by Jason Kovacs, Together for Adoption blog

We pray for the day when churches are filled with not only adoptive families but college students and young singles who have been gripped by God’s heart for the fatherless. To encourage this we offered college students a discounted rate at our national conference. Here is a very encouraging testimony from Natalie Askren, a college student in Iowa who came to the conference in October:

This past October, I ended up at the Together for Adoption conference. It is so evident to me now the way in which God was working.

Last spring, I went on a missions trip with my college ministry to Jamaica. On one of the last days of our time there, we went to an orphanage to play with the kids. Tired and a bit overwhelmed, I sat on the front steps with a baby in my arms.

I looked down at the little baby in my arms and around at all the kids playing. I instantly became aware of a strong passion for the fatherless within me. A passion far too great to ignore. (And when I say passion, I mean something big. My personality is not such that I’m very passionate about much. At least not the totally-swept-away-with-compassion-and-emotion kind of passion).

Through following blogs of adoptive mothers, I had experienced a desire to adopt several years before this. I wanted a cute little baby from another country. And that’s about all it was. I hadn’t stopped to consider the larger implications of adoption, orphans and my faith.

I had written several posts on my personal blog about adoption, not knowing that a friend and adoptive mom had been reading my blog all along. I received an e-mail from this adoptive mom saying she remembered I was interested in adoption and had heard of this conference — the Together for Adoption conference — on another friend’s blog. “It’s late notice, but I thought I’d let you know anyway,” she said.

Initially, I decided to go. Then I realized the money it would take to get from Iowa to Tennessee. I backed up my thoughts and just prayed. I asked a friend if she would consider going. Initially, she couldn’t. But then we both decided to make it work. My parents were a huge blessing in the process, making it so that we had round-trip transportation. Off we went, two 21-year-old single women from Iowa, having just made arrangements to get there one week before.

It took me a few days to process my thoughts once we were back. My narrow little vision for orphans and adoptions was expanded so tremendously. I wrote the following five days later:

Jesus has a heart for orphans, so I will, too.

“Why go to the conference now? You’re single. Not married.”

“What does all this mean for you?”

I’ve been asked these things a few times since coming home. This is what I came up with:

  • I should be financially and prayerfully supporting orphans and families who are adopting. A passion for adoption is not just for those who are married, it’s for all of us. And it’s for me.
  • I should be developing a God-centered vision for how my future marriage and family will serve orphans. I want us to be a light in our community in multiple regards — especially in reaching out to orphans.
  • I am challenged in my views. I went thinking maybe I’d adopt or kid or two, now I think maybe I should adopt more, maybe I should adopt older children, maybe I should do foster care. Luckily, as I wait on the Lord he will reveal these things to me. And I will choose to have the trust to say, “Yes, Lord,” when that time comes.
  • I am reminded that my life is not my own. It is not for my selfish desires. I want to lead a life within that which He sets out in James 4:14-15. “Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.’”

Simple, really. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to go and learn with like-minded Christians. So touched by the stories I heard and the little faces I saw.