A couple of years ago, Steve and I were an empty-nest couple when God begin moving in our hearts to adopt a child. The idea was confirmed in a sermon preached by Pastor Mark in January of 2010, where he spoke of adoption imaging what God does for us through Jesus Christ.
We sent a pre-application to an agency that friends were using that very month, and a week later they called us. They wanted to know if we would consider one of two young boys in China who were considered special needs because of their age and were waiting for a family. We read the description of our now-son, and I thought he sounded perfect for our family. I sent a copy of his photo and information to our older sons, and they both said, “Awesome—do it!” So in a matter of weeks, we were committed.
When I told my father what this boy’s Chinese name was, Lu Hui, he said, “Luke!” It was just what I was thinking too, and it seemed appropriate since we were spending over two years in that book at Mars Hill. However, I wanted a “J” name so that he wouldn’t feel left out. Our other children are Jordan, Joseph, and Joelle (in heaven). Little Lu Hui was eight years old when we adopted him, so the name “Josiah” seemed to be a great fit. King Josiah was eight years old when he was crowned, his life dramatically altered, and he became a pretty good king. Our new son’s life was also going to change dramatically at age eight, with great hope for his future. So, we named him Josiah Luke Buckley, calling him Luke.
In the Waiting
It was a year and a half from the time we signed the first of hundreds of documents, to the time we flew to China to get our new son. During that time, we prayed often for him. We prayed that he would be safe, that his heart would be softened, that Jesus would be drawing Luke to himself, and that he would be ready to have strange-looking caucasians like us come to get him!
What a day that was, May 9, 2011. We were driven by cab to the orphanage in Chengdu. Steve and I were so nervous. Our lives were about to change pretty drastically too! I had often doubted during the previous year whether this was really the right thing to do. The selfish part of me was fighting and kicking about having my recently gained independence taken away. Also, the education process during adoption can be very frightening, with worst-case scenarios shared, to prepare adoptive parents for great challenges with older children. In the pictures taken that first day we had big smiles on our faces, but inwardly we were quaking!
Luke began drawing a picture of a baptism tank, water, and a stick figure laying inside. He showed it to me, pointed to the stick figure, and said, ‘That’s me!’
Found in Translation
Of course, we only knew a few Chinese sentences, and Luke knew zero English, so all of our communication was a series of charades and drawings and visual language, but we began praying a bedtime prayer with Luke right from the first night. Our older son, Jordan, had purchased The Jesus Storybook Bible for us, and Steve has been reading that to Luke at bedtime almost every night since we got home from China almost a year ago.
As Luke’s English skills have grown, we’ve had more and more conversations about Jesus, God, and the Bible. Life hasn’t always been rosy since the adoption, but God has been growing all of us in our love for one another. Recently, we’ve been aware that Luke’s interests in Jesus and spiritual issues were high, and his heart was soft. We did not want to pressure him to make any decisions or statements that he wasn’t ready to make. He is a boy who likes to please, and we did not want him to say the "right" thing simply to please us. So we held back from asking him if he wanted to be a Christian and follow Jesus.
Coming into the Family
However, just when we thought it was about time, everything fell into place. All of a sudden, Luke did not want to go to children’s church, but he wanted to sit with us during the preaching. It was April 1, and Pastor Mark was about to preach on why Jesus died. Pastor Alex announced that baptisms would be held the following week on Easter. Luke began drawing a picture of a baptism tank, water, and a stick figure laying inside. He showed it to me, pointed to the stick figure, and said, “That’s me!”
On the way home in our car, Luke said, ‘Now I have three brothers: Jordan, Joseph, and Pastor Alex!’ We explained that actually he now had many brothers in Jesus Christ.
After the message, we asked Luke if he wanted to ask Jesus to come live in his heart, and he said yes. Steve prayed a great prayer that Luke repeated, and when it was over, Luke had tears coming down his cheeks. I knew for sure his conversion to faith was genuine! We went over to the Communion table and explained what it meant, that he could participate now, and we took Communion together. Then we went and found some friends so that Luke could give “the word of his testimony.” A few minutes later, Pastor Alex came up and enthusiastically greeted Luke and asked about what he had done. Then Pastor Alex said, “Now you’re my brother!” and punched knuckles with Luke. On the way home in our car, Luke said, “Now I have three brothers: Jordan, Joseph, and Pastor Alex!” We explained that actually he now had many brothers in Jesus Christ.
The validity of Luke’s conversion was cemented in our mind the following week when Luke was quite sick and had to miss school, but his disposition was so sweet and contented that we knew something was amazingly different. He looked forward to Easter Sunday when he would be baptized, and praise God, that’s what happened! His life continues to demonstrate a real change of nature, and we are so thankful to be a part of what God is doing in his life. It is hard to believe that this happened only 11 months from the time we met him in the middle of China! Our God is such a good God!
Steve’s grandmother, Margaret Buckley, was a missionary to China many years ago. Her husband and daughter died of smallpox in China. She carried on as a widow with a young son, serving the Chinese people with her life. I’ve often wondered if she prayed that one of her offspring would continue that legacy in some way. Perhaps she ministered to or was ministered to by one of Luke’s great-grandparents? Only God knows. I pray that someday Luke may minister to a great many others and bring glory to Jesus through his testimony. I’m thankful for the opportunity to be a part of his story, and to be a part of God’s bigger story of the adoption that brings many sons to glory.