Saturday, June 20, 2009


A big part of our responsibilities as parents is to teach our kids our faith. While we were finishing up the adoption process in Odessa, I was able to learn a little bit about their spiritual backgrounds.

I was talking with some people who had just returned from a trip overseas
and they could not stop talking about the people that they met -
people that we would describe you know, as "poor"
and yet they were struck with how filled with joy and peace
these people were
They said, "You know, at first we felt uncomfortable, you know, we have so much and they have so little"
but after awhile they started to wonder if in fact
they weren't the ones who were actually poor
and so they said "We went to do a good work for them and yet we returned realizing that
we received more than we ever gave."

Both of the kids had been baptized into the Christian faith several years ago. Valya had a grandmother that had her baptized when she was little, and Sergey was baptized along with several other kids who were in a shelter before he arrived at Orphanage #4.

Success can be dangerous, can't it?
We get everything we wanted, only to discover that we're missing something that we had before.

After we came to America, I had asked Sergey about his faith, and did he trust Jesus as his Savior? He said yes, and I asked him how he came to receive Christ, since I have been to Orphanage #4 and I know it is anything but spiritual.

When we extend grace to others in their oppression whatever that may look like
we find out about the grace that God has extended to us.
So when Jesus talks about taking water to those who are thirsty
it isn't just about the necessity of getting water to those who need it,
it's about us being constantly reminded of the gift of water we've had all along.

He told me that Dana Defrees had prayed with him last summer when he was at camp. Wow! Dana is a teenager, and Pam is her mom. Pam has commented on our blog before, and has emailed me privately from time to time. They were on a short-term mission trip to Odessa last summer where they spent time with the kids, along with Grandma Lela.

This is ultimately about the far larger truth that if we each don't find some suffering
and do something about it, we may become miserable -
Our achievement, our education, our wealth, our time and our money -
they'll turn on us if we don't spread them around.

They have a blog called Passion for Ukraine, and it just so happens that the team is in Ukraine again right now! There are some pictures on their blog of Sergey and several of his classmates that I spent time with last winter.

Our lives are either more and more about us -
more stuff, more unsatisfying consumption,
or we're on a different path
and this is why Jesus talked so much about serving.

I am glad that the kids and adults are serving in this way. I am sure that in some cases, this will be the only opportunity that some of them will have to hear about the love of Christ.

May you find somebody who needs what you have
only to discover that they had what you needed all along.

There is a NOOMA video that talks about serving others. It just so happens that I got the link today in an email through Compassion International. I have interleaved quotes from this video by Rob Bell with mine because they go hand-in-hand. This is a powerful video! Will you choose to hang on to that which ultimately makes you miserable, or will you offer yourself to Him and be liberated?

Watch the video to see where the title to this post comes from.


MoserUpdates said...

This is a beautiful post. Sometimes we forget that, although we have many material things, having less can be a big blessing.

I have to reming myself that, as a parent, my job isn't to be's to lead my children in the ways of the Lord through training and by example and He'll do the rest.

Ashley said...

Thank you for this.

Christine said...


Pam DeFrees said...

Oh my goodness, Alan! I just now had the opportunity to read this blog and I am sitting here in tears! I returned home from the Ukraine 2 nights ago. The last morning we were there, we sat at breakfast talking and sharing. I told the team that even though we may not see a difference we made (especially at Camp Viktoria where we don't ever seem to be able to teach anymore---although we did the last night) we are making a difference. God is loving these kids through us and using us. I told the kids that they did exactly what one of our Bible stories was about. They dropped their nets, left their comfort, their food, their families, their paying jobs, their friends, and everything and followed Jesus. I know God will bless that and He will be glorified.
Now to read what you wrote...WOW! What confirmation!!!! God is so good! I'm so excited to read this post and I can't wait to share it will everyone!!! Thank you so much for sharing and tell our sweet boy, PRYVYET!! (oh, by the way....we are going to start the process of adopting the little boy I've been dying to adopt the last 4 years!!!)