Patti Bateman went to Haiti with her husband, Kile, to lead a worship conference in 2002. On a side trip to a neighboring town, the couple, both Assemblies of God pastors, visited an orphanage unaffiliated with any agency. Patti found the primitive conditions shocking.
“The orphanage had no floors, no roof, no running water,” recalls Patti, lead pastor of Evangel Church in Wichita Falls, Texas. Patti bonded with a malnourished, nearly lifeless 4-year-old boy. Lochard weighed just 23 pounds.
As they left the facility, both Kile and Patti sensed God speaking to them to adopt Lochard.
“We were just broken for him,” Patti says. “We flew back home, crying all the way.”
The process took two years, and the family’s life savings, but they did it. Lochard, renamed Luke, became part of the Bateman home in April 2004.
In the interim, the couple worked hard to ensure that Luke would survive. Two weeks after they visited, they managed to get the boy transferred to Mission of Hope, a ministry active in Haiti. Patti visited for a week every month, while Kile made the trek every other month. Luke began receiving medical care, eating regular and nutritious meals, learning in school, and attending church.
“We kept praying Hannah prayers,” Patti says, referring to the prophetess of 1 Samuel 2 who promised God she would devote her son to the Lord’s service.
Evangel Church attendees donated an offering to guarantee that other children at the decrepit orphanage would be fed properly for a year. Three other families from the congregation as well as one more elsewhere adopted children from the orphanage as a result of the Batemans’ visit.
Patti repeatedly returned to the orphanage where Luke had been, where she fell in love with another child, a little girl named Naphtali. After repeated visits, the Batemans adopted Naphtali in February 2005, but only after the girl’s birth mother smuggled her out of the facility.
Ultimately, a mudslide destroyed the disreputable orphanage, but not before all the children fled to safety. The owner went to jail, and the children all transferred to legitimate adoption centers.
Luke grew to be athletic and strong. He now is in the U.S. Army, stationed at Fort Hood in Killeen, Texas. Luke, now 23, and his wife, Tyesha, have two children, 4-year-old C.J., and 2-year-old Zari. Naphtali, 19, and her husband, Zachery Martinez, have a daughter, Nylah, born in February.
Martinez says she has no memories of sleeping in the dirt at the orphanage. She went on to become prom queen at her Texas high school. Along with her brother, Martinez gravitated toward sports growing up, and she participated on soccer, track, gymnastics, volleyball, and basketball teams at school.
“My life started as soon as I met my parents,” says Martinez, who is a vocational nursing student at Vernon College in Wichita Falls. “I was put in the best family situation possible: two parents who are pastors and are super involved in church.”
Both Patti, 51, and Kile, 55, stress that they chose adoption over birthing their own children. They have been married 30 years.
“Adoption was our first and only choice,” says Kile, who has been senior pastor at Evangel Church for 22 years. “We never felt called to have biological kids. God gave us these children and fulfilled their destinies.”
“These are the children God selected for us, a gift from God through their courageous birth parents,” Patti says.
Kile, who is senior pastor at Evangel Church, spends much of his time helping other children as well. He heads up orphan care development for the AG North Texas District. He also founded the ministry Phased IN, a transitional living program for youth who age out of the foster care system. Bateman spoke at the AG’s inaugural national foster care roundtable in March.