Andrew VanderVeer, a Christian Reformed Church missionary who ran the West Fulton Street Mission in Grand Rapids, Michigan, loved children. As a Grand Rapids Press article about the beginnings of Bethany Christian Services said, “He had long worked closely with Kent County Probate Judge John Dalton, who often referred troubled kids to him for help.
We are thrilled to share with you one of our first placements from the These 400 Campaign! Little Michael has found his forever family with Dan and Kelsey Golden. Here, Kelsey holds her son Michael just seconds after meeting him for the first time.
Luke is ten years old. He has two adopted sisters, Darvi and Jemila, and a brother, Caleb. His sisters were adopted from Ethiopia, and all four children have also become friends with other adopted Ethiopian children in their area. Sometimes they talk about what life would look like had they been born someone else, or in a different country, or to a different family.
When God puts dreams in the hearts of those who love Him, He grants them strength and opportunity to see those dreams become reality. Mary DeBoer’s trust in His provision for her dream made all the difference in Bethany Christian Services’ beginnings and mission to meet the needs of vulnerable children.
In a small town, the volunteer fire department’s telephone was answered by the police station who would in turn sound the fire whistle to rally the volunteers to duty. One morning, the chief of police had just arrived when the fire department phone rang. He picked up the phone and said, "Fire Department." A voice on the other end of the line frantically said, "Send the fire truck!" And immediately hung up. Realizing that someone’s house was possibly at stake, he devised a plan to keep the caller from hanging up so quickly if she called back. Sure enough the phone rang a second time.
When Bethany began the These 400 campaign early this year to focus on finding forever homes for children with difficult placement needs, little did we imagine God would bless our efforts and these children to the degree he has. We can never out-imagine God!
When we set the goal to find 100 families this year for These 400, we were determined to be thoughtful and deliberate in achieving this “big hairy audacious goal”—realizing that this goal may seem externally questionable, our united team did not regard this as impossible—nor do our 35 passionate and praying advocates.
As Bethany works diligently to assist families across the globe through our One Family sponsorship program, successes in China, Ethiopia, and Guatemala have encouraged us to expand programming in Ghana, South Africa, and Haiti.
As millions of vulnerable orphans around the world wait to know the love of a forever family, Bethany’s mission is to find them loving families. Though 70 years of experience fills us with confidence that we will serve and impact more lives of children and families each year—our mission is at times daunting. As we increase our areas of service, strengthen our programs and grow as an agency, we are encouraging our branch offices across the country to take a unique approach in creating awareness of Bethany’s life-changing services in their communities.
Each of God’s people carries a vision He has placed in their heart—a dream nourished when they say yes to small steps as well as to heart-racing leaps of faith. Marguerite Bonnema, one of the three cofounders of Bethany Christian Services, carried her dream for decades, staying faithful and focused as she took such steps and leaps, even when she felt afraid.
55 children have been matched with their forever family!
This is a true testimony of God being there for HIS kids. We are seeing across the nation of how God is moving and working for the good of the children that he cherishes and loves!