Death is Not Dying: Rachel Barkey’s Story

rachelfam.jpgAfter four and a half years of vigilantly fighting breast cancer, Rachel Barkey, a 37-year-old wife and mother of two was diagnosed with terminal cancer.

Rachel’s story is not unlike what thousands of women around the world have experienced. A diagnosis that changes a woman’s life and inevitably takes from her what we consider to be most precious.

But for Rachel the essence of life is found in her relationship with God through Jesus. And that’s why Rachel is convinced that death is not dying.

Watch Rachel share her story of trusting God in the face of death. “Cancer does not define me,” she says. “Neither does being a wife or a mother. All these things are part of who I am but they do not define me. What defines me is my relationship with Jesus.”

Rachel went home to her Lord on July 2, 2009 at 37 years of age.

I had the joy of corresponding with Rachel through email in the fall of ’08 and early this year (prior to the diagnosis of terminal cancer). She contacted me because she was burdened to see her church engage in caring for orphans and helping families with the cost of adoption. She was a great encouragement to me that what we are doing is important and there is a great need in Canada. Though I didn’t know her well (and I didn’t know any of her history or future with cancer), what came through our emails and phone calls was a passion for Jesus, a love for the local church, and a desire to see the church change the world! Those were the things that defined her.

What a legacy she has left!

Visit Rachel’s Website

Haregewoin Teferra: Orphans Hero

there-is-no-me-without-youThis week a true hero to the orphans of Africa passed away.

After the loss of her husband and daughter, Haregewoin Teferra, turned her home in Ethiopia into an orphanage for AIDS orphans and began facilitating adoptions to homes all over the world. She passed away of natural causes in her home on Tuesday. Her story is told by author Melissa Fay Green in the book There Is No Me Without You.

In honor of her life and the continuing need for the care of millions of orphans I want to share some quotes from the book over the next week.

Here is the first highlighting the sheer magnitude of the orphan crisis in Africa where close to 12 million children are orphaned as a result of HIV/AIDS (that’s just Africa!). Melissa Fay Green writes:

“Who was going to raise twelve million children?

That’s what I suddenly wanted to know.

“Who was teaching twelve million children how to swim?

Who was signing twelve million permission slips for school field trips?

Who packed twelve million school lunches?

Who cheered at twelve million soccer games? (That sounded like our weekends.)

Who was going to buy twelve million pairs of sneakers that light up when you jump? Backpacks? Toothbrushes? Twelve million pairs of socks? Who will tell twelve million bedtime stories?

Who will quiz twelve million children on Thursday nights for their Friday morning spelling tests?

Twelve million trips to the dentist?

Twelve million birthday parties?

Who will wake in the night in response to eighteen million nightmares?

Who will offer grief counseling to twelve, fifteen, eighteen, thirty-six million children?

Who will help them avoid lives of servitude or prostitution?

Who will pass on to them the traditions of culture and religion, of history and government, of craft and profession?

Who will help them grow up, choose the right person to marry, find work, and learn to parent their own children?

Well, as it turns out, no one. Or very few. There aren’t enough adults to go around. Athough in the Western industrialized states HIV/AIDS has become a chronic condition rather than a death sentance, in Africa a generation of parents, teachers, principals, physicians, nurses, professors, spiritual leaders, musicians, poets, bureaucrats, coaches, farmers, bankers, and business owners are being erased.” pp. 22-23

‘One Step at a Time’

One of my new favorite blogs is by a young couple working in Uganda with a ministry called Feed My Lambs. Their latest post gives a glimpse into how God is using their simple obedience and faith to do great things as His hands and feet –

As we go through day to day life here in Uganda the Lord reminds us to take one step at a time.  We are reminded daily to slow down so we are aware of when the Lord wants us to extend His love.  The home visits continue to bring joy as we walk from home to home. During each home we are faced with spiritual and physical needs that seem out of our control. Thank you Lord that Jesse and I are only your hands and feet and that you are the one in control!! 

We just so happened to come across a home that had about seven children and one of the children had been recently signed up with Feed His Lambs. The little boy was so full of life. When I first saw him I would have never imagined that he had recently been moved from a home that cursed him and his family from the village.
Nakaseke KidsOnce his parents died he was left all alone.  The mama he is now living with heard his story and took him into her motherly arms to care for him in her small hut with six other children.  The mama of the house seemed very physically and spiritually tired.  She explained to me her burden to take in the orphan boy and said, “I know the Lord has called me to care for this orphan but it is tough when I have my other children to care for as well.”  Terra & ChristineI became so overwhelmed with many different emotions and the only thing that came to my mind was to wrap my arms around her and the children and pray, pray, pray.

While walking home, Christine and I were speechless and amazed at how God was using that woman to spread love to all children. She not only strived to love her children but she also extended her love to orphans that were in need. I will always hold her story close to my heart as it reminds me to extend the love of Jesus even if it seems as though I have nothing else to offer.  As I have seen with this lady, God will always make a way as long as we are obedient to truly love those that cross our path.


Adoption and the Seminary

The latest issue of Southwestern News is devoted to the theology and application of adoption. Check out the links below.

On a related note, it is exciting to see what God is doing in America’s seminaries when it comes to adoption and orphan care. This is where many of the churches future leaders are preparing. We have helped numerous couples who are in seminary adopt over the years and it is always exciting to see their faith. Most of these couples had no money of their own to pay for the adoption but believed God would provide – and He did!

Please, pray for these families today who are preparing for ministry around America burdened with a call to adopt! May God show himself mighty in His provision and use these families in their current and future churches to stir even greater zeal for Gospel-reflecting adoption and orphan care. 

picture-402Stories of adoption are woven throughout the fabric of human and divine history. God’s compassion for orphans leaps from the pages of Scripture and demands that all Christians consider their role in the issue of adoption.

A Call to Discipleship »
Mark and Jennifer Leeds always wanted a big family.

Adoption Advocates in Word and Deed »
Just mentioning the word adoption causes John Mark Yeats’ eyes to light up.

Adoption: The Heart of the Gospel »
While a few have responded to this call for writings on the subject, the lack of attention may cause you to wonder why adoption is important.

As Miraculous as Childbirth »
It is often said that a picture is worth a thousand words, and for Southwestern alumnus Bart Barber one photograph captures the essence of life.

Fostering a Gospel Legacy »
For Master of Divinity student Bruce Kendrick and his wife, Denise, ministry to orphans began as a matter of “pure ob-edience,” but years of experience as foster parents have taught them the value of caring for these children.

Helpful Adoption Information »

Modeling the Family of God »
Dean Nichols, campus chaplain, and Waylan Owens, associate professor of pastoral ministry, have many things in common.

Obtained by Grace »
The apostle Paul reminded believers in Corinth that God’s “grace is sufficient” and that His “strength is made perfect in weak-ness” (2 Cor. 12:9). Few images portray the grace of God amid weakness like the story of five-year-old Christopher Savage.