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Jason Raitz

Jesus Follower. Husband. Dad. Son. Brother. Pastor.

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Church Leadership

I think we made a mistake…

Ok, I know this is going to sound crazy, but…

I think we made a mistake.

 Let me back up. I have no idea how we could have done it. Shoot, I have no idea how we did what we did. But, I think we could have attempted it. 

I think with God’s help, it was something that we could have done. 

Actually, Tracie brought it up to me months ago and my  first thought was…’she’s crazy!’. But, I will tell you I prayed about it. I really did. But honestly, I have been a level of stressed out that I have never been in my life. I really needed to remember Jesus’ words…

Then, turning to his disciples, Jesus said, ‘that is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life, whether you have enough food to eat or enough clothes to wear’

So, you maybe wondering what I’m talking about?

I think we made a mistake by not bringing home…

TWO CHILDREN FROM CHINA. 

Yes, I’m crazy! Tracie is crazy! Ican hear the chorus’s of ‘your crazy’ righ now. I can see all the eyebrows going up. I can see people waking away. 

Especially after re-reading my blog post from last night! Wow, we were tired yesterday! Kai gave us a run for our money. 

But, being here. Walking around his orphanage. Seeing the RIDICULOUS need. Having our hearts broken and then broken again. Meeting families who have adopted 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 times. Seeing what God has already done in our hearts. 

Yeah, I think we made a mistake by not at least attempting it. 

Now, I have no idea how we could have afforded it. I have no idea how we could have managed it. I have no idea. 

I really have no idea. 

To be honest, I have no idea how we were able to do what we did. I have no idea how we’re going to afford 3 kids with PKU. I don’t know how we afford 2 kids with PKU. I actually had someone tell us we were financially irresponsible for adopting a child with PKU when our need is already great for the two we have with PKU. 

That broke my heart. 

We’re kind of figuring stuff out as we go. 

But, I was pushing Kai through the lobby at our hotel yesterday and I was watching a new dad push his new baby girl in her wheelchair. Yes, her wheelchair. Then I talked to another dad who has a new baby girl, she’s 8 and blind. And I talked to another family who is rushing to get their new son back to the US because they don’t know how long his heart will keep working before surgery. 

And, my heart broke again in ways that I never thought it would. 

JUST BROKE!

Actually SHATTERED!

And I realized I think we made a mistake. 

I know God is working in us. I Know God is working in Kai. I know God is working in the people following our story. 

I know we did what God called us to do, I just wonder if we were suppose to do more?

I wonder if in the future God will call us to do more. 

I know for sure it wasn’t a mistake adopting Kai! This boy has already captured our hearts. This boy is our son and we will love him forever. 

The Presence of God was overwhelming

Have you ever felt the presence of God? 

I did today. 

We were in a Chinese medical office and we were waiting for Kai to be seen. Before he can leave China, he has go through a check up and have a TB test. 

As we were sitting, family after family starting coming in. I couldn’t help myself, I love meeting new people, so I started learning everyone’s stories. 

That’s when it happened. 

The Presence of God was Incredibly Powerful! 

I realized that this is the kind of place that Jesus was talking about…

‘For where to or three gather together as my followers, I am there among there’ ~Matthew 18:20 (nlt)

I talked with family after family and hearing their story was one of the most moving and profound moment of life I’ve ever experienced. 

Families who were on their second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth adoptions. 

Are you kidding me?

Families who were adopting children with severe special needs. Families who had taken a giant step of faith. 

And, it hit me. I know Jesus is here. Why would He not be? I mean, this is a Gathering of people who care for the ‘least of these’. 

‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me’ ~Matthew 25:45 (nlt)

The Presence of God was Powerful and Overwhelming. 

At times I had to make sure I wiped tears quickly so everyone in the room wouldn’t find out that I’m just a mess! 

Here’s the beautiful thing though, you can serve the ‘least of these’ anywhere you are! It hit me, I’m in China, but there are so many opporunties and moments back home to care for and to love and to serve the ‘the least of these’. 

The Next Leg of our Journey has Begun

What a day! Long, hard, exhausting, stretching, tiring, good, great, wonderful and everything in between!

We left our hotel at 1:30pm and drove to the Nanjing airport. Which was by far the largest airport I’ve ever been in…ever! They say everything’s bigger in Texas, well, everything really is bigger in China! Holy Cow!

We got through security and made our way to the gate. Our flight was delayed 2 hours. Ok, so, we started to walk the airport. I’m not exaggerating when I say it was probably 5 football fields long! As we were at the very end of the airport, I looked at the flight status and it said it was boarding! It had just said delayed and we had like 2 hours to go! So, we high tailed it to the gate. We got to the gate and after they scan your ticket, they load a million people into a bus and drive you to your plane. I took 15 minutes! No joke!

Well, the plane ride was not Kai’s favorite. It was pretty rough. But, we got to Guangzhou, found our guide and loaded up our luggage and headed to our hotel. 

We are staying at a great hotel for the next week because of some amazing generosity. Actually, our room is out of this world cool. Which is great, because Kai has some room to play!! 

For some reason, I am up! Tracie and Kai are out. We have to be up early for Kai’s medical exam in the morning! 

I’m hoping to head to Church on Sunday! That would be awesome! We’ll see. 

Alright, time for some sleep! 

OH…Kai was struggling pretty mightily with me today. Only wants his mama. Until! UNTIL I gave him some banana, his first ever! Yup, I won him over and I don’t care at all if it was bribery! He was happy, he was laughing and he was smiling! 

Visiting where Kai was abandoned was beyond emotional. 

On June 19th, 2014, Zou HongKai was abandoned outside of a train station, near a lake, in Nanjing, China. 

I went back in my calendar and tried to find out where I was when that happened. I was in TN speaking at an event, totally unaware that a little boy was about to be abandoned and found and that in two years, he would…

Totally and Completely Change my Life. 

I can’t even begin to tell you how much he has absolutely captured my heart. He has changed my life. 

This experience is like NOTHING I’ve ever been through. The ups and downs, the heart break, the waiting, the unbelievable expense, the worrying about the money, the stress about the home study, the negative voices, the thrills of reaching each check point, the highs of being approved, the gifts, God’s provision, being matched with Kai and then finally the day when you finally meet your son. 

Yes, I have been Totally and Competely Changed!

I wish more people could experience this! 

There was nothing quite like visiting his ‘FINDING SPOT’ though. The police report says he was found in a blanket. When they finally got him to a hospital, the doctors estimated he was about 5 months old. He only weighed 9.7 pounds. 

9.7 pounds. We don’t know if his biological parents knew about his PKU or not, but most likely, they had no idea and probably fed him like a normal baby. If you don’t know much about PKU, like most and that’s ok, you just can’t do that. PKU is different than a gluton allergy or a peanut allergy. A person wth PKU can’t break down the acid in protein and that acid attacks the central nervous system. So, in time, someone who is not on a PKU diet will begin to function at a much lower speed. 

So, thankfully, when he arrived at his orphanage, they ran a test for PKU!!

I tried to see his mom or dad leaving him

This was the emotional part for me. As I walked around and listened to all the sounds and took in all the sights, I wondered if I could see them leaving him in my head. What would have that been like for them? Was it hard? Was it heart breaking? Was it so painful that their heart tore in two? 

Our guide told us they were probably from a small village and took the train to the big town to leave him because they knew once he was found, he would have a better chance at life. 

We actually were given the add in the newspaper announcing that he had been abandoned. I can’t even look at it without crying. 

And now, he has utterly and completely changed my life. 

Every time he smiles, I’m captivated. 

Every time he laughs, I lose my breath. 

Every time he giggles, I can’t stop smiling. 

And to think, only if his biological parents could see him now. Their son is going to grow up in the US. Have amazing medial care for his PKU. Have an amazing mom who knows the PKU diet. Have two older siblings with PKU who will help him navigate life with PKU. Have a dad that wants nothing more than to see his kids succeed and to be loved and to fall in love with Jesus. He has a family who will adore him. He as a community of people who already love him. He has an awesome Church home. 

What a life he will have! 

Yes, I’ve been changed and I can’t but help think how God the Father feels when one of His kids comes back to Him. When they realize what He did to adopt them into His family and they run to Him with their arms wide open. 

The CHURCH made Kai’s Adoption a Reality

How about that for a headline!?! 

That’s the reality though, without the local CHURCH, Kai’s adoption would not have happened. 

Tracie and I weren’t in a position to afford this adoption on our own. Maybe that should have stopped us from pursuing it. It has stopped many. A few people expressed that opinion to us. Well, not face to face but on Facebook and to others. But, as we prayed about it, we just felt God’s overwhelming push to move forward and to ask the CHURCH to help. So, we did. We did it on Facebook. We did it through emails. We did it on my blog. We did it Face to face. 

And…the CHURCH DID!!!! 

Here’s what I mean by that. Not one Church is responsible for Kai’s adoption or one person or one family, but MANY. 

We had 6 year olds give $5. We had teenagers give. We had families give $20. We had some who gave thousands. We had people give from Central Michigan, the Detroit Area, Grand Rapids and up north. From…PA, IND, VA, CA, CO, NV, TX, LA, NY, OH, IL, WI, WA, FL, TN, KY, DC and some I’m forgetting about. 

But, Kai’s adoption couldn’t have happened without every one of those gifts. 

And, how about this…

99% of the people that gave were followers of Jesus. 

You know why? Because generosity is close to the heart of God! I mean, HE Gave HIS Son for us! Jesus gave everything! The Acts 2 Church gave to support each other. We, as the Church, are called to give! I believe we’re called to give first to God through the Local Church and then to give as God leads us to give. 

I love what Todd Clark said about generosity…

‘Generosity will make you rich not poor’

I have found that to be 100% true in my life. Embarrassingly enough, I fought this for years. I didn’t give because I thought that because I made hardly anything working for the church and because I gave so much time to the Church, that that was the same as giving financially. I was wrong. Dead wrong. There is a very strong and compelling reason that Jesus said your treasure is where your heart is. He knew that we struggle like crazy to Trust Him and He wants our heart. If we can’t put our finances ahead of our heart, we won’t experience all He has for us. 

I can honestly say that is true. I have experienced that. When you make generosity so common in life, like breathing, and you do that over time, whether times are good or bad, one day…

You will wake up and experience a waterfall of the Holy Spirits presence in your life. I have. It’s amazing. 

THE CHURCH MADE KAI’S ADOPTION A REALITY! 

And, actual Churches made Kai’s adoption a reality. This just completely blows my mind! It’s still had to wrap my mind around!

3 Churches, who really don’t know my family or I all that well (I mean, I have a friendship with their Pastors) took offerings to help us! ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME?? So, we will always be in awe and so grateful to 242 Community Church in MI, New Bethel Church in IN and Canvas Church in VA. 

Then, Thrive Church in CA, who knows more of me and my Church because we’re in the same network of Churches, received an offering as well. ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME?

Also, the night before we left, I asked some folks from my Church to gather and pray for us. And they did! And, they threw us a surprise shower to help with Kai’s clothes and toys and toddler stuff! 

THE CHURCH IS AWESOME!!!

The Church is responsible for this adoption. Of all the complaining and whining I read about the CHURCH, I’m sorry if I can’t join in! I love the LOCAL CHURCH! She is the bride of Christ. The local Church, when working right, is the Hope of the World. The Church preaches the Gospel. The Church gives people a home. The Church allows the generations to come together. The Church is a movement! The Church is the hands and feet of Jesus! The Church is the LIGHT to this dark world. 

That’s why it just shocks me that Christians have become so apatathic towards their Churches. But, that’s for another blog post. 

Here’s what I know…

A boy who didn’t have a family, now has one. A boy who didn’t have a Church home, now has one. A boy who wasn’t going recieve the level of medical care his PKU needed, will receive one. A boy who slep in a crip with 12 other kids, will now have 4 siblings. A boy on the other side of the world, one of the 17 million orphans in the world, now has a home. 

The Church did that! 

I love the Church. 

‘Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you’ ~ James 1:27

The Night Before we leave for China

Tonight was absolutely AMAZING! I asked my Church to pray for my family and they did!

So humbling!

Our adoption journey has been amazing! It’s been stressful! It’s been incredible!  It’s been anxiety filled! It’s been up and its been down! It’s been miracle after miracle! It’s been amazing to see God work and move!

I’ve had sleepless nights. I’ve had nights where I walked around our house late at night just begging God to move so we could provide a home for Winona or Kai. I’ve had nights where I just thank God over and over!

It seems like forever ago that I wrote this post about adopting Winona Mae! Oh wait, it was forever ago!

It seems like yesterday that I wrote this post for my friends and family to meet Kai!!

And now, here we are, Tracie and I leave for China tomorrow at 330pm.

I would be honored if you would pray for us.

Pray for Kai. Pray for Tracie. Pray for our kids back home.

We have just a little bit more to raise to cover our airfare home and I would be honored if you would pray for that.

Please pray on Monday. That’s when we meet Kai for the first time. Pray that we have God’s favor with Kai. Pray that he has an immediate connection to us.

We are so thankful! We are so blessed! Thank you!

 

So many people miss out on the real POWER of being CONNECTED to a Local Church. Don’t miss out today!

Some people ‘go’ to Church because they have an internal voice telling them that its the right thing to do.

Some people ‘go’ to Church because they want to be seen by other people.

Some people ‘go’ to Church because they have heard good things and don’t want to miss out.

Some people ‘go’ to Church because they’re starving for community and connection.

Some people ‘go’ to Church because its one more thing on their moral check list.

First of all…

Stop GOING to Church. 

Second of all…

Be the Church! 

That’s where the real power is!

Here’s what I believe passionately, you will miss out on the real POWER of Church if you’re not connected and if you’re not connected for the right reasons!

All those reasons TO GO to Church miss out on the power that is available to you. If Church is just a country club to you, a moral compass, another box on your to do list or another thing for you to feel good about yourself, you’re missing out.

But, when you get CONNECTED at a local Church that is working right and use your spiritual gifts to serve that body and to serve the community they live in…

LOOK OUT!! 

Some Ways to Get Fully Connected:

ONE…Actually make it a priority to be there! Again, so simple but so hard in this day and age of crazy business. If you really want to experience the power of connection, be there. Make it a commitment to be with your Church every week!

TWO…Actually make it a priority to serve! Again, sounds simple. But, what if we approached serving our Church as a number one priority in our life? Be there. Show up early. Serve with your whole heart.

THREE…Actually make it a priority to get to know people. Again, so simple to say, but so many people shy away from this. They know if they actually do this, they will start making connections and then it gets harder to be nominally involved.

FOUR…Actually make it a priority to be known. Again, sounds so simple, but so many people give up on church right before they really get connected. What are you so afraid of? God created us to live in community with each other. Jump in and feel the power of being connected.

Today is your day! Make the decision to let nothing stop you from being connected. I really believe when you do, you will start to feel the power of being connected and then your life will change for the better!

 

3 Simple Ways to Really Appreciate your Pastor

So, October is Pastor Appreciation month. Today is the last day, but you don’t need it to be Pastor Appreciation Month to appreciate your Pastor. So, I thought I would chime in on a few really simple ways to appreciate your Pastor.

But first…

Yesterday I was the guest speaker at Connect Church in Washington, IL. It was planted and is lead by Dave Jane. He’s a brilliant Pastor! They’re a great Church! Doing amazing things for the Kingdom.

At one moment, a key leader in the Church got on stage and brought up the paid staff. They gave each staff member and their spouses a small gift and an envelope. They showed some pictures of them on the screen, they thanked them and they prayed for them. It was an awesome moment! Simple, yet profound.

I hope and pray more Churches do that than not. 

3 Simple Ways

Pray. And, here’s the deal. Really pray for them. Don’t just say you do, actually do it.

Pray for them, their spouse, their kids, their leadership, their ministry, their finances and their health. Ask God for His favor on them. Ask God to give them wisdom. Ask God to raise up a network of people who will encourage them.

And, let them know you’re praying for them!

Support. And, here’s the deal. Really support them. This is HUGE! I believe this fully, you are actually holding back the forward momentum of your Church if your not on board with your Pastor. His vision for the Church and how they lead.

Now, maybe you think you can wait them out and then everything will be fine after they leave. But, the reality is, God has called them to be there and if He’s called you to be there as well, figure out how you can really support them.

The reality is, if you can’t, it may be time to move on. Sounds harsh, but its true.

Ok, here are a couple of random ways you can show support to your Pastor.

  • Encourage them over social media. Like their comments. Share their posts.
  • Say thanks.
  • Send a card.
  • Love on their kids and spouse.
  • Squash any gossip or negative talk about them.

Show UP. Yes, this is a biggie. Show up at Church. Show up in Church. Show up and be the Church. There are so many luke warm followers of Jesus. Sorry, no judgement here, but there are a lot of people who view ‘Church’ as a ‘To Do’ on their check list. It’s not. Being a part of the church is sacred. So, really Show up.

  • Serve.
  • Give. Pray.
  • Use your gifts.
  • Don’t give up during tough seasons.
  • Invite people to be a part.
  • Be passionate about your walk with Jesus.

Yeah, these are pretty simple. But, they would bring a huge lift to your Pastor.

Yes, being a Pastor is hard.

But, these 3 simple ways would go a long way to show your appreciation.

 

I can’t even process how ROUGH the month started but how AMAZING it finishing!

What a month! 

I’m telling you, this week started out ROUGH! I wonder how many people can relate? I actually wrote this BLOG POST talking about just being tired of pain! I know I’m not alone. I know people have rough weeks all the time, but this one, for whatever reason, just started out rough.

I take that back, the last 2-3 weeks have been on the rougher side. It kind of started on October 2nd. That was Thrive’s THREE anniversary and to be extremely honest, I had a very ROUGH morning that day.

Typically, our anniversary’s and big Sunday’s are my favorite, but something was going on inside my head and my heart and my soul. As soon as 8:30am hit, wave and wave of amazingly hard discouragement and disappointment just kept hitting me.

It was unlike anything I have ever experienced. 

Listen, I’ve been a Pastor long enough to know that its not an easy job. I get that. Satan is attacking, People attack, Life attacks and thats all before you wake up some days!

For whatever reason, October 2nd was really hard. Those lying voices in my head kept reminding me of all the people who have left Thrive, the people who have said negative stuff about me and the Church, all the initiatives we haven’t been able to do yet because of finances and then the 1 or 2 super colossally bad decisions I’ve made while being Thrive’s Pastor. Yes, I’ve made more. A LOT MORE. But, there are 1-2 that really stick out.

 

Here’s what happened though in my life:

God showed up big. People showed up big.

Here’s what I mean. God provided! He brought healing! He brought Peace! He brought love! He brought hope! The list below is just the short list of the amazing BLESSINGS God has brought my way. As you struggle with the rough moments, hold on, God has something for you! He has beauty that you can’t even imagine. He has healing that you can’t even imagine.

The Blessings that have found their way to our family…

ONE…A Found Hand Written Note in my Bible. It was left by an amazing Thriver and I have read her worlds over and over again! Such a blessing! 

TWO…Glasses for Bekah. A friend from TX messaged us last month and said she would love to bless Bekah with new glasses! Such a blessing! 

THREE…A Car. Yeah, no joke. A miracle. Both are cars are old and held together with duck tape. A dear friend gave us a car and said it was the best way they know possible for helping with our adoption. Just UNREAL! Such a blessing! 

FOUR…Gift for Pastor Appreciation. There is an amazing couple at Thrive who just bless so many people. Well, they gave me a gift for Pastor Appreciation month and with it, I was able to get some of the things my kids needed for school. Such a blessing! 

FIVE…Gift card for Shoes. A wonderful couple at church stopped me a few backs and gave me a gift card for a new pair of shoes. With 4 kids and two of them having PKU, shoes and clothes are on the low priority list for Tracie and I! Such a blessing! 

SIX…My parents. Yeah, I could fill blog post after blog post about all the amazing ways my parents help us all the time. They are just always there! Such a blessing! 

SEVEN…A mattress for Bekah. We’ve needed a mattress for 3-4 months for Bekah. There was unfortunate accident on her mattress with our cat. Last night, a dear friend texted Tracie out of the blue saying that she has a mattress for Bekah! Such a blessing! 

EIGHT…Approve, Certified and Sealed Dossier. This was HUGE. Many of our forms were set to expire this week before they were more than 6 months old for adoption process. Tracie, because of the amazing gift of a dear friend, was able to go to downtown Chicago and take the forms to the Chinese Consulate and get them sealed! Such a blessing! 

NINE…A trip to Chicago for Tracie. One of our best friends in the world, made it possible for her to take Tracie to Chicago to get our paperwork to the Consulates. It never would have happened without her help! Such a blessing! 

TEN…77 Puzzle Pieces for Kai.

This is the easiest and simplest fundraiser ever. We have two identical puzzles. They are pictures of Kai and our family. We’re asking that people sponsor a piece or two or three. Really, whatever amount they would like and that coincides with the puzzle piece. When someone sponsors a piece, we send it to them in the mail with a picture of the puzzle.

Then, we write their name on the other puzzle piece. When its completed, we will frame it and put it in Kai’s room for him to see all the people that helped bring him home!

We have been blown away and people are continuing to sponsor pieces.

Friends from all the country! Churches! Kids! Students! Its just been unreal!

Even though the month started rough. Even though this week started rough. God has provided. God has brought healing. God has reminded me of his love. God has showed up time and time again!

If you’re going through a rough time, hang in there! Stay close to Jesus! He will get you through.

‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest’ ~Jesus

 

 

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