Journey Spring 2021

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issue no. 13 | Spring 2021

an alumni publication of Lifeline Children’s Ser vices

celebrating 40 YEARS


Smart Faith by J.P. Moreland & Mark Matlock A great resource for teens to help engage their intellect, inspire spiritual formation, and deepen spiritual disciplines. Center for Parent/Youth Understanding This website is filled with resources and ideas to help parents, youth workers, educators, pastors, and others find ways to reach today’s youth culture and help them be salt and light in the culture at-large.

Long Story Short by Marty Machowski An easy 10-minute devotional based on the Old Testament to help connect children with the living gospel truth.

My First Book of Questions and Answers by Carine MacKenzie A simple catechism for children that’s even great for English language learners. This book is most appropriate for young children and new believers.

Old Story New by Marty Machowski The sequel to Long Story Short, this 10-minute devotional helps parents walk through 78 New Testament stories with their children.

Parenting Beyond Your Capacity: Connect Your Family to a Wider Community by Reggie Joiner & Carey Niewhof This book helps parents know how to invite others to invest in their children, create a culture of unconditional love, and tap into the power of quality moments.

The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones A great resource for parents to use with younger children to encourage them to read, enjoy, and be amazed by the stories of the Bible.

The DiscipleMaking Parent’s Donut Date Journal by Chapp Bettis This journal features 70 questions that help spur on discussion about faith and get to your child’s heart issues.


This is a historic year for Lifeline Children’s Services as we observe and celebrate 40 years of ministry. Many of the stories you will find in this issue of Journey magazine share remarkable life change. In Scripture, the number “40” is used more than 100 times. In a variety of references, the number brings to mind such qualities as newness, preparation, self-examination, transformation, nourishment, and growth; however, generally, 40 represents a “generation.” Moses, Elijah, and Jesus each fasted for 40 days. Elsewhere, Scripture tells of the Israelites’ 40 years wandering in the desert, yet sustained by manna as they awaited entering the Promised Land. Each of the first of Israel’s kings also reigned for 40 years — Saul, David, and Solomon. The number 40 also represents trial and testing in Scripture. For example, when God flooded the earth and it rained for 40 days and nights, and when the prophet Jonah warned Nineveh for 40 days about its coming destruction. Number symbolism exists in Scripture because numerology serves an important part in God’s story. The number 40 means something special to Lifeline this year, and we want to fully reflect on all of the ways the Lord has fulfilled His promises and provided hope for coming generations through Lifeline’s ministry.

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As we reflect on the last 40 years, we see a generation of children given the gift of faith and family through adoption. The Lord has supplied us with wisdom as He has grown the reach and roots of Lifeline for the spread of His glory among the vulnerable. Even through trials and testing, the Lord demonstrated His faithfulness by keeping His promises. While we do not know what the next 40 years may bring, our confidence comes from the Lord as we stay true to the gospel. In this issue of Journey, a publication specially crafted for our alumni families, you will take a look at Lifeline’s four decades of ministry and the legacy of hope found within them. You’ll find articles highlighting the seasons and milestones children experience; resources for how to disciple your children and help them continue their own legacy of faith; and practical ways for your family to be involved in missions today. Please pray with us that we can build on the gospel foundation established in 1981. And, pray that we will continue to find ways to meet needs of vulnerable children and families in Jesus’ name. In Him,

Herbert M. Newell IV President/Executive Director


Journey L I F E L I N E C H I L D R E N ’ S S E RV I C E S 100 Missionary Ridge Birmingham, Alabama 35242 Phone: 205.967.0811 Website:


NEISHA ROBER TS Contributing Editor

MEMORY SMITH Layout & Design

SK VAUGHN Marketing Director SHANE ETHEREDGE Art Director

CONTRIBUTORS Lynn Beckett, Neisha Roberts, Jenny Riddle, Mark Sly, & Traci Newell

W H AT I S J O U R N E Y ? Journey is an alumni publication dedicated to our families who have been through the adoption or foster care process. This is a way to stay in touch with Lifeline’s ministry, to celebrate along with other families through milestones and stories, and to encourage your walk with Christ and the well-being of your family in the days ahead!

W H AT WO U L D YO U L I K E T O S E E I N YO U R N E X T I S S U E ? We love hearing from you! Send us what you would love to read about in the next issue of Journey to

S H A R E YO U R S T O R I E S F RO M T H E PA S T Do you have a Lifeline story to share to help celebrate our 40th anniversary? Send your stories, photos, or fun memories to us using this website:

L I F E L I N E ’ S 4 0 T H A N N I V E R S A RY C OV E R FA M I L I E S The three families on the cover of this issue are Lifeline families No. 1, 2, & 3. We are thankful for their willingness to take gospel hope to their children and start the foundation of Lifeline’s ministry.

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WELCOME HOME By Family & Adoption Order

Griffit h Family #8

Lo hm ey er Fa mi ly #37

Ech ols Fam ily #101

Bi ble Fa mi ly #33 7 Spring Spring 2021 2021

D ut ton Fa mi ly #1 18

J en kn s Fa m il y #5 47 -- 4 4 --

Br ew er Fa mi ly #9 9

Acton Family #317

C hi ca Fa mi ly #7 04

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By Jenny Riddle, with insight from L ynn Beckett For those involved in adoption, challenges and loss are a familiar story. All parties involved experience loss. As a result, hard days come. Those hard days are not limited to the first days or years in a home. There will be events or circumstances that will cycle through various issues stemming from loss. Adoption and caring for vulnerable families is simultaneously beautiful, joyful, and full of loss. It is a tapestry woven by years of both celebrating and grieving as life brings various threads to the story. Dealing with the issues of loss will help strengthen the threads and give room for the Weaver to redeem. In an article for the National Council For Adoption by Nancy Randall, Psy.D. and Kim Shepardson Watson, LCSW, the authors note several core issues that arise throughout a child’s story of adoption or foster care. These issues affect all persons in the adoption or foster care relationship: child, birth family, and adoptive or foster family. For this article, the focus will be on the child’s loss and how that may be revealed in various life stages.

LOSS & GRIEF No matter when or in what circumstances a child comes to live with his new family, losing his birth family is a traumatic loss. These losses are what necessitate adoption and foster care in the first place; although both are redemptive, both exist because of loss. No matter how good a new family is, a child has lost his family of origin, and this trauma cannot be understated or overlooked in the home. By allowing children to verbalize, acknowledge, and experience their loss, parents can help them work through challenges that hinder their healthy development. They may even want to initiate conversations with their child to signal that it’s okay to talk about these feelings. However, loss is not an issue that is simply “dealt with” or goes away. Issues of loss will occur at various points in a child’s life and as he grows into adulthood and beyond. Sometimes this loss will be most prevalent in Spring 2021

events that are typically seen as the most celebratory: birthdays, school milestones, weddings, birth of children, Mother’s and Father’s Day, and other holidays. As families gather for these events, a child may have a strong sense of loss for the family that isn’t there, even though they love the family that is present. Parents can take steps, with the child’s permission, to acknowledge a birth family at an event, such as with an empty chair, a bouquet of flowers, consistent prayers, a special ornament, or a special food. Children who experience loss will grieve these losses. Parents and other close adults can mistakenly attempt to gloss over expressions of grief in an attempt to force or salvage happiness for children. Yet, dismissing grief places an unnecessary burden on children or adults, as they pretend to show happiness without acknowledging their grief. If grief is left unacknowledged, as children age, they may act out in unhealthy ways. Acting out could start as misbehavior, depression, and later move to other destructive forms like drug or alcohol abuse, rebellion, self-harm, busyness, or even addicted to “good” things. Parents must allow children the room and space to express grief in a healthy way and ask for outside help to process it if needed. Parents can continue to acknowledge this grief as they approach new life stages and events and be present for their children to process and work through their emotions.

REJECTION & INTIMACY As children learn the story of their lives, they may experience feelings of rejection associated with their birth families. They may think something was wrong with them or that they were unworthy of love. No matter what explanation exists to their need for a permanent or temporary family, they may wrestle with thoughts that they were simply rejected because of who they were. These emotions may linger in the background of their minds as they age, and surface with friendship struggles, in competitive endeavors, family relationships, dating relationships, applying for college or


jobs, inside their vocation, and in relationships in general. Additionally, feeling rejected once or many times, children who were adopted or in care may be afraid of being rejected again. Children from hard places may consider intimacy with others a risk too great to take. Without developing the ability to connect in closeness with others as a child, they may see further challenges as an adult in areas such as marriage, family, parenting, and friendships. Parents can look for signs that children are struggling with feelings of rejection or closeness. In addition to being age-appropriately truthful about their story, consistently pouring the Word of God into their lives is vital to their understanding of who they truly are in light of who their Creator is. Parents can help children know that their worth is found in Christ, who understands rejection, and came to overcome and redeem it. Counseling or a mentorship may also be an effective way to help children (or anyone) process their feelings and struggles in a healthy way so they can develop healthy relationships in life.

GUILT OR SHAME Children who are no longer with their birth families, for whatever reason, may feel guilt that they caused the separation or shame because their circumstances and family is different than others around them. Difficult feelings may surface with school projects that ask about family life, at life milestones, and as they may move from home to home. Teens and adults may also have trouble articulating their emotions as they age and friends or co-workers ask about their past. They may wonder what they could have done differently to change their family history. Children may also feel guilt or shame because they do not know the truth about their story. As children enter the teenage and young-adult years, especially, they will likely become more curious about their history. Parents should not attempt to avoid discussions about adoption. By talking openly about adoption from the beginning, parents communicate the truth that adoption is not shameful. On an age-appropriate level, parents can help quell fears or misplaced emotions by truthfully engaging their children with their story. It’s important to admit the difficult parts and saturate and encourage them in the truth of God’s Word as you go.

IDENTITY Each person reaches points in his life when identity becomes a question of: “Who am I?” Beginning in the teenage years, young adults will begin to put together a picture of who they Spring 2021

are based on their history and who they want to be. For children who have been adopted or are in care, they experience the typical identity formation but are also faced with extra emotional challenges related to their loss. They may or may not know anything about their birth family. They may not have baby pictures. They may or may not know anything about their birth family, cultural, or racial heritage into which they were born. In the younger years, family tree projects at school can be an impetus for identity struggles. In the teenage years, their own search for who they are can cause grief. As they build families or seek to form their own family traditions, identity issues may arise. In all of these seasons, parents can remain truthful with the information they know in age-appropriate ways. They can also talk with teachers about special projects at school, help celebrate their birth culture at holidays and special occasions, and continually point them to their unchanging identity in Christ.

CONTROL Development in the teen and young adult years is typically characterized by a desire for more personal control. Children who have come into a family through adoption or foster care have had significant life-long decisions made for them. They experienced a complete lack of control in leaving their birth family and culture and joining a new family. As a result, even young children strive to retain control over some parts of their lives. Teens and young adults may struggle for control in areas like education, sports, vocation, relationships, and daily choices. Acknowledging a child’s need for some sense of control will help give them back the ability to make choices over their own lives. As families journey on the road of adoption or foster care, parents can recognize triggers for loss and the needs behind behaviors and struggles. Allowing your children to express their feelings without guilt or shame is a strong part of healing. No matter how parents and children address losses and struggles, children may always feel loss. Many families find that therapy or counseling is vital in helping children express, process, and work through their feelings and losses. Lifeline’s Education and Counseling Team is equipped and available to walk with families, no matter how long they have been on the journey.

You can find more information about Lifeline’s counseling and education services at Source: adoption-advocate-no-93/



F O R T H E W H O L E F A M I LY By N e isha R o be rt s an d K i m be rl y E v an s With summer quickly approaching, it’s the perfect time to step outside and enjoy God’s marvelous gift of nature. We know there are numerous benefits to outdoor play — physical fitness, reduction of stress/anxiety, creativity stimulation, social development, a natural source of Vitamin D. We know there is no better way to promote bonding with your child than to be silly and play together. Outdoor play also allows for bonding among various ages, making it the perfect opportunity to incorporate your parents or grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles, and siblings. It brings the whole family together in a special way. Parents, this is also your excuse to let all inhibitions go and be the goofiest, craziest, most playful adult this world has ever seen — and your child will love it. Be willing to teach your child how to enjoy the great outdoors by participating with your child in these activities. Based on the tone of the day, be sensitive and in tune to what your child needs — maybe a low-key activity or a high-energy activity. When considering outdoor play, think outside the box. You can make almost any outdoor activity sensory-rich. Be creative and ask yourself, is this something we can move outdoors? Even simple activities that are typically performed inside can be made more exciting by simply doing them outside. For example: outdoor story time. Take a blanket, books, a snack, and sit under a shade tree for a nice low-key activity. Here are some other wonderful spring and summertime activities the whole family can enjoy: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

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Alphabet-focused scavenger hunt Drip Drip Splash Game (think Duck Duck Goose, but with water) Gardening (maybe this can be a service project as well, as you and your little one help spruce up Grandma’s flower bed) Freeze tag Tug of war Head to a local pond and go fishing — this could be a great chance for good conversations and time spent with Grandpa Backyard camping — don’t forget the marshmallows! Family game night — let the children pick the first game, and another family member pick the second (this could be a fun time to share stories about games from different eras) Picnic together — no need to even leave the backyard, but don’t forget the blanket and the snacks! Backyard carwash (kids love washing their bikes and scooters — again this may be an opportunity to teach a heart of service, while you wash your neighbor’s car) Lawn art — children love to finger-paint. Take an old bedsheet outside to use as a giant canvas. -8-

SEEING GENERATIONS IMPACT NATIONS As you seek to raise the children in your home in a Christ-exalting way, one thing you may be wanting to teach is how to make an impact today. Age doesn’t have to be a hindrance to spreading the love of God and the hope of the gospel. Participating in the following ministries enables you to not only involve multiple generations of your family, but it can also teach responsibility, teamwork, and sacrificial giving.

THE W ELL Donating to The Well initiative enables Lifeline to meet the physical needs of women in unexpected pregnancies, covering things like rent, utilities, medical costs, food, and more. When we care for and meet physical needs, abundant opportunities arise for us to share about the One who can meet our ultimate need and take on our sin and shame.

SPONSORSHIP Lea Anne Parker, a longtime staff member who recently retired at the end of 2020, saw her own widowed mother stand up to make a difference in the lives of vulnerable children. Not only did Mrs. Gloria King sponsor a table at our fundraising banquet, she also chose to sponsor a girl through our program in Pakistan. Sponsoring a child and praying over them is something anyone can do, regardless of age.

S TAN D F O R O R P HA N S ® Teaching your children how to take responsibility and think creatively about ways to raise funds for orphan care can be a really fun family project! Check out Stand for Orphans for ideas on how to leverage social media and your community to raise awareness and financial support for orphaned and vulnerable children around the world.

THERAPEUTIC TEEN GROUPS A safe space for teens touched by adoption to process their feelings and get to know others like them.

A trauma-informed day camp that serves children with academic, relational, and emotional differences in a fun environment.

Looking for a fun, engaging missions experience for kids this summer?

1983 A doption, Wal e s Go e bel (Left)



Although 175,000 adoptions occurred in the United States in 1970, little structure and regulation existed. More significant, gospelcentered adoption practices were almost non-existant. By 1973, the landmark case of Roe v. Wade led to the legalization of abortion across the nation. Many women with unexpected pregnancies found themselves with a difficult choice between abortion or to place their child with someone they did not know and could not meet.


BEGINNINGS Leaving behind a prosperous business in the early 1960s, Wales and Jean Goebel received a God-given burden for young girls who were faced with an unplanned pregnancy. In 1980, the Sav-A-Life crisis pregnancy center outreach was founded to counsel these young women toward options for the life of their unborn child. Renee Griffin, Lifeline’s second staff member commented, “Our heart was to offer the truth of the gospel to these women but also offer them options. If they chose to parent, we wanted to equip them to do so. If they wanted to place their baby for adoption, we wanted to make sure we had Christian families lined up. This was not about just saving babies. We walked with these women and supported them.” OUR FIRST ADOPTION As a ministry, Lifeline’s commitment has always been to work with Christian families to ensure that

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children placed in these families are raised with the truth of who Jesus Christ is as their Lord and Savior. In February 1982, Lee and Eugenia Birch became Lifeline’s first adoptive family. Vulnerable women of all ages, races, and backgrounds connected with Lifeline for support. In 1984, Lifeline Village was founded to meet not only a young lady’s spiritual needs, but her emotional, physical, social, and intellectual ones as well. Many birth mothers needed a refuge and safe haven to retreat to in the wake of a crisis pregnancy. To this day, Lifeline Village places girls into a stable and nurturing home environment where consistent love, discipline, and direction is given. GOSPEL FOCUS FROM THE START In the early 80s, the staff grew to seven. One new addition was social worker Chuck Johnson. Chuck later became Lifeline’s executive director in 1997. Recently, Chuck said, “We prayed as a staff at the start of every day — for each other, for clients, for foster families, for the babies by name, and that God would both use Lifeline for His glory and that He would provide the resources we needed to accomplish every opportunity that came our way. In fact, as a 22-year-old, this is really how I first learned to pray out loud and in front of others and to hold nothing back.” Longtime Lifeline staffer Lynn Beckett added, “Mr. Carr set the tone for Lifeline from the start — filling the ministry with compassion, a commitment to biblical principles, and a high level of excellence and sacrificial giving.”

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In 1992, Lifeline Village moved to Pell City, Alabama. Also in 1992, current Senior Program Director of International Programs, Jana Lombardo, began as an intern. She cherished Mr. Carr’s priority in beginning the practice of daily morning prayer as a staff early on to keep staff grounded in Scripture and to pray over their day. Now 40 years later, Lifeline staff still begin each morning in the Word and in prayer. A GLOBAL FOCUS The late 90s brought a global focus to Lifeline’s ministry. In 1999, Lifeline began an international adoption program placing children from China. Currently Lifeline’s ministry extends to the countries of China, Ukraine, Peru, Uganda, Hungary, Liberia, Pakistan, Costa Rica and Honduras, and has provided hundreds of orphans around the globe with loving homes. Lifeline specializes in placing special needs children with a variety of disabilities from these countries.

1 9 9 8 A do p t i o n #594 Te e i r y Fami l y

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By 2005, the International Adoption team grew by eight staff members. God sent more adoptive families as more families became aware of needs around the world. Three years after our first completed international adoption from China, Lifeline was licensed for adoption in Ukraine. The Ukraine program saw its first completed adoption in 2003. INTERNATIONAL ADOPTION GROWS In 2003, Lifeline hired our third executive director, Herbie Newell. Herbie came from Warren, Averett, Kimbrough, & Marino where he served as a Senior Accountant. The new role at Lifeline was not only a new career direction but also the furthering of a calling to take the gospel to vulnerable children and families that he and his wife, Ashley, had felt for many years. Six more countries were added to the International program within the first decade of the 2000s. By 2007, Lifeline had facilitated the completion of 857 domestic adoptions and 315 international adoptions.

GLOBAL ORPHAN CARE & FOSTER CARE BEGIN With all that Lifeline was doing to help children through domestic and international adoption, Executive Director Herbie Newell was challenged in his spirit after hearing a talk at the Christian Alliance for Orphans Summit 3. Later in 2008, Herbie and Dave Wood, Lifeline’s international director, traveled to Zaporizhia, Ukraine where they met Katya. They were asked by orphanage workers to try to find an adoptive home for Katya in the United States. They did, but upon further investigation found out that she was in fact 16-years-old, rendering her unadoptable by American law. They returned to the orphanage in 2009 as Katya was aging out and leaving. The two men realized they had to do something, and Lifeline’s (un)adopted program was born. This decision came out of a deep conviction that Lifeline’s relationship with a country did not exist only to ensure American evangelical Christians’ ability to adopt children there. As Herbie put it, “We needed an orphan tool chest. Maybe adoption is the hammer, able to be March for Life, used in many situations, but it is not A labama 1990 always the neatest and best tool. - 11 -

1984 First maternity home opens in Thorsby, Alabama

September 26, 1981 Lifeline Children’s Services receives Alabama State License

1981 Social worker John Carr (left) & founder Wales Goebel (right) 1989 Lifeline joins the National Council for Adoption February 19, 1982 Lee and Eugenia Birch, first domestic adoption

2003 Herbie Newell becomes Executive Director

2005 Staff with Steven Curtis Chapman 63 International Adoptions 20 Domestic Adoptions

2004 Staff Photo

2007 Accredited by Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA)

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2002 Lifeline helps establish the Alabama Adoption Coalition (AAC) and becomes a founding member

1997 Chuck Johnson becomes 2nd executive director

2000 1st International Adoption in China, the Royston Family

1992 Lifeline Village opens in Pell City, Alabama

2013 1000th Domestic Adoption, The Peyton Family

2010 First Hungary Adoption, The McClure Family

2017 Main Office Moved to the Women’s Missionary Union Building

2017 Staff Photo at Staff Retreat Spring 2021

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We realized that these children needed ultimately the gospel, but practically they needed life skills, job skills, mentoring, training, education, and opportunity to survive outside of institutions and the streets. Thus, (un)adopted was born to minister to the unadoptable.” At the same time, Lifeline realized a great need existed in domestic ministry for gospel-centered foster care families to minister to children in care and their birth families. In 2009, the first Foster Care ministry began in Alabama, with efforts to provide training and support for foster families. LIFELINE EXPANDS DOMESTICALLY As Lifeline continued to grow in our roots of domestic adoption and birth mother ministry, we became licensed in other states to operate with a desire to care for more vulnerable children. Lifeline Village, our home for women in unexpected pregnancies, also added space and an additional location. By 2007, 663 women had heard the gospel and been shown love and hope through these homes. The first decade of the new millennium ended in much the same way as it began, with a firm grasp on our roots. We celebrated the 900th completed domestic adoption.

Fi rst U krai n e Ado pt i o n , 2003, T he S t e phe n s Fami l y


Climbing out of the economic recession of 20072009, Lifeline maintained a focus on taking gospel hope to vulnerable children and families. Though the recession played a part in the lull of families willing to enter into the adoption process, Lifeline found hope through the expansion of the international program to Costa Rica and Hungary in 2010. POST-ADOPTION SUPPORT & GLOBAL PARTNERSHIPS GROWTH The following year we started our Counseling services which opened new doors to reach pre- and post-adoptive and foster care individuals, couples, and families with resources on attachment, trauma, and grief. The staff size grew to 50. Lifeline’s Global Orphan Care ministry arm also grew in 2011 as we walked with King Jesus Church in Busega, Uganda, to open Busega Community School for the Deaf and Blind. The school was the outpouring of the heart of the church and its pastor, Raphael Kajjubi, to vulnerable and orphaned children in their community. INTERNATIONAL & DOMESTIC ADOPTION GROW The International Adoption program received a whopping 450 new applications in 2012. Growth necessitated the creation of Crossings, a training-intensive weekend for families entering into the international adoption process. Crossings would later become Rooted in Love™. Rooted in Love equips both international and domestic adoptive families and offers them a time to rest, reflect, and connect with others on the same journey. By 2014, Lifeline had licensed offices in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Washington. FAMILIES COUNT™ As our domestic programs grew, staff member Traci Newell saw a rising need among families in the U.S. foster care system. At the time, a gospel-saturated program to help families seek reconciliation did not exist. Neither was there an intentional way to connect the Church to these families. Families Count™ was developed to give local churches a platform to bring gospel-based reconciliation to these families. To this day, Families Count equips churches across the U.S. to engage families with the hope of the gospel. - 14 -

Buse ga School for the Deaf & Blind, 2017 At the start of 2020, no one knew what lay ahead. A world-shaking pandemic affected us all, and Lifeline was no exception. We faced severe financial hurdles and complete overhauls to the way we were able to provide services to the vulnerable. By God’s grace, we saw 32 children come home from Eurasia to their forever families. We completed our 3,000th international adoption. In addition, 43 North Carolina families applied for adoption (the most since licensure in 2013), 48 domestic adoptions were completed, and we came alongside families and children with 934 counseling hours provided.

(UN)ADOPTED GROWS & A NEW STRATEGY EMERGES In the early 2000s, (un)adopted expanded with partnerships in Guatemala, Pakistan, Peru, China, Liberia, Togo, Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, and Colombia. By the end of the decade, partnerships with local churches and orphan care ministries extended to Ukraine, Romania, and India. The first international Families Count training was held in Romania and our first international pastors’ conference in Colombia in 2018. In 2019, the pastors’ conference effort expanded to India. In 2020, Lifeline’s international orphan care focus led to the development of an expanded Global Orphan Care ministry. Altar 84 Global Orphan Care Network and the Global Care Initiative joined (un)adopted as ministry initiatives. Together, these initiatives purpose to empower the Church, equip caregivers and offer gospel hope to vulnerable children and families. GROWING PAINS AND THE PANDEMIC We experienced immense growth in the 2010s, but with that growth came growing pains. Because the main office had been separated into two buildings, the efficiency and comradery among staff was challenging. In early 2018, God provided a new office space on the second floor of the Woman’s Missionary Union building in Birmingham, Alabama. Our current Birmingham space allows all the main office staff to work together in one location. Spring 2021

A NEW DECADE DAWNS Today, our mission remains the same: “To equip the Body of Christ to manifest the gospel to vulnerable children.” One Ugandan boy that illuminates this hope so well. Mutebi became one of the first students at the Busega Community School for the Deaf and Blind. Now 10 years later, Mutebi is a clear example of the way the hope of Christ transforms us and those around us. He has brought many students with him to the school and shares about his faith in Christ. He’s very active in church and is always willing to help. He’s overcome many Families Coun t health trials. Though his Conferenc e, 2 0 1 8 harsh past is part of his story, it does not hinder the bright joy on his face, nor does it hinder the hopeful opportunities he has for his future. “This is when our mission and vision really come alive,” Herbie shared. “When lives are transformed and then we see God use them in strategic ways for the hope of the gospel and the care of the vulnerable for generations to come.”

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DISCIPLING CHILDREN F RO M T R A U M A B A C KG RO U N D S Compiled by Jenny Riddle, with contributions from Traci Newell and Mark Sly When children enter homes from traumatic backgrounds, their lives have already been shaped by circumstances that make brokenness a part of their story. Difficulties children may have faced include medical issues, abuse or neglect, and abandonment. All have experienced grief on various levels. Whether they came into family homes as infants or older, children from adoption and in foster care know what “hard” looks like in life. Children are forced to reconcile the goodness of God with a life that has been difficult. Parents have the joy and privilege of walking with their children and pointing them to Christ, even on the hardest of days. And maybe especially on the hardest days. Each discipleship journey will look different; however, there will be some common themes and heart postures for parents as they seek to point their children to the Healer of their hearts.


Traci Newell, Education Specialist at Lifeline and a parent walking with her daughters on a discipleship journey, explains one of the most imperative lessons she has learned. Traci admits that feelings of discouragement and failure often characterized her parenting until she learned her role was not to try to change the hearts of her children. She shares, “Since many children who join their families through adoption and foster care struggle with feelings of rejection, convincing them of spiritual truths about their value can prove to be challenging. In this struggle with my own child, I have learned that the convincing is not up to me. A specific role of the Holy Spirit is to reveal truth from God’s Word (John 14:26). My role is to teach and reiterate truths from God’s Word to my kids when they are both willing-to-learn and slow-to-believe.” Mark Sly, one of Lifeline’s (un)adopted® Regional Coordinator, and an adoptive dad, agrees that parents should not approach discipleship with how they feel but with the truth. Parents are simply to be obedient to teach God’s Word. Deuteronomy 6:7-9 admonishes parents to teach God’s Word intentionally, saturating every part of family life.“Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” Practically, pointing to God’s Word may mean considering your family’s rhythms and the learning preferences of your children. Parents might consider what speaks best to their children. • For visual learners, writing God’s Word “on the doorframes and gates of our homes” could include recording easy-to-learn verses on the bathroom mirror with colorful, dry-erase markers or using chalkboard paint to create a wall in our children’s bedrooms where we can display favorite memory verses. Spring 2021

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• •

The auditory learner can appreciate and remember hearing Bible verses, and parents can be creative in the ways that we speak them. Some ideas include putting verses to music or coming up with a song or rap using Scripture. Kinesthetic (experiential) learners may delight in creating charm bracelets displaying their favorite verses or using markers and/or paint to record verses on their arms or hands (these are great sensory activities too!).


Interceding for children is a high privilege and is a vital part of a parent’s role. Pleading with the Holy Spirit to work in their lives not only recognizes a parent’s inability to do that work but also attunes a parent’s heart for God’s desire for their growth in discipleship. Mark and Traci both suggest taking a moment to pray immediately with a child when an issue arises: “Lord, we confess this is hard; we are struggling; we need your help and discernment.” Acknowledging weakness in front of our children helps point them to the One who can help and models dependence upon a powerful, faithful, loving God who cares to hear the hearts of His children.


Grief can impact a child’s learning process, including learning about God. Traci shares her experience with grief work in her children’s lives. “I have come to understand that grief work is something I must do with my children, and sometimes, it is necessary before they can learn other things from me. Grief work, in this sense, can mean helping our children identify and understand feelings of grief they may experience that color their understanding of God’s Word and who He is. If a child is battling sorrow and feeling disconnected from the wonderful promises found in Scripture, it may help him/her to know our God is well acquainted with sorrow and has a heart that can be grieved as well (Isaiah 53:3).” Having open conversations with children about weaknesses and struggles can help them to see that they are not alone in times of discouragement. In this sense, parents model what it is like to walk with Christ in the difficult days of life. She suggests simple sentences like the following to start a conversation: • “You know, I have felt sad at times lately and have been talking to a friend about my feelings. I have discovered that talking about my sadness helps me feel better.” • “I am learning to talk to the Lord about my true feelings. I am also learning that there is absolutely nothing that I can’t tell Him because He already knows what I’m thinking.”


There may be times when a child does not need a parent to give advice, try to fix things, or say anything (although they can certainly pray silently!). Rather, a child may just need a parent to “be” with them. Traci points to the time in Job’s life when his friends “sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights and no one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was” (Job 2:13). “Sitting with” her children, Traci said, “is an irreplaceable part of their discipleship.” She went on to say that her daughter “is certainly teaching me that sitting with her, not always giving advice or chiming in, is extremely important as she works through the ups and downs of life. Sometimes, when I am willing to become quieter, His voice resounds louder in her ears.”


Children from traumatic backgrounds can have difficult stories. Whitewashing difficult details or trying to tie up harsh stories with a silver lining will not help children work through God’s redemptive work in their story. Instead, Mark encourages parents to address the brokenness and explain how Christ’s victory is given to those who follow Him. Parents can show children how God’s work through their stories can uniquely position them to make an impact for Christ. Their story is part of His story. Spring 2021

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I work for Lifeline as a pregnancy counselor, and the very first client I worked with for months on her adoption plan for her baby, decided to parent while at the hospital. I was driving two hours on a weekly to biweekly basis to sit and talk with her for hours. She chose an adoptive family and had an online meeting with them. She felt more confident in her decision after she was able to meet and interact with them online. She gave birth to her sweet baby girl May 1, 2019, while I was standing next to her in the delivery room. The adoptive mother visited the next day, held the baby, and gave my client a bracelet that she had worn throughout their adoption journey. During the course of my client’s hospital stay she began to express a change of heart in her plan. We discussed her plan and the many reasons why she had felt this was best for her child, but I reminded her it was her choice and that I would support her if she desired to parent. On the day she would have signed legal adoption paperwork, my client chose to parent her baby girl. I helped connect her to a local pregnancy center we partner with at Lifeline and ensured she had the items she needed to go home. Even though my services were no longer needed because she chose to parent, I asked her if she would be comfortable if I stayed at the hospital until she discharged so that I could support her. She replied, “Yes of course, why wouldn’t I be comfortable with that? Yes, you’re my social worker, but you’re Kara first.” Spring 2021

That statement was so encouraging to my soul. I was emotionally drained, physically tired, and sad for the adoptive parents and the news they were going to receive. However, in that moment, her words were a reminder that adoption is not the end goal in pregnancy counseling. Our goal is to share the hope of Christ, and to cultivate a relationship through which we can do that. I’m so thankful she viewed our relationship as one where I was not just a social worker, but also someone she knew and could address by name. ~ Kara Reinhold, Lifeline Social Worker, FL Lifeline Village believes in celebrating milestones and birthdays of expectant mothers we serve. In 2010, we celebrated the birthday of one of our expectant mothers and as a gift we purchased a pair of shoes. She was extremely excited and thankful for the party and the gifts. The next day, as I walked into her room, I noticed the shoes on the dresser sitting on the shoe box. I asked her if she was going to wear the shoes and she replied, “I just want to look at them because I’ve never had new shoes before.” She reminded me that simple acts of kindness can touch the lives of those we serve in ways we cannot imagine. ~Kesha Franklin, Lifeline Village Program Coordinator The CCCWA asked Lifeline to manage a hosting program in the United States as an advocacy tool for children from our partnership orphanages in China at the - 18 -

time. Lifeline’s International Program leadership agreed to the idea, and led the program as more of a camp-like setting where children could come to the U.S. to learn about culture, while prospective families could volunteer at the camp and spend time with the children. The first China Kids’ Camp took place in October 2014, sponsored by Project 139. Lifeline staff coordinated bringing the 12 children and caregivers from Kunming, China, to Alabama. Once they arrived, the children received developmental assessments, medical care, and had some cultural fun.

Through the advocacy opportunities of the camp, and just the way God works, all 12 children have since been adopted. This camp also sparked five more years of kids’ camps in the U.S. ~Anna Pawley, Lifeline Social Worker , TX For me, stepping into birth family ministry in foster care meant changing gears and going into new territory (literally), like family drug court. The first time I was invited to present

Families Count™ to moms and dads at court, I went shaking in my boots. No doubt the Lord had given our staff a desire to work alongside at-risk parents, but admittedly, they were an intimidating group and I had no idea how they would receive a naïve social worker like me. After praying for the Lord to go before me and asking for courage, I began describing what we hoped our first Families Count class would “look” like to these prospective class members. To my delight, the moms (and one dad) in the room listened intently, and at the end of my speech, a young, outspoken participant raised her hand and posed a question that fueled my gospel fire: “Are you going to teach us how to talk to our kids about God?” I could hardly contain my enthusiasm at this question and told her unashamedly, “Yes we are!” Now, more than six years later, I am well acquainted with that momma, one of the first parents to complete Families Count and who serves today as a peer mentor at family court. God is indeed doing a powerful work in her life and is showing her how to teach her daughter (with whom she has been reconciled) about Him. ~Traci Newell, Families Count National Program Director I had the privilege of teaching Biblical Principles of Trauma Sensitive Caregiving to a group of caregivers internationally who were not all familiar with the gospel. After teaching how God has given us a blueprint for how He desires for His beloved children to be cared for, one of the caregivers in attendance decided to put her faith in Christ. She was able to see how God cares for us as a Heavenly Father and how He desires for us to care for children in the same way. She wanted to put that into practice personally, as a new daughter of the King, and professionally, as she cared for orphaned children in her country. ~Whitney White, Education Specialist & Family Therapist, GA One of my favorite memories involves a special girl I met in Colombia in Spring 2021

October 2015. We will call her “J.” It was one of the first mission teams I was able to lead in partnership with Here I Am Orphan Ministry, and they really wanted to spend a week at an older girls’ home in Bogota. There were more than 150 girls, ages 13 and older, many of whom would likely never be adopted because of their age. We spent the week loving the girls and sharing Christ with them. This turned out to be a tough but very impactful week in ministry for me personally, as this was the trip I felt the Lord’s call to move to Colombia. It was also the trip where I met my future husband. However, even more than all of this, what I remember most was J. She was beautiful, she was smart, she was nervous, and she was insecure. We had lots of good talks and she pretty much stuck to me immediately. My heart became so burdened for her as I heard her story and saw how she could be adopted — if we found a family. Because of her older age though, we had to move quickly or she would age out of the system. What happens when children age out is not pretty, no matter the country. Kids become at higher risk for drugs, alcohol addiction, trafficking, teen pregnancy, and more. I couldn’t imagine that happening to any child, no less J. I remember coming back to the U.S. and not being able to eat or sleep. I remember it was a weird time because Starbucks had come out with red cups (to be more sensitive to all religions around the holidays) and Christians were in an uproar about it on Facebook, yet this seemed more consuming for believers than really knowing and advocating for orphans. It felt like no one was going to be able to adopt sweet J, even though we tried everything to advocate for her. We traded bracelets when I was there, so we could pray for each other. I wore her bracelet every day. And to my surprise, but no surprise to the Father, the Lord provided J with a forever family just in time. This was the greatest joy for us all to witness. I remember when the family was in country adopting her, J looked different. She looked finally free. - 19 -

Post-adoption has been tough, and there have been many things J has had to process and face. But her family has loved her well and pointed her to Christ along the way. This would likely have never happened had she stayed in Colombia and aged out. J was one of our first older child adoptions, and since then many other families have moved forward to adopt boys and girls in their teens. It’s not easy, but J gave us the confidence and desire to advocate for more older children over the years, and God continues to use her in our ministry in ways she will never know. ~Beth Perez, Global Care Initiative Coordinator In 1997, I began working with a birth mother who wanted to pursue an open adoption. At the time, open adoptions were not very popular. But Lifeline knew a family that had previously adopted and expressed they would consider an open adoption. We were able to coordinate several meetings between birth mother and adoptive family before the baby was born. At the baby’s birth, the adoptive mother was able to be in the delivery room with the birth mother, while the adoptive dad and big sister were anxiously waiting in the waiting room. It was a beautiful picture of the birth mother and the forever family connecting. As the years have passed, the family, birth mother, and now sweet young man have built a beautiful friendship and relationship. ~Jana Lombardo, Senior Program Director of International Programs





Arc Stories Birmingham, AL May 7, 2021

CEU/Information Event Apex Baptist Church April 1, 2021

Fundraising Dinner Topeka, SC March 26, 2021

Celebrity Golf Tournament Bent Brook Golf Course May 17, 2021

RENEW Retreat (CAFO and Lifeline) Summit Church Apex, NC May 20-22, 2021


Camp Empower Oak Mountain Presbyterian Church June 14-18, 2021 Share the Story Banquet Sheraton Birmingham Hotel Birmingham, AL October 19, 2021

Camp Empower Harvest Church Cary, NC July 15-17, 2021

Birmingham, AL, North Carolina, or R(un) Where You Are around the world August 28, 2021

Info Night Apex Baptist Church August 5, 2021

A N I N I T I AT I V E B Y K I D S F O R K I D S Join us this spring & summer as we host lemonade stands to raise funds for the care of vulnerable children. Visit for more information. Spring 2021

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Thank You to Our Partners Douglas and Gail Acton Michael and Louise Adams Scott Adams Jon and Stephanie Adcock Robert and Brenda Akridge Ronald Albertsen David Allen Luke and Ali Allen Patrick and Carolyn Allen Todd Amlee Ron and Tina Anders Jimmy and Rachel Anderson Toby Anderson Brian Anderton Brad and Roxanna Arcement Greg and Rene Armbruster Booth Armstrong Anna Babin C.N. and Sarah Bailey Michael and Jenny Bailey David and Shelley Balik Paul and Vicki Barber Warren Barber Will and Nicole Barbour Dorsey Barefield Kelly and Farrar Barker Christy Barkhuizen Todd and Rebecca Barnes Harold Baumchen Robert Beard Jamie and Christopher Beckett Rebekah Behnke Jonathan and Brandi Belcher Tracy and David Bengtson Matthew Bergoon Brandon and Paige Betterton Amy and Jeremy Bettis Daniel Black Shannon and Lance Black Ronald and LaMischa Blackwell Ross and Maggie Blaising Brooks Blevins Michael and Caroline Bobo Todd and Beth Bomberger Amy and Alan Botkin Ben and Michelle Botos Jennifer and Christopher Brainard Corey and Ruthie Braun Peggy and Rusty Bridges Scott Bronkema Joan Brothers D. Brown Jenna and Carter Brown Eric Brunkow Brent and Rebecca Buchanan Hucks and Elizabeth Buchanan Thomas Buck Rebecca and Ronnie Bugnar Elizabeth Burley Beau and Lexie Burton Heather and Ryan Cain Taylor and Cody Calame James and Kassie Caldwell Marie and Brian Calhoun Don Cannada Robert Cannada Matthew Carrington Megan Carson Michael Casement Michael and Amy Catania Wes and Jordan Caudell Beth and Samuel Chang Valishia and Dan Chapman James and April Cheek Derek Chen Laura Helen and Stafford Childs Jeff and Dianne Chinery Kim and William Christenberry Nita Christopher Dan Cinadr Suzanne Clay Cameron and Jamie Clayton Jordan and Candace Coggin Chris and Corrie Coghlan Robert Coker Kelly and Michelle Colbert Seth Cole David and Suzanne Collipp Owen and Beth Cook Neil and Ann Corkery Vernon and Ginger Cotten David A. Cox John Crawford James and Sidney Crews Tim and Deanna Crist Bryce and Casandra Crocker Charles Crow Tyler and Allison Crow Mike and Kari Cuenin Robert Dabal David and Beth Dantzscher Lordson David Blake and Devon Davidson John and Lesley Davis Logan and Bethany Davis M. Davis John and Susan Day

Matthew Day Emily Ann and Justin Dean Del Deason Kevin and Jessica Delaney Brooke DeLoach Mike and Tina Deramo Matthew Dicen Amanda and Micah Dickey John and Mary Coleman Dobbins Richard and Krystal Dodd Sloan Downes Richard Draviam Conner and Brooke Dryden Jonathan and Justice Duhon Kim and Graeme Dykes Robert and Gina Easterling Franklin and Stacy Eaton Robert and Jo Echols Mark and Julie Edwards Michael Edwards Wade Edwards Parker Ellison Bruce and Karen Ely Kristin Engelkmier Susanna and John Epling Dana Epperson Hunter Evans James and Becky Evans Justin and Nicole Evans Connor and Lucy Farmer Thomas Fey Brent and Angela Fielder Ian and Marta Fischer Jeffrey Flannery Linda and Timothy Flowers Troy and Whitney Forrest Tabitha and Mason Frazier Sally and Gerald Friesen Melanie Fuller Alison and Robert Funk Tyler and Allison Fuqua Matthew Futvoye Malachi and Dana Gandy Randall Garber Grae and Laura Garrison John and Donna Gaskins Jay and Trecia Gemes Michael Gibson Brittney and Patrick Gilbert Carl Glidewell Mark and Sylvia Goldman Jerry and Connie Green Benjamin Grifenhagen Dan and Renee Griffin Amy and Jonathan Griffith Christopher Grissom Thomas Grooms Shawn and Robert Grubb Clark Gully Kevin and Ansley Gwyn Matthew Hale Emmett Hall Justin and Elizabeth Ann Hall Melissa Hall David Halperin Geoffrey and Anna Hancy R. Houston and Kathleen Hardin Alton Hardy William and Lou Anne Harper Kylee and Shea Harrelson Ashley and Wes Harrison Blake Harrison Calum Hayes Katie Hearn Carolyn and Cecil Heidelberg Maison Heidelberg Heath Henderson Meredith and Mark Henry Vera Higgins Jim and Stacey Hill Christopher and LeighAnn Hillman Chris and Sarah Hines John and Joan Holland Julie Holstad Ethan Holt Stacey and Stephanie Holt Charla and Jack Hudson Brandi Hufford Sarah and Scott Hughes Mary Huguley William and Virginia Huguley Paul and Fair Hurst Terra and Eric Hussar Roderick Russ III William Finlayson III Thomas Isonhood Daniel Jackson Kevin-Cherone Jackson Jaime and Scott James Wesley James Michelle and Matt Jennings Angie and Chad Johnson Belinda and Adrian Johnson Daniel Johnson Kurt and Vicki Johnson Larry Johnson Greyson Johnston

September 2020- January 2021

B. Bryan Jones Courtney Jones Elizabeth Jones Stephanie Jones John Justice Justin Kaldenbach Ashley Kalil Dennis Kern Deidra and Brad King Katie Jo and Connie Kinney Seth Klein Daniel and Lynne Knee Doug Knostman Whitney and John Kohles Jeremiah Krienke Mark and Joy Larson Meredith and Brent Leatherwood Fay Lee Hugh and Jaime Lee Kelsey Leeke Ann Liang Chassidi and Jamie Likens Stephanie Lindsey Debra Linton Matthew and Beth Lodes Dina and Alan Long Courtney and Love Mirandaand Lovell Yerger Lurate Colleen Luse John and Kristen Machen Mason Mandy Eric Mann David Marchetti Linda and John Marchetti Lauren and Terry Marsh Casey and Robert Martin Sherry Martin Brent Martina Curtis and Jennie Massey Carol Matheny Norman and Regina Mathews Mel Mathisen Justin and Laura McClure Michael McCraw Andrew and Blaire McCurry Michael McDuffie Woodie and Ann McDuffie Henry and Anna McKee Peggy and Keith McKey Monique and Jeremiah McLean Amanda and David McNabb Bryan Meadows Pat Meharg John Meyer Rita Meyers Sarah Jo Mikell Christopher Steve and Kimberlie Miller Robert Miller Terry and Susan Miller Connie Minish Kristijan and Rachel Mitrovski Greg and Kaka Mixon Corrie and Benjamin Moncrief Julian and Tara Monks David Scott and Julia Moore Jon Moore Nikki and Heath Morris James and Angie Morrison Joseph Murè Ben Murphy Brandon and Elizabeth Myer Heather and Daniel Myers Tom and Connie Nash David Nelson Eric and Melissa Nelson Herbert and Susan Newell Herbie and Ashley Newell Scott Newton Kathleen Nolin Andrew and Nikki Nordquist Robert Nuttall David and Erin Orr Joel and Melanie Owen Rusty and April Palmer Cayce and Matthew Parker Chris and Samantha Parker Eric and Katie Parker John and Lynn Parrish Andrew Patterson Susan and Joel Payne Thomas Peaster Kelley and Jonathan Perry Lita Pierce Scotty and Christina Pinson Lori and John Pitner Tammara and Steven Poage David Poland Matthew Pope Jeffery and Jan Porter Samuel Potts Phillip and Rebecca Pouncey Thomas Powell Clyde Powers Eugene and Heather Preskitt Chris and Jen Prier J. David and Cindy Pugh

Lifeline Children’s Services, Inc., is an accredited member of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountablity.

Matt and Whitney Ramsey Drew and Taylor Raynor Dallas and Nita Rea Leland and Robert Record Carlton Reeves Matthew Rice Ramesh Richard Christopher Rives James and Betty Roberson Ellen Robinson Cleon Rogers Leanne and Paul Rogers Michael Rogers Ronnie Rogers Tyler and Mallory Rosamond Steve and Betsy Rosenblatt Donald and Melanie Roths W. Jacob and Barbara Ryals Emily Rypkema Leslie and Christopher Sanders Stephen and Alison Sanders Brad and Heidi Sapp Karla Sechere Brian and Paula Sewell Lisa and Christopher Shanley Ashley Sheppard Jerod and Allison Sinclair Jade and William Sipes Mark and Christiana Sly Schaeffer and Allison Smith Brooks Souders Brad Spearing Marcia and James Splichal Stacy and Alisa Sprayberry Matthew Stalnaker Michael Luke and Krystie Stanley Joshua and Rachel Steed Micah and Jamie Steele Angelia Stewart Amelia Strauss Phillip and Stella Sykes Hugh and Beth Tappan Samuel Taylor Jeff and Susan Terch Savannah Thaler Kathleen Thomas Lynn Thomason Jennifer Thompson Joanna Thompson Micah and Rebecca Thompson William and Rebecca Thompson Leonard Thooft Ryan and Hannah Grace Thorn George Thornley Tim and Elizabeth Threadgill Anthony and Terri Thurmond Clinton and Lauren Townsend Robert Barry and Vickery Living Trust Kalah Turner Tommy Turpin Katherine and Joshua Ungerecht Padmarani Varadarajan Andrew and Layla Varvoutis Michael Vasko SK Vaughn Johanna and Richard Vest Martin and Mary Jean Vogt Libby Walden Debbie and Phil Waldrep Harold and Amy Walker Betsy Watkins Tripp Watkins Paula and Rick Werts Sandy Whittle Josh Wientge Connie Williams Kenneth Williams Rebekah and Rich Williams Julie Wills Blake and Shae Wilson Frances and Phil Wilson Jeffrey Wilson Matthew Wilson Brad Wood Matthew Wrenn Les and Kelli Wright Rich Wylly Krisha Yanko Allen Yates Robert and Calee Yoe David Zomeren

100 Missionary Ridge Birmingham, AL 35242