When making flight arrangements for our mission trip to China earlier this year, my friend, Kelly, and I were told we’d have a nine hours layover in Shanghai on the way home. If I’m honest with myself, I was frustrated. What about flights out of Beijing back to the States? It seemed like there had to be a better option! But wouldn’t you know, there were no flights out of Beijing to the U.S. that day. Go figure.
I remember vividly standing at the kitchen sink while talking to her on the phone. I jokingly suggested we get out of the airport to see the sights of Shanghai. And then we both remembered that he was in Shanghai too. The Shanghai SWI. I got butterflies in my stomach. Would it actually be possible to meet this little boy who Kelly had loved and advocated for so very much? No, not possible. No way. Americans can’t just walk into Chinese orphanages to meet one of the children who call it home. It was an amazing thing to dream about, but I just knew it couldn’t happen.
He is bigger.
He works things together for good.
And He knew.
Kelly jumped through all of the hoops, reached out to all the right people, set everything up. And wouldn’t you know, we got permission to meet him. I was in complete disbelieve. I just couldn’t fathom the possibility, let alone it actually being a reality. But God can do immeasurably more than we can ever ask or imagine. I don’t know why I doubted.
After a long van trip, we pulled up to the Shanghai SWI. We met the sweet, almost 8-year-old boy, who’s Chinese name means Autumn Joy. And he took our breath away! Shy at first, he quickly opened up and was very proud to show off his school work. He moved around the orphanage with complete comfort, just as a child would in his home. He worked the DVD player in the playroom, and even took pictures with my camera (yes, my big one!). We happily sang together “Two Tigers,” a popular Chinese children’s song.
He was perfect.
Kelly made sure to tell him that we’d come all the way there to meet him. She wanted him to know he was important and so very worthy. And oh, he very much was. As we walked out of the orphanage, we both knew he’d make a wonderful son.
When we arrived back to the U.S., I sent Kelly the pictures I had taken, and she started advocating. You may remember I shared her post here too. I stayed in close contact with her and prayed and waited. Several families contacted her asking about precious Autumn Joy. But one family stood out. His family stepped forward. And on March 31st, I edited the guest blog post to show that his family was coming for him. It was an amazing thing to be a part of. I friended his new mama on Facebook and watched their adoption journey unfold. I had high hopes that we’d travel around the same time and I’d get to see them together in Guangzhou, but He had different plans.
Autumn Joy became Brody Johnson today. He joined his new family and now has three siblings, a mama, and a baba. His story has been redeemed and his new forever is just beginning. And I’m just overwhelmed at the Father’s faithfulness. It’s amazing what He can put into motion with a nine hour layover. Only God.
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28