In the early 1900s in Parksley, Virginia, a couple that could not have children traveled by horse and carriage to the home of John Wesley Fluhart to inquire about Mr. Fluhart’s son that he wanted to give up for adoption. The child’s name was Weldon Atwood Fluhart, and he was only about two years old. Weldon had been standing next to his mother, Virginia, when she collapsed and died. John could not care for the three children she left behind, so he was willing to give Weldon to this couple—James and Ida—who wanted to adopt. On that very day, Weldon traveled home with this new family and became their child. In those days, no papers were drawn, and families did what was necessary to survive in hard times. In today’s world, months and years can go by before an adoption may occur, and there are many legalities a couple must go through.
So, why should adoption and foster care be so important to us as Holiness people? Having been raised in a strong Holiness background (Pilgrim Holiness/Wesleyan/Nazarene), I have always understood how precious life is to us. Holiness people take a strong stand against abortion. We believe that every life is precious, and we vote accordingly during elections. It is one thing to verbalize our views, but do we really act on what we believe? Are we willing to raise a child that was going to be aborted? Are we willing to foster a child that has come from a home life of neglect?
To appreciate adoption, we must look at our very salvation. Ephesians 1:5 paints a beautiful picture: “God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great delight” (NLT).
The story throughout the Bible is the story of adoption.
We are all adopted into God’s spiritual family as a chosen child of God. God took us as one of his own. “And, I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty” (2 Corinthians 6:18, NASB). The Bible is full of stories where a child entered a new home under a new name. Moses was adopted by Pharoah. Esther was adopted by her cousin, Mordecai. Joseph adopted Jesus and raised Him as if He were his own. The very word holiness describes God’s goodness and power in the life of His people. What better way to proclaim God’s goodness than by accepting someone into our family?
Over the past 40 years of pastoral ministry, I have had the privilege of pastoring families that adopted. One family adopted a child from Honduras; another adopted a child from China, and the list goes on. I have also witnessed the blessing of foster care when one family took in many children that came from neglected homes. Each time, these children were influenced by the church. Our church family assisted in the rearing of these children, and I became their pastor—an experience I will always treasure.
Most recently, my son-in-law and daughter have begun the process of adopting. As they have shared with me, the steps to adoption have been rigorous and daunting. They came very close to completing the adoption of a child until the process fell through. They were heartbroken but continue the process in hopes that God will provide the right child at the right time. I eagerly anticipate the day when we invite an adopted child into our family as a new grandchild. Adoption and foster care can be difficult and messy, but it’s certainly worth the effort. I believe it also reflects the goodness of God—the very meaning of holiness—to a broken world in need of love, redemption, and belonging. I pray that we can be conduits of God’s love in such a way.
As you began reading this article, you were introduced to an adopted child, Weldon Atwood Fluhart. Weldon enjoyed a wonderful life with James and Ida, and later in life, he even took his adoptive father, James, into his household when Ida passed away. What you did not know is that the little boy was my grandfather, and the name Fluhart was replaced by Berry. I am thankful to the Berry family for caring for my grandfather, Weldon Atwood Berry. I proudly hold that adopted name—Berry.
The kindness of that family forever changed many lives, including mine.
So, I would encourage you to consider adoption and foster care. Ask the Lord how He would use you to show His love to those most in need. He might lead you to one of the greatest, little blessings of your life.