(Taken from the Arise Anniversary Party Presentation)
Thank you for joining us today. Before we begin, I would like to ask you to join me in thanking Brittney Armstrong for coordinating today’s event. As a new board member, Brittney has lent hours of her time serving with joy.
I love that our anniversary falls during the season of thanksgiving. As we celebrate the conclusion of our second year, we have much to be thankful for.
God has blessed us with 69 children home to 45 families with 36 in process…many of them coming home before the end of the year. We have been blessed beyond measure to again have a front row seat to the miracles and mercies of God.
I marvel at how great our God is, acknowledging that we entered into this agreement with Him with little more than faith and sheer determination. After 2 years and knowing what I know now, I recognize more clearly my own inadequacies and the LORD’s goodness even more. He truly makes all things work together for our good, and has proved to be more than faithful as we trusted Him.
While I believe that we are all called to care for the orphan child, I don’t believe God calls all families to adopt. For those He does…it is an unmistakable invitation to transformation and greater sanctification. To you I say, thank you. Thank you for answering the invitation and trusting that God would use a novas, yet passionate team, to accomplish His will in your lives. Thank you for allowing us to pray for you; for your marriages, your families, and the children God would bring home to you. What an honor and privilege…a gift. To watch God at work in your hearts, your finances, but more importantly, tearing down the barriers of the enemy again and again, until all came home. If you are sitting in this room and have welcomed home a child, you can rest assured that He loves you greatly. He has moved mountains on your behalf and on behalf of your children.
So today I thank Him for you and for your children but I would also ask that you allow me a moment to introduce you to a few people as I express my gratitude to them…
Thank you to my husband of 18 years, for believing in the dream of Arise, just after bringing home 2 more children, supporting me as I left my job and closed my practice in pursuit of the unknown.
Thank you to Jude and Harper Thompson who helped us fundraise our initial seed money to get started.
I want to thank several of my friends that served as board members for 2 years and were instrumental in assisting me with our articles of incorporation, non-profit status, and license. (Pastor Jeff Lamont, JoAnna Flowers, Sherry Jenkins, Sharon Muse, and Austin and Elizabeth Wilkerson)
Thank you Dr. Andy and Julie Gould, for supporting several of our pilot families and even traveling to Ethiopia to provide care to our waiting children.
Cindy Lowe, a true friend and compassionate worker who joined me early on as staff, with fearless enthusiasm and gusto.
Lesley Scott, our Ethiopian Program Coordinator, who joined our team as staff in July of this year. As one of our early adoptive parents, Lesley truly has a love for Ethiopia and adoptive parents.
There is one last person/couple I want to acknowledge; before our license, before Arise was born, the Lord led me to a very special friend …without whom, Arise may not have been realized…certainly our work in Ethiopia may never have started. When others were turning me away, because I was small…in size and finances, she/they didn’t. When the world would have told us we were in over our heads, we were there together…encouraging one another to keep going.
As we move into the future, I want you to know that I trust this couple more than any other I know. I am so grateful that they have felt called to continue leading in charitable ministry and honored and they would continue to serve with us in partnership. Please welcome Matt and Nikki Ness. With their help we will continue to care for the poor and orphaned of Ethiopia through our Love in Action project.
As we look forward, we remember our mission to instill faith, hope, and love in the lives of children and families. This cord of 3 will not be easily broken.
As we encourage faith through the process of adoption and hope through charitable giving, we now turn our attention to ministering to children and families through counseling. It is a full circle return for me and an area of service that I believe God has best equipped me for. As a little girl I had a vision of taking care of people, by talking, as they were sick. For those of you that knew me then, it is not a big stretch that I would dream of a career in talking.
As a woman, God gave me Isaiah 61 as my own mission statement:
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
I believe that the Lord has called Arise into a season of new birth and vision. He has granted me one of the best teams I can imagine and 2 amazing partnerships in West Sands and Lifeline Adoption Agencies. We can confidently turn our attention to taking excellent and personal care of families stateside, knowing these teams will provide amazing care abroad.
I believe that it is time to acknowledge the challenges and grief work that are before many of our adoptive children and their parents. It is my goal to expand the ministry of Arise more fully in this direction. In the coming year I hope to add curriculum and materials to assist parents living a distance away as well as groups and more family counsel here locally.
It is an exciting time…dreaming again about what the Lord will do with willing hearts and a community of believing people. People that have a love for children, whether they are in Ethiopia, China, or our own backyard.
Will you join us by supporting us in prayer, fundraising campaigns, and spreading the word? We have a need for a larger space more conducive to counseling and camps, volunteer staff to lead groups, and provision of finances and adoptive families.
We have always had the best families in the world who have come to us through other wonderful families. Please lend us your voices; and especially your prayer support.