January 23, 2020
Lengthen Thy Cords
Enlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thine habitations: spare not, lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes. – Isaiah 54:2
Back in the mid-1950s, Harry Holt was a retired farmer and father of a large family in Creswell, Oregon. As a Christian, Harry was deeply interested in evangelism, and one night he and his wife, Bertha, went to hear a speaker from World Vision. That night, the couple learned that the mixed-race children fathered by soldiers in post-war Korea were starving, abandoned, and bullied in the streets. Those children needed loving homes of their own.
In the days following, the conviction began to grow in Harry’s heart that God wanted him to adopt some of these children. Eventually, he concluded that he and his wife could “enlarge” their family by eight. When he approached Bertha about it, he found that she, too, had been praying about adopting—and that she, too, had decided that they could increase their family by eight!
The Holts got a special act of Congress passed to allow them to adopt eight children, six more than the law allowed. Newspapers from October 1955 show Harry Holt getting off an airplane with the twelve orphans he brought back from Korea—eight for their family and four for other Christian couples.
Soon, the Holts were flooded with inquiries from people interested in adoption. Harry continued to bring children back by the planeload to Christian families in America. In time, the couple founded an agency and became well-known pioneers in the field of international adoption. What an example of one who undertook an “expansion program” in obedience to God! This couple’s initial step of obedience grew beyond their wildest imagination.
Seventeen years after Harry Holt followed God’s leading to “stretch forth the curtains of thine habitations,” his obedience directly impacted our family: we adopted our Korea-born daughter through Holt International.
In our focus verse, the prophet Isaiah challenged the Gentile church to spread out like a Bedouin enlarging his tent. The verse describes one pulling up his tent stakes, lengthening the tent cords, and repositioning the stakes to make room for expansion.
Today we face that same challenge: as individuals we must be watchful for opportunities to step out in faith and expand our spiritual horizons. As God lays it upon our hearts, let us be willing to stretch out further with our outreach endeavors, always making sure that we are anchored to the “ground stakes” of truth.
Who knows what the impact might be of your obedience to this challenge? The results could be as far-reaching as they were for Harry Holt!