by Joy Casey
Executive Director, Adoption Ministry of YWAM

Those who know your name will trust you, LORD, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.
Psalm 9:10

“Tough” would be an accurate defining word for the last several years. Seems like one giant problem after another challenges me and I wonder if the waves will ever cease and if my life will ever be tranquil and predictable. But do I really want tranquil and predictable? Those definitions are becoming more and more synonymous with boring and stagnant.
As a disciple of Christ I am a sojourner temporarily passing a small amount of time on planet earth and God reminds me not to get too comfortable. He wants me to expend the life He has given me to share His love, His grace, His healing, His reconciliation with individuals in this fallen world who are hurting and desperate. Each Christ-follower has the same marching orders, but each person is asked to fulfill His bidding in a unique way personally designed by the Creator.
The ministry in the latter part of my life God has allowed me to be a part of is exciting, fulfilling and incredibly stretching. He has given me a heart for children and I have had the greatest privilege of seeing close to 400 (domestic and international over the past 12 years) little ones who didn’t have a chance in the world, raised in loving, strong adoptive homes. And then God planted the vision of preserving families so children wouldn’t become orphans or remain in the cycle of poverty through Adoption Ministry 1:27. Now we are taking these primarily single mothers into Income Generating Activities (IGA). Who would have thought? I certainly had no idea I would be working with the poor in this capacity! I had no interest whatsoever in the Mu*l*m culture or people, and God astonished me by planting His heart in me for these unreached people. I am still a little bewildered that I am engaged in grass root evangelism work in Ethiopia.
Joy with widow
So yes, these past several years have been tough. But overriding the demanding times is God’s overwhelming love for me. And His patience. I enjoy His sense of humor and I love it that He delights in me, even when I whine. Even when I doubt. Even when I relate harshly with another. Even when I am tired or lazy. I look back at all the ways He has surprised and cherished me and I am energized to press forward into His plans anticipating that the Master Potter still has a lot of molding yet to do to make me a vessel that isn’t so leaky.
2014 will bring its own set of problems, but I can face them because Jesus looks at me with that twinkle in His eye and says, “Is anything too hard for me? Have I ever forsaken you? Remember, I am the same yesterday, today and forever.” With God, there is always enough! There are enough finances, enough love, enough grace, enough vision, enough of everything.

There has been and there will be again times when I have prayed and begged and pleaded for a child’s future where it looked like God didn’t show up. Those times rock my world, but as I sit on His lap with my head on His chest listening to His heartbeat, he reminds me that the Creator of the world holds chaos in the palm of His hand, giving even the pain a purpose. This season of my life has been hard, but it has also been the best. I have allowed God to cherish me in a sweet way, I am learning to look at seeming defeat in the face and accept that He knows, He cares, and has the situation under control (even when it looks out of control).
Joy  Gudeta pic

This year, a worship center was dedicated in a place where Christianity has never had a presence.

This year, children were placed in forever families in spite of “impossible” circumstances.

This year, I have seen babies and old people die.

I have seen ordinary people rise up and say “yes” to God’s call when they did not have the resources, only to witness miracles.

I have seen missionaries struggle and my heart breaks.

I also see men and women pour out their lives for others and persevere through daunting circumstances.

This year there has been baby drool on my shoulder, grubby little hands grasping mine, work-worn hands on my face as a woman communicates with me eye to eye, hugs and kisses innumerable from a warm and hospitable people.

This year there have been misunderstandings and greed and positive HIV and TB tests. But whether my hands are full or empty, God Himself has flooded me with His peace that passes understanding and a contentment that is deep, deep in my soul.

“Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a handsome and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out,  and loudly proclaiming “”’WOW – What a Ride!!!’ ”  ~ Mark Frost