16 years ago today, Maria and I were in Rostov-on-Don, Russia, having traveled there the day after my Ph.D. hooding at Southern Seminary. Shortly after our arrival, we met the two boys who would be our sons, but then we were told terrible news. Tests showed that one of the boys had a terminal, infectious illness that would prevent him from legally leaving their country and entering ours.
I prayed all night long, the first time I have ever done that, through two particular passages of Scripture: John 4:50 and Genesis 43:14.
The next morning we were told that another test had been done, and that no illness was present at all. The antibodies were probably there from his birthmother. He was healthy.
We were going to name him after my favorite Baptist theologian, and call him Andrew Fuller Moore. But the incident drove me back to that text in Genesis. Joseph, now governor in Egypt and unknown to be the lost relative to the Israelites who were seeking his deliverance from famine, had sent his brothers back for their remaining brother, Benjamin. Jacob was distraught, pleading for Benjamin’s safety, as Judah pledged to safeguard it. Jacob said, “May God Almighty grant you mercy and may he send back your other brother and Benjamin. And, as for me, if I am bereaved of my children, I am bereaved” (Gen. 43:14).
I identified with Jacob’s sense of helplessness. And so I did what he did, entrusted the life of this child to One from the tribe of Judah. Jacob’s desperation, and mine, seemed similar to that of the official in John’s Gospel whose son was sick unto death, an official who approached Jesus in Capernaum for healing. Jesus did not go where the son was. He simply said, “Go; your son will live,” and the father “believed the word that Jesus had spoken to him and went on his way” (Jn. 4:50). I asked for the faith to do the same.
So we named him Benjamin Jacob Moore. And no matter what the paperwork said, that was the moment I became a father.