Many years ago when I first started my walk with Christ a close friend and mentor used to ask my wife and me what passion God had laid on our hearts. It was another way of asking the question, what mission will be your focus?

We did have an answer to our friend's question. It took some prayer, some reflection and some sharing with one another as a couple but the answer did emerge. We never foresaw where that answer would lead us but we knew the direction.

Two Biblical passages helped to focus the answer. One is where the prophet Isaiah tells the barren to move their tent pegs and expand their tent to accommodate the many offspring the Lord will bless them with. The other is in regards to caring for orphans.

So this past May we travelled to China to complete our seventh adoption and bring home our ninth child.

This was our fourth trip to China as our four youngest children are from China. Our new daughter Xiao Yang (pronounced "shaow young") is 11. This is the first time we have upset the birth order which is presenting its own challenges.

Six members of the Carson family on the Great Wall of China. Behind are Dianne and Al Carson with An Qian Li, who was adopted in 1999. At front, l-r: newest member Xiao Yang, adopted this year; Li Yan, adopted 2002; and Tie Jian, adopted 2005

For all the other adoptions, the child we adopted came into our family as the new baby. Xiao Yang has only been in Canada two months. She did not know a word of English when we met her. Whenever we consider the challenges of bringing her into our fold we try and think of what it must be like for her. New country, new language, new food, new strange looking parents, new culture - it must be overwhelming.

But she shows incredible resilience. She wants to belong. We know that God has brought us together. That is a reality we hang onto in the rough water.

I still remember an image shared with us in marriage prep. Our clergy used the image of two rivers coming together and when that happens turbulence is inevitable. Adding a new member to the family through birth or adoption creates the same reality.

It also creates countless blessings as we grow to love each other and discover God's grace together.

It amazes me even to write that we just added child number nine. We do not have the resources to do this. The Gospel for August 3 keeps ringing in my head; I can relate to the disciples every time. Lord, send these people home-they are hungry and we do not have enough resources to feed them. "We have nothing here but five loaves and two fish."

Is that not the main reason for inaction-lack of resources? At least I think that is the way it is usually put, if someone has the courage to articulate what the majority are thinking. In fact though it is not lack of resources but an unwillingness to let go of the little we have and put it in our Lord's hands. I am convinced that is why so few Christians adopt.

I will acknowledge that not all Christians are called to adopt (although I believe far more are called than are adopting) but all Christians are called to mission. Can you imagine the global witness for Christ if in the next year one million Christians in North America started the process to take into their home one of the world's orphans?

The assumption here is that if you are a Christian then it is not a question of whether or not you will be involved in mission but what mission you will be involved in. Our friend's conversation with us about the need to focus on mission, made mission a very personal thing.

I believe that is a Gospel perspective. As we have conversations around mission as a Church I think we must intentionally personalize the conversations and be clear that we are talking about our lives and the passions our Lord is birthing in our hearts.

What passion is Christ stirring within you? If adoption is part of your discernment but you feel like you don't know where to start or need more information, give us a call and we would be glad to share what we can with you.

If it is a different mission then press on, entrust your meager resources to Christ and celebrate God's grace and glory as you witness the work of our Lord.

The Carson family consists of Al and Dianne (married 1974); Matt, born 1979; Ben, born 1980; Rachael born 1983, adopted 1983; Naomi born 1984, adopted 1985; Sarah born 1986, adopted 1986; An Qian Li born in 1998, adopted 1999; Li Yan born 2000, adopted 2002; Tie Jian born in 2002, adopted 2005; Xiao Yang born 1997, adopted 2008. The Rev. Al Carson can be reached at 604 957-9273 or at