Monday, November 21, 2011

"God-incidents": A Random Meeting with Orphan Care Alliance

I'm always amazed at how God works to orchestrate our lives together, including the details that otherwise would seem insignificant.  On Saturday morning, I was about to leave work when a young lady walked in with a handful of flyers.  I work at an athletic club, so this was not an uncommon scene.  Many folks bring in flyers for 5k's or bike races regularly.  This one was different.  As she was explaining the flyer, I saw on the top of it the logo for Orphan Care Alliance (OCA), the organization that has partnered with Lifesong to provide the matching grant Liz and I just received.  I think I half scared the young lady when I stopped her in mid-sentence to tell her that she could advertise whatever race she wanted to at our athletic club because she was part of the organization that is helping us get our Congolese child home.  Needless to say, we talked for a little but and she left some flyers informing runners about the opportunity to run in the KY Derby Marathon and Half-Marathon with "Team OCA" in order to raise money for Orphan Care Alliance to continue to help people like us advocate for the orphan.

So, there were a couple of reasons for this post.  First, as I said in the opening line, I'm amazed at how God orchestrates our lives to run into people like this in situations where we would normally call it a coincidence or happenstance.  Secondly, I wanted to give you the information to run the KY Derby Marathon with Team OCA.  You can find the info you need at  At this site, you can register for the Marathon and mini-Marathon as well as become a fundraiser for OCA.  You can also simply go here and donate toward OCA's goal.  

Liz and I have talked about running the mini this year.  We'll have to fit it into our busy schedule, but we'll see.  If we do, you can bet you will see more info about how to raise money for OCA.  At the very least, I want to encourage you to check out the website above and pray about how you can contribute to the work that OCA is doing to help families financially bring their kids home.  

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Prayer for the Congo

Here is a good video from PrayerCast on the Congo.  I found this video on the website Operation World, which is a phenomenal prayer resource for the nations.  Hope you enjoy both the video and the Operation World website.  May God bring his glory to the nations and bring the nations to his glory in the face of Christ.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Condition in the Congo

If any of you subscribe to National Geographic, you may have seen the most recent edition in which there is an article on the Albertine Rift in eastern DR Congo (DRC), Uganda, and Rwanda.  This is the area in the DRC where the civil war has had the greatest impact.  The fighting between the Hutu and Tutsi in the 90's during the Rwandan genocide spilled over into the DRC simply because of the small size of Rwanda.  This led to the destruction and mass pillage of the small villages in eastern Congo.  To this day, fighting persists in this mineral rich area.  The warlords (who have the money) force their fellow Congolese citizens into slavery in the mineral mines and they capture, drug, and brainwash young boys (12-14 yrs old) into forced militia service.  They learn to kill and they learn to love to kill.

The National Geographic article doesn't intend to portray the demise of this ravaged area.  The article is about the abundant mineral resources of this area.  However, because of the fighting, these rich mineral resources are often squandered by the government, so this naturally leads to the inclusion of warfare into this article.  Warfare and corrupt government are the primary reason the Congo does not sustain itself economically.  Some have said that the Congo is the most mineral rich country in the world, but because of the political and civil unrest, they are unable (or unwilling) to benefit their nation as a whole; individual warlords take the booty for themselves as they enslave their own people.

As I read this article, I found some interesting "quotables" that I'd like to share.  I've also included some pictures from the National Geographic web article, which can be found here.

"Rule of the gun prevails in North Kivu, a conflict-ravaged province in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  The Mai-Mai Kifuafua, one of many local militias, flaunts its power on a road where it extorts money from villagers and travelers.  For nearly 20 years near-constant fighting over land, mining riches, and power has terrorized the people." (caption, pg. 84-85, photo taken by Pascal Maitre)

"A metal-roofed metropolis, Goma sits at the crossroads of conflict in eastern Congo, its population exploding with displaced villagers, soldeirs, profiteers, and aid workers.  The lava-rumpled city sprawls between Lake Kivu, full of dangerous gases, and the restless Nyiragongo volcano."  
(caption, pg. 88-89, photo by Pascal Maitre)

"Crowded and impoverished after decades of war and instability, Uganda, Rwanda, and the DRC rate near the bottom of every index of human development, which measure indicators such as life expectancy, literacy, and income."  (pg. 97, italics added)
DRC fertility rate (children per woman): 6.1
DRC Income per person per year: $300
DRC Life Expectancy: 49 years
 National Geographic cites information in this section from the latest information in 2009.

"1994: Burundi's and Rwanda's presidents are killed in a suspicious plane crash, setting off a three-month rampage in Rwanda.  About a million Tutsi and moderate Hutu are killed during the genocide, and more than two million flee, many into neighboring Zaire (now the DRC).  Paul Kagame leads a Tutsi takeover of the Rwandan government, and Hutu militias retreat to eastern Zaire."  (pg. 98, italics added)

"2010-present: Despite peace agreements, armed conflict continues in the resource-rich DRC.  The ongoing tensions still pit ethnic groups against each other, but underlying the fighting are grievances over scarce land and conflict over mineral profits." (pg. 99)

"Attacked in their homes and fields, impregnated, and often cast off by their families, shattered women bring their babies to meet an aid worker in Shasha in North Kivu, a province terrorized by what activists call Congo's epidemic of rape as a weapon of war.  Soldiers and rebels moving through the area have raped more than 800 women in this village alone."
(caption, pg. 110, photo by Pascal Maitre)

 There is much more in the article than I'd like to put here.  I think we all get the picture though.  The DRC is a difficult place to say the least.  This entire area of Africa is in the same boat as it relates to scarce resources for the common person, but abundant resources for the rich warlords.

The thing that shatters me is that God intends his glory to shine in the DRC, Rwanda, and Uganda as much as he desires his glory to shine in our Sunday morning services.  When will help come to this area?  Who will help this area?

When Liz and I were first praying about adoption from the DRC, we were afraid to travel there.  I spoke with an international lawyer at my work who has done some contract law work in African countries, and he did everything he could to sway us away from adoption in Africa (especially the DRC).  He spoke about the corruption and lack of trust as if these things were the "law of the land" and therefore expected.  Because of the fears to travel to the DRC, Liz and I asked our adoption agency for a reason to adopt from the Congo rather than adopting from another country.  Our hearts were set on the Congo, but we needed someone to tell us it was going to be worth the risk.  They told us that although there are millions of children in the world who need families, the Congo, of any country, is the most torn and desperate place from which to snatch a child.  As Liz and I read more and more about the conditions and situation in the DRC, we are more and more convinced that the Lord has us in this process for his glory to shine through at least one Congolese native.  No one knows exactly what the future will hold for the Congo.  But what we do know is that our God is a good and gracious God who upholds and establishes justice for the fatherless.  May this prove true in the Congo sooner rather than later.

Please pray with us for the unrest in the Congo and for our little guy particularly, that he would be safe until we can get there.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Lifesong Matching Grant: Approved!!!

We want to say thanks to everyone who has been praying for our adoption process, especially regarding the financial aspects of international adoption.  Liz and I found out last week that we were approved for a $3,000 matching grant from Lifesong and Orphan Care Alliance.  You can follow a link to these two ministries in our last blog post.

This morning, we've been drafting a Matching Grant Support letter to send out to folks in an attempt to maximize this matching gift from Lifesong/OCA.  You can find a Dropbox link to our support letter here. If you feel led to give financially to our adoption journey, we would be tremendously humbled and grateful.  All of the instructions should be in the letter.

We would love to keep in touch with everyone who has prayed for us and helped us along the way.  If you haven't received anything from us, we probably don't have your mailing address.  You can send it to us by emailing Adam or Liz and we'll keep you updated on our progress and send you a letter with pictures of our little Congolese guy when our adoption is completed.  As always, you can stay in touch with us through Twitter (@howelladoption) or Facebook (Sojournings - Congo Adoption Page).