Who Ever Saw This Coming?
When Philip and Sara Matheny heard God calling them to adopt, they thought they were ready. When they understood God wanted them to adopt from West Africa, they were on board. When they were told the only child available for adoption was blind, they hesitated – this would be a lifestyle-changing commitment – but after some wrestling with God they said “yes”, trusting that this was about what He was doing. A year later, when they heard God telling them to go to West Africa and establish an orphanage, there was more hesitation. This meant uprooting the whole family and potentially endangering their children by moving to a far-less developed country. Again they said “yes.” And it was hard. I know there were times Sara wanted to give up. Living in a country without our technology and medicine and conveniences, having no close friends there, and the growing dangers – both from nature and from terrorism – made living there seem unbearable at times.
Meanwhile, Philip was learning several languages and forming relationships that would open the doors to starting orphan care. The Mathenys learned that a new orphanage was not the answer, nor was it God’s design for abandoned children. It also became clear that the government wanted to try a foster care-type system, so the Mathenys set about figuring that out, but they were working against culture. Muslim majority societies generally do not take non-relatives into their families, and on top of that, abandoned babies are typically considered cursed. Unknowingly, by the growth of their family through adoption, the Mathenys became a living demonstration of caring for children who are not biologically related to them.
Their living demonstration worked! The local Christians were not afraid of any curse from a motherless baby and did an exemplary job of caring for these precious infants for years at a time. In fact, they fearlessly loved and cared for these babies so well that the villages where the babies came from were amazed. The testimony of the healthy development of the babies, along with the well-being of the foster families, inspired these villages to take their children back! Through all of this, many have come to faith in Jesus, seeing he is more powerful than any spirits or evils they had feared!
Now the Mathenys are back in the states, since the local African Christians are very capable of handling the foster program themselves, and Philip makes periodic visits to see what else needs to be implemented.
Now the next part of the story shows the power of God and His foresight and sovereignty in having the Mathenys make this adoption/mission journey. The local government, mostly Muslim workers, has seen how effective this host family system is, with children thriving so much more than in orphanages, so they want to implement it nationwide. Not only that, but they have seen that the crucial factor is the love of Christians and have therefore reached out to local Churches to recruit their new foster families! See what God is doing here?! No one foresaw this over five years ago when the Mathenys said “yes”!
Here’s a link to the Matheny’s blog. http://frontrowburkina.blogspot.com/