UPDATE: Ben joins his new family
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP) -- On Aug. 25, Ben Hatmaker started second grade at Elm Grove Elementary School in Buda, Texas. Unremarkable at first glance, but amazing considering he had been with his new family for just four days. In fact, seven days earlier he was still in his birth country of Ethiopia.
Brandon and Jen Hatmaker also enrolled their other four children in school -- their three birth children and their youngest, daughter Remy who started kindergarten after being in the United States just three weeks.
Ben, despite being in the United States mere days, pleaded to start school immediately. The 8-year-old's eagerness could not be contained.
Ben's story is not new to readers of Baptist Press. It was just a few weeks earlier that BP covered the story of the multiple delays in Ben's adoption and the "Love Ben" campaign the Hatmakers had initiated to raise prayer support and to encourage Ben as he had to stay behind at the orphanage in Ethiopia while the Hatmakers returned to America with Remy.
The delays in his adoption process seemed insurmountable by human standards. The Hatmakers' adoption agency had not seen a case quite like Ben's, so no one knew the path to pursue in order to complete his adoption.
Long involved in ministry in Texas and throughout the country, including planting a church in Austin and being involved in many ministries through LifeWay Christian Resources, the Hatmakers turned to friends, churches and ministry contacts around the country to help them encourage Ben by sending photos and notes for him, while praying fervently for a miraculous intervention in his case.
The body of Christ responded in a way that has undoubtedly left everyone involved deeply encouraged. Thousands of people began to pray and reach out to the Hatmakers to express their support. Entire churches, families and organizations -- like LifeWay -- stood in the gap, praying for a little boy who wanted a family and for the family who wanted him.
And against all odds -- but clearly in accordance with God's hand on the situation -- a lone Ethiopian judge remembered Ben and acted of her own volition to move his case through to approval. With the Hatmakers thinking the time between bringing Remy and Ben home would be months at best, it was actually only three weeks.
A miracle had truly happened. The God of the universe, in whose image Ben was created, the One who called the Hatmakers to adopt, had never forgotten Ben or those who were to be his family. He acted in His perfect time, undoubtedly using Ben's situation to call many to intercede for orphans, drawing His people closer to one another, and to allow a little boy to see that his family would, indeed, fight for him.
We've all been in heartbreaking situations where the hand of God has been very difficult to discern. Unfortunately that is a frequent -- perhaps even typical -- reality for the orphan. Yes, in recent years much more attention has been given to the biblical call to care for orphans, and that is incredible. However, let us never assume we are doing enough or assume that the details can overwhelm the will of God.
And as you consider all this, may I suggest you pray for the Hatmakers. They are past the Kodak moment of bringing those adorable Ethiopian children into the crowd at the airport. Now comes the time of raising them -- along with their three other children -- in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. May we be as faithful as a body to support them in that task as we have been in bringing Ben home. To God be the glory!
Jennifer Lyell is executive editor of women's books at B&H Publishing Group of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. To read the original Baptist Press story on the prayer efforts for Ben initiated by Brandon and Jen Hatmaker, go to www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?id=35689.