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Minister's Message: Jochebed’s Hope looks like Jesus
Tom Smiley
The Rev. Tom Smiley
“Jochebed’s Hope” is the name we at Lakewood Baptist Church give our adoption and foster care ministry.

Its aim is to aid children and families tangibly and spiritually with the gospel, or good news, that through Jesus Christ people can be adopted into God’s forever family.

Jochebed was Moses’ mother, whom we regard as the first parent to place her child for adoption. In the midst of difficult circumstances, she did her best to provide for the child she unquestionably loved.

In September, Lakewood celebrated a full year of ministry with Jochebed’s Hope. We commemorated this occasion of joining God where he is working in adoption and foster care by designing a unique worship experience. You can view the service at www.Lakewoodlife.org.
We began by welcoming Chief Juvenile Court Judge Lindsey Burton. Her court handles parental rights, custody, child support and guardianship issues as well as an array of other matters regarding children and families.

Judge Burton is known for employing innovative approaches in seeking the best interest of every child and frequently resources public and private sector entities to this end.

She thanked Lakewood, and she challenged and encouraged us to grow and further develop our adoption and foster care efforts.

We then viewed a video from a Lakewood family in China finalizing an international adoption. It was powerful to know that on that very day, one of our own was on the other side of the world living out what obedience meant for their family.

We also heard a moving testimony from Tom Kinman, pastor of Hickory Grove Baptist Church in Gastonia, North Carolina. He and his wife, Betty, while in their mid-60s, felt impressed by the Holy Spirit to be obedient in a domestic adoption of a young boy, Victor, whose mom had died.

Victor was about to be thrust into a system that was going to move him out of his community, his school and his sports team. Tom and Betty, with the support of their two grown children, adopted Victor, who is excelling in many areas of his life and now preparing for college.

Then I spoke. However, my message was already preached by Judge Burton, the Clary family, the Grimes family and the Kinman family.
Each of their experiences and testimonies reminded us that the foundation of adoption is established, not in the act of humans adopting humans, but in God adopting humans.

Each of them offered proof of my points that adoption and foster care are costly; they are far more about obedience than personal comfort. However, as we see over and over in the Bible, God’s blessing never fails to follow our obedience, even if it doesn’t look like or come when we expected.

Foster care as well as international and domestic adoption provide a clear picture of the very heart of the Gospel.

We thanked God that in the last 12 months, as we celebrated the first birthday of this new ministry, Lakewood and our community have partnered with 10 families as they adopted children.

We celebrated the many people from this region who have completed foster care training at Lakewood.

We thanked God for the strong core group of over 50 family members, engaging in adoption or foster care who regularly meet for support, encouragement, fellowship and training.

We rejoiced over the 11 families who have joined Lakewood’s faith family because of the ministry of Jochebed’s Hope.

It was a good day full of celebrating God’s gifts to our fellowship and preparing for what he has in store next for adoption and foster care in our community.

I have two final statements when it comes to your consideration of adoption and foster care:
First, no one can do everything, but everyone can do something. Secondly, strive to determine “what can I do?” versus “what can I avoid?”
Will you join us in a ministry that looks so much like Jesus?

A tangible next step for you would be our Jochebed’s Hope Lunch and Learn at noon Sunday, Oct. 15. This seminar will lead you to explore how you might participate in Jochebed’s Hope caring for children and families.

Contact Tyler Smiley at thsmiley@lakewoodlife.org or Teresa Grimes at tgrimes@lakewoodlife.org to learn more.

A personal next step for you is to consider your own adoption as God’s child. Do you know God the Father? Do you know his son, Jesus, who made a way for you to be in God’s family? Do you know the Holy Spirit, who intercedes for you?

I would love to talk to you about a personal spiritual decision. Contact me at tsmiley@lakewoodlife.org.

“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.” Galatians 4:4-5

The Rev. Tom Smiley is the senior pastor at Lakewood Baptist Church in Gainesville. He can be reached at tsmiley@lakewoodlife.org.

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