Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Elijah's Adoption Update

Thank you to all of you that prayed for our trip to Lusaka this past week! We had a great time and a nice break. Our meetings went with the US Embassy and social welfare office, we got some helpful information.

After turning in some additional paperwork, we are now waiting for the official notice of adoption to be prepared by the social welfare office of Zambia. Once the letter is issued we have three months to wait until we are summons to court to finalize the adoption. The final step of our journey is for Elijah to be an American Citizen. We have been told by the US Embassy the best option for us is to wait until Elijah has been in our home for two years (Jan 2013) Then he will be automatically eligible for citizenship.

Elijah is such a Joy and Blessing! We are so thankful for him!

We are waiting and trusting God for His perfect timing in all of this. Thank you so much for all your continued thoughts, prayers, encouragement and love!

September 2011 Prayer Letter

September 2011
Dear Praying Friends,
As we leave the pleasant cooler season behind us, we in the Southern Hemisphere gear up for some “real” African weather. For our family that means putting away our space heaters (honestly, it does actually get cool enough to use them sometimes) and making sure all fans and air conditioners in our home and vehicles are in working order. It also means once again making sunscreen a part of our daily wardrobe. At church there are some definite advantages to the hot season, the most noticeable being the start times of our Sunday service. Because of the cold and the fact that many people use the sun to tell time, people generally wake up and get out later during the cold season than they do in the hot season. So during the hot season, things will get underway considerably earlier at Fallsview Bible Baptist Church. As an American preacher, there is something ingrained inside of me that wants to hurry through my message as I see 12:00 and 12:30 come and go on my watch. Most Zambians are not concerned in the least, but starting earlier will enable me to fit into a more “normal for me” schedule for church. More importantly, it will also allow us more time for our after-service Youth Bible Club meeting!
Recently the LORD has seen fit to send more adults to our services. In the 11 weeks following our 3rd anniversary, we have averaged 95 teenagers and adults in our Sunday morning services. This represents an increase of more than 20 from our adult average before our anniversary. Our total attendance, including children, has averaged 165, including our fourth-highest attendance ever (behind only our 3 anniversary Big Days) of 191 a few weeks ago. God has moved in the hearts of several of our members as well, with many responding to the call to surrender to God’s will for their lives. Three in particular have indicated a call on their lives to serve God in a full-time manner. Please pray with us and these believers about a Bible institute and training program that is in the preliminary stages.
Finally, thanks for all your prayers for us, especially Elijah. He is a joy to our home, and we are blessed to watch each new milestone in his life. We will be in Lusaka the first full week in September meeting with the American Embassy and the Zambian Social Welfare Office to discuss Elijah’s adoption. Our prayer is that his adoption will go smoothly and steadily. We would greatly appreciate your continued prayers for our wisdom and understanding of the whole process. There are times that it can be difficult to pinpoint exactly what is the next step to take. Once again, thank you for all your thoughts, prayers, and sacrificial support for our family and ministry over the years in Zambia.

May 2011 Prayer Letter

May 2011
Dear Praying Friends,
Our life and ministry in Zambia have taken us in several different directions lately. We have enjoyed learning and growing as Elijah’s parents. Preetika was recently blessed to enjoy her first Mother’s Day. Also, these past few months have found us (patiently?) waiting for the paperwork for the adoption to progress through the system. We are encouraged to have received a fostering document that appears to give us guardianship of Elijah until he turns 19. I say appears because few things in Africa turn out as they first seem to be. With that being said, our social worker has assured us that the document for foster care carries plenty of legal weight. The process of adoption here seems alternately too easy to be true and impossibly difficult, with unreasonable delays for incompetence and red tape that seems to be used as a way to avoid the necessity of creative problem solving.
For example, we are currently working on obtaining Elijah’s birth certificate. When at the office that handles such documents, we were sent to the hospital to procure a birth record that was needed before issuing the certificate. Reasonable enough, so far. However, at the hospital we were told that a record of birth could not be given by the hospital if we were not sure that he was born in that hospital (the only one in Livingstone). Of course, many babies are born at home or in clinics in and around Livingstone. Despite our repeated explanations about Elijah’s story, no one was able to really give us the solution to the fact that we did not know where he was born. Since nobody knew how to handle it, they did the next best thing—they passed our inquiry off to someone else. We finally tired of this exercise when we were told to go to the office and person whom we had started with. We eventually made some progress by going to a rural health clinic in a nearby village, whose head nurse (who also happens to be the chief’s wife) knows the Hadens well. She kindly gave us a birth record with Elijah’s full name and date of birth (both chosen by us), indicating that he was born in that village (Mukuni Village). We are still working on getting the actual certificate, so please continue to keep this and the entire adoption process in your prayers.
In the ministry we have watched lately as the LORD has breathed new life and excitement into our youth as they participated in a Youth Conference during the holiday month of April. They made several spiritual decisions in addition to competing in some Bible games like a Bible quiz, Bible-memory contest, Sword drills, and preaching and singing contests. They were encouraged with how well they did this year as compared to last year and were able to attribute the growth and improvement to our Sunday Afternoon Youth Bible Club begun after last year’s conference. We continually marvel and praise God for their eagerness to serve Him.
While our young people have been encouraged to press on in their lives for Christ, we have also mourned the loss of two of the charter members of our church. Both men were part of the first 10 we baptized nearly three years ago on the opening Sunday of our church. Even though Mr. Aaron Sililo (78 years old) and Mr. Benard Banda (58) were considered old men in our church, they both possessed a humble spirit and child-like faith. It is such a comfort to know that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord for those who believe in Christ (II Corinthians 5:8). Seeing their heart for the Lord through their questions and our discussions about the Word of God truly made them a blessing to know.
Thank you for your prayers and sacrifice, which enable us to be on the mission field preaching the truth of salvation through Jesus Christ.

Friday, January 14, 2011


On November 20, 2010, while most in America had thoughts of Christmas gifts under a tree, God was at work halfway across the world putting a special gift under a tree for Preetika and me.
This particular tree in Livingstone, Zambia was roughly 10,000 miles away from where we were in California at that time. On that Saturday evening, one of our missionary friends in Zambia, Tammy Haden, heard a baby crying outside. She thought to herself that the baby sounded so loud that it seemed to be right inside her yard. As the crying did not diminish and no one seemed to be calming the baby, she went outside to see what was going on. As she stepped outside and headed for the gate in her wall fence, the Lord impressed upon her heart that the crying baby had been abandoned. At that point she began running toward the sound of the cry which was coming from outside her wall at the base of a tree. There she found a 4-6 week old baby boy The crying must have also caught the attention of her landlord who lives across the street. He, being a long-time resident of Zambia, and not nearly as tender-hearted as a missionary wife, told Ms. Tammy not to touch the baby while he went to get the police. As he turned the corner, she picked up the baby and was joined by Bro. Joe, her husband, who was just returning from a village trip in the midst of all the commotion. After picking him up and soothing his crying, the baby gave her one of his beaming smiles for which he is now well-known.!

Soon after, the police arrived. They took a statement from Ms. Tammy, but did not seem to have any procedure in place to handle the abandoned child. Their only instruction was to take the baby to the hospital. Upon arrival at the hospital, Ms. Tammy was directed toward the registration desk with the baby. The registration nurse asked his name in order to register him. Since she hadn’t really thought about his name, Ms. Tammy was unsure of what to say. The nurse insisted that he needed a name, so Ms. Tammy replied that he is Moses, which makes sense to all familiar with the Exodus story of the baby Moses being saved from death when his mother sent him afloat down the river in a basket. He was found, cared for, and raised by Pharaoh’s daughter as her own son. Despite that inspired name choice, the LORD had a different name in mind. The nurse responded that Moses was not a good name because there were too many babies with that name already. The next name that came to mind at the registration desk was Elijah. This name was promptly accepted by the nurse who attached Haden as the last name. As the doors to adoption have opened up for Preetika and me, we have kept these names and expanded upon them. His full name is Elijah Paul Haden Warner – a bit of a mouthful no doubt but each name is full of meaning. Paul, by the way, is my wife’s maiden name, not to mention a great missionary of the New Testament.
After examination at the hospital, Elijah was sent home with the Hadens with a clean bill of health. Ms. Tammy and Bro. Joe were quite relieved to be able to take him home as they feared he may be put “in the system” that night. The nurses and policemen, on the other hand, seemed surprised that these Americans would be willing to take home and care for an abandoned Zambian baby. As promised the Hadens reluctantly brought Elijah back to the hospital the next day late on Sunday afternoon. When some of the nurses saw them approaching, they asked if Elijah was sick. Ms. Tammy said that he was not, but they were bringing him back as they had agreed to. The nurses replied that since it was Sunday and the administration offices were closed, there was no one who could see them today about the situation. They said the best thing to do was to wait until Monday and bring him to the Social Welfare Office in town. Through the next week (Thanksgiving week), the Hadens had several interviews and a home inspection. By Friday, they were in the magistrate’s office getting legal papers naming them Elijah’s foster parents.
We have been amazed at God’s Hand in orchestrating every detail. Notwithstanding a few appointment changes, the relative speed and ease of the process has been astounding and very “un-Zambia-like.” That God is at work here is extremely evident. Many Westerners have the idea that since the number of orphaned children in Africa is so alarmingly high (due to AIDS and other such calamities), therefore adoption is quite common. The opposite is actually true. In fact, since the year 2000, the number of Zambian orphans adopted by American families has been 77 -- or less than 8 per year. Compare that with China, India, or the Philippines whose lowest number of adopted orphans per year over the last decade are 3001, 297, and 171 respectively. Those countries have many more orphans adopted per year than Zambia has per decade. Most orphans in Zambia are cared for by their extended family members. Cases of abandonment are even rarer which indicates to us that Elijah’s family situation at his birth may have been unthinkably desperate. The social worker handling our case says Elijah’s is only the fourth abandonment he has heard of since he began working at the Social Welfare Office over 5 years ago. All of these stats emphatically remind Preetika and me of what a miracle Elijah’s life has been to this point has been.
We cannot help but recognize that God has a purpose and plan for his life. How privileged we are to be used of the Lord in the working of His plan!
The rest of the story, especially concerning what was going on in our hearts and lives in California concurrently with the events related from Zambia can be found in our January 2011 Prayer Letter which can also be found on this site. Preetika and I look forward to further updates along our journey to adopt Elijah and raise him up in the nurture and admonition of the LORD.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


Dear Praying Friends,
We hope that you all had a wonderful Christmas, and we wish you a very happy New Year! This holiday season has been a blessed one for us for one extremely special reason. The Lord has seen fit to add to our family. A few days before Thanksgiving, after having delayed our return to Zambia because of a few necessary medical tests, my wife noticed a rather unusual post on Facebook from a friend and fellow missionary in Zambia. Joe and Tammy Haden, who live in our town, had found an abandoned baby outside their fence. Unbeknownst to my wife, I asked God to let the Hadens contact us if He wanted us to adopt this four- to six-week old baby boy. Preetika and I have considered and prayed about adopting a Zambian child for the past three years. The process always seemed rather daunting, and we were overwhelmed with thoughts of where to begin. Incidentally, I had been told in my research of Zambian adoption that a prospective adoptive parent had to have a targeted child in mind before beginning the process. Our purpose in considering adoption was not only to fulfill our desire of parenting but also to care for a child truly in need. Though there are plenty of orphans in Zambia, most are cared for by their extended family members. While this can often lead to mistreatment and a “Cinderella” syndrome for the orphaned children, it is the typical way of handling this common situation in Africa. So we planned on visiting some of the orphanages in our country on several occasions; but each time God closed the door, and our plans for a visit fell through for some reason or other. We are now convinced that He already had His plan set in motion. And when God does something, He does it right!
Now that you have been brought up to speed on God’s pre-workings in our hearts regarding what He is shortly to bring to pass, this is where the story really gets good. The next day after hearing about the baby (and praying for God’s will to be known) was a Sunday. While returning from church that afternoon with my wife and her parents, Preetika checked her Facebook page on our cell phone. She was sitting in the backseat, and I was driving. When we arrived home, she came to me with tears in her eyes, looking like she was about to burst with excitement. When I asked what was the matter, she replied that Ms. Tammy had sent her a message asking if we would be interested in adopting Elijah, the abandoned baby’s name given by default by Ms. Tammy. (For the complete story about his name, please see our website, www.warnersinzambia.blogspot.com.) I told Preetika that the Lord had answered my prayer, and we replied that we were VERY interested in adopting Him. Within one week, the Hadens had been court-appointed as his foster parents until he turned 19 or was adopted. We laughed about that “until age 19” clause since Bro. Joe and Ms. Tammy are doting grandparents expecting their 13th grandchild in a few months (actually that unborn grandchild has been pushed to number 14 now that Elijah has entered their life!). Over the next two weeks, Preetika and I frantically prepared for a new baby in our house—from 10,000 miles away. We praise God for the tremendous support, encouragement, and help in preparing for Elijah from our family and Foothill Baptist Church family, my wife’s home church.
We traveled to Zambia with at least 150 pounds of baby gear in tow. It especially attracted a lot of attention to be carrying a baby car seat with no baby in it. Several times we were asked if we had mistakenly left our child behind somewhere. We didn’t mind the questions, but I just imagine all those that thought the same thing but didn’t ask. I am sure there are dozens of people from Los Angeles to London to Johannesburg, South Africa, who think we are the most careless parents alive. At any rate, the anomaly of the situation allowed us to share Elijah’s story several times over the journey. Preetika and I have decided to work on a tract or pamphlet tying in the message of God’s adoption of sinners into His family through Christ with our own adoption of Elijah to prepare for the questions that we will undoubtedly field regarding our multicultural family over the years. Since our arrival in Zambia, we have spent much time with Elijah at Nonna and Granddaddy Haden’s house. We have met with Mr. Kawana, the social worker handling our case, and he has encouraged us with his effort and concern to push Elijah’s adoption through the system. He also enabled us to have the unspeakable gift of having Elijah in our home over the Christmas weekend! We have been assured that Elijah should come for good to our home in the first or second week of January as we take over the fostering of him while waiting for the adoption to be finalized. Please be in prayer that God will open doors and allow the paperwork to be completed soon. We are trusting God and have been amazed at His working in this situation. Many times through the last couple of weeks, we have remarked that things are just going too smoothly—nothing is this easy in Zambia. We can’t go to the store and buy groceries as easily as things have worked so far in this process! While we don’t completely expect smooth sailing, we know God is in control, and He opens doors no man can shut! For more on Elijah’s story including pictures, you can find my wife on Facebook or check out our website. Thanks as always for your prayers.
“God setteth the solitary in families….” (Psalm 68:6) Praise God He does!
In His service,

Justin & Preetika Warner