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Pastor, church embrace adoption
1AdoptChurch
Randy Grimes holds his family’s newest addition, 9-month-old Alexa. The Forsyth County family includes two biological and four adopted children. - photo by Autumn McBride

Adoption Class

Family by Faith will offer a free educational program about beginning the adoption process at 2 p.m. Oct. 24 at Midway Elementary.

“So You Might Want to Adopt” will cover the basics for those considering adoption.

The class will be an informal, discussion-style format with information on international, domestic and foster care system adoption provided.

“Our goal is to give [people] an absolute baseline of knowledge so that then they can start to make some decisions and they are empowered to make that call,” Teresa Grimes said.

Pre-registration is required.

For more information or to register, call Grimes at (770) 355-0437 or e-mail info@familybyfaith.com.

— Alyssa LaRenzie

Randy Grimes gets excited when he starts to talk about his big family.

Grimes and his wife, Teresa, have two biological children and four adopted children, but that’s only a small portion of the family into which he’s been adopted — the family of God.

The church he pastors, Family by Faith, is based on adoption, both physical and spiritual.

Founded a little more than a year ago, Family by Faith is a part of the Southern Baptist Convention, though not much is conventional in the church’s focus and outlook.

A focus on adoption, including adoption of spiritual orphans into God’s family, fits directly into the message of the Bible, Grimes said.

With a Southern accent and a smile, Grimes can quote Bible verses that support adoption as a tenant of Christianity, such as James 1:27 — “Pure and undefiled religion before God our Father is this: to provide for orphans and widows in their time of need.”

Quoting the Bible isn’t too unusual for a pastor, but Grimes’ selected phrases often pull from perhaps lesser known facets of the book.

But Grimes also has found a way to sum up the Gospel in 10 seconds: creation, the fall, redemption and adoption.

The four words make up the ongoing cycle taken on by the church, which has found that adoption comes in many more forms than in the traditional sense.

A church without walls

Grimes said God gave him the idea for Family by Faith about 18 months ago.

“It really was birthed out of us strictly talking about physical adoption and relating [it] to the Bible, but then we began to see the greater picture that if you don’t know Christ, you’re not in a family,” he said. “By being in the family of God, you always have a father.”

Family by Faith began at the Grimes’ dining room table in September 2009 as about 12 people discussed the importance of adoption in Christianity.

Since then, Grimes said the congregation has grown via word of mouth to more than 60 members who meet each Sunday at Midway Elementary School in south Forsyth.

Many of the church’s members have adopted a child or are in the process of doing so. A large portion, however, have not adopted.

“Not everybody’s called to have a hand for adoption, but everyone is called to have a heart for adoption,” Grimes said.

Church members must appreciate the encouragement, because youth minister Ric Clark can repeat the philosophy word for word.

Personally, he and his wife have not physically adopted any children, though they do support six overseas children in need.

“The thing that is so drawing about this church is that it is not internally focused,” he said. “It is really working to serve outside the walls of the church.”

Katherine Capps, another church member who has not physically adopted, said the focus on the community and world is what she enjoys so much about Family by Faith.

She was able to work with other churches to establish a Saturday Hispanic ministry in which volunteers bring crafts, games and worship to a primarily Hispanic neighborhood.

“What I love about Family by Faith is I consider it a mission-oriented church,” she said. “It’s not about the building and it’s not about the programs, it’s about what can we do in our community and around the world.”

In addition to local work, the church donates 35 percent of the money it’s tithed to other charities, including 10 percent to orphanages and 10 percent to a fund to help members seeking to adopt.

Sermons each Sunday follow the Bible, just like any other church.

But Grimes is likely the only pastor to end each Sunday service with a photo of an orphan, to illustrate the face of someone who has lost their family and hope.

‘People who don’t look like me’

Erica Grimes likes to call her two older brothers “the homemades.”

At 20, she’s the third oldest child and the oldest of four adopted children, but a Grimes all the same.

Randy Grimes said the family’s journey into the world of adoption didn’t begin for any great spiritual reason, even though it ended up that way.

His wife was unable to have any more children and wanted a girl.

A program for Korean adoption in the U.S. opened up, and the Grimes adopted Erica.

For about 12 years, they also opened up their home to many foster children.

That was when Randy Grimes said “God just started laying on our hearts about adoption.”

Nearly 14 years later, Noah, a multiracial, American-born boy, became a part of their family.

The couple was unsure if they were going to adopt again when Teresa Grimes saw a photo of an 18-month-old Taiwanese boy, who became their fourth son, Jeremiah.

Last year — just days before the Grimes planned to take a trip to Uganda about a possible adoption — they got a phone call that Noah’s birth mother was again pregnant.

Alexa, their nine-month-old daughter, became the youngest member of the family in early 2010.

“With every adoption journey, it’s been obvious that this is the child,” Teresa Grimes said.

The couple agreed that they are waiting to see if God calls on them to adopt again, but they remain open to the opportunity.

With their years of experience in the adoption process, the Grimes began Jochebed’s Hope, a nonprofit ministry, named after Jochebed, the Biblical birth mother of Moses.

The ministry provided the basis of Family by Faith.

Randy Grimes said his wife’s phone rings constantly as she helps other couples through their adoption journeys.

She helped led the Lummus family through their adoption of 22-month-old Sasha.

Nathan Lummus, who attends Family by Faith, said they are looking to adopt another child. He’s grateful for the church’s adoption fund, which will help them afford the process.

He added that the church’s worldwide focus brings in many cultures.

“We adopted transracially,” he said. “It’s good to have that different, very diverse place that she can grow.”

For Randy Grimes, racial and cultural differences don’t make a difference.

“It’s all about people. People that look like me and people that don’t look like me,” he said, pointing to the six photos of his children on the wall.

Sharing hope

A lot of churches ask their members to reach out to lost souls, Randy Grimes said.

“I don’t know what that looks like,” he said.

Family by Faith encourages the congregation to reach out to the spiritual orphans, who much like parentless children, have lost hope.

“You can physically see when somebody loses hope,” he said, describing drooped shoulders and a lack of joy.

That’s when Randy Grimes said it’s time to share God’s love, beginning with practical love and help, not preaching.

Once someone asks why he’s always happy, he’s able to share his relationship with Jesus and help someone be adopted into the family of God.

“We’re passionate about adoption,” he said. “But I’m the most passionate about people coming to know Christ.”

The pastor said he ends each Sunday service with the photo of an orphan from around the world to remind people what lost hope looks like.

Clark said the cycle of spiritual adoption has allowed their church to be more outwardly and worldly focused.

As youth minister, Clark works to help teens learn to understand, develop and use their faith, continuing the cycle that serves the community and leads to spiritual adoption.

While the congregation wants to lead lost souls into adoption, Clark said, it doesn’t push its faith by “beat[ing] people over the head with a Bible.”

“We serve our community and we love our community in the hope that we can love people into the kingdom and love them into adoption,” he said.