We enjoyed celebrating foster care and adoption Friday at our debut stop on our Replanted tour: the Wheaton chapter of the nationwide Replanted ministry at Church of the Resurrection in Wheaton, Illinois, on the west side of Chicago.
When I first wrote the song, "Replanted," I hoped it would provide a meaningful song for the first episode of my YouTube show and that it would bless the adopted children in my extended family. Now, thanks to the faithfulness of God, it has gone from just being a song that my adopted nieces and nephew have enjoyed to also blessing many more adopted and foster children and families!
A few highlights from the Chicago event:
• Kids getting excited, singing along gusto and doing the actions with enthusiasm.
It’s encouraging to see them experience joy, especially knowing that many of them have gone through or are currently struggling in difficult seasons. Many of them were or are in foster care, some have special needs, and others have been adopted out of a variety of situations. Even more important than them having a good time, it was rewarding to see them singing out Biblical truths that they can declare over their lives. The words we speak are so powerful, and what better way to speak them out than to sing them in fun, catchy songs?
• Colleen, one of our favorite hype girls, happening to be in town, all the way from Los Angeles.
Colleen with her cousin, Scott. He is facing some health issues so please pray for him!
Colleen's presence was quite providential not only because she is a California friend of ours who happened to be in the area that week but also because I had always thought it would be ideal to have her at one of our kids’ shows since she loves our kids music, enjoys dancing and doing actions, works so well with kids, and is a true worshipper who has a passion for Jesus. Colleen participated in a small listening party we had in our studio before our album was released, and she really got into it. Whenever we hang out, she always suggests we pray, and she often asks if we can worship — or simply breaks out in song. Colleen has worked at many summer camps and educational programs for children and youth, so it was perfect to have her there!
• Getting to meet (in person) Catherine of Chicago, who I connected with online two years ago through Jen Lilley’s Voices That Give contest to raise funds for Project Orphans’ initiative to build a neighborhood where children in need can be raised by loving families.
Catherine and I have enjoyed chatting on Instagram since early 2020 and had agreed a while back that next time I was in Chicago, we should meet up. It was a blessing that she not only came to meet me but also to serve at our show! And it was, in a way, an extension of how we met — using our talents to help foster kids and families. Catherine is a great helper with a lovely attitude. Props and many thanks to Jen for providing an opportunity for people to use their talents to help foster families and also for providing a platform for likeminded people with hearts for foster kids and families to connect with each other.
• Judah playing the African drums.
Soon after we showed up in Chicago, our nephew, Judah-Jakori Roney, 10, asked if he could accompany us on the drums. I was a bit uncertain at first because he had never accompanied us professionally and hadn’t ever really seen him do percussion, but Anthony said yes, so we went for it. And Judah did a great job! I think he added to the overall ambience and energy, and I’m glad it was a fun way for him — as an adopted kid and as a member of our extended family — to contribute to the show.
• Meeting parents after the show who were grateful for our performance and mini-preaching moments and who bought our products to help carry on the message of being a worshipper of Jesus Christ.
I tend to feel the urge to pray over each one but it’s not always the best timing, especially when they’re trying to hurry home before buildings shut off lights or clocks tick past bedtime, or when other people are in line waiting behind them, but I was grateful to see them going home with a piece of our ministry that can hopefully help them worship Jesus and grow in Christ in the coming days. Even though I can’t be with them every day, our songs and stories can!
Also, I would like to give a shoutout to my sister-in-law, Sarah Roney, director of Chicago's Replanted ministry, for organizing such an uplifting event.
Before I share about how Sarah produced the event, I would like to include a screenshot of Sarah's mention on the acknowledgements page of the book, Replanted: Faith-Based Support for Adoptive and Foster Families, by Jenn Ranter Hook, Joshua N. Hook, Mike Berry.
On the acknowledgments page of this book:
— Jenn Ranter Hook, Joshua N. Hook, and Mike Berry
At last week's event, Sarah, who, along with my brother, Scott, has four adopted children and two biological children, made sure there were balloons, tacos and even a snow-cone truck (which was a big hit!), and she offered up such a nice prayer at the microphone. Sarah is excellent at coordinating community events and taking care of kids and of so many people in need. And her prayers are powerful! Anthony and I are so grateful that she believes in us booked us to perform and lead worship at this joyous and meaningful event.
May each child who came continue to know that no matter where they are “replanted,” it’s on purpose, for a purpose. And the most important place to be planted is in the family of God — a forever family that never ends, full of love and rich with meaning.
I will close this post with the chorus to our original song, “Replanted,” which I wrote for adopted children but which also applies to all people who say yes to being spiritually adopted into God’s family:
This is my song
Here for a purpose
Loved all along
And this is my song.
Screenshot from my original simple LIVE music video for our song, "Replanted."
Next stop: Emmanuel Church in Abilene, tonight! 😃