Mr. Thomas Black lives in Leesburg, Virginia.
On Friday, April 7, 2017, my wife and I received a call from the Department of Family Services in Virginia informing us that there were three children – ages 5, 7, and 9 – who needed a safe home. We were visiting family when we received the call, but knew God desired us to head back to Northern Virginia to show His love to these children. In an instant, Christ led us from being DINKs (“Double Income No Kids”) to a single income family with three youngsters. One week later, we found out my wife, Lauren, was one month pregnant – taking us from zero to four children in eight months.
This is the story of my relationship with Jesus Christ and how the power of prayer brought us through it all.
I was blessed to grow up with a mother and a father who would come to be defined by their love for God, their love for each other, and their love for my sister and me. In many ways, our family could accurately be described as a 1990’s version of the 1950’s sitcom, Leave it to Beaver. Church was a staple of our family, as was prayer, Bible study, and Christian music. Unfortunately, as the years went by, Christianity began to feel like a mirage. Rather than experiencing a deep and peaceful relationship with the Creator and Savior – a relationship others seemed to enjoy – I could only watch and wonder. Week after week, knowing something wasn’t right, I was determined to try harder. I was convinced, if I rededicated myself to the Christian ethic, and became more disciplined in my study of the Bible, I could finally experience the love and security of a right relationship with God. This effort was just a feeble attempt to drink the waters of the mirage, and left me as unsatisfied as a mouthful of sand in the desert.
Finally, when I was 13 years old, I realized that I did not understand Biblical Christianity when I previously had asked Jesus into my heart. My definition of Christianity was an expressed attempt to deflect the punishment for my imperfections, while still maintaining control of my life. I had misinterpreted that Christianity was a relationship with God, through Jesus alone, where the teachings of Jesus took full control of your life.
Christianity, I learned since then, is a relationship between a child and their father. The child, formerly orphaned, now lovingly submits to their Father; while the Father adopts the child and exercises perfect love, authority, and forgiveness. As this truth became evident to me, I not only recognized my need for forgiveness of sin, but became overwhelmed by my desire for a relationship with God, bound by the covenant of perfect and eternal affection. Upon experiencing this relationship, and maturing over the years of following Christ, I began to read the Bible and pray with greater frequency and passion – akin to a child longing to spend time with their dad.
Eventually, God brought along Lauren, a brilliant, compassionate, and beautiful woman who would later give me the honor of calling her my bride. As we began spending time together, dedicating ourselves to prayer and the instruction of our Father, we grew to have a heavy heart for children who were in need of loving parents (James 1:27). For months, we prayed together while meditating on scripture, and eventually God made it clear to us that He wanted us to follow Him into foster care.
This led to the most joyful, difficult, and heart-wrenching times in our marriage.
Prayer has been the lifeline of our journey following Christ, but most especially when we got the call from the Department of Family Services. Immediately, we prayed for God’s direction and providence. In many ways, we were ill-equipped to be parents (aren’t we all?). We were less than half way through our foster parent training, and still needed to purchase basic necessities, such as clothes, beds, toiletries, dressers, toys, etc. Nevertheless, God gave us direction, and we told the county we’d be there as soon as possible. During our drive home from Williamsburg, we prayed and tried to make others aware of our situation. Although both of our families lived over 10 hours away, God supplied all of our material needs through our local church; when we arrived home, the first floor of our town home was covered with the necessities to begin our journey as parents.
Throughout the following years, we experienced some of the most difficult days of our lives, and when we felt that we had nothing left of ourselves, we found God’s strength to be sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Today, we are the proud parents of five beautiful children.
We finalized the adoption of our oldest three in November 2019 and Lauren gave birth to our fifth on February 18, 2020. Time and discretion will not permit me to explain how God has answered our prayers and miraculously healed our oldest children, allowing them to make sense of the injustices they’ve experienced; nor will it allow me to express how God proved Himself to be the perfect and faithful Father He always promised us He would be. Therefore, let it prove sufficient to conclude, my relationship with Christ and experience with prayer is best summarized by this declaration: God, my Father, makes many promises – and He keeps them all!