Saturday, November 1, 2014

Orphan Sunday (And Week)

Did you know that tomorrow is Orphan Sunday?  Orphan Sunday is a day in which churches all over the world will "celebrate the love of a God who 'places the lonely in families' (Psalm 68:6) and calls us to do the same.  Ultimately, Orphan Sunday seeks to make the Gospel visible as Christians explore and respond to God’s heart for the orphan in adoption, foster care, and global orphan ministry." (*from www.warrenbaptist.org)

I am really excited that our church, Warren Baptist, is making Orphan Sunday a priority this year.  And, they are going above that to make it an entire week.  On Sunday, our pastor will make Orphan Sunday a significant part of his message.  There is a great short video on our church's event's website (check it here).  We are really blessed to be members of a church that has supported and encouraged adoption and orphan care for many years, not just on Orphan Sunday.  Our pastor is an adoptive father.  I can remember him preaching specifically about God's call for us to support the orphan at least two other times in recent years and he has mentioned the blessing of adoption many times in his messages.  There are many adoptive families at our church, which has been a great support for us as we have started our own adoption journey.  And, our church has a ministry called Reaching Hands Adoption Ministry (click here) that promotes adoption and orphan awareness and provides support for adoptive families including adoption grants for families in our area that are adopting.  We have said several times that God knew exactly what he was doing when he led us to join Warren years ago.  He knew we would need a church that loves adoption and that has many adoptive families who are involved at the church.  We are so thankful for God's foresight!

In addition to Orphan Sunday, our church will have a Wednesday night seminar called "The Church, The Bible, and The Orphan".  Several speakers from different ends of the orphan spectrum are going to speak, including an adoptive dad from our church who runs the Reaching Hands ministry, as well as the Georgia Director of Lifeline Children's Services (our adoption agency).  They will all be speaking about adoption, foster care, and orphan ministry.  I am really excited to attend!  Please join me!

And, on Thursday night, we are so excited to be attending the Reaching Hands Adoption Ministry Auction.  This auction is how Reaching Hands raises money for providing financial assistance for adoptive families in the CSRA.  There are so many great items that will be auctioned at this year's auction.  If you haven't bought your ticket, buy it online here (click here).  Or, you can buy tickets the night of the event at the door, November 6th at 6:00.  We attended two years ago and really enjoyed it.  The food is really great and the auction was a lot of fun.  There are live and silent auction items available.  If you live around here, join us for this fun event!

James 1:27
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.

I have come to realize over the last couple of years that many Christians have NEVER heard a sermon about God's call to love the orphan or more so, to adopt.  But, God's love for the orphan and his call to adopt and/or care for the orphan is THROUGHOUT the entire Bible.  Adoption is the core of our salvation.  

Romans 8:12-17
Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.
For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

Wow!  I mean, seriously, adoption is at the core of our own salvation!  We are brothers and sisters of Christ.  We are God's children.  My reading said that the Greek word for "adoption to sonship" is a term referring to the full legal standing of an adopted male heir in Roman culture.  It wasn't just a term being throw out there to sound nice.  It was used normally to say that a person went from having no family to having a family with the full legal standing of that family as if they had been biologically born into the family.  In that same way, God adopted us to be his children.  He does not look at us as second rate.  He looks at us the same as he looks at his son, Jesus.  We are God's heirs, just like Jesus!  As a believer, I have been blessed to be adopted into the family of God! 

So, how can YOU (and ME) support the orphan all the time?  Orphan care is not just a one time thing.  It is something that we must all do as Christians.  It is a reflection of our Salvation.
There are so many ways that you can support the orphan.  Obviously, one way is adoption.  At this time, this is one way that we are seeking to obey God's command to care for the orphan.  We believe that God sets the lonely in families (Psalm 68:6) and that He has a specific child that He wants to set into our family.  However, I do not believe that God calls every person to adopt, just as He doesn't call ever person to be a minister or to be a missionary in a foreign country.  But, He has called us to adopt and we are thankful for this opportunity to accept His call!

Foster care is another way that some are called to adopt.  Another aspect of foster care is respite care.  Respite care is where someone provides care for a foster child for a short period (overnight or weekend or week) while the foster parents have respite.  Contact your local Department of Children and Family Services to find out about foster care and respite care.  

Another way that you can help is to provide donations to those who are adopting or to those who are caring for the orphan through foster care.  You can provide straight donations, participate in a fundraiser, or help set up a fundraiser.  Of course, we would love any donations that our friends and family feel led by God to donate, but this post is not a post to ask for donations.  This is a post to let you know of many ways that you can care for the orphan.  There are many families that are adopting right now.  Another family that I know is adopting and fundraising right now is the Matticola family.  Check their blog out for more information if you would like to donate to them.  I am sure many of you know of people who are adopting.  Any small amount is always appreciated by families adopting.  Even families that are not specifically fundraising or seeking donations can use an small (or large) donation.  Adoption is expensive even for those not fundraising.  If you can help with the financial burden, you will be responsible for helping to change the status of a child from orphan to son or daughter.  What a great gift to that child!

Foster families can use donations of baby equipment, clothing, diapers, toys, and more.  If you can help a foster family, do it!  If you want more information or want to find out about donating, contact your local Department of Family and Children's Services.

Support a child in an orphanage.  There are so many programs/ministries that provide families with the information of a child that they can support financially, as well as emotionally through gifts, cards, pictures, and more.  We are involved with sponsoring a child through Matt and Jessica Bush's All Things New Orphanage in Haiti.  Our sponsor child, Heworlson, is four years old.  We provide money monthly that goes to his care, education, medical needs, food, and more.  We also send gifts throughout the year when Matt and Jess or a mission team go to Haiti.  Each child at All Things New are sponsored by several people in order for the child to have the best care possible.  We work with a couple of other families to provide gifts, toys, clothes, and other needs for him during the year.  If  you would like to provide for an orphan in this way, Matt and Jessica's ministry is a great opportunity for you! 


Many people in our church support children in Swaziland.  I do not have the information on that sponsorship program, but I would be happy to get it for anyone interested.  Just let me know if you want more information!

If you are not able to sponsor a child monthly, you can donate to an orphanage (and the missionaries that run it) like All Things New.  There is information on their website about donating to the ministry and the missionaries, as well as additional ways to donate (chicken and eggs, land).  Just like with adoption, any small or large amount is appreciate and will benefit the children!

Another way to care for the orphan is to provide donations to missionaries that are serving in foreign countries that are caring for children.  Many of the children in foreign countries may not be orphans, but they do not have the basic life necessities that they need.  Missionaries help to provide them with the things they need, as well as teaching them about the love of God.  I know of two families that are ministering to children in Swaziland.  My friend, Amber, and her husband are missionaries at an orphanage in Swaziland.  They survive on donations and support from people here.  If you are interested in partnering with them, check out their blog and contact me for more information.  Another friend, Charity, and her family moved to Swaziland just last month.  They will be caring for children through Adventures in Missions.  Check out their blog here.  These families (and many more) need constant financial support in order to do the mission that God has given to them.  If you can only provide support once, do it.  If you can provide support on a monthly basis, do it. 

Our adoption agency, Lifeline Children's Services has a division called (un)adopted.  It exists to make a difference in the lives of those who are not adopted.  Check out their website here.   Can you donate your time?  Can you donate money to these ministries?  Every child needs support and love, especially those who are not adopted.  This ministry seeks to provide education and support needed for these children and helps to provide the resources they need in the areas that they live. 

Another thing I want to highlight are mission trips.  Many of the mission trips that our church support and other churches support are trips to care for orphans or to provide basic needs for them (building housing, schools, etc.).  You can take these short term mission trips if you are led to do so.  Listen for God's call.  If He is calling you to go on a mission trip, GO!  However, like adoption, not everyone is called to go on a mission trip overseas.  But, you can support those who are called to go.  I have known of several fundraisers that friends have done to raise money for these type of mission trips.  One friend did a t-shirt fundraiser.  Another did a huge yard sale.  Support these things.  Donate to those that are going on mission trips.  Or, give specifically to your church's missions department (above and beyond your tithe).  Every little bit helps!

So, God may not be calling you to GO.  And, you may not have a lot of disposable income that you can donate.  What can you do?  You can make a meal for an adoptive family or foster family.  You can volunteer your time to watch the other children of a family that has recently adopted or that has a foster child.  Give the parents a little break while they bond with their new child.  You can cut their grass while they spend the morning resting or bonding with their new child.  Be creative!  

And, above all, pray!  Pray for the orphans.  Pray that God will provide them with a loving family.  Pray that God will provide for their needs.  Pray for the families that are adopting.  Pray for the families that are fostering.  Pray for the missionaries.  Pray for the orphanages.  PRAY!  PRAY!  PRAY!

As I have said over and over again, every little bit helps.  I am not saying to give to every orphan cause you see.  Allow God to lead you.  If God calls you to adopt, foster, give, donate goods, attend the auction, or whatever it is he calls you to do, do it cheerfully!  Do it knowing that you are doing God's will. 

A couple of years ago, I read the book Orphanology by Tony Merida.  Read it!  It was such an eye opening book.  I read it as a part of a Bible Study, but it is just a great book to read to provide you with understanding of the orphan crisis, as well as God's call for us to care for the orphan.  It provides practical advice regarding caring for the orphan.

Another great book that I've read is A Cup of Cold Water in His Name by Lorie Newman.  This book is not specifically about caring for just the orphan, but for the needy.  It lists 60 practical things to do to provide for the needy.  The author, Lorie, is a friend of mine from church and has a heart for the orphan and the needy like few I've ever seen.  I have heard her speak about Matthew 25:31-46.  God does not say that you must solve the problems of this world and provide for every needy person.  He says, "I tell you the truth, whatever you did for ONE of the least of these, you did for me. (Matthew 25:40)"  Start with ONE!  How can you do something for ONE?  How can you help ONE orphan?

There are so many other ways for you to care for the orphan.  I would love to hear your suggestions.  I would love to hear your thoughts.  Comment, email, Facebook me.  And, if you are interested in knowing more about one of these things, I would love to tell you more or to put you in touch with someone who can tell you more.

Please be in prayer this week for the orphans around the world.  Pray that they will be adopted.  Pray that they will know love and come to know God as their heavenly Father.  Pray for those who are adopting, fostering or thinking about either.  Pray for the social workers throughout our country who help families to adopt and foster and who make decisions for children who need to be adopted or fostered, as well as the adoption agencies who provide the resources a family needs to adopt.  Pray for the ministries that support orphans.  Pray for how you can be involved in caring for orphans.

PRAY!


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