Church – where are you?
Where are the families?
As obvious as it may seem, orphans do not want to be orphans. They want to be in a family. They want to be loved just like you and I want to be loved. (From “Adoption and the Gospel” by Gerry Clark – a must read).
There are approximately 37 million Christian churches worldwide. There are approximately 153 million orphans. 15 million of these orphans have lost both parents. Not all of these 153 million orphans are adoptable, but for the sake of making this point, let’s say they all are adoptable.
Do the math. Only 4 children would need to be adopted per church worldwide to eradicate the orphan crisis. Only 4 orphans per church….
Here in the USA, there are 400,000 total children in the foster care system. 100,000 of these children are waiting to be adopted. There are approximately 350,000 churches in the USA. Look at the numbers – that is only 1 child being adopted by every third church.
Where is the church – the believers who are the hands and feet of Jesus on this earth?
We have often been asked, “Why do you want her when you could adopt any other healthy child in the whole orphanage? Why her? What value will her life ever hold?” Our daughter Avigayil was the child with the highest special-needs in her whole orphanage in the Philippines. Believe it or not, I have heard it said about children who died alone in orphanages before they were adopted: “Well, at least maybe they smiled and made a caregiver feel useful. Perhaps their life made the caregiver feel good. At least if they die, they will go to heaven and be with Jesus where they will be healed and loved. Isn’t that even better than suffering?”
What? Dying alone in an orphange is better than knowing the love of a family?
It is true that the ultimate answer is yes. One day, we will all die and these children who never had the ability to understand salvation will go to be with Jesus when they die. Yet, isn’t this answer just relieving us of our guilty feelings? Our guilt at not seeing and then, when we do see – our guilt at not opening our own hearts or home to a child in need. Our refusal to answer God’s call to care for the Least of These.
This past week, we have seen the flooding in Texas and the horrors of the extreme need. In this time of crisis, we have come together – people are jumping to action and stepping up to care for others. Our hearts go out for the people caught in this tradgedy and we, like countless others, feel burdened to help and glad to see people rallying together for Texas.
But I say there is a crisis happening every day. The orphan crisis. It has been occurring for years on end, for child after child, that most refuse to see. We need to open our eyes and work with the same fervor and compassion that has gripped our country to allieviate the suffering of the amazing folks in Texas. By doing so, we can make a difference in the lives of all the orphans. Yes, all the orphans – remember the statistics.
It is completely possible.
Now, back to the question of why we should adopt a child like Avigayil. Let us respond with a simple question.
Why not her?
God called us to her and asked us to go. What makes Avigayil any less deserving of a family and love than any other child? Every child deserves to be loved and know what family is. In His Word, God commands us to Go and care for the Least of These. He does not have conditions. He does not say, “Go and care for some…but not those who are looked down upon in the eyes of the world.” He says “Go and care for the orphans and widows in their distress…” (James 1:27). All of them.
We have also been asked, “What value does Avi’s life have as a completely dependent child with a severe disability?” She has as much value to us as parents as our daughter Sasha who also defied the odds placed on her life. To the world, Sasha, who is an intelligent, gifted academic, an honors student, appears to have more value in life than Avigayil.
I completely disagree.
They both have equal value and both have equal right to be loved and to be adopted because both were created by God. Galatians 4: 4-5: “But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law so that he could adopt us as his very own children.”
I believe we have it all upside down and that children like Avigayil are not here for us to teach them but rather – for them to teach us. Avigayil’s life is priceless and God has used her to start a whole ministry in the Philippines. Already, because of her life, countless other children now have a mother and father and know Jesus as their Lord and Savior.
Avigyail’s life has blessed our lives more than words can express, but we do not adopt because we expect to be blessed. Indeed, we do not become Christians because we expect to be blessed. Theologian Oswald Chambers in some of his “Utmost for His Highest” devotionals says this: “We must continually remind ourselves of the purpose of life. We are not destined to happiness nor to health but to holiness. Today we have far too many desires and interests and our lives are being consumed and wasted by them. Many of them may be right, noble, and good and may later be fulfilled, but in the meantime God must cause their importance to us to decrease (From September 1).
If we believe in Jesus, it is not what we gain for ourselves, but He pours through us that really counts. As Oswald Chambers eloquently writes: “’When Mary of Bethany broke the flask […] of very costly oil […] and poured it on Jesus head,’ it was an act for which no one else saw any special occasion; in fact, there were some who […] said, ‘Why was this fragrant oil wasted?’ (Mark 14: 3-4). But Jesus commended Mary for her extravagant act of devotion.” (My Utmost for His Highest, September 2).
I greatly suspect, in our prioritizing of value and importance, we have it backwards and upside down. Our Lord is filled with overflowing joy whenever He sees any of us doing what Mary did – not being bound by a particular set of rules, but being totally surrendered to Him. God poured out the life of His Son ”that the world through Him might be saved” (John 3:17). Are we prepared to pour out our lives for Him? Are we prepared to give of ourselves for a child like Avi, whom the rest of the world sees no value in? For if Jesus was pleased with Mary’s sacrifice, how pleased must He be when we care for a child like her – the least of the Least of These.
That is ultimately what adoption is – pouring out of your life for Him. Are you prepared? The truths Oswald Chambers so fittingly stated are at the heart of the question: will you adopt? Will you step out of your comfort zone and your comfortable life and care for the Least of These. Will you break the flask, as Mary did, regardless of how wasteful others may regard your decision? “Now is the time for us to break the flask of our lives to stop seeking our own satisfaction and to pour out our lives before Him. Our Lord is asking who of us will do it for Him. (Oswald Chambers Utmost for His Highest September 2).