When the gospel takes you to Latvia and back

Today’s post is from Scott Beierwaltes, one of the elders at Providence.  Scott and Katie and their family have been on an amazing journey over the last 6 months through their adoption of a young man from Latvia, Andris.  I’ve asked them to share what God has been doing in their lives over the last few month and what He has taught them through their experiences in Latvia.  Here is Scott’s story:

I pray that this post clearly communicates just how amazing our God is and how blessed we are to be His.  Any bragging you may sense as you read our story comes with a humbleness of knowing that the great peace and joy we’ve experienced is not due to anything we’ve done, but purely by the grace of God that He would bless us so richly and beyond anything we deserve.

Wow!  What an exciting ride it’s been these past 6 months as God placed a powerful sense in me, and then in Katie, to reach out and connect with Andris days before he left to head home to Latvia after spending 5 weeks here as part of a host program.  

What’s been interesting to me is that it has never seemed like a burden or sacrifice.  I would have thought that along the way, at some point, we would feel overwhelmed by all the various challenges and as we overcame them to feel pride in our accomplishments and what we’ve overcome.  Instead, from the moment we connected with Andris at his host family’s home, everything has felt very natural and normal.  Peaceful.  From our communication, to our feelings for each other, to all of the various hoops and expenses related to the adoption process … it’s as if God has supernaturally paved the way and provided us just the right amount of momentum.  That momentum carried us all the way to Riga, Latvia for most of the month of June.

We arrived in Riga with the sole focus of bringing Andris physically into our family after many months of Facebook chats and the occasional call or video chat.  On the second day we were formally approved by the Latvian orphan court and made the drive out to the Children’s Home where Andris lived.  Seeing Andris in person after so many months apart brought great happiness!  Similar to the anticipation felt during pregnancy and then the feelings of intense joy when a baby is born, we felt similar anticipation and the rush of excitement the moment we saw Andris and hugged him.  From that day since we continue to be blessed as we all get to know and enjoy each other.  It’s been such an amazing experience to see and experience God’s handiwork.  For reasons beyond our understanding, God chose now to be the time to finally bring us all together.

One aspect of this experience that I’m grateful for has been the opportunity to rely on God.  Realistically, while I’d love to be able to say that we’ve always relied on God each and every day, it’s simply not true.  Way too often, typically without even realizing it, we’ve made decisions based on what we wanted to do and believed was possible. This was, and continues to be, completely different.  Initially, we didn’t even think about adopting Andris.  Not because of anything about Andris personally, but more a feeling that our lives were already full.  God changed all of that in an instant when He placed in me an undeniable sense that we had to connect with him.  At first, it wasn’t clear what exactly that would mean, but I shared those feelings with Katie who didn’t even blink before agreeing to connect with him before leaving.  Unbelievable.  A busy mom with 4 young children, yet God had prepared her to be open minded to what He might have for us.  God gave us both the desire and then also the sense that He would provide for us all along the way.  So, even though we knew in our minds that practically it would be very difficult (i.e. very tight deadlines due to his age, high financial costs with zero money budgeted, and 4 kids under the age of 8) we also had a clear sense that if we trusted and relied on God that He would provide for us.  And He did!  

We learned to focus on one day at a time.  To spend time with Him in the morning praying for that day and not just for Andris, but also that our love for God would deepen and from that He would change us to love others in a way beyond anything we could do on our own.  During those times, I was reminded that the good news of Jesus isn’t just for the unbeliever, but for everyone.  I learned to remind myself and thank Jesus daily for living a perfect life for us to follow, for incurring the punishment for sin that we would have all otherwise suffered, and then rising from the dead and living among the people to prove that He was who He said He was.  Reflecting on that Gospel message repeatedly dramatically increased my feelings for Him.  As the feelings and dependence increased, the more I want to share that with people.  The more I want to live the type of life that will bring Him the most glory and fame.  He deserves it!  The law, or description of how we should behave, is our guide.  Not that we can come close to doing it all in our power, but it serves to show God’s perfect standards and to plant seeds in our hearts and minds to bear fruit when opportunities arise.  Our realization that we fall short of how God intended us to live should serve as an opportunity for us to seek Him and the forgiveness bought for us by Jesus on the cross.

In remembering the Gospel and literally begging God to change me and overcome my inherent selfishness, God has blessed me with a deeper love for Him and others, as well as a desire to look for “divine appointments” to speak of His goodness.  One awesome answer to prayer is that God has given us a story to tell.  I prayed for months pleading with God to give us stories to tell people about Him … after a few occurrences of sharing the adoption news and our story, I finally realized that this experience was a direct answer to prayer.  Not just for me, but also for Andris who prayed for a large family to adopt him.  

God is amazing and has blessed us so richly!  I feel like we’re just scratching the surface of what God has for us.  The more we let go, follow the Bible, seek forgiveness, and put our trust in Him … the more I believe we’ll experience the fullness of life and ultimately the pureness of heaven.  

Take the gift of today, and everyday, to fall on your knees and thank Jesus for all that He’s done and humbly plead with Him to change you and instill in you an undeniable sense to boldly follow Him.

May God bless you and keep you close!

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