On Sunday, July 22, I was lucky enough to be one of 50+ people at the Louisville International Airport to welcome home an Ethiopian little boy named Chernet to his new family.
This family is more than just your normal family. They are truly and boldly living out James 1:27.
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.You want to talk about some inspirational people…J.T. and Natalie Henderson are that. Two years ago, they adopted their first child from Ethiopia, Tedi. The kid is amazing. He takes great ‘care’ of Jovi for me on Sundays and makes sure to give me reports on her actions during children’s church.
Even better, he welcomed his new brother home with ’3 goggles.’ All class.
So when they told us a while ago they were getting ready to do this all over again, no one was really surprised. We were just ready to get to work doing whatever we needed to do to help.
And to those close to them, not even their next bit of news was surprising.
Chernet is HIV Positive.
To them, this is not that big of a deal. Natalie is a Pediatrician and J.T. has a heart bigger than you can imagine.
But for the regular folk, like me, let that soak in for a moment.
Not only are they taking one more child out of an orphanage and giving him a home, a family, a future, they are taking a child that not many people would have taken or wanted.
That in itself is selfless love. A love that is an inspiration to me. A love that I hope I can give.
I can still remember sitting in a coffee shop on the University of Louisville campus sometime in March and getting a text from JT.
The text basically said, you want to see one of the greatest pictures ever?
Of course I wanted to.
What came through next was a picture of his son, Chernet with the words, “this is my son.” Immediately, I got goosebumps. The kid had a smile that could light up a room. A smile that brought tears to my eyes. It’s weird, ever since I had my own child, my emotions have become crazy and this picture brought those to the surface.
I finally had a face to put with the prayers and an excitement for his arrival.
So the work continued to raise funds and get Chernet home.
A couple of months ago, J.T. and Natalie got to go to Ethiopia to see Chernet for the first time. Them being huge UofL fans, you know it delighted me to get this picture from Natalie on my Facebook wall…and no, I had nothing to do with it, no matter what J.T. believes. His home actually put that on him before meeting with J.T. and Natalie.
A few weeks ago, we got word that Chernet had cleared the embassy and would be home in two weeks.
Fast forward to last Sunday night.
This was my first adoption homecoming, or “Gotcha Day” as I learned it is called from a cookie cake of all things, that I have been privileged to be a part of.
Chernet was expected to land in Louisville at 11:30pm…
Yeah, that didn’t happen.
As I showed up, one of about 8-10 people there, I asked J.T. how many he was expecting.
His rough estimate was about 30.
Again, didn’t happen.
Even with the plane delayed until 12:45am, over 50 people showed up to welcome Chernet home and I venture to say most all of us would have stayed later if needed.
As we waited at the security gate, the anticipation continued to build.
Finally, Chernet walked through the gate with Lesley and Sarah, two women, friends of the Henderson’s, that brought Chernet home. It was a quiet moment. No cheers or claps, just quiet. But it was a beautiful quiet. It was a moment where we got to see a family of three becoming four. A moment where a new life was given to a child. A moment where we got to hear a family share their first conversation together. A moment where we all gained another member of our families.
I stood there, just watching this moment. It was beautiful. It was watching true faith in action.
Sometimes, the greatest illustrations and sermons of Christ and His desires doesn’t happen in the seats of our churches or come from the mouths of our pastors. Sometimes it comes from those people following their heart and living out their faith without fear or hesitation.
Sometimes it happens at the security checkpoints of airports at 1:00am.
And sometimes, the face of Christ is seen in a little boy from Ethiopia, who after 30+ hours of traveling and knowing no English, smiled from ear to ear the whole time.
I was blessed to be a part of the moment.
Even more, I am blessed to call the Henderson’s my friends….no….they are family.
We love Chris' heart. We really consider him and Jovi (his beautiful daughter) a part of our crazy family.
Chris videoed the entire night of Chernet's homecoming.... He surprised us by taking the video and some pics of the night and turning it into a video with great music. You can see in the video all of the support and love shown to us at the airport. Enjoy!!! Chris, thanks for doing this. What a gift we have to show Chernet. We love you!