Welcoming Angels Hosting Program Information

We have been so blessed to have received an overwhelming response to our adoption/hosting video!  Thank you to all who have shared, commented, and donated.  We are so encouraged to see how many of you have sought out information on the Welcoming Angels Hosting Program.  It has become quickly apparent that I needed to streamline the process so that you were all able to get information and access to the correct people in your pursuit of hosting an Ethiopian child this June.

Here is the link to our agency’s page on the program.  This has an abundance of information and answers most of your initial questions:

http://www.awaa.org/programs/welcoming-angels/default.aspx

If after reading that section you want to pursue the process further, please contact the program head, Michelle Reed, at 1-800-429-3369 ext: 186 or 703-891-3141.  Her email is michelle.reed@awaa.org.  She is extremely friendly and willing to help answer any questions you might have.  Of course, you can feel free to contact me as well, but if you call me I will tell you, “YOU HAVE TO DO IT.  YOU HAVE TO HOST!”  I’m just warning you ahead of time, if you call me I’m going to convince you to host.  I’m pretty persuasive!

Once again I just want to reiterate how encouraged I have been receiving your emails inquiring about the hosting program (I’ve received several).  I am already praying that each of you continues to step forward in faith for these children.  They deserve to experience what it’s like to have a family and be loved and valued.  I’m asking you to push all of the many excuses and reasons aside as to why you can’t or why it’s not practical and let’s make it happen for these amazing kids!

Advertisements

Give1Save1 Featured Our Story!

Check out our video that was featured on this incredible adoption blog!

http://give1save1africa.blogspot.com/2013/03/new-week-new-family-hagensens.html

Welcoming Angels…Who Wants to Join?

From the moment I returned from a trip to the Romanian orphanages 13 years ago I knew that I HAD to share with others what I had seen.  Through a two-week experience my world was rocked.  My life’s course would change forever, and my previous perspective seemed hollow and insignificant.  I would often think to myself, “If only my friends, family, and affluent Americans in general could see the need; really see and experience the need…things would be so different.”  Just like all of you who have experienced that need first-hand, I knew that I had to advocate on behalf of these precious children.

With that being said I am excited to announce that Brittany and I will be the Arizona liaisons for America World Adoption Agency’s Welcoming Angels Hosting Program!  Beyond adopting within our own family I have prayed about how the Lord might be able to help us effectively communicate and expose those around us to these beautiful children in need of homes.  Well… this program allows us to do just that.  Here is how it works: a host family commits to hosting one child in their home for the month of June.  During that time, Brittany and I will coordinate 1-2 events per week for all of the children in the program to get together and share their experiences and language with each other.  I have heard time and time again from families, “Adoption just isn’t our thing right now” or “We would love to but we cannot afford $30,000 at this time” or “It just seems scary because we don’t know anyone closely who has adopted and it seems like there are a lot of horror stories out there about older children adoptions” or “With the stage our other children are at, it’s not practical to adopt”, etc, etc.  I completely understand all of that, and this is why this hosting opportunity is so incredibly exciting to me.  All of those people can now be a part of making a difference in these children’s lives!

Many families are unable to go on a short-term mission trip because of the logistical impracticality with multiple children, jobs, school, etc.  Well, this could be an opportunity to “DO JUSTICE” without having to leave your own home.  To provide warmth, love, and a true family atmosphere to an orphan who otherwise wouldn’t have that opportunity!  Some of you may be thinking to yourself, “John- I’d be interested in hosting, but I am NOT adopting.  You’re not going to ‘soft-sell’ me on this.”  To that I would say this, “That is totally okay!  You are still a perfect host family prospect and in no way is having a desire to adopt a pre-requisit to host.”  However, the statistics of the program don’t lie: over 85% of the children that come to America in the hosting program are adopted into families following their stay in the States.  Occasionally it is in fact the host family themselves that adopt, but many times it is a neighbor, a co-worker, or a friend from church of that host family who feels compelled to adopt.  There may be several people in your life and community that at this very moment have had adoption on their hearts and minds, but may not know the next step or ever been exposed first hand to the need.  You could give them their “Romania-like-experience!”  How awesome is that!?

So here is the deal, we are asking families in the Phoenix area to consider and pray about this opportunity.  We need 5 families to come forward and answer the call for these kids.  Again, even if you personally do not anticipate adoption being in your family’s future, please consider the hosting program as a way to advocate for these beautiful children, show them the love of a family, and expose them to many people in your community who may in fact have a desire to adopt someday.  Brittany I and have hired a videographer who will be filming a video next week where we will further explain the hosting program and attempt to promote it far and wide!  Built into that video will be a fundraising component where we will attempt to raise proceeds into a general hosting fund at our agency that will be divided amongst the 5 host families.  We hope that this will increase the already affordable hosting expense and make it more do-able for potential families to particiapte and bring these children to America this summer.

Obviously there are a lot more details, but for those of you in Arizona or for those of you who have friends in Arizona, please start spreading the word!  We need 5 families to sign up by the end of March, and we will need all of your help to make the dream a reality!  Contact me with any questions at johnhagensen@yahoo.com or via FaceBook.  Also, be on the lookout for our promotional video which should be online around March 3rd.

Matthew 25:14-46

Today during my Scripture reading (I’m doing the “Reading the Bible in a Year” and actually sticking to it this time with the help of a great app (BIOY).  Check it out for Android of iPhone if you’re interested.  I feel it’s the first time I’ve actually made it through more than a few weeks).  Today’s reading from the New Testament was on Matthew 25, and it prompted today’s post.  Below is the excerpt that I read, followed by some of my thoughts.

The Parable of the Bags of Gold

14 “Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. 15 To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. 16 The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. 17 So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. 18 But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.

19 “After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. 20 The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’

21 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

22 “The man with two bags of gold also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two bags of gold; see, I have gained two more.’

23 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

24 “Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25 So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’

26 “His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? 27 Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.

28 “‘So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. 29 For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. 30 And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

The Parable of the Sheep and the Goats

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

When pondering the world’s orphan crisis there really are no easy answers.  The task is overwhelming and daunting and often I think, “What can anyone do about this?  There are a 147,000,000 (yes that’s in millions) orphans.  This problem is simply too big.”  To put this in perspective, a couple of years ago there were more orphans adopted from the country of Ethiopia than in any other calendar year; yet the number of orphans within the country increased by tens of thousands during that same period of time.  The reality is that adoption alone cannot single-handedly rid the world of orphans, and my point for today is: that’s not really the point.

Occasionally I am directly confronted or indirectly posed with the premise that in-country sustainability is the more appropriate route rather than “taking a child out of their culture and heritage” through adoption.  To those of you who think that I would say, “I couldn’t agree more”.  Adoption is not the ideal procedure to bringing entire nations, or continents for that matter, toward long-term success in beating the orphan crisis.

With that being said, the above Scripture is not warranting of a debate regarding whether adoption is the perfect solution.  We are all in agreement there; it’s not.  It’s also not warranting of a debate whether adoption viable and just and good; it is.  Over and over in Scripture we are reminded that to whom much is given, much is expected.  As Americans, many of us drive two $30,000 vehicles, live in houses worth hundreds or thousands, take vacations costing thousands more, and spend in general without much concern or thought for any of it.  We live in a society so affluent that it allows for such a mindset.  None of this is to say that we can’t take vacations or live in nice homes, but the Bible is crystal clear in the Parable of the Servants with the Bags of Gold: we all represent the servant given the 10 bags of gold.  What are each of us doing to multiply those blessings?  Sadly, our society as a whole would be best represented by a servant who received 15 or 20 bags of gold, hid 10 in a field, lost 3 or 4, and spent another 1 or 2 on a couple of purple robes and 12 bottles of Two Buck Chuck.  In my own life I find myself constantly battling my own sinful thoughts and selfish desires with regard to my finances.

The second part of the passage focusses on “doing to the least of these”.  My contention is that while we wait for the long-term solutions to be solved, there is a huge role that we have the opportunity to play in caring for the broken and the hurting children both domestically and abroad.  Although I am relatively young, I consider what my legacy will be quite often.  One of my biggest fears in life is nearing the end of it (whenever that may be) and looking back at a big house, nice cars, and fancy vacations…how empty is that?  I don’t want to reflect back at a life and family mired in mediocrity, I want something great, something better, something more eternal.  As the servant with 10 bags of gold, we have a chance to change the life of a child who would otherwise be on the street without food, and in many cases without clean water and proper medical care.

To turn our backs on that tremendous opportunity because “we can’t afford it” or “there are too many unknowns” or “how will that affect our other children” or “what if they have bad behavior” is flat out lame.  Not a single place in the Bible does it say that doing the right thing is always the easiest and most convenient thing.  In fact, the Bible often speaks directly to the contrary.  I hope that all of us make an effort to train our minds in a manner *inconsistent with American society by focussing on those around us in need rather than what most pleases us each and every moment.

“When it comes to caring for the people of God’s heart, indifference is a sin.” -Tom Davis, Fields of the Fatherless

Super Bowl Sunday

So…I’ve been a big slacker. I started this blog over a year ago and have done very little with it since.  However, I have decided to “re-activate” it with a commitment to more consistent content and discussion topics.  My desire is that this blog can be a compilation of thoughts, ideas, and resources for men concerning adoption and our role in helping care for the fatherless.  The ultimate goal is that it can be a forum to share with one another through an interactive and honest dynamic.  I encourage you, should you feel compelled, to post links, ideas, and thoughts related to adoption as well as our role as men, fathers, and husbands!

Today is Super Bowl Sunday and many of us will be gathering with friends and family to enjoy a time of relaxation (and a time of mild depression for Seahawks’ fans who will be forced to watch a team they beat by 30 points playing for the championship…I’m not bitter obviously).  Many of these “care-free” moments of life have now become multi-faceted and bitter-sweet for me as a father.  For those of you who have been exposed first hand to orphans in one way or another you understand what I mean.  There is an underlying element of guilt and sadness, a sense of “injustice” at our ability to live in an insulated world of affluence and lack of extreme need.  I believe these moments humble me most when I realize that I did nothing to deserve my situation, and in the same way these fatherless children did nothing to warrant their desperate state of life.  It just happened that way.  For a reason unknown to me, there currently are over 100,000,000 children who have no homes or families.

Fortunately for us as Americans, we live in the most materially blessed society in the history of the world.  You know what this means?  WE CAN DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!  How humbling is it that we have the ability to change the life of a child/generation forever?  What a massive responsibility God has placed on us to lead our family and wives toward justice for these children!  I get the sense that on occasion that some of you think to yourselves, “Why are you pushing adoption?  Why are you so passionate about adoption?  That is great for you, but it’s not my thing.  I have never felt led to adopt.  Don’t judge me.”  Let me first say that my intention is in no way to make you feel guilty or badly if you choose not to adopt and that I certainly do not judge any of you for your decisions.  Over the next couple of weeks I am going to address some of my answers to why I personally happen to be “Pro Adoption” and why all of us have a clear role in some capacity toward supporting and coming to the aid of the fatherless.  This role will certainly not look the same for everyone, but I believe as men we have an indisputable responsibility in seeing that orphans are cared for.

Today as you spend time with family and friends watching football and enjoying the many blessings in your life I encourage you to thank God for those gifts!  Then, follow that by taking just a brief moment to reflect on the literally millions of orphans around the world at this very second.  These are children created by God just as your children are; who are without food, shelter, clean water, and probably most importantly the love of a family.  As men I believe that we are called to be on the front-lines of a global awakening; an awakening of awareness that will give these invisible children faces and names.  We cannot continue to be passive and rely on our wives to drive action within our families as it relates to adoption.

I look forward to sharing with this community where we can be a part of advocating on behalf of those children whose voices are not loud enough for anyone to hear.

“Adoption is not just about couples who want children – or who want more children.  Adoption is about an entire culture within our churches, a culture that sees adoption as part of our Great Commission mandate and as a sign of the gospel itself.” – Russell D. Moore, Adopted for Life.

Depraved Indifference

This evening Britt and I had the opportunity to spend time with some wonderful friends of ours up in Bismarck, North Dakota.  I think most of us have a few of those friendships in life where you consider that relationship to be one of your best, closest, most meaningful, and challenging despite that extenuating circumstances limit your time together.  For us, those friends are Kasey and Kristen Gilliss.  Kasey and Kristen have an authenticity about them that is infectious and their heart for ministry and adoption are obvious to all that they come in contact with.  They are great examples to Britt and I and we are so thankful for our time spent together, even if it tends to take place in sub zero temps!  Kasey brought a video to my attention and it had such an impact on me that I wanted to pass it along.  I hope that it stirs your heart as much as it did mine.  The Lord is clear that we are all to have a role in the lives of hurting and helpless children.  Have a look…

…and the greatest of these is love

Imagine…

It’s dark, cold, and raining.  It’s 3am and you are shivering under a cardboard box; clothes tattered, hungry, scared, exhausted.  You are 7 years old, and next to you under the rain-soaked cardboard is your 3 year-old brother.  He is crying because he hasn’t eaten in 2 days.  You know no different.  This is your life.  Two years ago, when you were five, both of your parents died of AIDS and  you have been on the street ever since, caring for your brother first and looking out for yourself after his needs have been met.  You became a “parent” at the age of five.  You beg for food on the streets and pray each night that God will protect your brother and you from crime and disease.  On Christmas, you sat huddled under a roofline, thankful that someone brought you and your brother food and clean water on this special day.  You have no one to call “father”, no one to call “mother”. You are a family of two, desperate and in need.  You believe that you are forgotten.  No one is looking out for your well-being or caring for your needs.  You don’t have family gatherings at holidays, or someone to take you to ball-games.  School will never be an option for you and it is unknown whether you will even live past your 10th birthday.  You have been abused and suffered much neglect.  Your bone-density is not what it should be and your belly protrudes out due to your lack of nutrition and starvation.  As you lie there, wet, cold, and hungry, you pray to God that he would restore you and your brother.  That he would touch someone, somehow, somewhere, to help you in your desperation.  Who will restore you, does anyone care?  Does God even care or has he abandoned you too?

Unfortunately, this is just one example of the 145,000,000 orphans worldwide.  This is real, this is happening RIGHT NOW as you read this.  We have the ability to do something about this, and we are called to act.  If not us then who will restore broken and hurting children?

1 Corinthians 13:1-3 “If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.  And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.”

I think we all know that “love” is a word not easily defined.  It’s multi-facetted and can mean several things depending on context, but seeing that Christmas was just yesterday I am going to focus on the parallel between God’s love for us and what that means in our lives with relation to orphan care.  This weekend our pastor was breaking down the all-familiar passage of John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son that whosoever believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”  His focus was specifically on the word “Love”.  Think about how diluted  that word is in our society today?  I “love” when the Seahawks win or when my fantasy football team dominates one of my buddy’s squads.  I “love” NEEDTOBREATHE and Chipotle burrito bowls.  Oh yeah, and by the way God sacrificed His Son for us also out of “love”.  You see what I mean?  We throw that word around on things that have no business being labeled with “love”.  In light of that, it’s predictable that we have grown callous toward the depth and impact of God’s love for us.  Think about this concept, because of His “LOVE” God sent his only Son to die for us, even with the knowledge that we were going to sin against him, turn our backs on him, and mock him with our actions.  I mean, I like to think that I love people, but if it came down to knowingly sacrificing Cruz to save one of you…I’m choosing my son 10 times out of 10.

So you are probably thinking, “That’s great John, I heard my pastor’s sermon in between singing “Silent Night” and “O Come all Ye Faithful”  at our candlelight service as well.  I gotcha, what God did was amazing and his love is unfathomable.  What does this have to do your blog or orphan care?”  Stick with me, I’m getting there.  Think of it this way; if love is the premise for everything good and right here on earth, then we ought to reflect and emulate God’s love to see how it should be reflected.  Love is what allows us to live for something bigger than ourselves.  Love is many things, but none more so than “selfless”.  The two words are synonymous, and one cannot be without the existence of the other. God loved us so much that He adopted us and through His love we were restored.  God acted in love by adopting us, and it was out of his LOVE for us that we can have hope in something more.  Just as I illustrated above, there are hurting souls that are aching for that same restoration.  Who will meet their needs and answer their silent cries for help?

I have said, and many others have told me that they are not “called to _______ (fill in the blank with something you would prefer not to do)”.  Today’s blog post is a challenge to all of us, myself at the front of the line, to choose to be courageous in whatever area of life that God has led us to wrestle with.  If you take my challenge it will force you to lead your heart rather than be led by it.  Jeremiah 17:9 says “That the heart is more deceitful than all else” and it will always pursue what feels right at the moment.  Do you want to be a wave of the sea, blown and tossed in the wind?  I know I don’t.  I hope you realize that love is a decision, it’s not just a feeling.  It’s selfless, sacrificial, and transformational.  I am writing to all, but my hope is that specifically Christian men would bravely step-up and lead their families with strength and Godliness as they answer God’s call to the desperate and broken.  How will you demonstrate love in your life as a reflection of God’s gift of love to us through his son?

I thought I would leave you with a quote from the book “Kisses from Katie”.  It is about the life of a young American woman in her 20’s who has chosen to answer the cries of 13 girls and counting while living in Uganda.  She intended to go abroad for a temporary mission trip and once exposed could not help but act upon the desperate need.  She says, “The truth is that if only 8 percent of the Christians would care for one more child, there would not be any statistics left.  This is the truth.  I have the freedom, the opportunity to do something about it.  The truth is that He loves these children just as much as he loves me and now that I know, I am responsible.”  My prayer is that this blog will be an eye-opening journey for all of us, as we awaken our hearts toward caring for those in need.

If you want to know more about why I am writing this blog, check out the “About this blog” section!