On May 31st, 2012 the Maxwell family boarded a plane and moved to eSwatini (formerly known as Swaziland) to live at Project Canaan. I hope to update my blog on Saturday mornings and share, as honestly as I can, the highs and lows of our life in Africa. We are living on a farm in a remote part of this tiny Kingdom and are serving the community as well as the orphans and vulnerable children of the nation. Thanks for joining us.
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Saturday, August 10, 2019
The chapel built in memory of a father I never knew
Some of you may know that the chapel that burned down in the
July 19th fires was built in memory of my father, but what many of
you likely don’t know is that it wasn’t the father who raised me (Russell
Willis), it was my biological father whom I never met.
Let me explain.
In my blog https://janinemaxwell.blogspot.com/2012/05/my-birth-mother-was-15-years-old-when-i.html
I shared the story of my birth in
1963. My mother was a 15-year-old girl who got pregnant by her teenage
boyfriend and was sent away to a home for unwed mothers to give birth in
secret. To this very day, only her parents (my biological Grandparents) knew
that I existed, and the secret died with them.I am still a secret to the rest of her family.
I am also a secret to my biological father’s family, or at
least I was until 10 years ago, when I was 45-years-old.Through a VERY strange set of “coincidences”
I discovered who my biological father was. This was not something I was pursuing
or even wanted to know. I was curious, but not curious enough to seek out the
information. The information dropped in to my lap, so to speak.He was murdered, and I went to his funeral, slipping
in to the back row so that no one would suspect I was his “love child from another
mother” (that was Ian’s line).Of course
they wouldn’t, no one knew, but I was still totally paranoid.I sat and watched his wife, his children and the
rest of his family mourn his loss. It was surreal, and frankly, weird.
Some time later, (I need to be a bit cryptic to maintain his
anonymity) I came face to face with my biological father’s sister, and was
forced to reveal my identity to her. She and her husband are followers of Jesus,
and while my existence was an earth-shattering shock to a family who “had no
secrets”, they quickly regrouped and welcomed me in to their immediate
family.This news was not to be shared
with others, but we began a relationship that exists to this day.
When I first met my Aunt, Heart for Africa had just
purchased the 2,500 acres of land that we now call Project Canaan.We were building the Farm Manager’s Building
(FMB – the first building on the property) and they asked what building was
next. We told them that we wanted to build a chapel so that everyone who came
to the land would know that we are doing this because we are followers of Jesus,
not because we are just “good people” or humanitarians.Our reason is because HE has asked us to do
this, and we are obeying.
My Aunt then told me that she would like to give us the
funds to build the chapel, in memory of my biological father, whom I had never
met, and who had never acknowledged my existence.Can you imagine such a gift? And why?
I have said this this many many times … ONLY God can make a
baby.There are many people who have had
sex who have not gotten pregnant.But
this teenage couple had sex, got “unlucky” (in their minds) and I was
born.I will not make this a pro-life
issue, but I am really thankful that they were not able to abort me in 1963,
and I am even more glad for Bernice and Russ Willis who adopted me and raised
me in a God-loving home.It is because of
those key turning points in my life that I am here today in the Kingdom of
Eswatini, mother to 241 Swazi children.
So, back to the chapel.Why would God want my biological father honored in such a way? Why would
He then burn down “his house”, ten years later, during a fire that only burned
one building out of 63 available buildings?
Why were MANY people emailing me telling me that they were
praying for a double blessing, a double portion to be bestowed on us as we work
through the time or repairing and rebuilding?
Why would someone from Texas, who has never been to Eswatini
or even seen the chapel, make a donation for $40,000 so that we can completely rebuild
the chapel and DOUBLE its size?
I don’t have the answers to any of the above questions, but
I do see the hand of God in each and every step of this story.I don’t believe in coincidences, but I do believe
in a heavenly Father who loves me even more than my adoptive father or biological
father ever could. They are both deceased now and have left me here on earth,
but my heavenly Father will never leave me, nor forsake me, and that is the message
that I hope each and every one of you hear today.
That is the lesson we are teaching all of the children who
are brought in to our ever growing home, including the two little boys who
18-month-old baby Bruce
12-day-old baby Oliver
if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will
serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods
of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But asformeandmyhousehold, we will serve the Lord.”Joshua 24:15