Editor’s note: Renee is mother to 13 children, adopted and biological, founder of the Orphan Justice Center and also full-time staff at the International House of Prayer in Kansas City, Missouri. She believes that in any city where there are believers in Jesus there should not be unwanted children. The mission of our lives is to restore broken and discarded children through adoption, prayer, worship, and the Father’s heart.
September 7, 2012 (Bound4Life.com) - This past Saturday my priceless daughter Telma was married to her amazing groom, Isaac. The theme of my heart throughout the entire day was “Redemption.” I have watched this gorgeous daughter of mine transformed from a broken, hurting little girl, into a woman of God who is full of life and hope. I watched her standing beside her Isaac, who has embraced her with the most beautiful and powerful love, and my heart was full.
If you are not already familiar with Telma’s testimony, I want to share it with you so that you can fully understand the magnitude of the power of God in her life to rescue, redeem and restore.
In Telma’s own words:
“My biological father left, after getting my biological mother pregnant. I was born with severe scoliosis, having a 115 degree curvature of my spine. My mother couldn’t handle the stress of taking care of me. After being passed around to several different people who provided shelter, but were not able to care for a child, I ended up doing whatever it took to survive. Alone and unprotected, I learned how to fight on the streets. Looking back, it’s hard to believe the situations I was in, as I defended myself and searched desperately for food.
The one room house I lived in was often used as a place for people to have sex. I would get paid a soda or a bag of chips to be a lookout while various sex acts were taking place right in front of me. One day I met twin girls who told me about this missionary guy with cool hair that was leading worship in my own language. I felt compelled to go and hear him. As I sat with his wife Renee’, and their family, I found out that they were planning on adopting the twins. To the majority of the Marshallese children, all Americans are rich movie stars and I wanted to be adopted too. Two days later, before the sun came up, I knocked on the door of the apartment that they were staying in and asked if I could play with the twins. Not only did I get to play, but Renee’ welcomed me into the apartment for the remaining week they were there. When they had to leave, I was devastated! Renee’ held my face and wiped my tears, promising to find me the help I needed. I didn’t really think it would happen, but Renee’ kept her promise. Six months later, I was part of Renee’ and Derek’s family. The missionary guy with cool hair and the beautiful mom were now my very own parents.
It took awhile for me to realize that I didn’t have to be in charge of me anymore; there was actually a family that wanted to take care of me. It took a little bit before I was free to be me, free to hope for my future, free to feel loved, secure and blessed. There are so many kids that live on the streets in the Marshall Islands, but God knew me and rescued me through two very loving and Christ-like people. When I was adopted by Derek and Renee’, I began to experience what it was to be loved, cherished and valued. In the past few years, God has given me a greater revelation about who He is, as my friend and my Father. God allowed me to experience His amazing love as a daughter and to experience the joy of being loved.”
Telma and her new “Daddy,” developed a very close relationship. She learned to know and understand what the pure love of a father meant. Derek protected her, nurtured her and taught her all about the love of her Heavenly Father. Telma only had Derek as her “Daddy” for 7 years. He was killed in a car accident 1 and 1/2 months before her 20th birthday. She was on her way (with Youth With A Mission) to Rwanda to work with orphans when I Skyped her to tell her about Derek’s death. After flying back home for Derek’s funeral, despite her great loss and heartache, she returned to Rwanda to complete her outreach to others who desperately needed to hear about the hope of Jesus and his great love for them.
Isaac and Telma chose to get married on August 25th, the day that would have been Derek’s 40th birthday. Telma wanted to honor the memory of her father, who was such a huge part of her restoration. I know without a doubt that Derek is rejoicing in this marriage, and I can just picture the celebration that he was having in Heaven as he watched this beautiful miracle of redemption! Telma and Isaac had a “Celebration/memorial” table in Derek’s honor in the foyer of the wedding venue. Derek’s mom Miriam, baked his favorite cake and Telma had her favorite framed pictures of her with her Daddy, and a letter to him on the table as well.
As we continue to walk through these life-changing moments as a family, it still stings that Derek is not here to be a part of them, celebrating with us, that he wasn’t here to walk his third daughter to marry, down the aisle. It still pains my heart that he was not there for the father-daughter dance, or to celebrate like the wildly amazing man he was, dancing the night away with his children. Oh how the children and I miss him! Derek was such a good father, and all that he poured into his children is reflected in the beauty of their lives. One day, God will wipe away every tear and His justice will reign. I can’t wait for that day to come! God is sovereign, perfect in all his ways and I trust Him to continue the good work that he’s begun, bringing beauty from ashes.
I am still blown away that our incredible Father, handpicked this precious girl to be part of our family. A street kid, forced to defend herself, rescued, adopted, and restored. We literally watched her transform before our very eyes. And now this incredibly strong woman of God is beginning her life as a married woman. I cannot wait to see all the amazing things God has in store for Isaac and Telma as they start their life together!
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Reprinted with permission from Bound4Life.com