Above left, Chris and Dave Cender. Middle, Dave with their two adoptive children. Above right, the new daughters from Columbia.
“When I was young, I heard the Lord say, ‘Someday you will help hurting children,’” remembers Chris Cender.
As a mom of soon-to-be eight children, Cender and her husband Dave desired to be the hands and feet of Christ. The Illinois couple’s passion to follow the Lord led them to a different type of “retirement.”
Eight years ago, the Cenders struck out on the path to adoption. In their late 50s, they became a short-term host family for a teenage brother and sister from the Philippines. Little did they know that those two children, Rose and Jhon, would soon become their future.
Shortly after Rose and Jhon returned to the Philippines, the Cenders were surprised to receive a phone call from an adoption agency, which informed them the children were about to age out of the orphanage, leaving them without a home.
Three plus two
As the Cenders wrestled with what to do, the Lord was already setting the stage. After raising three birth children of their own, the Cenders didn’t understand how they could afford to raise another set of children at their age.
“We were empty nesters for 14 years, Cender told AFA Journal. “It wasn’t wrong for us to be enjoying each other. We had worked hard and were enjoying our grandchildren. But we knew that there was an emptiness, and we knew the Lord was calling us to another season.”
One day after spending time in prayer, she remembers her response to the Lord being, “We’ll see about that.”
Not even six days later, the Cenders received an anonymous donation of $13,000 to help fund the international adoption of Rose and Jhon. Cender was right – she would see the faithfulness of the Lord as He continued fulfilling His plan.
Two years later, Rose and Jhon were in the caring arms of their new mom and dad.
After they arrived, the Cenders received news Rose was in need of a heart transplant. During this troubling time, Rose accepted Christ as her Lord and Savior. Shortly after, she was also healed of her heart condition.
“I’m sure God meant that miracle to display His love to her,” Cender said, “but it also brought her to Himself.”
Three plus two plus three
The Cenders’ desire is to teach their “kiddos” they are God’s children, and following Him is crucial. Without His faithfulness, the Cender family would not be what it is today.
Eight years after that adventure, Dave (now 67) and Chris (64) are preparing to bring home three beautiful new daughters from Colombia. Their ages are
9, 11, and 12.
Most seniors see adopting late as too great a challenge. They claim, “I’m too old” or “We don’t have enough money.” The Cenders believe if it’s in the Lord’s will, He will be faithful to carry it out to completion.
“We are not our own,” Cender concluded. “We have a very short window to serve Christ, and God wants to work through His children. What better way to do so than to support
In His Hands Orphan Outreach
Chris and Dave Cender are representatives for In His Hands Orphan Outreach (IHHOO), the ministry that introduced them to five of their eight children. IHHOO is a support ministry for domestic and international adoptions. They have orphanages in Haiti, China, and Myanmar, and are acquiring one in the Philippines.
IHHOO also has a program for sponsors to provide monthly support and connect with children or caregivers in the orphanages. More opportunities to participate include providing clothing, food, medical care, or education.
For more information:
Chris Cender: 217-390-3092
For more information on adoption, visit adoptionnetwork.com or call toll free 1-866-615-7204.
(Editor's Note: This article was published first in the November 2019 edition of the AFAJournal)