Eli is still weeks away from coming home, yet he has already taught me, his father, so much. If you didn’t get to catch his story, you can do so here. The short version is God has called Amanda and I to adopt an orphan from Ethiopia who has some special needs. Due to severe malnourishment, he has some delayed milestones.
When we thought through possibilities, we became overwhelmed. When we prayed through opportunities, we became peaceful. Amanda had been praying to meet the needs of a child that was even more overlooked than other orphans. I wasn’t there yet. My line of reasoning was such: “If we don’t accept the child matched with us, that child will wind up on a waiting list. We don’t know what we are getting into with a waiting child.”
Everything changed when we heard about Eli.
When we began to talk to ourselves, other people, and professionals in their respective fields, I realized something about myself and most people: We all want to see the needs of the world met, yet we rarely want them met through our own hands.
Every one with whom we talked was concerned over Eli’s state. If you see his pictures in the orphanage, your heart literally breaks in two. The look in his eyes cries hopelessness. Anyone who heard his story or saw his pictures became brokenhearted. His parents died so early. He hasn’t had enough to eat. His life has been absent of stability. Everyone felt pity for him.
But no one wanted responsibility for him.
I have to admit, I would have slept better at night if someone would have told me, “Don’t worry about Eli, someone else has agreed to take care of him.” I would have uttered a sigh of relief, felt better about the world, and gone about my merry way.
Why? Because I honestly want him to have a better life, but I didn’t want my life affected in the process. I would feel better if he was taken care of just as long as it didn’t affect my comfort. We want peace on earth without it disrupting our lives. We don’t want to take risks. We want to help someone without getting dirty. Meet the needs of the world at arm’s lengths.
Eli has taught me so much already. He is pushing me to be more like Christ. I can’t just hurt for the needs of others, I need to hurt with the needs of others. My hands must begin to match up with my heart. I want to see the needs of the world met, yet I rarely want them met through my own hands.
Travis Agnew serves as the Lead Pastor of Rocky Creek Church in Greenville, SC. His most recent book is Distinctive Discipleship. He is married to Amanda and the father of two sons and one daughter. Travis graduated from North Greenville University with a B.A. in Christian Studies and earned his M.Div. and D.Min. from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, with his doctoral focus on family discipleship.