Bethany Christian Services Banquet Features Young Man’s Compelling Story; Local Residents Serve on Board
In 2011, Bethany Christian Services placed 49 babies with families locally and in the Metro New York area.
At the adoption agency’s annual fundraising banquet on May 23, Hawthorne resident Nancy Dykstra-Powers, the director of Bethany Christian Services for the Tri-State region, said the evening was dedicated “to celebrating all the children who were adopted, by God’s grace.” Nearly 400 people attended the event, which was held at The Venetian in Garfield, NJ.
The Bethany Board of Directors includes Franklin Lakes resident Doug Hoogerhyde and Wyckoff residents Ed Gurak and Robert Troast (board president).
The impact of what can happen when a loving family adopts a child was powerfully communicated when 20-year old Sandeep Thomas gave the keynote address. Thomas was adopted by Peter and Vanita Thomas 15 years ago with the help of Dykstra-Powers and Bethany Christian Services’ North Jersey office. The family, living in Paramus, NJ at that time, eventually relocated to the West Coast.
As a five-year-old boy in India, Sandeep Thomas witnessed the suicide of his birth mother, who took her own life by lighting herself on fire after dousing her body with kerosene. Distraught and without hope due to horrible living conditions and an alcoholic husband, she also asked her son to join her.
The memory of that traumatic event plagued Thomas for most of his childhood. He struggled emotionally, socially, and especially academically. But because of the persevering, unconditional love of his parents and a deep faith in God, he was able to rise above his past. The boy who once needed hours of assistance to complete one page of homework is now on the Dean’s List at the University of Washington at Bothell.
Sandeep Thomas concluded his keynote speaking address by exhorting the audience to support Bethany Christian Services and consider changing the lives of children just like him.
“There are over 168 million orphans in the world, most in desperate poverty, pain, and suffering,” he said. “Step out of your comfort zone, become like Jesus, become uncomfortable and adopt or become a foster parent.”
At the banquet, other significant accomplishments were highlighted, including Bethany’s outreach to the African-American community, the ministry’s birthparent assistance fund, and the placement of special needs children.
“This year’s banquet was a great time of fellowship and a time of encouragement for Board, staff, and supporters,” said Doug Hoogerhyde. “Sandeep Thomas’ story was quite inspiring.”
Bethany Christian Services is a global non-profit organization serving orphaned, abandoned, and vulnerable children on five continents. For more information on Bethany Christian Services, visit www.bethany.org/fairlawn or call (201) 703-4371.