By Kathy Alexander
On November 17, 2003, a newborn baby girl was left on a road near the gated entrance to the Yangjiang Social Welfare Institute, a government-run orphanage in Yangjiang City, Guangdong Province, China. The orphanage staff tenderly picked up the tiny baby wrapped in a simple towel and named her Yang Xiao Jing.
“Yang” is the surname given to every child who comes to the Yangjiang orphanage, and “Xiao Jing” is the name the staff selected for this particular arrival. For record keeping, however, she was classified as Baby No. 315.
Xiao Jing began her new life as an orphan in an isolated crib with a wooden plank serving as her mattress. Her first night in this new place would not be a quiet one, however. Her simple crib was surrounded by dozens just like it, each filled with a child who had also been abandoned on the streets of Yangjiang City.
In Cantonese, “Xiao Jing” means “little crystal.” Twelve months later this “little gem” changed the life of a family halfway around the world, and in turn, changed the life of their church. Xiao Jing became Lily Kathrine XiaoJing Alexander, my daughter!
FIRST, A DAUGHTER . . .
My husband and I were thrilled with our three sons, but quite frankly, I wanted a daughter! Adoption had always held a special place in our hearts; our oldest son, now 18, was adopted domestically as a newborn. So, when I began to research adopting a daughter from a foreign country, my husband was not completely surprised.
The Chinese Center of Adoption Affairs referred Yang Xiao Jing to us. She was the baby they had selected for us. She was to be my daughter. In the weeks that followed, I memorized each part of her face as it stared back at me from the photo they had sent with her paperwork.
On November 1, 2004, that photo finally came to life when an orphanage nanny placed her in my arms. Several days later, I had the opportunity to visit the orphanage that had been her home for the first 11½ months of her life. Thankfully, my camera hid the tears that fell as I surveyed the stark walls and realized I was experiencing firsthand what it might have been like to walk through the “fields of the fatherless” written about in Deuteronomy 24:19.
I was changed forever.
. . . THEN A MINISTRY
Once home, I realized I had brought back more than a daughter. I also had a burning desire to see many more orphaned children united with forever families. In 2005 that desire began to take shape as our church, Fairfield Christian Church in Lancaster, Ohio, started Forever Families Adoption Ministry and Orphan Care (FFAM/OC). Initially, the ministry focused on adoption, but it since has expanded its goals to include other ways of caring for orphans and vulnerable children.
James 1:27 says, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress.” This command and a deep desire to impact children’s eternal lives challenged eight adoptive families to unite and ask their church family to join them in an incredible journey.
Our goals are:
• Evangelize the lost. Adop-tion is evangelism at its core . . . it is bringing the mission field home where children are loved, cared for, and discipled to know Jesus Christ as their Savior. We agree with Dennis Rainey, who wrote, “I believe that as adopted children in God’s family, believers should be the first to reach out to orphaned and abandoned children around the world.”
• Edify the saved. The adoption and orphan care ministry challenges, encourages, and enables believers to put their faith into action by stepping out in faith to make adoption a reality.
• Minister to those in need. The orphan and adoption ministry is committed to reaching out to vulnerable children both in the United States and the international arena through adoption. Because financial concerns are an obstacle that keeps families from adopting, FCC and FFAM help make funds available to qualifying families to offset costs associated with adoption. FFAM also connects people with grants available through outside ministries.
• Be a conscience in the community. As Fairfield Christian Church becomes obedient in its care of orphans and vulnerable children, the community will see the love of Jesus Christ working in the lives of his people.
FCC’s missions department is committed to making a difference across the street and around the world to fulfill the Great Commission of Christ. Our initial commitment to adoption now also includes a dedication to orphan care and foster parenting. We have hosted adoption information seminars, conferences, benefit concerts, foster parenting seminars, and adoption fairs to increase awareness of children’s needs with the hope of challenging our church family and our community to respond.
We know many children around the world will never know the love of a forever family because the country in which they live does not support international adoption. In response, we recently committed to assisting an orphanage in Vietnam. Both FCC and 31 families within the church have committed to supporting this orphanage on a monthly basis for the next year. These funds will provide the finances needed for a home, an education, medical treatment, food, and spiritual training.
When members Tim and Cheryl Giese returned from Ethiopia with their new daughter, they explained the role of FCC’s adoption ministry: “Through this ministry God guided us on a journey that ultimately led us to a precious little girl in Ethiopia,” Cheryl wrote. “Her name is Rediet, which means, ’something small that will become great.’”
Lily—our “Little Crystal”—and Rediet share a common name and a common story. Their birth names contain translations of words meaning “little, small.” They were both orphaned and then adopted by families from FCC. Although they are little, their testimonies have had a BIG impact on the life of the church.
Lily started the story and Rediet is one of many who continue it! The story is not complete. God continues to move in BIG ways as he ministers to children through FCC’s Forever Families Adoption Ministry and Orphan Care. Children are being adopted, orphans are being provided for, vulnerable children are being fostered, and God’s love is being shown.
Psalm 68:5 declares, “A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.” Holiness means “set apart, sacred.” God has set aside a special place in his heart for orphans. The efforts of our ministry help us meet God in that place.
Kathy Alexander is a pastor’s wife and coordinator of Forever Families Adoption Ministry/Orphan Care at Fairfield Christian Church, Lancaster, Ohio. She and her husband have five children, three of them adopted (one from the U.S. and two from China).