NASHVILLE, Tenn., (BP)--Brandon and Jen Hatmaker answered "yes" to what they believed was a clear directive from God -- that two children in Ethiopia were meant to be a part of their family.
Then legal issues arose, forcing them to leave one of the children in Ethiopia. Friends now are rallying to give the child encouragement that many people are praying for him.
The Hatmakers were matched with a little girl, 5-year-old Remy, and Ben, 7. While not biological siblings, the two children bonded closely after learning they would be a family.
"Ben has taken to big brotherhood like you cannot imagine," Jen Hatmaker said. "They are so precious together."
The Hatmakers live in Austin, Texas, with their three children and serve through Austin New Church, a congregation they started in 2008 in an economically and ethnically diverse urban area. Jen Hatmaker is a speaker and writer whose ninth book, "7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess," will be released in January 2012 by B&H Publishing Group of LifeWay Christian Resources.
The Hatmakers said they did not approach the adoption process with a naive belief that it would be easy. They understood that adopting internationally would be tedious, long and difficult.
On March 10, the family received the good news that Remy's case had gone through the court system successfully and she could officially join the Hatmaker family by mid-April. Joyfully, they waited in anticipation for Ben's case to go through in the same manner.
Roadblocks and legal rejections, however, began to present themselves. By the end of June, "our last chance to pass 'the easy way' was shattered," Jen said. "If we are dealing with higher courts and lawyers and tricky documentation, we are in for the long haul."
The Hatmakers made the difficult decision to bring Remy back to the United States. "She's a precious little gem, too, and as a 5-year-old she's been through too much tragedy to even comprehend," Jen said. "She needs us desperately, so we're going to get her.
"This separation is going to be devastating for all of us," Jen said. "Having us fly back to Ethiopia and take Remy without taking Ben is pretty much the worst scenario we can think of. But here we are, knowing that either way, it's crushing. I'm so worried for them."
Hatmaker said she is asking people not only to come alongside them in prayer but also provide tangible encouragement she can take to Ben.
"I'm taking Ben a photo album of friends, family and even strangers demonstrating a commitment to hold him in prayer and love," Jen said. "I want to give him a book showing hundreds of people who are praying for him." Photos will show people holding posters with words of encouragement for Ben.
Members of Jen's publishing team at B&H have rallied with the Hatmakers to get people involved in Jen's book of encouragement.
"We want to encourage as many people as possible to pray for the Hatmakers and for little Ben," said Jennifer Lyell, B&H's executive editor of women's books. "All of us on the B&H team are sharing this story with our families and churches in an effort to enlist as many people to stand with this precious family and pray Ben home."
Reported by the communications staff of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. For information about how to encourage Brandon and Ben Hatmaker visit their blog at http://jenhatmaker.snappages.com/blog or email email@example.com.
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