My son was six when he and I were out in our garage building bunkbeds for him and his soon-to-be brother. Then we got the call…. “There have been complications, and you are not allowed to adopt Cherinet.” He was only one week away from becoming a DeRouchie. Now our hearts ached, and we were moved to pray. And countless others were moved to join us in prayer. And pray we have … for nine extended years. And last month, after persistent intersession, deep love, and an 8,000-mile journey, my now fifteen-year-old son finally got to meet his “brother.”
This was my fourth ministry trip to Ethiopia’s southern region with Training Leaders International. And as in previous years, I took as fellow trainers some of Bethlehem Seminary’s present and former students. I am committed to sustained ministry in this beautiful, though challenged, country, wherein God is doing great things. I am committed to helping the Ethiopian church train its leaders, evangelize the lost, care for orphans and widows, and reach the unreached. And I am committed to leading my own students in such endeavors. I want them to experience holistic ministry that embraces the truth that Jesus came to overcome the curse in all its forms, including orphan status, poverty, and eternal suffering.
No country on the planet has more single and double orphans than Ethiopia. Among these countless fatherless, some of their names and narratives remain unknown or forgotten. But in my years, some who were lost have been found and more have become known and loved. Our “boy” is one of them. The Lord brought him into my family’s lives through a failed adoption, and then four years ago God allowed me to find him in a poverty torn area of the country’s southern region. Since then, I have returned every year with more of our students and with fresh love. Two years ago, my oldest daughters joined me, and now it was my oldest son’s turn.
The emotions were high on that Sunday morning in March. I didn’t know how the connection between the boys would go, but I did know God’s love and had an extended testimony of God’s faithfulness to this boy and his mother. For the last four years, my family has been building a sweet relationship with this Muslim woman, whom my wife and I cherish like a younger sister. For the initial two and a half decades of her life she only knew loss, rejection, poverty, and pain. But although she felt abandoned and alone, she was not forgotten. In the midst of her own journey of heartbreak, the Lord of the universe, who gives breath to all and who numbers every hair, awakened the hearts of a family in Minnesota to his beauty. “You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9). Through an adoption match the Lord forever tied us with this Ethiopian family, which has led to nearly a decade of intercessions for this mom and her boy. And every prayer has been ordered by God, who has moved us to participate in his redemptive work. His care has awakened our prayers, which in turn have generated more and more thanksgiving (2 Corinthians 1:11).
“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world” (James 1:27). Our “boy” is nearly twelve, and he is growing up in a boarding school run by Christians. His Muslim mother is happy that her son is growing in character, and that Sunday in mid-March, my oldest son worshipped our Savior alongside his Ethiopian “brother.” During the trip, my oldest boy wrote: “As I walked into the church building on Sunday and gave him my first hug, I was in awe that God would let me see him. While my Dad was preaching, Cherinet would smile at me and want me to show him in my English Bible where we were reading from. It was one of the most special church services I have ever been to.” While our Ethiopian “son” never has entered our home, he is now learning about the path to our eternal home. We pray the Lord leads him there. So many at Bethlehem are part of this continuing story, and we stand in awe of God’s work.
Bethlehem College & Seminary is witnessing a God who is healing broken hearts, binding up wounded souls, restoring dignity to the oppressed, and supplying a new name and birthright to those whose eyes he’s opened and whose lives he’s claimed. Celebrate with us God’s global work, and prayerfully consider how he would have you engage in religion that is pure and undefiled.
Dr. Jason S. DeRouchie
Professor of Old Testament and Biblical Theology
- Pray for God to help Bethlehem College & Seminary be a seedbed for global missions.
- Pray for God to lead our faculty to increased commitment to and participation in God’s global work.
- Pray for God to awaken our students to his global cause and to help them be bold and unrelentingly committed as faithful goers or senders.
- Pray for God to raise up specific individuals from our school to target unengaged people groups.
- Pray for God to help us remember the poor, visit the orphan and the widow, and balance gospel proclamation with holistic surrender to God’s global purposes, both in our neighborhoods and across the globe.