Lisa Atkins reflects on her life as an adoptee and how God has taken her from Korea to the U.S. and now to Bolivia to work as a missionary.
Lisa Atkins has an old first-grade writing project where she tells about eating rice and barley water in a Holt orphanage in Seoul, Korea. Apart from seeing this description, written with careful pencil strokes on wide-ruled paper, she has no memory of these meals. But it is the closest recollection she has of life before she was adopted 54 years ago.
Lisa doesn’t know much about her life in Korea, beyond what she has been told. Left on the doorstep of a church in Seoul as an infant, she was raised by the church pastor’s family for several years before the pastor and his family could no longer support her. They then brought her to Holt’s care center in the city. She was only there for a year before she was adopted and brought home to her family in March of 1961.
Lisa has always been very thankful for the sacrifice her birth mother made for her. “I see God’s hand in everything from the very beginning,” she says.
While she says being adopted isn’t something she often thinks about, it’s given her a unique perspective because she sees adoption as a beautiful representation of what God offers to all of us.
Captioning a picture on her Facebook page with her two sisters — who are also both adopted from Korea — Lisa writes, “I’ve been doubly blessed to be adopted twice.” Once by her adoptive parents, and once again by the Lord.
“As I’ve grown in my spiritual walk, one of the things that really has always stuck with me is that we are not of this world,” she says.
She also identifies with the idea of not belonging to any one particular country, and often thinks of Abraham and Sarah in the Bible who “acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.” (Hebrews 11:13) Interpreted through this lens, she says that Jesus’ command in Matthew 28 to “go out and make disciples of all nations” takes on a new meaning.
For many years, Lisa kept a small porcelain suitcase on her desk to remind herself that she is merely a temporary traveler on earth, going wherever God leads her.
This theme of moving among nations is about to take on one more level of meaning in Lisa’s life as she and her husband, Rob, prepare to live and work as missionaries in Bolivia, a land-locked country in the middle of South America.
Moving to Bolivia is something that the Lord has gradually placed on their hearts over many years. When Rob returned from his second two-week trip to Bolivia in the summer of 2012, Lisa says she knew upon picking him up at the airport that they would soon be making plans to move there.
Now both retired, Rob and Lisa have been raising support for the past year and hope to arrive in country by November 2016. While they remain open to what jobs the Lord will have for them, they plan to focus on being mentors and a support system to other missionaries as well as training locals to achieve self-reliance in their businesses. Recently, when Lisa learned that an estimated 80 percent of women in Bolivia have been sexually abused, she also felt moved to work with local nonprofit organizations providing safety and support to these vulnerable women.
With her porcelain suitcase ever-packed, Lisa is excited to see how God has taken her from Korea to the United States and now to Bolivia. She’s learned that rice and grain-based beverages happen to be a part of Bolivian cuisine as well, so maybe this new home won’t be too new and different after all.
Megan Herriott | Marketing Assistant