A Very Personal Family Story This Christmas…

IMG_7549An extraordinary capture!!  This is the very moment our son found out he had a family coming for him!  It was taken about a year ago.  The picture, no doubt, captures the elation he had after watching so many sweet friends leave with their forever family while he continued to wait.  In the picture above our Vern’s holding his new family shirt and has just seen himself photoshopped into our family photo wearing the same shirt he now holds in his hands.

Who can imagine the emotions he felt?  And likely a tad of trepidation as it all began to sink in!!

So many precious little ones around the world just waiting, longing for a family all their own.

Of course when we said, “Yes!” to our aging-out son we didn’t know what to expect.  We just knew he was ours.

Sure we wondered how it would be bringing home an almost 14-year-old.  We also knew that this would be an incredibly amazing adventure and we couldn’t wait – after all, we’d been praying for him long before we even knew he existed!

I haven’t shared this very personal part before…

The morning I met Vernon is one I will never forget.  There is nothing quite as crazy-amazing as flying to the other side of the world and meeting that precious one that God ordained to be part of your family since before the beginning of time! Truly exhilarating!!


His smile just grabs me every time.

After our initial meeting, we walked out to a room with a big table where I would sign some temporary papers to take temporary ‘custody’ of him for the night.  The next day I would sign the official papers that would legally adopt him as far as Ch*na was concerned.

As we walked out to the table, he immediately turned to our guide and looked very concerned.  He spoke to her in Ch*nese with an urgency on his face.  I wondered what was wrong.  Translating as she turned to me, “He wants you to know that he cannot use a squatty.  He must have a western toilet.”

Sweet broken-bodied new son of ours.  I assured them both that the only toilets he would ever have to use from here on out would be Western toilets – mom and dad would always make sure of that!

Imagine the concern and worry he must have been feeling about the commode.  Seriously.  Most of us have no clue!

His expression at my response was one of complete relief!

A moment or two passed and Vern then turned to the guide again.  This time he seemed thoughtful as he exchanged some mandarin with our guide.  She turned this time and questioned, “He wants to know what his father does for a living?”

It is hard to explain through a translator that we have a ministry (International Voice of the Orphan) that serves the orphan…especially to someone who may have no concept of ministry at all.  Besides, after senior pastoring for just over 20 years, we still consider ourselves pastors, whether we senior pastor a local church or not.

So I explained to her that Vern’s daddy is a pastor.  She didn’t quite understand what I meant, so I explained it a little further.  She turned to him and translated that for him.

I will never forget the smile that broke across Vern’s face.  His eyes disappeared!! It was one of utter joy!

Okay, are you ready for this??  This son of ours had been praying specifically that his forever daddy would be a pastor because he wants to be a pastor when he is grown!!

Can you imagine that there was an almost 14-year-old boy praying on the other side of the world that God would not only bring him a family, but that his dad would be a pastor?   

Jesus is so good to  us!!

Somewhere along life’s travels, Vern had been introduced to the love of Jesus.  He had been told about God’s love for him and how he needed to be forgiven for his sins and ask Jesus to save him.  And Vern had done that!  It was then that he began to pray that God would bring him a family where the dad was a pastor because he wanted to be a pastor too!  Our Vern wants to tell others about the love of Jesus!! We’ve learned that even as he came closer to aging out, his faith remained steadfast.  He just knew God had heard his prayer and would answer and that his family was coming!!   

I cannot write these things without tears.

And ya’ know the smile Vern has, which everyone readily notices and many comment on?  No doubt that smile reflects the joy, peace and love he has found in Jesus as his Savior!!

Need joy? Looking for Peace?  Having a hard time loving others? This Christmas I invite you to meet the Prince of Peace!!

Oh friends.

We could have missed this!! We could have reasoned that we already had a big pile.

That our hands were already very full.

That we had plenty of ‘needs’ right here.

That we should be retiring!

We could have missed this!

The reality of Vern’s prayers being answered through us is powerfully humbling, to say the least – only our ever faithful God!!

Eventually we left that civil affairs office with our new son. We headed back to the hotel to get something to eat.  Vern, Liberty and I spent the day exploring around the hotel together and getting to know each other a bit.

But that night something happened that was the ultimate icing on the cake!!

Vern told us through a lot of motions that he needed to take a shower.  Thankfully the hotel had a shower chair and he was able to take a shower in the zero clearance shower.  It takes him a very long time to maneuver the things we so often take for granted. When he had finished he came out. He didn’t say a word. He might have been embarrassed.  He might have felt awkward.  He might have been missing his old caregivers.  I don’t know.

But I sat amazed as I watched this precious picture below unfold.

I had carefully placed his overflowing backpack (which he had brought with him) against his bed for easy access.  I had no idea what was in it.  So after finishing his shower,  he sat on the edge of his bed and digging through his backpack for a minute he pulled something out.  He wiggled himself around to sit with it.  It was a book.  I looked a little closer.


It was then I saw what he was reading and my mouth truly dropped open.

Our son was reading his Chin*se Bible!!

I began to cry!

Yes, friends, every single day, Vern still reads his Bible.

There is no question that our Vern loves Jesus!!

And to think, we could have let fear, worry, our age or tiredness stand in the way!   We would have totally missed this treasure!

This Christmas we praise our Almighty God who sent His precious only son Jesus to earth to die for each of us so that we could have a personal relationship with Him!!  Jesus coming to earth was a gift available to each of us so that we would know for certainty that we will spend eternity with Him in Heaven.

If you want to know more about Jesus, email me:  APlaceCalledSimplicity@yahoo.com  Subject: Jesus



35 thoughts on “A Very Personal Family Story This Christmas…

  1. I am crying reading this story! It is truly inspiring. Will be sharing it with my Chinese daughter! God Bless and Merry Christmas!

  2. Nothing like a good little Christmas Eve cry to wipe me out just in time for bed. Only God! So faithful! Love this more than words could ever express!! Merry Christmas, Saunders Family!!

  3. I felt tears spring to my eyes, what a beautiful story. God is faithful, Vern’s spirit seems so special. I have followed several adoption blogs over the years and recently a beautiful little girl had to go into long-term residential treatment because of suicidal and violent behaviors, her mom is broken-hearted and has a less than favorable view of adopting children like your Vern. It makes my heart happy to read that it doesn’t have to be that way, that there are happy precious redemption stories. Please pray for this family I mentioned, pray that hearts will be opened and changed towards bringing these kids to a forever home. I have very very bad health and had a hysterectomy at age 30, so there are no children in my life, I wish that would change. Your Vern inspires me to hope that one day I might be able to bring a child home like him!

    1. I’m so sorry for the mom who has a less than favorable view now. Vern’s story represents thousands and thousands of kids longing to be adopted. I am also sorry that you had to have a hysterectomy…I do pray that one day you will be able to bring home a precious son or daughter! God is faithful and I know He will answer our heart’s cry!

  4. Talk about meant to be! Because you heeded God’s call to this young man, his prayers were answered. This is such a special story – I forsee, hopefully, another book in your future? Because you have all this free time I am sure! Crying happy tears!

  5. This is such a wonderful example of how God loves each of us individually. Such a blessing to be used by God to answer Vern’s prayers. Thank you so much for sharing this. I can’t help but cry happy tears.

    1. It is indeed miraculous – what God did to bring Vern home. From our income ($75K BELOW what Ch*na would require for a family our size!) to our age…faithful God, hearing the prayers of a precious orphan-now-son!!

  6. Praise God! How beautiful and precious! We knew that sweet boy of your’s was special but now we know we were seeing the light of Christ shining through him. Thank you for sharing this wonderful story of how great our God is and how He cares for the orphan. I can’t wait to see the amazing things God has planned for Vern! Merry Christmas to Vern, you, DW and all of your precious treasures!!!

  7. Reading this post for a second time so I already knew how it ended and I still have tears in my eyes. It’s hard to imagine all of the miracles that had to take place so that Vern already knew Jesus and also had a Bible in plenty of time for him to pray for his daddy to be a pastor. So thankful that you didn’t miss this!

    Thank you for sharing your family with all of us! This has been a tough year and so many of your posts bring so much encouragement. Merry Christmas, Saunders Family!!!

  8. As others have said, this is so very awesome! How precious to see how God worked out all the little details…just like He did for His own Son.

    Last week we said final good-byes to my Mum in love. And God showed us in amazing ways these last couple months that He had heard all our prayers all these years that she would trust Him (rather than doing good, which she was Good at). And one of the last things she said to us was that she would ‘meet us by the River…the Beautiful, the Beautiful River…!
    I said, we will look out for you. She said, unusually clearly, You do that!

    And at the planning for the funeral – even in the funeral, the Pastor who had held services in her care home the past few years, said even more things about her and how he knew she did trust Christ. So like your special details, God has given us a blessing to know that she is there. And though we had not been encouraged to talk with her about her future with God all those years, He had brought this Pastor into the home and even to be her friend so she was glad to hear it from him.
    God worked out those details! And even more, He opened the way for us to know she had turned to Him. So, now we sorrow, but not as those who have no hope.
    Sure wish I could have chatted with her about how special He is to me, but then we have eternity for that!

    Not exactly related to your Precious Vern and his walk with Jesus, but in some ways that same rejoicing to know that someone you love deeply is walking with Jesus now!
    Sandy in the UK

  9. Yea, I challenge anyone to read that and not give thanks for God being all that He says He is. Praise His name for the love in Vern’s heart. Amazing

    1. God surely was at work orchestrating every detail!! It’s like the book I wrote, Rescuing Ruby! No one can say there is no God if they read it!! He wrote an incredible story, with twists and turns that astound even a skeptic! He is so faithful!

  10. I love reading the stories of your precious family!
    Vern does have that special smile that exudes peace love and joy! You melt my heart. Love and miss you guys. Happy New Year blessings to all of you!

    1. You’re so sweet Arlene! You and Richard have loved our pile so well. And the way you loved our Ruby, we are so grateful! It made our hearts smile to know she was so accepted by you!! Happy New year friend – we miss you guys too. We just needed to find somewhere for our littles to be celebrated! Much love! xo

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