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Burdened for orphans, Wilsonville Baptists adopt children from Ukraine, start adoption ministrycomment (0)

March 22, 2007

By Jeremy Dale Henderson

While the knowledge of a child’s suffering resonates disconcertingly in the souls of average Americans, for Larry Gibson, founder of The Children’s Voice Foundation, such knowledge is a deafening roar.

And his neighbor and pastor, Steve Thomas, can attest to the fact that he has acted on that knowledge.

"One of our members had gone to China and done some work with babies and orphans, and it just really touched [Larry’s] heart. He just really looked to see what he might be able to do to minister to orphans in the missions field," said Thomas, pastor of Wilsonville Baptist Church in Shelby Baptist Association.

During that missions-minded member’s presentation, the congregation heard about the large percentage of girls born in China who do not survive infancy due to the populous Asian nation’s strict one-child policy and traditional preferences for boys.

For Gibson and his wife, Anita, the numbers hit home.

"We had a little baby girl at that time, and it broke my heart to think that there are people in the world that didn’t love theirs as much as I loved mine," he said. "I knew we needed to do something. I just didn’t know what it was."

At first frustrated in his attempts to help raise funds for a relief organization that, he said, "didn’t seem too keen on communicating," Gibson began to fight the battle for making a difference with a secret weapon — his law degree.

"I thought, ‘With my legal background, I can just start my own corporation.’ So I did," he said.

Thus in April 2004 was born The Children’s Voice Foundation, a biblically based and inspired adoption-facilitation and orphan-support ministry for orphans the world over.

The organization was rooted in the membership of Wilsonville Baptist — all five persons on its board of directors are church members.

"When he began to look at it, he came to me and we sat down and prayed about it together," Thomas said. "That’s when Children’s Voice Foundation began to take shape."
Though inexplicit in its initial ambitions — "to take care of children" — the foundation soon focused on advocacy.

"It talks about that in Proverbs, to speak for the lonely and downtrodden, to defend the rights of the poor and the needy," Gibson said, alluding to his ministry’s name. "[The children] need to be heard, they need to be loved. That’s what we do."

The nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization is currently concentrating its efforts on the orphanage in Ivankiv, Ukraine, a town just south of Chernobyl.

The connection to Ukraine was established when board members Don and Melanie Langner were looking to adopt a child.

"[A]ll of a sudden, we got a call from an agency asking us if we’d be interested in hosting 13 Ukrainian [teenage] orphans for the summer (in 2004). It was like God saying, ‘Here’s your opportunity,’" Gibson said. "But of course, we didn’t have any money."

The necessary $20,000 was raised in six weeks’ time.

And the Langners ended up adopting two of those 13 teens — two sisters. They are currently trying to bring to the United States a third sister who, though officially their child, remains in Ukraine due to a birth certificate snafu.

"God has really blessed us with these girls," Melanie Langner said.

The Langners aren’t the only ones with new mouths to feed. The Gibsons, who already had three children, weren’t looking to add to their family but adopted two brothers who came that summer.

"It’s tough — they’re from a different culture — but you see them smiling and you know that this time last year, they weren’t smiling a bit," Gibson said.

To date, the foundation has hosted 26 Ukrainian children for varying periods of time. Six of those children have been adopted, and two are in the process of being adopted.

In addition to promoting the blessings of child and teenage adoption, the foundation is actively supporting other efforts in Ukraine by linking needs there with resources in the United States. For example, Wilsonville Baptist is in the early stages of planning a missions trip there with the help of the foundation. Gibson also works on a regular basis to provide Ivankiv’s orphans with everyday necessities such as blankets and medical supplies.

"We’re not rich people. We don’t have a trust fund set up. We don’t have anything like that," Gibson said. "But when God says go, we go."

For more information on The Children’s Voice Foundation, visit www.thechildrensvoice.org.

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