Sunday evening Ralph and Karen Watts and their family came to share in our evening service. They are a unique and some may say strange, family. You see, Ralph and Karen are in their 60's, have raised 4 biological sons and have served as pastor for many years. In fact, Ralph was my pastor when I was 12 years old. He was the first pastor I ever had and the one who led me to Christ. What makes them unique is that after they raised their biological children, they began fostering and then adopting special needs children. Over the years they have fostered 35 special needs children and adopted, that's right adopted, 13 special needs children.
Yes, you read correctly. They have adpoted 13 special needs children. Even though I have known them for over 30 years, I am still amazed when I hear their story and still humbled by their faith. Seeing them is to see the gopsel lived out in ways that are far too uncommon.
Although Ralph was an accomplished muscian and was offered a chance to sing professionally, he chose ministry instead. Then, rather than settle down to a life of comfort, he and his wife have chosen to pour their lives into these children that no one else wanted.
Three of the kids are in wheelchairs and profoundly mentally retarded. One is autistic. One deaf. Two have cistic fibrosis. Almost every one of them have been severly abused when they were babies. One girl was born "normal" but her birth mother beat her and her twin sister so severly that he twin sister died and Ana was left brain damaged, profoundly mentally retarded and blind.
Eddy, pictured leading the song "I Am A Child of God" is mentally retarded and has a host of physical problems. Doctors will tell you that it is physically impossible for him to walk, but he does anyway. He has a personality that is hard to resist. If you meet him, you'll not forget him.
I could say a lot about this family but to do so would somehow seem to take away from the sense of Christ-likeness that is their life. Perhaps that is why when Ralph speaks in our church, our usually noisy church falls strangly quiet. Maybe people sense that they are in the presence of something very much like Jesus.