Feature

A Chosen Son

By Anonymous

About a year ago, Nyack senior Joel Fevig was faced with what seemed like a simple question from a Nyack professor, Dr. Ron Walborn. “Joel, what are you doing next winter?” No one could have known at the time, but that question sparked an incredible journey for Joel—one that actually began in the Philippines more than 20 years ago and is unfolding in amazing ways today.

Joel was born in the Philippines in 1984, and even that was, in many ways, miraculous. He was the product of an unwanted pregnancy. Twice his mother tried to abort him. The powerful mix of herbs she took was known to work, but God had a different plan for Joel. Shortly after his birth, his mother handed him over to a Catholic orphanage in Cebu City.

He lived in the orphanage for more than a year. A Christian family in the United States, who were working with a Eugene, Oregon, adoption agency, saw a picture of him. They had been praying for a son and believed God would use this little boy to do a work for His Kingdom. And so Joel left the Philippines for a new country and a new home.

Joel grew up in America knowing only a few painful details about his history. He knew his birth mother had tried to abort him; he always carried the pain of that rejection. He never imagined he’d return to his homeland, but that all changed when Walborn asked his question. Nyack was sending a team of students to the Philippines for Winterim 2007, and Walborn invited Joel to come. After so many years, God was calling Joel back to his roots.

Even before Joel’s plane touched down, God began a healing work in his heart. As he saw the islands thousands of miles below, he began to cry. His heart for the Philippines, perhaps a little calloused by the rejection that marked the beginning of his life, began to soften. It began to break. He kissed the ground when he stepped off the plane because God was cultivating a love for his people in him.

Joel visited the orphanage in Cebu City and was shocked by what he found. He had always imagined it as a shack operating somewhere along the fringes of town where unwanted children could be kept out of sight. But the orphanage was a pillar in the community. It stood on a beautiful, gated compound in the nicest part of town. It was staffed by people who fervently cared for the little ones under its roof. This was not a place of abandonment but of love.

One of the people Joel met had served at the orphanage for 30 years . . . and she remembered him. She took him to an office where she dug out a manila folder, yellowed with age. It was his file. “It’s time to learn about your past,” she said.

On that day, Joel learned all the details surrounding his mother’s decision to give him up. Bringing him to the orphanage was not the horrible sentence he always thought it was. In fact, it was the best thing she could have done for him at that time. It was mercy.

Joel, a pastoral ministry major, has always felt God calling him to reach out to the poor. But he never knew what form that particular ministry would take. He may have found it in the Philippines. Along with members of the Winterim team, he worked to provide food and supplies to the poor in Cebu City. He also shared his testimony. He told of how God protected him in the womb and brought him to America; how God had redeemed his soul and given him a heart for the lost; how He had brought him back to his homeland and given him the grace to answer the pain of his past with forgiveness and love. Joel shared the gospel with 30 people during his time in the Philippines. Twenty-seven received Christ.

If Joel’s story ended there, it would be enough. God is moving in his life—orchestrating his present and his past to create amazing opportunity for evangelism. But his story continues. Through a series of incredible circumstances only God could have arranged, Joel found himself on live radio, sharing his testimony with the entire country. He reached out to his mother. He invited her to find him so he could share with her the love of Christ.

Today, Joel is still sorting through the responses to that special broadcast and remains hopeful he’ll find his birth mother. He longs to stand before her and say, as Joseph said to his brothers, that God meant it all for good.

—Bob Dickson. Reprinted with permission from Nyack College.

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