my brother in law. He was “adopted” by my husband’s family when he was 14. He grew up on the streets of Sao Paolo, Brazil in a ministry for street kids who have been separated from their families. When my in laws met him many years ago, they knew he was special. Once in America, with his new family, he quickly became the life of the house. L is the funniest and most unique person you will ever meet. Part of it is his no shame Brazilian sense of humor and part of it is how creatively God made him to be. L did not always know Jesus and it wasn’t till the last few years that his relationship with Christ has grown to such incredible depths. He is wise and hears clearly from the Lord. Unfortunately, L fell out of status a couple years ago, due to an error his school made with some of his paperwork. It was pretty much irreversible by the time they realized what happened. He is now 27 years old and cannot legally work. His life and family are both here and even more importantly, he feels that his ministry is here. L has a group of guys that he has played soccer with for a while now. He prays for these friends and has humbly ministered to them in such impactful ways. He is a friend to everyone and represents the welcoming and inclusive nature of our God. He is one of my favorite people in the world and I love him very much. Although I trust God can and will use him whether he stays here or goes back to Brasil, I can’t help but feel that God specifically has him here for a reason.

I am so thankful that these three people have not only ended up in my country, but also in my family. They have taught me that diversity is not only a blessing, but a necessity. I would not be who I am without these people and I know there are hundreds more who would say the same thing about them.