Today He Turns 5…But, Here is how we met Andy.

 

I wrote this right after we met Andy in 2012.  He was 6 months old.  Today he turns 5.

“We met up with our driver in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia at 9 a.m. on August 5, 2012 after 20 hours of travel. We were tired and ready to rest. We had been told before the trip that we would meet our child on the 6th, leaving us all day on the 5th to recover from the trip. Our amazing host and driver turned back to us and handed us our itinerary for the week and it read, “Sunday, August 9: 9 a.m. – pick up at the airport, 10 a.m. – meet your child.” It took us a minute, due to the brain fog from travel, to realize what was about to happen. We were going straight to meet our son.
We arrived at Hannah’s Hope just before 10 a.m., took our stuff to our room, and then walked next door. Above the door that leads in to the building where the children are is the simple word, “Hope”. It is such a good symbol of what those children find there. As we walked in we headed into a living room and there was one of the “special mothers” (ladies who work there taking care of the children) holding the most beautiful and handsome 6-month-old little boy. We immediately recognized him from the pictures. He was ours. We were meeting Andy for the first time.
It is impossible to accurately describe what happened in our hearts as the “special mother” handed him to Shelley for the first time. It was no longer about being a number on a wait list, or planning travel, or court appointments, or raising funds, or process. It was about a life and our little family of four in that moment becoming a family of five. Well I guess it is a family of six if you count our dog Pete…he counts. It was a supernatural moment on our lives.
The next couple of days were all about being with him. We stared at him, touched him, played with him, fed him, bathed him, changed him, and loved on him as much as we could. It was obvious that his little 6-month-old mind was confused. When we would get time with him each day, the first things he would do was slowly and deliberately move the middle two fingers on his right hand into his mouth. We could tell that he was getting more comfortable when he would be a little slower on the draw with is two fingers. I would be confused too. He has been through a lot in his short little life. After all who were these two strange looking people anyway?
Court was scheduled for Wednesday morning. The night before we were taken out to eat at an authentic Ethiopian restaurant complete with amazing entertainment. The food was good and I was not about to let the statement, “That is really spicy. You may not want to eat that “ scare me. The next morning I was wishing I had a little more “fear”. Feeling pretty queasy, Shelley and I were picked up to drive to court. The air there is thin, full of diesel fumes and the roads, well they are interesting. I just prayed that I would not be getting reacquainted with my spicy dinner.
We made it to court with our lawyer who was provided by our adoption agency (AGCI). Climbed 10 flights of stairs and then waited in what looked like a classroom filled with people. After about an hour a lady stepped out of the judge’s office and said something and our lawyer stood up and started walking. We followed. We went into a small room where we sat before the judge. She asked us a few simple questions, “Have you met the child? Have you taken course to learn about adoption? Have you learned about the Ethiopian culture?”  Then she said something to the effect of, “after the courts approval this adoption cannot be reversed. Are you sure you want to adopt this child?” Hmm….With massive smiles on our faces we said, “Oh yes!”. Then these powerful words came out of her mouth. “He is now your child and that can never be reversed.” We wept.
We had one more full day with our son and savored every minute of it. Because of Ethiopian adoption law and adoption process we are were not able to bring our son home until he has a visa from the USA. The visa is usually issued 6-8 weeks after the court’s approval. That means we were getting ready to leave our son in Ethiopia for now. So on Thursday afternoon around 4pm we had been staring, loving, playing, cleaning, and feeding Andy when the moment came that we were dreading. It was terrible. Heart wrenching. After he had fallen asleep, we handed him back to the “special mother”, kissed him on the head and said goodbye. We walked out of the room and onto the balcony overlooking the street and just cried. We were filled with the mixture of joy because we have a new son and the obvious sadness of leaving him.
Now we are back home praying for time to fly. We are praying for process to move at light speed. We need a court decree to be sent out, his passport and birth certificate to be made and a date at the US Embassy to be scheduled. Then we will go back and bring him home. We are just ready for the Hunt family to be six of us in one place (don’t forget Pete). We are ready for Andy to come home.

This whole thing is just amazing. It is teaching me so much. We are not rescuers of little boy. We are receivers of a gift of grace. We are not doing something to brag about. We are being allowed to be a part of something supernatural. There is so much more to this than “what we are doing”. God is just being so kind to us. We are humbled and thankful.”

HAPPY BIRTHDAY ANDY!

Back When I Was a Songwriter

As I think back on 20 years of ministry it amazes me how there have been particular seasons when God has chosen to use me in unique ways.  Just the thought of being used by God is humbling. There is nothing in me that has deserved that. I can almost categorize different time periods with titles.  They weren’t so much the specific job I held but the way God has brought out and developed certain parts of me during certain years.

This has taught me that God really is in charge and can do whatever He wants with me.  When I embrace that truth, it is so good. This has also taught me that when those seasons are over, I need to let them be over.  It is a good thing to let go because it means God has something else good in store.

From about 1997-2003 could be labeled, “The Songwriter”.  Music has been an important part of my life since I was a kid. I started to play instruments as a 7 year old.  I have a degree in music.  I love a good rock guitar solo more than most things in the world.

During the years 1997-2003 I was working as a college minister in Little Rock, Ar. Prior to that I had written a bunch of songs but none of them were particularly “holy”.  But something happened in 1997, not sure what, that lit a fire in me to write songs of worship for the ministry that I was serving in.  I almost could not help but write and then lead our ministry to sing them. It wasn’t a pride thing but more like giving a voice to what God was doing around us.  It was writing the prayers, celebration, and confessions that we needed to sing.

So I wrote a lot of songs. I wrote constantly.  I almost could help but write. Honestly, many of those songs were pretty bad, but there were a hand full that seemed to be what that group of college students needed to stay.  It was wild.  One of the most humbling things I have experienced in ministry is hearing a room full of people worshiping God while singing a song I wrote.

I still have a stack of songs from back then laying around and it is like reading through a journal.  They bring up such good memories of those students.  Such a sweet time, when I was a song writer.

Here are the lyrics to one of my favorites.  It was very personal to me and still a song that I need to sing.

 

CLEAN

Words and Music by Doug Hunt, 2001

Less of me, more of You

Purify me, refine me

Strip me clean, make me whole

Simplify me, guide me

Take away the things that steal from Your fame

Fill me with the truth that glorifies Your Name

Wipe away the things that cover You in me

Overflow my life with what You long to see

chorus

Make me more like You

Jesus live Your life through me

Free me from myself

Jesus have Your way in me

Living in You

Moving in You

Hoping in You

Jesus I need You

I Wanted to Quit Ministry 4 Months After I Started

I had been in fulltime ministry for about 4 months when I had begun working on my strategy to quit forever.

The beginnings of ministry for me was like a whirlwind moving at light speed. The week I moved to Little Rock from Georgia was crazy.  It was late August of 1996. At the beginning of that week, I had most everything in place for me to move to New Orleans to attend a seminary there.  I had even said my goodbyes to my family.  By Thursday of that week my plans altered in the most unexpected and gracious way. God had opened an amazing door for me in Little Rock, AR. to serve with a mentor of mine from college and attend an extension of Southwestern Seminary in Fort Worth, TX.  I literally had to buy an atlas to find Little Rock, AR. Explaining that change of plans to my parents was fun.  I can still remember my dad saying over the phone, “you’re going where?”

It was like I was living in a Bible verse I had learned from my Granny, “A man’s mind plans his ways but the Lord directs his steps.” Proverbs 16:9

So, seriously, just like that I was following my atlas to Little Rock, AR.  At the end of that day I walked in the door of the Baptist Student Ministry building at University of Little Rock, AR.  I hugged my friend Tim.  Then served at an event that night. It was my new life, nine hours away from home where I knew two people, Tim and his wife Lynnette.

Fast-forward to Christmas. Four months of fast paced ministry had gone by and it was time to head back to Georgia for a few days to be with my family. It was so good.  I really love my family, warts and all. When those few days were over and it was time to make the drive back to Little Rock, I did not want to go.  I was sad about leaving family. Ministry had been good but, man, I did not like being that far from home.

I remember driving out of Atlanta on I-20 west and looking in my rear view mirror and seeing the city’s skyline. I did not like it.  I wanted to be home with my family.

So for the next nine hours I devised a plan to power through until summer, quit and move back to Georgia.  Ministry wasn’t worth it.

But, remember that verse, Proverbs 16:9?

On January 1, 1997 I had to take a group of about 10 or 12 college students to a conference in Austin, TX called Passion97.  In my heart it felt like a “I had to” not an “I want to”. I didn’t know what Passion97 was.  I had never heard of any of the speakers or musicians. I wanted to be in Georgia.  I was getting bitter pretty fast that I “had” to be away.  But it was my job to take those students to Passion97 so I did.

There were about 2000 college students there. I had never been to anything like it in my life.  But, I still didn’t want to be there.  I was fighting God in my heart and words.  I have a vivid memory of sitting in my chair and thinking “this is all pretty cool, but You are going to have to do more than this God”.

So, yeah, I challenged God.  You should try it sometime.

It was the final night of the conference and I remember there being several banners brought into the convention center and placed around the room.  They all had different names or attributes of God on them.  The communicator challenged us to ask God to show us which one of those Names or Attributes we needed think on, thank God for, worship Him for, and remember.  I knew almost instantly.

It was the banner that said “I AM”. He was telling me, “Trust me.  I AM good.  I am in control and that is a good thing.  Trust me.”

I broke into tears, realizing that what “I AM” had for me was eternally greater than anything I had for me.  He assured me that he understood the desire and love for my family back home.  He also assured me that He was trustworthy even when the plans of my mind were altered by His directing of my steps.

So, God won which means ultimately I won.

 I said “yes God.  I will trust you.  I will not quit.” (There have been other times I wanted to quit, and tried, maybe that is for another day.)

 Now, Ioving and missing my family “back home” has always been a part of my journey.  There have been plenty of other moments when it has been hard to be far from them. I love them now more than ever, warts and all. But, along the way in the moments where I have struggled, God has reminded me that He is “I AM”.  He is in control and that is a good thing.  He knows what is right and good and bigger than me. Now, 20 years later, God has allowed me to be much more “back home” than ever and I am grateful.

More than that, I am grateful God did not allow me to quit.  But, He has been Trustworthy.  He is good.