Friday, November 2, 2012

Are YOU afraid of the orphan?

November is National Adoption Awarness month.  Durng this month I will be sharing some of the writings that have impacted our family's decision to persue international adoption.  I will also share ways that you can make a difference right frm the comfort of you sofa, using your laptop or Ipad.  I originally read this article by Dr. Russell Moore in Oct 2010. I  then had the honor of meeting him at a Orphan Summit in Louisville, KY in 2011. We sat in the coffee shop at his church and talked at length about God's mandate to each follower of Christ to care for the orphan and persue adoption or support those who are. My personal opinion is that it is exactly why so many Christian families turn away from adoption.



Is the Orphan My Neighbor?

I will never forget seeing her pull the measuring tape out of her purse as she talked about the skull of her child.
The woman, standing in an airport in Russia with my wife and me, was, like us, an American. She, like us, was in the former Soviet Union to pursue adoption. But she was worried. She had heard “horror stories” about fetal alcohol syndrome and various other nightmares. She said that the measuring tape was for gauging the size of the craniums of her potential children, to “make sure there’s nothing wrong with them.”
The reason I think about this conversation so much these days is because I am finding—more and more often—that one of the primary obstacles for Christians in advocating for the fatherless can be summed up right there in that measuring tape: the issue of fear. As much as we might not want to admit it, many of us don’t think much about orphans because, frankly, we’re scared of them.
Orphans are unpredictable. Often we don’t know where they’ve come from, what kind of genetic maladies and urges lie dormant somewhere in those genes. Moreover, in virtually every situation of fatherlessness, there is some kind of tragedy: a divorce, a suicide, a rape, a drug overdose, a disease, a drought, a civil war, and on and on. We’d rather not think about such things, and we’re afraid often of what kind of lasting mark they leave on their victims.
Those of us who know Christ ought to recognize that fear is often a deterrent to justice, a deterrent that has been indicted, crucified, and buried in the triumph of Jesus. In Jesus’ story of the so-called “good Samaritan,” after all, Jesus presents us with a man who “fell among robbers” and was beaten, nearly to death (Lk. 10:30). With little commentary on why, Jesus tells us, simply, that two passers-by, both religious officials, moved on to the other side, to avoid the wounded man (Lk. 10:31-32).
While many have speculated that there might have been theological reasons behind their neglect (the fear of becoming ceremonially unclean from touching a corpse), the most compelling reason I’ve ever heard was from Martin Luther King, Jr., who wondered whether the passers-by were simply afraid.
After all, there were no streetlights on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho—the setting of this story. There was no police force. A man beaten by terrorists is a good signal that the evildoers are still about, perhaps hiding in the caves along the roadside, lying in wait for their next victim. Moving on along, quickly and quietly, probably just seemed like prudence.
But Jesus never was one for justification by prudence alone. He praised a Samaritan—a reviled outcast from the official religious structures—for the compassion he demonstrated toward this man. And the compassion Jesus commended—and commanded from us in imitation—wasn’t mere charity. The Samaritan didn’t simply help the beaten man; he gave him his own animal, set him up in an inn, and paid for all his expenses for his ongoing care (Lk. 10:34-35). Any Israelite hearing this account would have seen immediately what was going on. The Samaritan was treating the beaten man like family.
Right now, there is a crisis of fatherlessness all around the world. Chances are, in your community, the foster care system is bulging with children, moving from home to home to home, with no rootedness or permanence in sight. Right now, as you read this, children are “aging out” of orphanages around the world. Many of them will spiral downward into the hopelessness of drug addiction, prostitution, or suicide. Children in the Third World are languishing in group-homes, because both parents have died from disease or have been slaughtered in war. The curse is afoot, and it leaves orphans in its wake.
Not every Christian is called to adopt or to foster children. And not every family is equipped to serve every possible scenario of special needs that come along with particular children. Orphan care isn’t easy. Families who care for the least of these must count the cost, and be willing to offer up whatever sacrifice is needed to carry through with their commitments to the children who enter into their lives.
But, while not all of us are called to adopt, the Christian Scriptures tell us that all of us are called to care “widows and orphans in their distress” (Jas. 1:27). All of us are to be conformed to the mission of our Father God, a mission that includes justice for the fatherless (Exod. 22:22; Deut. 10:18; Ps. 10:18; Prov. 23:10-11; Isa. 1:17; Jer. 7:6; Zech. 7:10). As we are conformed to the image of Christ, we share with him his welcoming of the oppressed, the abandoned, the marginalized; we recognize his face in the “least of these,” his little brother and sisters (Matt. 25:40).
The followers of Jesus should fill in the gap left by a contemporary Western consumer culture that extends even to the conception and adoption of children. Who better than those who have been welcomed by Christ to care for the most feared and least sought after of the world’s orphans? After all, who are we, as those who are the invited to Jesus’ wedding feast? We are “the poor and the crippled and the blind and the lame” (Lk. 14:21). Since that is the case, Jesus tells us, we are to model the same kind of risk-taking, unconditional love (Lk. 14:12), the kind that casts out fear.
Yes, orphan care can be risky. Justice for the fatherless will sap far more from us than just the time it takes to advocate. These kids need to be reared, to be taught, to be hugged, to be heard. Children who have been traumatized often need more than we ever expect to give. It is easier to ignore those cries. But love of any kind is risky.
The Gospel means it’s worth it to love, even to the point of shedding your own blood. After all, that’s what made a family for ex-orphans like us.

Dr. Russell Moore's article is reprinted here in its entirety after requesting permisssion via STBS.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

6 Weeks and Counting Down...

I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with Him, sharing in His death, Phil3:10 NLT

When Bob and I accepted God's invitation to join Him in the spirit of adoption, and experience more fully what following Jesus is all about, we had no idea the journey would bring us to where we now stand. For that, we are grateful.

Grateful, for if we would have know this journey would prove to be this difficult, we would have said "NO" and missed the rich intimacy we now have with the Father through Jesus. We would have missed the miracles that we have experienced first hand as He has time after time used a hundred different ways to remind us this path is His will for our family, and He is in complete control. How mercifully He has poured out His love on us. How gently and patiently He has walked with us, slowly waking us from delusion. He has held us up in our weakness and caught every tear we have cried.

This process has also awaken us from the delusion we had walked in previously. The misunderstanding that following Jesus had everything to do with comfort and social acceptance and nothing to do with sharing in His suffering. As we have encountered and overcome one obstacle after another His scripture is constantly running through my head. I hear His voice reassuring me...

As in...

"Make thankfulness your sacrifice to God, and keep the vows you make to the Most High. Then call on me when you are in trouble, and I will rescue you, and you will give me glory." Ps50:14

OR this...

"No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us..." Rom 8:37

OR this...

"Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later." Rom 8:18

  OR this...

"I have called you back from the ends of the earth, saying, "You are my servant. For I have chosen you and will not throw you away. Don't be afraid, for I am with you. Don't be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand. See, all your angry enemies lie there, confused and humiliated. Anyone who opposes you will die and come to nothing. You will look in vain for those who tried to conquer you. Those who attack you will come to nothing. For I hold you by your right hand-I,the LORD your God. And I say to you, Don't be afraid. I am here to help you." Isaiah 41:9-13

And Finally...His Promise. Spoken to me through a visiting pastor during a women conference at our church. A message so powerful it has empowered me to remove any trace of doubt or uncertainty from His call to go. To rescue. To suffer with Him. To rise up to the cause of the fatherless and oppressed.

  Isaiah 45

Diane, the LORD's Chosen One
1 This is what the LORD says to Diane, his anointed one, whose right hand he will empower. Before him, mighty kings will be paralyzed with fear. Their fortress gates will be opened, never to shut again.
2 This is what the LORD says: "I will go before you, Diane, and level the mountains.* I will smash down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron.
3 And I will give you treasures hidden in the darkness— secret riches. I will do this so you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, the one who calls you by name.
4 "And why have I called you for this work? Why did I call you by name when you did not know me? It is for the sake of Jacob my servant, Israel my chosen one.
5 I am the LORD; there is no other God. I have equipped you for battle, though you don't even know me,
6 so all the world from east to west will know there is no other God. I am the LORD, and there is no other.
7 I create the light and make the darkness. I send good times and bad times. I, the LORD, am the one who does these things.
8 "Open up, O heavens, and pour out your righteousness. Let the earth open wide so salvation and righteousness can sprout up together. I, the LORD, created them.
9 "What sorrow awaits those who argue with their Creator. Does a clay pot argue with its maker? Does the clay dispute with the one who shapes it, saying, 'Stop, you're doing it wrong!' Does the pot exclaim, 'How clumsy can you be?'
10 How terrible it would be if a newborn baby said to its father, 'Why was I born?' or if it said to its mother, 'Why did you make me this way?'"
11 This is what the LORD says— the Holy One of Israel and your Creator: "Do you question what I do for my children? Do you give me orders about the work of my hands?
12 I am the one who made the earth and created people to live on it. With my hands I stretched out the heavens. All the stars are at my command.
13 I will raise up Cyrus to fulfill my righteous purpose, and I will guide his actions. He will restore my city and free my captive people— without seeking a reward! I, the LORD of Heaven's Armies, have spoken!" Future Conversion of Gentiles
14 This is what the LORD says: "You will rule the Egyptians, the Ethiopians,* and the Sabeans. They will come to you with all their merchandise, and it will all be yours. They will follow you as prisoners in chains. They will fall to their knees in front of you and say, 'God is with you, and he is the only God. There is no other.'"
15 Truly, O God of Israel, our Savior, you work in mysterious ways.
16 All craftsmen who make idols will be humiliated. They will all be disgraced together.
17 But the LORD will save the people of Israel with eternal salvation. Throughout everlasting ages, they will never again be humiliated and disgraced.
18 For the LORD is God, and he created the heavens and earth and put everything in place. He made the world to be lived in, not to be a place of empty chaos. "I am the LORD," he says, "and there is no other.
19 I publicly proclaim bold promises. I do not whisper obscurities in some dark corner. I would not have told the people of Israel* to seek me if I could not be found. I, the LORD, speak only what is true and declare only what is right.
20 "Gather together and come, you fugitives from surrounding nations. What fools they are who carry around their wooden idols and pray to gods that cannot save!
21 Consult together, argue your case. Get together and decide what to say. Who made these things known so long ago? What idol ever told you they would happen? Was it not I, the LORD? For there is no other God but me, a righteous God and Savior. There is none but me.
22 Let all the world look to me for salvation! For I am God; there is no other.
23 I have sworn by my own name; I have spoken the truth, and I will never go back on my word: Every knee will bend to me, and every tongue will confess allegiance to me.*"
24 The people will declare, "The LORD is the source of all my righteousness and strength." And all who were angry with him will come to him and be ashamed.
25 In the LORD all the generations of Israel will be justified, and in him they will boast.

WOW!! How can I NOT be changed? How can I not be encouraged? To have the God of the Universe call me to rise up and go half way around the planet as His hands and feet. A human representative of the Most High God walking where He has prepared the way is beyond humbling. It leaves me in total awe to contemplate How huge yet how intimate His love is. To know that half way around the world waits for us, His treasure. Hidden and unrefined. Just begging to be found. To be chosen. To be brought from the darkness that is filled with Satan's lies into the brilliant light that is the love of Jesus. Oh how we long for the day the Lord has chosen to bring us together. The day when our girls will know that they will never again be orphans, but a precious part of our family, FOREVER. They are the light of the world. They are a city on a hill shining brightly into the darkness that relentlessly fights to conquer it but never will. Oh the day of celebration that will come when they each walk into the revelation of WHO they truly are in Christ Jesus. Nothing will surpass that joy this side of Heaven. Nothing.

That day is fast approaching. Only one thing stands between our family and our girls. $27,000. Our family needs to raise $27,000 before we receive the invitation to travel from the girls homeland. We have all the usual fundraising efforts in place and rolling. We have wonderful friends joining us in garage sales and raffles. To date we have raised about $2500 of the $27,000 we need when the invitation to travel arrives in just a few weeks. We have an in country facilitation team ready to roll. We just need those God has prepared to stand with us now. Our girls were created for so much more than the future that is possible for them when the age out of the orphanages they now call home. I am sure you all know the statistics of their reality. Once they reach their 16th birthday if they are without an adoptive family they face a 70% chance of becoming a victim of human trafficking industry, forced into prostitution at the hands of someone who sees them as nothing more property. Once there, they have a life expectancy of about 5 years with their death caused by either drug overdose, Aids or violence. They were certainly created for so much more.

Will you join us? All donations are tax deductible through PROJECT HOPEFUL. We are willing to go. We are willing to give them a forever family. We are willing to help them each achieve all they were created to be. Are you willing to be the hands and feet that will help them come home? Please prayerfully consider what your part is in the miracle they need.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Partnering with Project Hopeful!!!!

You may notice that we have a new donate button on the top right hand side of the blog to help out this family!!!! It's our new PROJECT HOPEFUL button!!!! We are partnering with Project Hopeful to help bring these girls home before they end up on the streets or trafficked!!! These girls deserve a home and a family, something they've never known!!! ALL donations are TAX DEDUCTIBLE through our new partnership with Project Hopeful!!!! We will also have giveaways and drawings coming up so stay tuned for more news!!! The family's next payment is due to their agency by the 15th of this month so we need to have all funds in and ready to go by the morning of the 14th!! Please pray that we will meet this goal. They owe $1,800 to their agency this month and this month has been a struggle for them. However, they are trusting God to provide the funds they need to bring these girls home before they age out. If you would like to offer a matching grant or an item for a giveaway please leave a comment!!! All donations welcome!!! We would love to host a huge giveaway later on this summer to help this family bring their girls home and we welcome all partners!!!!