What Could Make Simon Cowell Cry?

Simon Cowell is best known for his blunt and often controversial statements to contestants over the year’s as a judge on a variety of shows such as, American Idol, The X Factor and Britain’s and America’s Got Talent.

His famous line and the title of his book, “I don’t mean to be rude, but…”, is often followed by harsh and cutting insults to contestants about their abilities, or lack thereof. 

So how is a no-nonsense and harsh personality who is unphased by the crowds opinion, moved to tears?

It all started this past June when a singer and adoptive dad named, Michael Ketterer, stood on the stage to audition for America’s Got Talent. He not only looked very nervous, he admitted he was very nervous.

Watch Ketterer Family Story

As Simon Cowell began to address Ketterer, he asked, what is the ambition or dream for you being here?

Ketterer responded,

“My family is the reason why I am here. My wife and my six children. One of the things that happens, especially because my children came out of foster care, when you’re surviving, you can’t dream. That has been one of the most rewarding things is providing them with a home and a safe environment where they are free to dream. I am here because I want to show that if their dad can live out his dreams, there is nothing impossible for them.”

And so with what appeared to be a few prayers under his breath, Ketterer began a moving rendition of the Bee Gees, “To Love Somebody,” where the emotional words of the song rang through to the audience and judges:

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You don’t know what it’s like, baby

You don’t know what it’s like

To love somebody

To love somebody

The way I love you

Watch Ketterer Audition Here

And with what Simon Cowell explained as a real and unexpected performance, he gave Ketterer one of only five golden buttons of the season, pushing him directly through to the live performances.

This golden moment also thrust Micheal and Ivey Ketterer, and their six children into the spotlight of what it means to be an adoptive family. They immediately became a beacon of light in the orphan care world with everyone cheering them on and celebrating their success.

But this spotlight, although important for all of us in the orphan care world who want to bring awareness and advocacy to orphans and vulnerable children, speaks even louder to a world who is amazed at this singer and his wife’s selflessness.

With great anticipation, Ketterer finished out the show of the first live performances and the quarterfinal elimination round. He did not disappoint with another moving performance by James Bay’s, “Us.” A few words from the song:

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Tell me how to be in this world

Tell me how to breathe in and feel no hurt

Tell me how could I believe in something

I believe in us    

As the song concluded and the judges were to speak, Simon Cowell was asking for a pass. But the host, Tyra Banks pressed him and urged him to share, even in his emotions.

On live national television, this perceived, hard-hearted guy shared with tears in his eyes and a crack in his voice. This is what Simon Cowell said,

“As a dad, I can’t imagine doing what you’ve done, and the fact that you’re on this show and you really need this. You’re a really, really special guy,”

I think the most important and fascinating words Cowell then spoke was this. He said to Ketterer, “There’s just something about you.”

Watch Simon Cowell Cry

Any parent understands the challenges and frustrations of parenting. Kids are a lot of work. But there is a vivid reality of what it must be like parenting children from hard places and devastating circumstances.

It is one thing to be the biological parent of children who might have challenging personalities or special needs. But to willingly choose children with those same circumstances when you don’t have to, now that will get people’s attention. And in this situation, even make Simon Cowell cry.

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The selflessness of this father who is singing on America’s Got Talent, to give hope and dreams to his adoptive sons, resonates with a lost world.

James 1:27 tells us, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

So when the world expects religion to look judgmental, self-seeking and self-promoting, God says there is an answer: caring for those who can do nothing for you and can give nothing back to you. Who can argue with religion like this?

Beyond the impact Ketterer has had on Simon Cowell, I read this response on a YouTube conversation board which said,

“I’m not religious myself, but when I see this man, I see the good religion can do. He is the walking embodiment of the best of Christianity – generosity, goodness, kindness.

Truly hoping more people will express their Christianity like this man does with his family, this was just beautiful.”

When the love of the gospel becomes so evident through our care for the most vulnerable, it creates a dynamic where the lost desire to know about a God who will love them in the same way.

As followers of Jesus, as The Church, we have the opportunity to replicate this unselfish, gospel-centered care for the most vulnerable. God, in his infinite wisdom, made no mistake. He took a word the world sees as negative and gave us the opportunity to make it pure and faultless.

So if I may borrow a line from Simon Cowell, “I don’t mean to be rude, but …”, 

It’s time for pastor’s, churches and believers to stop reading James 1:27 as an option. A lost and dying world is watching on whether we are willing to take up our cross daily to care for the most vulnerable.

As a whole, our performance as, The Church, stinks. It would receive the harshest Simon Cowell review and criticism. We can do better Church, and it is so much easier to start with the support of our pastors!

So what could make Simon Cowell cry? The very life of an unselfish dad who is living out a pure and faultless religion, called, The Gospel.

Eric Mills

President – Faces With Names   www.faceswithnames.org

National Pastoral Director for Orphan Sunday & Stand Sunday  www.orphansunday.com

Heart Connection

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As an adoptive family, we are use to getting a wide variety of questions about our family. In light of our current situation with Hope’s heart surgery, the question that has risen to the top of the list is, “Did you know she had a heart condition before you adopted her.” I have come to realize what people are really asking is, “Did you choose her, knowing she had a heart condition?” The simple answer to that question is, yes. If it is possible to distinctly remember something when you are fighting to keep your eyes open, I distinctly remember the first time I heard a prayer request in an international church, the day after I arrived in China about a little girl who needed open heart surgery. A few days later, I held this same little girl in my arms. Her little blue fingers and blue lips were a clear indication of her need for heart surgery. Who would have known, other than God, it would take a heart connection for me to fulfill the call God had placed on Susan’s heart eight years earlier to adopt a little girl from China.

The way God stirred my heart towards Hope was through the open heart surgery I experienced when I was five years old. It was because of her heart condition that we chose her. Last Wednesday, July 3rd of 2013, a prayer request was answered from April of 2009. Hope had the open heart surgery she has so desperately needed for over four years.

Some of the reflections I have had over this past week associated with Hope’s surgery:

I am grateful to my parents for all they endured as a result of my open heart surgery. I better understand what they felt and the emotional toll it takes on a parent to watch your child experience this type of surgery and the recovery that ensues.

I am thankful to God for the gifts and abilities He has given to a talented few who have the knowledge, wisdom and precision to repair a damaged heart. For the nurses who serve unselfishly through the day and night to ensure a speedy recovery.

I now know why I am so extremely closterfobic. The number of tubes and wires attached to your body coming out of this type of surgery is astonishing. For children, your hands are strapped to the bed to preserve the many essential wires and tubes. To this day, I still can’t have anyone touch around my scar without becoming closterfobic.

I am grateful for special friends who stand beside you in both good times and hard times. Who serve unselfishly and with the humility of Christ. Whose presence brings a level of comfort even when no words are spoken.

I am thankful and grateful to a couple who we do not know and have never met, who opened their home to us while they are away, and gave our family a place to retreat to and stay during our entire time in Peoria. It is a witness of giving with an open hand and using what God has blessed them with to bless others.

I am both thankful and grateful for the prayers of so many on behalf of Hope and our family. I believe in the power of prayer. I praise God for answered prayer.

I am thankful for both sets of our parents who have ultimately provided the foundation of our faith to trust God in times of uncertainty. We are thankful to Susan’s parents for being here to help in so many tangible ways during our hospital stay and beyond.

I am proud of all of my kids for how they have handled this entire situation which is completely out of the norm of our daily lives. Reagan and Katelyn have done so well in so many ways and I am so proud of them both. They have supported their sister and encouraged her on her path to recovery. I am proud of Hope for her bravery and determination to go home as quickly as possible. She is a resilient little girl.

Words will fail to express how blessed I am to be married to Susan. On this day, we celebrate our fourteenth anniversary. It is fitting that we celebrate this day of our marriage in the hospital for our adopted daughter from China. If it were not for Susan’s obedience to the call God put on her heart to adopt a little girl from China, her persistence over eight years to encourage her stubborn husband to consider adoption, I would have missed out on so many experiences and miracles God has blessed our family with. I am forever grateful for your compassionate heart for the vulnerable and your faithfulness which brought Hope to our family. I Love You Susan!

This heart connection I share with Hope goes far beyond a single surgery. It speaks to all I have learned and been exposed to through our adoption journey. It speaks to the passion God has placed in my heart to care for the fatherless. It speaks to a better understanding of God’s love for me and how He chose me, even though I had a heart condition full of sin. It speaks to how our family has been enriched and changed for the better as Hope has become a daughter and a sister.

The one common congenital heart condition Hope and I both shared was a physical hole in our hearts. It is not unlike the spiritual hole in the heart of every person who is born on this earth. Just like the physical hole in our hearts needed to be repaired to ensure life, the spiritual hole in every persons heart can only be filled and repaired through Jesus Christ, to ensure life. Children’s hospitals usually have one common theme, create environments that mask and distract from the seriousness of the condition these precious children are facing. This world also has a common theme, to create environments to mask and distract from the seriousness of our condition without Christ. Jesus Christ has a heart connection with you. He chose you, knowing you had a heart condition.

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8