Read the following interview to learn how Shelia Harper, Ignite Hope's Volunteer Coordinator, grew in her faith and prayer life as a result of her grandchildren's adoption journeys!
How long have you been an adoptive grandmother?
My oldest granddaughter was already part of the family when my son, Jeff, married Jacqui in 2010. I consider her to be my grandchild. In 2011, my first grandson was brought home through adoption. I remember Jacqui calling me at work to update me as they were going through the process. It was really hard for Jacqui and Jeff and everybody involved, so when that little guy got home, it was such a joy. When I got to hold him and see him, he was so cute and so sweet! Now I have four grandchildren: two adopted and two biological!
This is so exciting for me because I actually considered adopting a baby years and years ago. I went through infertility drugs and the whole nine yards. I have always been open to adoption. This was back in the 80s, so it was a long time ago now.
It’s so neat to see that you are an adoptive grandmother since you considered adopting a child yourself so long ago! How did your grandchildren change your view on adoption?
They have made the difficulty of their adoption journeys so worthwhile and made adoption real to me. When I found out that Jacqui and her sister were both adopted, I thought, “Wow, that is so cool!” I was thinking about how much of a gift adoption was for a child. I cringe thinking about what would have happened to my grandson if Jeff and Jacqui hadn’t brought him home. It’s such a blessing. It is so sweet to see a child come home through adoption. I got to see Jacqui holding my grandson in her arms, and I can remember it like it was yesterday. It was like wait, wait, wait and then all of a sudden BAM there he was!
That’s so sweet. What led you to become involved in the orphan care ministry with Ignite Hope?
When Jeff and Jacqui started this, they asked if I would be supportive. I’m always supportive in anything they do because they try to do good for everyone and are Godly people. It was a natural thing for me because I love them and my grandchildren so much. Since I was there to witness my grandson being brought home and how hard the process was, it’s just really special to help others through that. I wanted to support them in trying to help other people in the same way because it is such a joy when a child has a family. Jeff and Jacqui know what the journey is like and can give hope to others.
How has your view of God changes through the adoption process?
It has taught me that we are all God’s children and all need a home. I never really thought about it that way until Jeff and Jacqui started the ministry. We are all orphans in need of an eternal home; some of us are just lucky enough to have a family on earth. We all need a family, though. I had to believe God would answer prayer and that it was His will for all orphans to have homes. I believe God will place orphans in loving homes, and I pray for that. This has changed my view on prayer and my whole way of looking at God and orphans.
Since Ignite Hope is a prayer ministry, could you describe more specifically the way your prayer life changed through this adoption process? What about it was special?
Before when I prayed to God, it was very formal, like talking to someone I didn’t know. Now when I pray to God, I talk to Him differently. It’s much more urgent. It has really changed my relationship with God in that I know Him more personally than before. Before I didn’t feel like I could talk to God on a personal level because He was so huge.
Would you mind sharing how you became a believer and realized you were spiritually adopted by God? How did your life change after becoming a believer?
It hasn’t been that long since I became a believer. It’s been about three years. I was brought up in a divided home. My parents never really went to church because my father was a Baptist and my mother was a Mormon. When I was eight, my mom had all of us kids baptized as Mormons. I occasionally went to Bible School in the summer, but that was it. I was afraid to talk about God because I didn’t know anything about Him. It wasn’t until Jeff and Jacqui got married that I started going to church with them. One night at a service, Jacqui asked me, “Are you ready to proclaim that Jesus Christ is your Savior?” And I said, “Yes I am.” I realized I wasn’t so inadequate after all because I could understand and believe in God. It was one of the many services where Jacqui and I held hands and cried. She reminds me every year when the day comes up that I accepted Christ for salvation. That date is my spiritual birthday.
My faith has made me more forgiving. I look at life a whole lot differently than I did before. I held a grudge against my ex-husband for years. It was always a strained relationship. I finally forgave him and began praying for him. I feel like my prayers for him, once I was able to forgive him, helped him because I understand that he is in a better place now!