Our Story of Gaining God’s Heart for the Vulnerable
By ERIC LUDY
Many years ago, Leslie and I were deeply moved by the story of Corrie and Betsie ten Boom in the book The Hiding Place. In one of the darkest places on earth — a German concentration camp called Ravensbrück — they found the beauty of Heaven through the incredible struggle and difficulty they faced there. The name of their quarters was Barracks 28, and it was known in the camp as “the crazy barracks where they still have hope.”
A few years ago on our 20th anniversary, I officially named our marriage
Barracks 28 and declared us to be “the couple crazy enough to still have hope.”
The joys of learning that Leslie was pregnant for the second time came as such a beautiful and profound encouragement in the latter months of 2006.
In the midst of a season of strange attack upon our lives, this joy-filled news was a shot of pure spiritual adrenaline into Barracks 28.
But six weeks into the pregnancy, the pregnancy abruptly ended. We lost the baby to a miscarriage.
At this juncture, we were 12-year veterans in the marriage business, and I was certain that we could walk through this with a stout soul and head high.
But losing a baby is different than being betrayed. It’s different than standing boldly in a room full of skeptics. It’s different than living life with empty pockets. For some reason, losing a baby feels like you lose a part of you.
As the husband, I attempted to push us through this trial with sheer guts. I guess I had the thought that, with all the other things swirling about us, we didn’t really have time to mourn, to weep, to get all worked up over this thing. I proposed, with stereotypic Marlboro-Man toughness, “Let’s just move on!”
But God thought differently on the subject.
This little life was not insignificant. It mattered to God. And God wanted this little one to matter to us.
I remember sensing that God was saying, “If you don’t weep over the loss of this little one, then who will?”
God’s intense love for this unknown, six-week-old life startled me. And it awakened me from a deep stupor that modern ministry had lulled me into.
Leslie and I had started out in ministry with a heart for the poor, the weak, the orphan, and the widow.
But when you are trying to make ends meet, market an event, prepare a message, give a message, sell a book, write another book, do an interview, and pray for the success of it all — it doesn’t leave a lot of time for that other stuff. You know, the kind of stuff that doesn’t pay.
That season of traveling and speaking had dulled us. It’s like the innocent sheen of Christian givenness had worn off, and we had become professional Christians.
Even the sound of it was revolting to me as God began to open my eyes to this compromise in my soul. I wanted to throw such a garment off of me as if it were a great, big, hairy spider.
God began to show Leslie and I that the stuff that doesn’t pay is at the center of His heart. And though the world doesn’t pay for a Christian to do these things, He — Jehovah God — will personally tax the remotest star and the last grain of sand to assist any and all who step forward to do such work. He will back them with all of His almighty power.
To lose this little baby led to a grief beyond any grief we had ever before known as a couple.
But to lose this little baby started something in Barracks 28 that renovated the entire atmosphere. And still to this day, Barracks 28 burns with an inner fire that was ignited in and through that singular loss of life.
Our 12th anniversary celebration in December of 2006 was possibly the most extraordinary we had ever enjoyed together as a couple. That year was marked by more difficulty than we had ever before experienced, and yet, the closeness Leslie and I enjoyed, and the joy and strength we had found in the midst of this pain, defied all natural law.
In December 2006 Leslie and I were awakened. It’s as if we returned — full force — to the purity, the tenderness, and simple beauty of our wedding day.
Our faith was bursting forth with new blossoms. Our energy to do the work of the Kingdom was so strong that we were glowing. Songs were in our heart. For the entire month of December, it seemed that we lived in the cloud of glory.
And it was in this month of December 2006 that Leslie and I entered into a new way of living and a new way of thinking. For it was in December of 2006 that we finally began to agree with God about living in Barracks 28. We began to praise God for the war zone, rather than grumble and complain. This simple change of mind regarding suffering, was like flipping a light switch in a dark room. It set us free.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ felt new to our souls, and we couldn’t stop reading Scripture — for it felt like we had never read it before. It was fresh, living, and dynamically working in our lives.
The Holy Spirit filled us in a manner that we had not previously known. And though we were approaching the end of the most difficult year of our entire life together as a couple, instead you would have thought that we were celebrating the conclusion of the greatest season of our lives.
It was a new power that was living inside us — a holy power. And God knew that this baptism of gracious strength was absolutely imperative for us to have in order to survive what lie up ahead.
The year 2007 was marked by extraordinary triumph. It was as if out of an ash heap grew a glorious flower garden.
In late December of 2006 and throughout 2007, Leslie and I entered into a life of prayer. We had always prayed together, but this was different. Our burgeoning prayer life was purposeful and aggressive.
For far too long we had prayed passively in our Christianity in regards to Satan’s attacks. But it was now time to rise up in the strength of Heaven and take a stand against the powers of darkness.
During the year 2007, Leslie and I prayed usually at least three hours a day. Many days we spent even more than this, but prayer was on our breath always. The previous two years we had spent our days studying, writing, and organizing. And now, we were spending our days wrestling to see the realities of Heaven come to this earth.
I became a preacher in this stretch of time. Up until 2007, I was a teacher. But something happened inside of me during this time period that turned my soul into a volcano.
And I remember the precise moment it happened.
Leslie and I were in our special prayer room above our garage, praying. Our term of endearment for this spot in our house was “The Upper Room.”
We had spent the past two weeks praying specifically for God to give us His heart. We wanted to ache with God’s aches, and we wanted to grieve with God’s griefs. It was a dangerous prayer, but one that we knew we desperately needed to pray.
At one juncture in our praying, Leslie walked across the room to where I was and set her hand gently upon my shoulder.
She stood there silently for a stretch of time and then boldly began to pray. And that one, singular prayer that she prayed still, to this day, ranks as probably the greatest prayer anyone has ever prayed for me.
“Father,” she prayed, “put a fire in my husband so that he would pray like a man!”
Of course, when she was praying this prayer, I had to ask myself if she had thought that my prayers up to that point were of the “girly variety.” But such a thought was quickly lost in the powerful surge of grace that suddenly began to well up within my soul.
From deep within, my spirit roared a roar. It was as if a lion bared his teeth and shook his mane. A growl, a power, a grrr began to expand and grow louder within my chest.
And out of my mouth came a prayer. It was a prayer that was foreign to Eric Ludy up to that day. But a form of praying that has been my constant companion ever since. It was bold, strong, authoritative, and blistering with conviction. It was otherworldly. It was Spirit-groaned.
A man emerged out of that prayer time. I had an entirely new swagger in my spiritual step from that day forward.
Leslie had a totally different husband on her hands. When I spoke truth, my words suddenly shot forth as if coming out of a cannon. When I prayed, my prayers growled with the fierceness of a man who knows the power of the shed blood of Jesus Christ.
For 12 years we had given our best efforts to serve Jesus. But in our 13th year of marriage, we learned the secret of allowing God to do the work in and through us.
Back in 2007, Leslie and I were praying unlike we had ever prayed before. And, in this process, God began to stir within us a passion for the vulnerable and weak.
We realized that we had a platform of influence, and so we surrendered that to God and told Him it was His to use as He saw fit.
I remember when the idea of “orphans” first came up in early 2007. Both of us sort of looked at each other and knew this was something God was emphasizing.
We didn’t quite know what to do to practically help orphans. In fact, we really didn’t know anything about the orphan crisis at all. So we began to study.
We started reading magazines on orphans, books on orphans, and going to conferences on orphans. And the one thing we realized in and through all of our study was that the problem was a lot bigger than us.
In late March, we were feeling a pressing to do something. But we had no idea what to actually do. We didn’t have much money, but we had a lot of raw passion.
We decided the next two weeks were to be dedicated to prayer on the subject. We didn’t want to do any more ministry work in our own power and our own wisdom. God needed to be the One doing the work. So, we prayed.
When the two weeks were done, we only had one small step that we thought we should take. We decided to visit a local adoption agency and find out if there would be any practical way we could serve them.
We didn’t have money to adopt. And, strangely, we had never really even thought about adopting. So, when we arrived, we were simply attempting to gather more data and learn more of how we could serve these precious little ones.
It was during that short visit to an adoption ministry in Berthoud, Colorado that we encountered something. In one sense, we were not prepared for what we saw that day. But, in another sense, we were prepared. We were prepared to say yes.
We had heard the standard presentation about adoptive children, and, to be honest, nothing really tugged at our hearts or gave us any indication of how we might be able to assist. They had told us of the multitudinous families on their waiting list and that it would be near three years in order to bring a child home from Korea or China. So, for Leslie and I, it sure did seem like there were plenty of couples to help out with the problem.
When we were preparing to leave, Leslie asked a simple question.
“Are there any other children?”
The lady answered, “Well, yes, there are waiting children.”
When we inquired as to what constituted a “waiting child,” she proceeded to tell us that waiting children are usually either older children or children with special needs. They were children that were made available for adoption but had been passed over by the families waiting to adopt a child.
Leslie asked what was meant by “special needs.”
The answer to that question caused the lady to give us an illustration. She told us of a little, two-month-old baby that was missing her fingers on her hands, had a club foot, and other deformities on her little feet.
She brought out a picture of this little baby’s hands and set it down before us.
Leslie asked what would happen to this girl if no one adopted her.
The lady explained that each child had a window of opportunity for adoption. And if the child wasn’t adopted in that window of time, then they would be institutionalized for the rest of their life.
The picture lying on the table in front of me was grainy and unimpressive in an artistic, photographic sense. But it was probably the most precious and beautiful picture I have ever seen. It was a close-up of two little eight-day-old hands. These hands were missing fingers but had cute little thumbs jutting out of them.
I hadn’t even seen this little girl’s face, and I was in love with her. She was an orphan. She had been passed over by all of the eager-to-adopt families. She was in need. Her window of opportunity was almost over.
It was a strange and bizarre experience for my father’s heart, and I cried throughout the drive home. I ached for this little one. It was totally ridiculous for us to consider adopting this little girl ourselves. We didn’t have any money, and we had two book deadlines staring us in the face over the next five months.
But Leslie was stirred in the same exact way as I was.
We had been praying. And this is what we had been praying for. We had asked God to show us a next step.
And somehow we knew this was it. We knew that even if it seemed an illogical course of action to the world around us, we must pursue the adoption of this little child.
Since Harper’s story is well chronicled elsewhere, I won’t go into the many miraculous details of her adoption. But suffice it to say, God turned our miscarriage into a story of triumph. For on almost the same day Leslie would have delivered our baby that was lost due to miscarriage, a little package named Harper Grace Ludy arrived from Korea into our home.
It was the fastest adoption this agency had ever done since their inception.
God taught us on Harper.
We were looking to change the orphan crisis. But such a crisis was simply too big for us to tackle. When there are more than 143 million orphans in the world, what is one couple to do?
So, God showed us that to change the world, we should start with one.
We did. And, oh, how precious that one is!
A Final Word from Leslie:
If you’ve been following this Barracks 28 series, I hope you’ve enjoyed this inside peek into our 25+ year marriage journey! There have been many valleys and mountaintops, many unexpected heartaches mixed with incredible blessings. Through it all, God has been faithful. And as Eric has shown through these personal stories and memories, God’s faithfulness has been revealed to us through the challenges, not in spite of them. Whatever you are going through today, I encourage you not to push away the Barracks 28 seasons, but embrace them as a loving gift from your faithful Father. Remember, He always does what is very best for us. He loves us more than we can comprehend. And His ways are always perfect.