Alumni involved with international adoption programs
Waxahachie, TX – December 1, 2011 – Southwestern Assemblies of God University (SAGU) graduate history alumni Darren Sapp and Darren Lewis met through the School of Distance Education (SDE) and, through their friendship, have each started international adoption ministries.
Darren Sapp and Darren Lewis have never physically met, but are connected beyond having the same first name. They met in their second SDE course, Professor Gary McElhany’s American South. The course required them to interact with their peers by reviewing essays or collaborating on a topic pertaining to the class. The two became acquainted through the course and their similar interests in history and international adoption.
After getting to know each other through Skype meetings, Sapp and Lewis began to discuss international adoption through e-mail, Facebook and phone conversations. The Sapps adopted an infant from China in 2005. In 2009, the couple adopted a seven-year-old girl from Ethiopia. His wife kept a blog during both adoptions, documenting their successes and struggles during their journey.
Lewis and his wife have been in the process of their first adoption for two years and expect another three years before it is finalized. "Darren (Sapp) became someone I could ask questions and bounce ideas off of since he had already gone through the process,” says Lewis.
“We are adopting through the Philippines, which unfortunately is one of the slowest nations for the process,” Lewis says. Through close family friends, Lewis and his wife became familiar with the Filipino culture, which is one of the reasons they decided to adopt through the nation.
Sapp and Lewis discussed international adoption during the multiple courses they took together after American South. Eventually, they began their own ministries.
Sapp started his ministry “Ghana Christian Alliance for Orphans” in 2009; the organization encourages churches in Ghana to find and partner with orphanages in their area. Partnered churches regularly visit orphans and support them by providing necessities such as food, clothing, education, medical care and discipleship. The alliance first promotes domestic and international adoption for the 20 percent of available orphans.
Lewis had a slightly different approach with his ministry. “There was an Assemblies of God domestic adoption ministry, but there was not an international adoption program available,” says Lewis. Lewis founded Mission 1:27, an Assemblies of God (AG) adoption advocacy organization. The ministry partners with 30 to 40 AG missionaries working with orphanages, homes and street children. Mission 1:27 supplies emergency needs to the missionaries.
Recently, Mission 1:27 supplied over 100 pounds of band-aids, toothpaste and other necessities to Philippine orphanages. “The quality of medical supplies in the Philippines is not nearly as sufficient as in America,” Lewis says. “We supply anything from clothing for children left on doorsteps to financial support for child victims of national disasters.”
“The number one struggle that people have is that they wonder if adoption is God’s will for their family,” says Sapp. Another difficulty that Sapp identifies is the lack of “customer service” when going through the process of international adoption. “Many times we hear that court dates have been delayed and there is no follow-through with the proper adoption procedures," Sapp says. “It’s a struggle, but families find strength in God to overcome.”
Lewis believes the cost can be the greatest struggle for families interested in international adoption. “International adoptions can cost anywhere from $18,000 to $25,000,” Lewis says.
Although Sapp and Lewis had struggles in the process of adoption, they remain strong in their faith. “God has been so faithful to provide through this process,” Lewis says. “Every time we have had a check due to the agency, we have somehow had the funds.”
Sapp and Lewis use much of their own experiences to counsel and minister to other families. “The strongest counsel I can give other families is to tell them to spend a lot of time in the Word, in prayer and in fasting,” says Sapp.
Sapp and Lewis graduated in May 2011 from SAGU with master’s degrees in History, although they did not have the chance to meet at their graduation.
Lewis works as a full-time youth pastor and worship leader but devotes much of his time as the director of Mission 1:27. He is also an adjunct professor at Indiana Wesleyan University. Sapp works part-time with the "The Ghana Christian Alliance for Orphans" as a ministry volunteer. The two remain connected by their desire to impact the world by changing the lives of orphaned children in foreign countries.
Southwestern Assemblies of God University (SAGU) is a private, Christian university located 30 minutes south of the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex in Waxahachie, Texas. The University was established in 1927, and now offers more than 60 associate, bachelor’s or master’s degrees on campus or online. More information is available at www.sagu.edu or by calling 1-888-YES-SAGU.