By Jessy Paulson
Beauty Amidst The Ashes is a non-profit organization based out of Newell, Iowa, with the focus of encouraging families to engage in adoption.
The foundation of the organization stems from the personal story of Carl Christiansen, the founder. “My birth mom became pregnant at 15 years old,” Carl shares. “She made the decision to place me for adoption. While I was in the hospital with her, my grandparents prayed I would be called into ministry full time. They prayed Isaiah 61 over me…beauty amidst the ashes.”
As Carl grew, he developed a passion for sharing the gospel and a heart for sharing his story of adoption with others. “I served with Youth With Mission (YWAM) as an outreach leader, leading outreaches all over the world. I worked with a lot of orphans and saw that need there,” Carl explains. “God began stirring my heart to take this passion that was within me and run with it.”
Diana Christiansen, Carl’s adoptive mother and the business manager of Beauty Amidst The Ashes, recalls what the early days of the organization looked like, “As Beauty Amidst The Ashes was established, one of the most important things we worked to create was the foundation around who we were and our purpose. We exist to share the gospel of Jesus Christ and to educate and advocate for families and individuals that are connected through adoption. Through doing that, we are really bringing the hope of Jesus to these families and children.”
In the early years of Beauty Amidst The Ashes, the focus was on research and connecting with other groups in the region that worked in adoption, orphan care, and foster care. Carl, Diana, and the team met monthly with leaders from these connected organizations to brainstorm together on how to best fill unmet needs. “We saw these amazing organizations doing amazing things, but they didn’t know what the others were doing,” recalls Carl.
Through this collaboration the HOPE Adoption Conference was born in 2014. The purpose of the HOPE Conference is to bring the resources together into one place for people to connect to many organizations to help them with their needs. It is a place for families, individuals, and churches to find education and community.
At the HOPE Conference, it is emphasized that not everyone is called to adopt, but all are called to do something. The conference includes information and resources about fostering, domestic adoption, and international adoption. With main speakers, vendor tables, and worship, attendees use their voices together to praise God and promote change. Adoption is celebrated and education is encouraged.
“A key element of hope at the adoption conference is connection,” explains Diana. “Connecting not only with the educators and organizers but also with each other. We are all supporting each other in this journey of adoption.”
The foundation of Beauty Amidst The Ashes is four pillars: advocating, educating, equipping, and supporting. Carl, Diana, and the others who work within the organization feel their greatest leverage in advocating comes through their own personal stories of adoption. Each member of the team has a personal connection to adoption which they boldly share through their work.
“God will open the doors when He sees fit. All we have to do is put ourselves out there, tell our stories, and be vulnerable,” shares Peggy Porter, development coordinator at Beauty Amidst The Ashes. “It is a challenge to be vulnerable. Every single day is an opportunity for me to share my story, to let God use that brokenness of adoption and foster care. There is beauty, but there is a lot of brokenness. That is a challenge to relive that trauma when we share our stories, but as an organization we realize it is important to be vulnerable.”
“Our passion is there. We speak with purpose knowing God has called us to do this. It doesn’t come easy because a nonprofit is hard work but it is something that each of us do. We make it the center of our lives to speak our stories,” Peggy continues.
Their testimonies offer the encouragement families and organizations need to continue the long, tedious work of adoption and foster care. The resources provided by Beauty Amidst The Ashes and their HOPE Adoption Conference provide wrap-around support to those in an adoption journey.
As for the families waiting to adopt, Carl has these powerful words, a true testament of his own personal story, “Right now God has a plan for you. His eyes are on you. He is forming that baby right into your adoption story and something is going to birth there. Begin praying for it. Something is going to happen there. Begin praying for your future son or daughter and the potential that they have.”
“As we better grasp our adoption story in Christ, we will better participate in the adoption stories of children.” - Carl Christiansen
Beauty Amidst The Ashes exists to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ by advocating and educating individuals and families about adoption. We share our stories to evangelize, encourage, and empower people. It is our desire to bring the hope of Christ into each life story and motivate people to engage in caring for children who need families.
Originally published in Gritty Faith Volume 12: The Harvest. Read it here.
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