Thursday, November 15, 2012

College Article Highlights El Salvador Team Member

Post written by Jenni Ramsey

Last month Cal State LA Today published an article on one of their students, Amanda Deal, who has traveled with our teams twice to serve in El Salvador.   I  have known Amanda since she was a young girl in our church.  Amanda's mom and I served together on our church staff for many years and Amanda babysat our boys when they were toddlers.  It has been such a privilege to watch her grow into a beautiful, godly young woman and to serve alongside her in El Salvador.

Amanda first served on our July, 2011 trip, where she became deeply burdened for the teenage girls.  That summer I watched Amanda remove her brand new Nike basketball shoes and give them to a nervous teenage girl who owned only one pair of flip flops.  I'll never forget that moment.  To read the post about that experience, click here:  "Giving Away our Shoes"  Amanda vowed to return to El Salvador the following summer after Stephanie Keenan,  another team member, received the vision to throw a quinceanera for these forgotten girls.  And Amanda kept her promise.

Amanda played an integral role in organizing the quinceanera this past July, soliciting funds and donations from family members, friends and fellow college students.  She organized a "dress drive" at Cal Sate LA and received many stunning dresses for the quinceanera.  Most of the girls who participated in the quinceanera had never owned dresses of that quality, style or glamor.  To read Amanda's post written on the night of the quinceanera, click here:  "Transforming Hearts"

To read the Cal State LA Today article, click on this link:  Cal State LA - Sports Feature on Amanda Deal

One of the things that I love most about leading orphan outreach teams is seeing the profound transformation that takes place in the hearts of our team members.  It has been so incredible to watch God move in Amanda's life as she has fallen in love with El Salvador.  I have watched her future plans as a college student evolve as her heart has become broken for "the least of these."  She is a gifted athlete and leader and it has been a blessing to be part of her life for so many years.  I look forward to watching Amanda shine the hope of Jesus as she serves our hurting world through her gifts, talents and passions.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Orphan Sunday 2012

Post written by Jenni Ramsey

Last Sunday our church (The Village Church of Irvine, CA) celebrated Orphan Sunday along with thousands of churches in twenty-two nations. Mike and I were honored to share about our adoption journey during the service. It was a thrilling morning as we celebrated many of the ways that God is moving through our church community in orphan care. Mike did an awesome job preaching on God's heart for adoption. He brought Hailey onto the stage at the beginning of his message and it was priceless to hear him speak about adoption with Hailey in his arms.

To listen to Mike's message, click here: Mike Ramsey's Orphan Sunday message 2012

One of the highlights of the morning was interviewing the Skelly family. Last year God spoke to the Skellys during our Orphan Sunday service about the foster care crisis in the US. This fall they received their first foster placement of a precious baby girl. It was so exciting to pray over their family with their foster daughter in their arms.

We also welcomed the Steele family home from Ukraine. The Steeles participated in a hosting program last summer through Nightlight Christian Adoptions. They met Nadia during the program and fell in love. After a grueling year of paperwork, they finally brought Nadia home just three days before Orphan Sunday.

It was a privilege for me to introduce families in our church who have been touched by adoption. There are approximately fifteen families in our body who have experienced the miracle of adoption and each story is powerful. We asked all of those families to stand with their "Adopted"signs. At the end of our service, our lead pastor, who has an adopted son, spoke about how believers are adopted by God. Adoption into God's family is the heart of the gospel. We organized a "flash mob" of people to hold up "Adopted by God" signs. It was powerful!

We are so grateful to be part of a church that is passionate about the orphan crisis. Our church partners with Lifesong for Orphans in providing adoption grants to families and has participated in two blood drives (through Blood for Missions) to raise funds for grants. We send three short-term teams every summer to serve orphans in El Salvador and Africa. Mike and I look forward to encouraging families in our church as they follow God's calling to foster care, adoption or orphan care through short-term trips, advocacy and beyond in the years to come.