“We put our ‘yes’ on the table, and we let God ask the questions,” she said with grounded trust after exiting the hospital room of her 14-year-old-daughter who was struggling to breathe.
Mandy Litzke was not new to this. She and her husband Dave had been walking this journey of faith for quite a number of years. This was just one more opportunity for God to stretch them and use them as vessels for His Kingdom. Their daughter Ally, diagnosed with leukemia, was fighting for her life, and the prognosis was not looking favorable. Unfortunately, this was not their first sip of the bitter taste of tragedy. But as they drank yet again from the cup of suffering, their tongues were coated with praise, trust, and peace. They did not feel abandoned by God, but instead they felt blessed. They did not count their losses, but instead knew God would show Himself faithful, again. They had gained Ally through adoption by the hand of God’s blessing, and they would soon lose Ally through illness, by the hand of God’s complete heavenly healing. But above all, they knew God was lovingly in control. “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” Romans 5:3-5
Meet the Litzke Family
“I believe we are put here to love our Jesus, show our scars, and share our story,” states Mandy Litzke. Early on in their marriage, Dave and Mandy felt called to carry out the mission of James 1:27, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows…” Over the course of their marriage, they adopted 15 children, both domestically and internationally from 8 different countries. As they refer to it, they have 2 “home grown” children and 15 “heart grown” children, making 17 children in all. (How does a person keep up with all the laundry?) Nine of their adopted children have mild to moderate disabilities including Down syndrome and cerebral palsy. Two of them have already been welcomed home by Jesus and sadly, just this September, the Litzkes also lost their beautiful daughter, Ally.
Born into a tragic situation, Mandy is well acquainted with trauma and pain. While Mandy’s mother was pregnant with her, Mandy’s father gave her mother an ultimatum to either abort the baby or he would leave. Her mother chose life. Her father left. Her mother remarried out of desperation to provide for her children, but the stepfather was in bondage to alcoholism and addiction which led to rageful outbursts of anger. When Mandy was just a small child, her stepfather, in a fit of rage, murdered her mother. Mandy was found in the corner shaking and traumatized, and so in need of love.
Mandy was assigned to multiple foster placements, and eventually placed in a Christ-centered home. This family loved her unconditionally. Able to see past the behavior and see the heart of a scared and lonely child, they poured into her with the love of Jesus and taught her in tangible ways about the heart of the Father. This family officially adopted Mandy. She realized she was a beloved child of God who pursued her with an everlasting love. She gave her life to Christ. God had plucked Mandy out of a murder scene, restored her, and released her for a mission. Mandy knew she wanted to extend this same love to other underprivileged children.
Following the beautiful blessings of two beautiful children, Dave and Mandy wanted to continue to grow their family. But when things were not going as planned, they felt called to surrender their plan and embrace God’s timing in growing their family through adoption. Finding alignment with one another, they sought God’s direction on the child He had picked for their family. Calling up their adoption agency, the Litzkes told the agency they found their son, Bryce. The agency explained that, unfortunately, he was in a district in which people in Ohio were not permitted to adopt. But Dave and Mandy knew that this was more than just a fleeting attachment to an adorable baby. They felt God had led them specifically to Bryce. Mandy asked the agency what they could do to continue to pursue Bryce. The agency explained an appeals process and provided paperwork.
The first few pages of the sizable packet were easy to complete, but then it came to the section that provided seven blank pages to explain why the Litzkes wanted to make this appeal. Mandy paused, and in prayer said, “Lord, I don’t know what to say other than we believe it’s your will.” And the Lord spoke tenderly to her heart, “Just write this, ‘Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world. Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight, and they are all His.’” Reasoning with the Lord, she asked what else needed written, but the Lord deeply impressed upon her spirit those words were simply enough. It was time to submit it. In trust and obedience (and natural human concern their appeal would be disregarded), they surrendered their concerns, trusting God with the outcome. A day and half later, they received a phone call from the agency. The representative explained that the board had an emergency meeting, and at the end of the meeting, the representative felt compelled to share the Litzke appeal to be reviewed. The board read what was written and without hesitation said, “This child belongs with this family.” The representative went on to say the board didn’t even see the six pages that were not filled out. Mandy recounts this example of God’s faithfulness in their first adoption, “When we say ‘yes’, the provision is already made. It’s not that God is scurrying around trying to meet our needs. The needs are already waiting on us. He is just waiting on our heart and our ‘yes’.”
After reading a book about missionaries adopting children with special needs, Mandy felt God stirring her heart again. Soon she would feel God’s call for them to adopt another child but this time a child with special needs. How would her husband feel about this, especially since he felt they could only afford one adoption? She had her concerns, but God gently put it on her spirit that he would “lead through Dave.” She continued to wait and pour out her heart to God. But God, in His masterful orchestration, was privately working on Dave’s heart. Mandy and Dave participated in a walk for Down syndrome. Dave came home and unexpectedly shared his heart with Mandy, “What would you think if I said that maybe the Lord wanted us to adopt again—a child with Down syndrome?” Dave did not know Mandy had been seeking the Lord on another adoption, specifically special needs. But God, in His goodness, aligned their hearts at the right time.
The Litzkes began to seek out their next adoption. Where would the money come from? Who would they adopt? They didn’t have the answers, but they moved forward in faith. As they were in the process of adopting their child, they received tragic news that the child who would soon be theirs had died from Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV). In their grief and loss, Mandy felt the Lord impress upon her heart, “Will you trust me?” He led her to Nehemiah 8:10, “Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” It wasn’t that God was telling her not to grieve, but He was reminding her that they could grieve with hope—Jesus conquered death and bridges the gap from this life to eternity. God took their grief and quite literally turned their mourning hearts to joy as they were led to their beautiful daughter with Down syndrome, named Joy.
Their adoption journey continued over many years. They even formed Safe Harbor Orphan Care to champion the mission of James 1:27. “Each child has been strategically and sovereignly chosen [by God],” Mandy reflects, “a divine tapestry for His glory.” They have learned so much through adoption, a daily faith journey. It has refined them, challenged them, and brought them to their knees in surrender. “Any time you are talking about refining, that includes fire. Redemption is costly… remember the bloody mess our redemption cost us. But make no mistake—there is nothing better in this life than knowing you are in the center-will of God, living out the plan for you, and knowing that He who calls you is faithful.”
Refiner’s fire has both metaphorically and quite literally affected the Litzke family. In April of 2022, an electrical fire started in the master bedroom. Miraculously, all nine children with special needs still living at home were ushered out unharmed, but the house was severely damaged, leaving the family in search of a place to live. They praised God for His protection and provision in a rental property as they began to rebuild their life. However, the rental would only be a temporary solution ending in September 2023, just weeks after the loss of Ally. Uprooted once more, the Litzkes work to rebuild their physical home, while spiritually finding their rest in Jesus. “We can’t see the future, but He has always shown He is faithful, that He will carry us through.”
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.” (2 Corinthians 4:7-11) There are people who suffer and there are people who suffer well. Although the Litzke family’s path has been paved with tragedy, they choose to focus on triumph—the triumph of Jesus Christ over death, over hardship, over loss, and over every moment of pain. What the Enemy meant for harm, God will turn it to good, “the saving of many lives” (Gen. 50:20). Mandy reflects, “[I’m] not saying all should adopt or foster, but all are called to respond—that step of obedience comes with a cost. The key is to remain faithful to the call and leave the outcomes to the Lord.”
“There are people who suffer and there are people who suffer well. Although the Litzke family’s path has been paved with tragedy, they choose to focus on triumph—the triumph of Jesus Christ…”
If you feel that call today to respond, please ask the Lord what is it that He would have you do? Maybe it’s to foster or adopt. Maybe it’s to get on your knees and pray. Maybe it’s to be part of God’s provision by helping the Litzke family. Whatever it is, step out in faith and leave the outcome to God.
If you would like to help the Litzke family, please visit:
or make checks payable to:
Mandy Litzke, P.O. Box 510, Marysville, OH 43040
Rebecca Greenfield is a certified Nuclear Medicine Technologist who carries a Master’s Degree in Theological Studies. She is blessed to pursue both of her passions, science and theology, by working in nuclear medicine and at Lifeline Christian Mission. One of her deepest desires is to create spaces and places where people can experience the presence of God through the power of written art. She is the author of five books including, RAW Inner Workings of a Reawakened Soul, The Prayer Crossing Personal Devotional, and her most recent release, a children’s book called Dusternuffle. To order a copy of any of her books, visit www.Rebecca-Greenfield.com or make checks payable to Reawakened Ministries ($16.99/copy) and mail to Cross Point Christian Church, Attn: Rebecca Greenfield, 10659 Johnstown Rd., New Albany, OH 43054.