Part of our Christian call is to care for the vulnerable. In this three-part series, Kendell Borkowski explores how to live out Scripture engagement through her call to adoption and foster care. Find out how you too can act on God’s Word through discerning and responding to your call and advocating for those in need.
I knew God had a call for my life. Raised a Christian, I knew I was meant to love (John 13:34) and serve (Matthew 25:34-40), but I didn’t always know what that was supposed to look like for me. Glancing back now, I see the ways God orchestrated every detail to equip me for my purpose. Honestly, the underlying passion I felt for adoption and foster care was, and is still, palpable. The Holy Spirit guided me in such a way that I hardly knew it began. But, it took me a long time to understand the call, “What God the Father considers to be pure and genuine religion is this: to take care of orphans and widows in their suffering” (James 1:27).
Discerning My Call
James was telling the twelve tribes of Israel that their “religion” was worship of God, which I didn’t understand at first. I spent a lot of time striving to do the right things for God until I grasped that living a life of praise would inevitably result in good works, not the other way around. The things I was zealous about that I couldn’t quite explain and the beat of my heart in cadence with God’s Word and God’s people were my call, but it wasn’t truly expressed until it was rooted in my worship of God. I learned, and am still learning, that my love for God must be the foundation of my service, and my service to others the expression of that deep love. The love of God is tangible when I put orphans and widows before myself.
As I spent time meditating on Scripture, I sensed my call more clearly. I could recognize the stirring in my own heart toward the call to care for the vulnerable and Jesus’s call to love our neighbors. The words of Scripture ignited something in me that went far beyond myself.
Starting My Journey
A backwards international adoption, as my husband and I fondly refer to it, was my first tangible tread into the journey of orphan care. While living in Germany, we were matched as potential parents with a birthmom making an adoption plan in Florida, four months before her due date. There was much work to be done and the uncertainty of the process was challenging: How would others react to our choice? Were we doing the right thing? Would the birthmother change her mind? If she didn’t, would we get there in time for the birth? In the long weeks that followed, I managed suffocating fears, edgy insecurities, relentless doubts, precarious expectations, cautious joy, and never-ending paperwork. I experienced a level of anxious anticipation I hadn’t known.
Facing My Fears
In the wait, there was also the duty of comprehending that the option to adopt is a result of brokenness. Yes, adoption is a beautiful thing and the clearest picture of God’s love that I’ve discovered on earth, but the ashes are genuine. Adoption exists because of poverty, abandonment, addictions, abuse, systematic injustice, and seemingly unbreakable cycles. Adoption exists because hurting women and families exist. It would have been a disservice to my future son and the brave woman I was walking alongside to disregard the profound loss of the first family.
During my quiet times, I recalled the words of Jeremiah is his letter to the exiles in Babylon: “I alone know the plans I have for you, plans to bring you prosperity and not disaster, plans to bring about the future you hope for” (Jeremiah 29:11).
I don’t always know the purpose of suffering. But God does. Through Jeremiah, God tells the Israelites in Babylon that they would only be freed after 70 years in exile (Jeremiah 29:10) and that, even though it may seem otherwise, they are not forgotten and they will be brought home. I, too, can trust that restoration is coming, I can cling to hope. The end of trouble is not always as soon as I expect it, but I can hold onto God’s promise: “Do not be afraid – I am with you! I am your God – let nothing terrify you! I will make you strong and help you” (Isaiah 41:10). I was reminded that I must endure the trials of the current situation, knowing that God will not disappoint. Part of accepting God’s call meant I had to sit in this tough situation, persevere, care well for the suffering individuals before me, and find a way to thrive. I did what was required knowing that God’s mercy would bring deliverance and joy to my story, our story, the story of orphan care, in God’s perfect timing.
Actualizing My Call
We surprisingly made it across the Atlantic for our son’s birth, in scheduling only God can shape. And, at a doctor’s appointment just days before his dynamic entrance, I sat in a tiny white room in a poor town with an African American woman gripping my tingling hand. A somewhat plain girl who hails from South Dakota, I had no idea what was coming next or how to proceed. Yet, I felt overwhelming peace and purpose. It was the loveliest grace I’d ever been bestowed, knowing I was in exactly the right place at exactly the right time. I remembered the familiar words of Scripture that had carried me during the waiting: “And God's peace, which is far beyond human understanding, will keep your hearts and minds safe in union with Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7). Just 72 hours later, I received the rush of peace again as I stood next to a hospital bed, holding his birthmother’s hand, while our son took his first captivating breath. It was a moment crafted by God.
Growing into My Call
Discerning God’s call for my life was a trying and sweet process. Realizing that the call meant trusting God in the broken parts of the story was scary and necessary. But, stepping into adoption and surrendering to God’s purpose for my life allowed me the opportunity to be carried by God’s perfect peace.
It wasn’t long before God had more to teach me about the expression of love in my call. As soon as I became comfortable, God began to reveal the depths of a powerful truth, “Because of his love God had already decided that through Jesus Christ he would make us his children” (Ephesians 1:4-5). I started to uncover the layers of God’s purpose for my life, as I started understanding my adoption through Jesus Christ, on my next journey, into foster care.
Discerning Your Call
- Are you in the process of discerning God’s call on your life? Spend time with God through meditating on Scripture. Ask how your love for God can be expressed in your care of others: the orphans, the widows, the hurting, the lonely.
- As you are discerning your call, talk to God about what scares you and about the brokenness you will encounter. Read stories of God’s deliverance. Remember God’s assurance about the “plans to bring about the future you hope for.”
- I encourage you to take the first step in your call knowing, trusting, that God equips and provides the strength and courage you need, just when you need it most.
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