Third in “The Gift of Life” Series
Imagine discovering at the age of 45 that the man who clothed, fed, and raised you wasn’t your biological father. This happened to a woman we will call Beth* who would like to share her story of how God worked in her life through this shocking revelation. Beth might never have known the truth of her paternity, or the love of God, except for the fact that she needed a copy of her birth certificate to get a passport for a trip she was planning with her daughters. She was perplexed when she applied for her birth certificate in the city where she was born and was told there was no record of her birth. Then she went to the state capital and was finally given a birth certificate which had been issued when she was two years old.
Soon after receiving her birth certificate, she visited her cousin in a neighboring state. She explained to her the difficulty in getting her birth certificate.
“No wonder, since you were adopted,” she said. Adopted? Never once in her life had Beth considered the possibility. She wasn’t even suspicious when her birth certificate showed that it was issued when she was two, and she never questioned why she had light eyes and hair while her siblings all had dark eyes and hair.
Beth took the news hard. The story she received from her cousin was that her mother got pregnant as a teenager. Her mother’s mother had passed away, and her father kicked her out of her house, so she went to live with her older sister. When Beth was two, her mother married the man that Beth had thought was her biological father, and he officially adopted her. To save his wife from the shame of her past of being an unwed mother, and to help Beth feel that she belonged to the family, he insisted that no one be told that he wasn’t Beth’s father.
Beth was already under stress when she heard the news. Her children were grown and out of the house, and she was in the process of a divorce. To add to her sense of overwhelm, her aging parents were both in the hospital, in different places, with different diagnoses.
The news triggered a panic attack, and she could barely drive the five hours home. She was angry at being lied to and felt betrayed. “There was total chaos in my life. I didn’t know who I was anymore, but God used all these factors to bring me to faith,” Beth said in a recent phone interview.
Soon after, Beth’s son moved back in with her and started reading the Bible to her every day after work. He would bring Christians to the house. They were wonderful people whom Beth loved. “I would grit my teeth because I didn’t want to hear it because what I thought was that I had to clean up my act and be a good person.”
On a visit to her cousin’s house, Beth was reading a pocket New Testament, and she knew she had to know the Lord, that she couldn’t make it on her own because her life was a mess. “I cried all night long over my sin. . .by morning I knew I was a new creation. . .. The peace of God just washed over me,” Beth explained. When she returned home, she started attending church and saturating herself in Bible reading.
Beth clung to the promise in Isaiah 41:10: “fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my right hand.” (ESV)
Beth’s newfound faith renewed her perspective. Her anger with her mother melted into compassion as she realized how, even though it would have been illegal at the time, her teenage mother could have chosen to have an abortion. Instead, she chose the more difficult path of being kicked out of her home and saving her child's life. Beth thought of all she would have missed, the children and many grandchildren God has blessed her with.
Beth enrolled in a Bible institute and then began volunteering at a crisis pregnancy center. Her first assignment was counting the change that came in from donations, but soon she discovered her true calling in counseling and studying the Bible with the women who came to the center. The ministry was a good fit for her since she could relate to the young, frightened women who sought their services.
Beth has ministered to dozens of young women through Care Net, Heartbeat International, and her local church. Twice she went to the Bahamas on a mission with Heartbeat and ministered to women on the streets.
Early in her ministry, Beth encountered a young woman grieving over past abortions. Beth counseled her and gave her a card with the Bible verse, “Be still and know I am God.” The love Beth poured into this woman came back to her when, twenty years later, she reached out to Beth in her darkest hour. Beth’s son—the one who used to read Scripture to her every night—passed away suddenly in his forties. This woman showed up at the funeral and gave Beth back the card she had given her so long ago—the one that said, “Be still and know that I am God.”
“Now you are the one who needs to hear this,” the woman said as she hugged Beth and cried with her.
*Name has been changed
**background photo by Kerstin Reimer from Pixabay