Belmont alumnus and former basketball player Mike Mayernick (’90) and his wife Suzanne visited campus on Monday as part of the “Alumni on Mission” series in an event sponsored by the Belmont Ambassadors, SIFE and the Office of Alumni Relations. Alumni on Mission is an ongoing speaker series featuring Belmont alumni who incorporate mission and ministry in their everyday lives.
Mike, now a financial planner, opened the session recalling how his life changed six years ago following a Sunday morning church service. Leaving the church that day, Suzanne mentioned that she felt like God was leading their family–already blessed by four biological children–to consider adoption. Mike, laughing at the memory, said at the time, “I was awake during the sermon, and I didn’t hear that!”
However, it was only a matter of days before Mike too was convinced that adoption would be in his family’s future. Two domestic adoptions brought Joshua and Caleb home, and then in 2009, the Mayernicks flew to Uganda to adopt Josie Love.
Suzanne said, “When I spent that first day with Joshua’s birth mom in the hospital, I looked into her big, brown, beautiful eyes and saw myself, only she had been dealt a different hand in life. She loved her baby so much to give him up… I now have a nagging ache for those birth moms. In my brokenness [for them], I was stirred to try to help.”
Suzanne shared her burden with good friend and fellow adoptive mom Gwen Oatsvall, and the women joined forces to launch 147 Million Orphans. According to the organization’s website, “We are two moms who love orphans! … Thirteen kids and seven adoptions later, we are bound together through faith and mission. We love ‘doing life together’ and accepting the call to speak up for orphans everywhere. We want to help as many people as possible to see the 147 million orphans as scripture calls them, ‘…those who have no voice.'”
The organization sells a number of products and apparel to raise funds for its initiatives. Currently, 147 Million Orphans is involved in a number of efforts including feeding children in Uganda, Haiti, Honduras, China and Ethiopia; educating and encouraging families about the HIV/AIDS crisis along with financially supporting several ministries that care for these children; offering adoptive families wholesale products to sell as fundraisers for their adoption costs; helping local African refugees earn a sustainable income from handmade products; and working with Ugandan women in Africa on sustainable income from their handmade necklaces, along with numerous speaking engagements.
Click here to read Suzanne’s blog.