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Personal Testimony - Adopted Daughters Wedding

Mike Connell

Page 4 of 11
I hadn't even told my parents about this daughter; but with this small group, we talked about our background, and we decided: this is the time to bring out our baggage. Maybe we should at that time write to welfare and see if we could reconnect with our daughter we lost?

You know how good God is? Our daughter's mother Carol decided it was our daughter's right to know her heritage, and she wrote, and those letters had landed the same day at welfare. As a result of interest on both sides, they gave us information, and we started to make contact.

For me it was incredibly difficult; when you've covered something, and lived with denial; to face the reality - I couldn't cope with even a photograph of her.

I meant to have something shut away, and behind a big stone; and God says: “roll away the stone” - you don't want to go there. I mean its death there. It's ugly there. It's painful there; but when you actually roll it away, and look at a photograph, and think: actually this is a person.

Her name was Josephine. I thought: that's kind of a bit of a religious name; and the Lord reminded me about how Joseph was: separated from all his brethren; and came back and had a reunion.

It was quite a big thing to actually face reality, when you've been living in denial for 18 years; but we had to really roll away the stone, remove the covering. Then you feel incredibly vulnerable and fragile, and dependent on God.

That's actually just what He wants us to do, when we let go whatever we hid behind. They had fig leaves in Genesis; but they had to actually take those fig leaves off, to receive the covering of skin; and the provision of what Jesus Christ had done on the cross. For me that was quite a vulnerable stage too.

[Mike Connell] So again the issue of humility came in. We had to face the issues in our personal life. We put matters right with one another, and realised that all our lives there'd been this deep hurt. To come and actually admit it... the Lord spoke to me, and clearly He said: you need to put this matter right.

I had to put it right with Joy; I had to go to her father, and put it right with her father. We had to actually come clean about what we had done, which was wrong; and when you do that, when you position yourself the way God says - He provides blessing for you. He provides grace.

[Joy Connell] Yeah, I remember my parents - I invited them up. I said: “there's something I want to talk to you about...” I took the two of them out to the Old Flame, which is the best restaurant I could think of, and sat them down.

I just had to deeply apologise for my secrecy, what I'd hidden from them; and asked their forgiveness for what we had covered at that time, because...

[Mike Connell] That's actually honouring them, by putting right what was wrong. Where there'd been dishonour, there had to be honour restored - and that made such a difference.

[Joy Connell] Then we wrote to Josephine, and we apologised to her. We both apologised for the rejection, and the effect it had on her life; and asked her forgiveness.

Then we decided to make her very welcome. We invited her to come and stay - and that again was a miracle. She was half way through dentistry school. She's a Dentist in Whakatane, and at that stage, she was half way through dentistry training in Dunedin, and she was going back to do a summer school paper; so we invited her to stay after that paper.

Of course, when you pastor a church, and you've got six children that look a bit like you, you can't just turn up with another one the next Sunday...

[Mike Connell] Looks like you...

[Joy Connell] ...without saying something to the church. But this church is amazing. We stood up, the Sunday before she arrived to stay, and shared our testimony. Some of you I know are still here - I remember some of your faces. At the end of the service, God was so good then, He just - I think everybody's closets were opened, and all the skeletons came out. God just moved, and brought quite a wave of tremendous healing. But also as a church family, you were tremendously responsive to us, and we invited her to arrive. She arrived right on Mike's 44th birthday.