Camille Wheelock, a wife, mother, and speech pathologist, has seen God move first-hand in her church. Burdened with a desire to serve orphans in other ways besides adoption, Camille’s church has been electrified–from the children in Sunday School all the way to the pastoral leadership—to help orphans across the world. Camille shares her personal story of how God shifted her life, as well as encouragement on how powerful a church can be when it bands together for God’s Kingdom:
I will never forget the day God began to burden my heart for orphans. I was not even a mother yet. It was the year 1999 and I was a twenty-three year old newlywed. Having just graduated from Baylor University, I was a speech-language pathologist .
My early patients at that clinic will be in my heart forever. God allowed me the honor of working with children who had mild to severe developmental delays and disabilities. Many of my patients were foster children, and I would lie in my bed at night, agonizing over their lives, wondering what it must feel like to not have a mommy or a daddy. I wondered if God would ever use me like he used those foster moms. Knowing the children personally made things different. I played with them, hugged them, and prayed for them. The children had names and faces.
Fast forward to the year 2002. The Lord blessed my husband John and I with our first daughter . Now I knew His love in a way I had never experienced. I will never forget looking up at John and seeing tears stream down his face as he felt the love of a father for the first time. We knew we wanted more children and in 2004 our second daughter was born. We were once again overwhelmed by God’s precious miracle and gift. James 1:17 became my favorite verse: “Every good and perfect gift is from above…” It was not long after second daughter was born that Scripture began to jump out at me regarding God’s heart for the orphan and the least of these, specifically James 1:27 and Matthew chapter 25. John and I began to seek God’s will for our lives. We realized that we loved being parents, and wondered how God could use us where we currently were to serve Him.
Shortly thereafter, my husband simply came to me one day and knew that God had called us to care for orphans. We were led to our son Clay, who we adopted from Guatemala. The process was not easy financially, spiritually, emotionally, etc., but God was faithful.
This is where the moms in my life come in—and when the passion for orphan care began to grow in our community. I had met another mom named Becca, who had adopted her daughter from Ukraine. We felt burdened to meet regularly and pray for the children left behind.
Our adopted children had homes but what about all of the orphans in countries that were labeled “un-adoptable” for one reason or another? (Can you imagine your own children crying out in hunger and not being fed? Waiting all day, every day in a crib—waiting for someone to love them?)
What about the little boy who had begged Becca to take him with her as she left the orphanage?
Were we in this just for the children God brought to us or were we in it for all of them?
God sees ALL of them.
Well, the events that happened in our community and churches following these prayer times and meetings is truly nothing short of God’s power to move mountains. I wish I could share them all. God began to make connections among believers. We were overwhelmed at what God could do through prayer!
At home, John and I were open to what the Lord had for us but did not think we would be adopting again anytime soon. Of course, God had other plans and would bring us three more precious children—a son through the foster care system, a daughter through an international adoption, and another biological son.
As I look back at our adoption journey and realize that the Lord brought us 6 children in 9 years (!), I am amazed at the people He used to surround us. Friends prayed with us, brought meals, hosted welcome-home showers, cried with me, and most importantly loved each of my children. At the same time, God was leading other families in our church through the adoption journey.
I also find it incredible that so many have been called to orphan care. A large percentage of people from our church have been on orphan care specific mission trips to Ukraine, Guatemala, Haiti, and China to name a few. Our associate pastor and his wife have led multiple teams to an orphanage in Haiti. Our children and my niece also hosted a sale in our neighborhood where they sold many handmade items and books for this orphanage.
In a way that has blown my mind, God has drawn the mothers in my church to heavy involvement in orphan care. Through them, I’ve come to see the importance of a mother’s passion for orphan care. Teaching children about God’s heart for the orphan at a young age is one of the best things you can do to care for orphans. It instills in them a yearning to serve, to consider others, and to consider creatively how to help other children. I think my children have actually taught me more than I have taught them! As I challenge and encourage them to come up with ideas to help orphans, they never cease to amaze me with their concern for the least of these.
Through the guidance of their parents and our church, these children are coming to see the truth of Isaiah 61: “The spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners….”
This isn’t something unique to my church. It is something that can happen in every church. Miracles happen when we pray powerfully according to His will. If you need a place to start, I would encourage you to pray, journal and immerse yourself in His Word. He will begin to show you how He can use you in a mighty way to care for orphans in your church and around the world.
Editor’s Note: November is National Adoption Awareness Month, and many are working together to raise awareness for these children who are close to God’s heart. This post is a part of our feature series this month on adoption and foster care. Learn how you can help make an impact during National Adoption Awareness Month in November and find ideas on teaching your children about the plight of orphans in the world with our Guide to Teaching Your Children about Orphans. We may not all be called to adopt, but we are all called to action.