Several of you nominated us for the Epoch “Unsung Hero” Award, a missions gala dedicated to celebrating those who give their lives to serving broken communities around the world.
A partnership of ministries led by Adventures in Missions (AIM), an international organization focused on Christian discipleship among the poor, will host its second Epoch Awards at the Fox Theater in Atlanta, Georgia. Six awards will be given honoring Christian leaders who have developed creative solutions and approaches to missions.
AIM received over 500 nominations this year and have narrowed it down to 20 finalists.
And we are excited to announce that WE ARE GOING TO ATLANTA! CRIO International has been selected as a 2013 Epoch Awards finalist, listed in the following article! Our hearts are overwhelmed at what this means to expand the work that we are doing in Africa. We can’t wait to meet some of the people that have given their lives to love their neighbor well. You can find out more about the Epoch Awards and how to get involved by visiting their website at www.epochawards.com.
Thank you to those of you who sent in your stories. We are honored that you have partnered with us to build the people in Africa. Here is one of our favorite stories to tell.
WHY CRIO'S STORY IS NOW MINE | OUR ETHIOPIAN JOURNEY by Lindsay Freeman
I felt honored to nominate CRIO International for the Epoch Award. CRIO helped write the story of our family and we are proud to call them friends.
Everyone has a great story of how their family came to be. Every story is unique and special with many ups and downs. For our family, the story would not be complete without CRIO.
My husband, Ben, and I knew from the beginning of our marriage we were called to adopt internationally. As Christians, we took it very seriously when Jesus says to care for the orphans and widows (James 1:27). After seven years of just the two of us, Ben and I began to seek out our options.
We started our journey with an adoption agency to adopt a child from Ethiopia. Within months of starting, we were told the laws changed in Ethiopia. The wait for a child could now take several years. We then ventured out on our own to Uganda. We found an orphanage in Uganda, but soon that came to another dead end.
We knew we eventually wanted to adopt one boy and one girl from Africa. After all the hardships and heartache we faced and losing children we thought would soon be ours, we decided it would be better to adopt both children at one time instead of separately. The problem was, however, that we did not know where to go from this point. We had already spent a year trying to find ground with an adoption and felt lost. We knew it was God’s will for us to adopt and despite our fatigue, Ben and I wanted to keep pushing forward. We just did not know which direction to go.
It was here, at one of our lowest points, that Ron and Janice Hesser offered their help. They had been following our journey and praying for us. They contacted a CRIO pastor in Zimbabwe to search out adoption prospects. God led this pastor to one of the poorest parts of Africa in the country Mozambique. The pastors worked together and soon connected us with an orphanage called Maforga in the province of Manica. The orphanage directors are Christians from South Africa and know God wants a family for all of the orphan children. They matched Ben and I with two children.
We made two trips to Maforga to work on finalizing the adoption and to spend time with the children. Our new friends through CRIO worked everyday for months (even in our absence) to push the paperwork through for the adoption. When times seemed hopeless with the African judge and others lost hope, they stood by us and prayed for God to work a miracle. He did.
Because of a faithful God and our friendship with CRIO, we brought home two beautiful children in January of 2013. When our stories collided, the impossible became possible. The sorrow we carried turned into joy.
Our family is now complete. Gabby is four years old and has the personality the size of Texas. Abraham is two years old and is all boy. These children have been given a future that would not have been possible before. They are now growing strong and healthy and gaining confidence. They are loved unconditionally and will never be neglected or go hungry again. Our home is now full and our hearts are overflowing. We thank God for our children and the ministry that helped bring them home.
About the author: Lindsay is an adoptive mom, wife, teacher, and activist. You can read more at www.ourethiopianjourney.wordpress.com.