Friday, May 15, 2015

The Next Chapter: Building an Orphanage in Nigeria!

I have a hard time sitting still.

My wife says I have a problem. Maybe she is right, because the older I get the less ability I seem to have to slow down. I will often get home from work and not sit down until it’s time to go to sleep. I love working with my hands. I have been working on a tree house for my kids for the past year and a half. The running joke is that I will finish just in time for my grandchildren to enjoy it. 

I guess more than anything I enjoy creating. I love to see something come from nothing. To see beauty rise out of the ordinary, and order be made of the chaos. That is the reason I began writing. It is the reason I do anything.

A few years back I realized this about myself. I was all the time using my creativity to make fun stuff for our youth group and family. I conjured up everything from silly Youtube videos, to murder mysteries, and even some full blown haunted house experiences. I would write all the material, direct it, and see to it’s execution. And, man, did I love it! I would become totally immersed it the creative process until it was all I would think about. These experiences were really the foundation for my writing. I even began to convert one of my ideas into a full blown novel, and once again found myself lost, and more alive than ever. Though I’ve never done anything with most of this material, the satisfaction from creating it was electrifying to me.

Just when I thought I had found my calling, I realized there was something missing. It was if God nudged me and suggested I start using my talents to show his love to others. This conviction really blossomed during my first trip to work with Native American children on a reservation in North Dakota. I came home from that trip with a heavy heart and a desire to make an actual difference in someone else’s life. I came back to work in a fog. My heart was still with those Sioux children. 

I knew I wanted to go back, and so I shared my heart with my good friend Kevin at work one morning. He asked me about the need. I explained my idea about supplying school materials for all the children of the town, and Kevin immediately began to help by laying out some creative ideas for fundraisers. I was all in, and ready to change the world. We created the fundraisers and worked tirelessly until the day a group of us loaded a church bus packed to the brim with school supplies, and drove across the country to see the fruit of all of our labor.

All week on the reservation we announced the date for our Back to School Bash. We had raised enough money to buy the missionaries there an inflatable bouncy house, and had enough backpacks full of school supplies for every child in the town! The night of the big bash we blew up the inflatable, cranked up the grills, and organized all the backpacks. I think every family in town showed up. I will never forget the elation of seeing the smiles of the kids as we handed them a brand new backpack with all the necessary supplies for that school year. All the planning, all the creating, all the brainstorming, all the working… it was all worth it.

And so for the past few years our life has progressively grown from one venture  to the next. This has lead us on mission trips to Honduras all the way to our adoption in Korea. We have honestly grown so accustomed to working towards these big goals, it makes the in between hard to bear sometimes.

I remember when we touched down in Detroit with our newly adopted son, Wesley, after a 14 hour plane ride. We sunk into the king bed of our Westin hotel like dead bodies. I honestly do not think I have ever been more tired in my entire life. Two years of grueling and emotional work had come to a sudden end, and the weight from all the stress and travel had drained the life from our bodies and souls.

I will never forget lying in that bed next to Patience with Wesley asleep in between us. We were quiet for a long time. I looked at her, and she looked back at me.

“What do we do now?” she whispered.

“What?” I asked.

“I mean, this has consumed so much of our lives for nearly two years… and now he’s here.”

I was quiet.

“I know we’ll find something… I just don’t know what.”

We have now been home with Wesley just over six months, and I have to be honest, it has been tough. Our lives have changed in so many ways, as we have adjusted to raising a son with special needs. It seems almost as if someone slammed on the brakes of life, and we are still shaking are heads and trying to figure out what happened. It has been wonderful and difficult at the same time. The worst part, I feel, has been the lack of vision. Like I said, I do not like sitting still. I like action, not talk. So for our world to stop like it has for the past six months has been really trying for Patience and I. All the while we have been praying for our next big adventure. Our next step. The next chapter in our story.

I believe our next step showed up at my front door Tuesday night with his two daughters. His name is Timothy Ojo, and along with his wife Ronke, and three children, is a native Nigerian missionary. I met Timothy at my Aunt’s house at Easter. She supports his ministry on a monthly basis, and found out he and his family were going to be in the country for a few months. I immediately struck up a conversation as we ate our Easter feast on paper plates standing in the front yard. He told me about his orphanage. He told me about his new van he used to share the Gospel. I chewed my ham and listened intently; shaking my head in disbelief.

“There are over 10 million orphans in Nigeria alone,” he said with pain in his eyes.

How do you respond to that? Being adoptive parents ourselves, I just imagine 10 million little Wesleys starving in the villages of Nigeria. My heart was broken. Our conversation was cut short, but before we parted ways we exchanged information, and set a date for his family to come over for dinner at our house. This past Tuesday was the date, and after our time together, I have no doubt this is what our newest chapter is developing into. 

The most urgent need right now is to build a permanent structure for the orphanage the Ojo’s run in Nigeria. The one they have now is rented, and the situation is volatile at best. Ojo is trying his best to raise $50,000 to see this dream become a reality. I told him that we will do everything in our power to make it happen.

And so a new adventure begins. We have raised $50 so far and have a very long way to go, but I have found myself back in that creative storm, where my heart and mind are consumed with ideas to see this orphanage be built. I know this… we cannot do it alone. Maybe you’ve been feeling like me… a bit lost at the moment. Meandering through day-to-day life aimlessly. I invite you into this story with me. It’s going to be a long road. It’s going to be a lot of work. But when we break ground on that orphanage, and get to see it erected brick by brick, we will all be glad we did it. And as the Nigerian orphans file in one by one to their new home, we can rejoice together. 

So I have found myself pacing again. My soul is stirred, and I can't sit still.

I am ready to put my hands to work.

I am ready to build an orphanage!

You can buy your own brick of the orphanage right now for only $10! 

If you are interested in being a part of this please visit our fundraising page at

My friend Timothy and me.

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