Experiencing God’s Unconditional Love
Storyteller: Holly Nguyen
Writer: Sheila Holliday
1 Corinthians 13: 1-13:
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
Do you feel you deserve to be loved? Or, are certain conditions and behaviors required? That’s how Holly Nguyen used to feel. She’d accepted Christ into her life in her teens, but it was many years later before Holly truly understood and accepted His unconditional love for her.
‘A Gift from God'
Holly grew up without having parents during the war-torn years of her childhood in Viet Nam. She and her siblings fled to the USA and settled in Orange County, CA. Lewis and Holly were married in 2005. It wasn’t long until they learned the sad news that they could not conceive.
Holly has been gifted by God with a heart for children and enjoyed working at a children’s group home for several years. Discovering she would not have children of her own caused Holly great sadness. She became depressed. “Lewis suggested the possibility of adoption,” she recalls, “but I didn’t think I would be able to love someone else’s child as our own, so I dismissed the idea.”
She continues, “Around 2016, I was studying with Dr. David Hocking in the book of Romans. That’s when I heard him speak about God adopting us as his own children. It really hit me hard that God was willing to adopt us, even though we haven’t earned it and don’t deserve it. I started to cry, and went to my knees to ask God for forgiveness.”
She asked Lewis if he still had a heart to go through with adoption, which he assured her that he did. Nothing happened immediately, but Holly and Lewis began to pray about an adoption program and left it in the Lord’s hands. Holly reflects, “Throughout this period, God encouraged us through the preaching of God’s word and the testimonies of other adoptive parents who had gone through the process, and revealed to us how challenging yet rewarding it can be.”
Lewis and Holly decided to step out in faith and completed the application process as prospective parents in a foster care/adoption program. According to the foster care/adoption program, parents usually have a lengthy waiting period before they can even be presented with an opportunity to adopt a newborn baby.
“We waited for two years in the program. Finally, in April, 2020, we received an opportunity to foster/adopt a newborn baby girl. We were informed that in her case, there was a strong possibility for adoption. We were very thankful to have this wonderful opportunity to care for this precious little baby. We named her Johanna (Hebrew origin: ‘a gift from God’).”
In those first months there were profound, exhausting challenges in raising Johanna, details of which cannot be shared to protect the infant’s privacy. Holly cried out to the Lord to help her love Johanna the way that God loves her.
“As the days and weeks turned into months, we became so bonded. I truly experienced the depth of love that God has for Johanna as well as for me,” Holly shares.
Lewis and Holly were hoping and praying that we would be able to adopt Johanna as their own. She recalls, “It appeared likely that this was going to come to fruition. But unexpectedly after four months, we learned that someone on the father’s side of the family had come forward and was claiming custody of Johanna. According to California law, we were required to relinquish custody. This was the most devastating and painful experience we have ever had.”
Just when Holly had found the wonderful, unconditional love of God through baby Johanna that she wanted so much in her life, she couldn’t understand why this baby was being taken away from them. Both she and Lewis grieved as if a loved one had died.
She shares, “The pain was so unbearable. I cried to the Lord and asked Him, why did this happen? He reminded me of His servant Job, who lost everything, including 10 children, but still praised God. Job 2:10 says: He replied, ‘You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?’ In all this, Job did not sin in what he said.”
With a broken heart and on bended knees, Holly asked God for forgiveness. She prayed and asked the Lord to please help her find a way to overcome this unbearable loss. She asked the Lord that if it be His will, to bless them with another baby girl.
After keeping this in prayer and within just three weeks of losing baby Johanna, Holly and Lewis received a call from the foster care/adoption agency that another baby girl was available for them.
“On the day that we were going to see her, we learned that the baby’s natural parents wanted to take custody, as did a cousin of the father. We were still suffering from the loss of Johanna, and now we were faced with a decision of whether to take custody of a new baby girl, who we were also likely to lose. We realized that when we came into this foster/adoption process, it was God’s will, not ours, that we should be concerned with. We prayed about it and decided to follow God’s will. Just as before, we don’t know what the future holds, but we place our trust in the Lord that He will lead us along this journey.
“I asked the Lord what we should name her. The name ‘Eliana’ came to my mind, which means ‘My God has answered’ in Hebrew.
“God’s unconditional love was restored to us through baby Eliana.” She adds, “Now I know and believe that God loves me unconditionally, and that I can place my complete faith and trust in Him regardless of the circumstances we may face.”
Holly and Lewis claim, as Paul did in Ephesians 3:14-21, For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
Share this Story