Tuesday, February 21, 2017

New Addition

We first met Julius on our trip to Ghana in January 2015. I stood there - knee to knee, face to face with Julius and his birthmother hearing their story. She, his mother, had AIDS and he HIV. And due to the stigma, no one in their village would buy goods from the mother which was how she made a living. She had no way to provide for her and her son. As I looked into the mother's eyes the Lord gave me an impression in my Spirit that she did not have long to live. Death was coming for her. It felt dark, serious, quiet. Like we were standing right there in the valley of death itself.

About a month later after the trip I was standing in my kitchen talking with some friends that had come over. I had brought up the story of Julius and his birthmother and was discussing their situation with Amber Van Loo - one of my friends who had recently adopted a little girl from Ghana with HIV. I was asking Amber how we could best help Julius. She said it was very important that we get Julius on HIV medication as soon as possible, and that we urgently needed to be praying for an adoptive family for him. She said adoption would be the best-case scenario for him moving forward so that he could receive the life-saving medical treatment that the U.S. could offer.

So I began to pray. I prayed and prayed and prayed for an adoptive family for Julius. I prayed that they would know who they were and that God would place him on their hearts to adopt him.

Days later I was in the kitchen again and went to get something out of the fridge. And that's when I noticed it. Some time ago Jayla had drawn a picture of our family and it had been on the fridge for awhile. But on this day, something jumped out at me.

The magnet. I hadn't noticed it before. But there was Julius, right there in line with our family, waving as if to say, "Hey! I belong in YOUR family." I will never forget the weight of this moment. And as it turned out, that silly little magnet that we had gotten somewhere along the line in a McDonald's happy meal - that would be my burning bush...the confirming Word from the Lord that I would need to return to over and over again as this adoption unraveled and we faced Pharaohs and Red Seas.

Julius' birth mother died from AIDS over Mother's Day 2015. In August 2015 the Lord led me to Ghana to begin the adoption process. By November 2015 we had gotten all of our paperwork ready and were awaiting our case to be filed to court. But it was then that Ghana slowed their adoptions nearly to a halt as they reformed their policies. As the days, weeks, and months went by with no firm word on what was happening with our case, Julius' blood levels were found to have dipped tremendously low moving past the threshold of HIV into AIDS. I clung to the verse the Lord had given me over Julius on my August trip:

Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You preserve my life; You stretch out Your hand against the anger of my foes, with Your right hand You save me. The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me; Your love, O Lord, endures forever— do not abandon the works of Your hands (Psalm 138:7-8). 

I felt the Lord was saying He was going to preserve Julius' life through this adoption process, and not only that, but that the Lord had a future and a purpose for Julius' life. Yet, for over 1 year we waited. From November 2015 to December 2016 we waited, praying for our case to be noticed and taken to court. All of a sudden, on December 9, 2016 we received word that the lawyer was ready to begin the process to file our case to court. It felt like resurrection. It felt like when Joseph had been imprisoned for 2 years and the cupbearer finally remembered him (Genesis 41). Within a few weeks we had our court date scheduled. Because Ghana courts closed for Christmas our hearing in Ghana would be held January 24, 2017. However, from here our case would get postponed, refiled, delayed, and adjourned 4 more times inciting disappointment, perseverance, and trust in Jesus to finish what He started. Then finally. TODAY was the day. Early this morning we received word that we passed our court hearing in Ghana and our adoption has been granted. Julius is now a Sullivan.

I cannot even tell you how many times I've had to fall back on this magnet picture through out the last two years. God has taught me to hold onto His promise when over and over what we were experiencing didn't match up to what He had said. In this adoption I have seen the hardest, most Pharaoh-like hearts I've ever encountered be completely changed in the matter of one night by the Lord. I've learned that set backs are really just a set up. I've learned that dead places and disappointing places can come to life by just one Word from the Lord. And I've learned that there is nothing under the Lord's hand that cannot be reversed and restored. We continue to believe this for Julius' life, that no matter how bad his health looks, that ALL things under the Lord's hand are reversible.

We praise You Jesus for this victory, and thank you for the faith you have grown in us for the battles yet to come.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

'A Home for Christmas' ~ THE FINALE

On January 1st, 2017 we held the celebration to gift Doris and Mawutor and their family their new home. We started off with a feast at our in-country partner's home ~ Vida. All the children and families that Acts 2 Collective provides sponsorship for through Vida's selection were in attendance.

Vida served the food - we had fried chicken, rice, salad, fresh cut fruit and ice cream.

Mawutor (pictured left), Doris (pictured right) and their mother, Abena, enjoy the meal.  The little boy sitting at their table is another child in our sponsorship program.

Children in our sponsorship program, all with their own unique stories.

During the celebration story after story was shared of children in our program who have lost parents as well as families with special needs (HIV, blindness, cerebral palsy, physical deformities) and severe health conditions that need specific medical attention. These children and families are at a great disadvantage in Ghana as they are often overlooked and ignored. But now with the assistance of Vida and the sponsorships through Acts 2 Collective they are finding refuge and help to meet their physical needs. Our sponsorships provide monthly assistance for food, clothing, school fees, and medical procedures. At Acts 2 Collective we desire to pattern our ministry after Jesus, and we see from the scriptures that in meeting spiritual needs the physical needs cannot be passed by. We've often found that meeting a physical need becomes the open door to turning eyes towards faith in Christ.

After our meal celebration we then went with Doris and Mawutor and their mother first to the site of their old home pictured here.  Mawutor has paralysis and cannot walk so that is why Abena carries her on her back.

A glimpse inside the family's old house...

We then walked to the site of the new home.  The really cool thing is that their new home is about 200 steps from their old home. It's just right around the corner, and this is becoming such a testimony to the neighbors. Our team gathered around the home as we consecrated and set apart the home for the Lord's glory. One of the things we prayed was "Lord, flood this home with Your light and life."

Handing over the keys to Abena!

Abena opens the door!

Shortly after we consecrated the home to the Lord, we took group pictures outside the home. When I later saw the pictures I was disappointed at first because every single one of them was completely washed out by light. But then the Lord showed me something. He pointed out that this picture was showing the tangible, physical presence of the Lord (His light) on the home - just as we had just prayed for!

The finished 3 bedroom home from the front...

From the side...

From the back...

In addition to gifting the home itself, we also fully furnished it. Please note that Doris, Mawutor and their family are involved in our sponsorship program so they already receive monthly assistance from us for food and school enrollment.

What the assembled bed frames look like.

Trying out their new bed!

Doris thought it was pretty comfy! :)

In building this home we used all Ghanaian labor workers and materials so as to build into Ghana's economy, jobs, and people. The only thing sent over from the United States was the money.

If you would like to become involved in our sponsorship program the best way to do so is through our 1200 Club. We do not have individual sponsorships but we rely heavily on the monthly donations from our 1200 Club members to sustain our sponsorship programs. Then when we have additional, specific needs come up such as this home we will highlight the need for further fundraising. You can find more information about our 1200 Club and sign up here: http://acts2collective.org/donate/1200-club/  

Thank you to those who were a part of gifting this home. Shortly after finishing this one, we were asked to help another family in a similar situation. God-willing we will continue to be able to meet these needs as they come to us.

"Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead." ~ James 2:15-17

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Construction Update #6 {A Home for Christmas}

The home for Doris and Mawutor and family is ready!!!

I wanted to share that I will be personally traveling to Ghana in a few days to "hand over the keys" and to celebrate with the family.  Our celebration and dedication of the home is scheduled for January 1st.  Stay posted for final, detailed pictures of the completed home.  I may be able to update while in Ghana, otherwise I will post once I return back to the U.S.  Thank you once again to those who donated to make this gift possible!

Friday, December 16, 2016

Construction Update #5 {A Home for Christmas}

Plaster is going on...paint comes next! It's alllllllllllmost complete!!!!!!!

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Construction Update #4 {A Home for Christmas}

We are getting so close!! In the final stages now!!