Sunday, November 8, 2015

Orphan Sunday

Today is Orphan Sunday.  Today is a day for Christians all over the world to stand for the orphan.  Honestly, every day should be a day for Christians to stand for orphans, but today is set aside (as a part of National Adoption Month) as a day for Christians and churches to recognize their role in orphan care.

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.

Adoption had been on our mind for years, long before we started the process to adopt Paxton.  I can remember reading James 1:27 for the first time before I traveled to Honduras in the spring of 2001 for my first of two mission trips to an orphanage in Honduras.  I had never thought about orphans before that point and was surprised to see that God expects us as Christians to care for orphans.  It wasn't until I was older and continued to feel God's call on our life to adopt that I realized that adoption is the core of the Gospel message.  God's love for the orphan, his expectation that WE care for the orphans, and his desire for adoption is played out throughout the entire Bible!  Adoption is what salvation is all about!

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.

We are saved because we have been adopted by God.  We are HIS children, co-heirs with Christ!  Just like Paxton was adopted by us and he is OUR child and a co-heir with Connor and Kyle to anything we have, we (as Christians) were adopted by God and we are co-heirs with Christ to all of the glory of God!

Throughout the Bible, we are told to "defend the weak and the fatherless" (Psalm 82:3) and to "look after the orphans" (James 1:27).  So, what does that look like?  How do we do that?

Adoption is definitely one way to defend the fatherless.  "God sets the lonely in families..." (Psalm 68:6).  There are over 150 MILLION orphans in the world.  Over 150 MILLION boys and girls who do not know the love of a family, the love of a mom and a dad, the attention of a brother or a sister, the comfort and security of a home that is theirs.  That number takes my breathe away and breaks my heart.  There is a statistic that if only 7% of all Christians adopted there would be no more orphans!  Wow!  Only 7%.  God's not asking every Christian to adopt, but He may be calling YOU.   If you ever have thought that maybe God was calling you to adopt, I urge you to pray about it.  I urge you to research adoption and I urge you to talk to someone (or many someones) who have adopted.  I will be happy to talk to you and tell you our experience.

Foster Care or Respite Care
Have you ever looked into foster care?  The church should be the greatest advocate for children who are in foster care.  The church NEEDS to be the greatest advocate for these children!  I have recently heard of several churches in our area who are working with the foster care community.  These children need Christian families to care for them temporarily.  Respite care is an extension of foster care.  It is short-term care for foster children to help foster parents have respite for a short period of time.  These care givers step in to care for foster children on a short-term basis while the foster families take time off, travel, or tend to other needs.  

Domestic and international adoption can be very expensive.  Sometimes God provides the means for a family to adopt through fundraising.  You can provide a straight donation, participate in a fundraiser, or help run a fundraiser for a family who is in the process of adopting.  God may call a family to adopt that does not have an extra $40,000, but He desires to use HIS people to show off what He can do.  He will provide!  Let God use you by helping a family raise the funds they need to adopt.  I know of several t-shirt fundraisers, a bird's nest necklace fundraiser, and a China Christmas tree ornament fundraiser.  Let me know if you would be interested in more information on any of these!  Be a part of a child's story by providing financially for their family to get them!

Support a Child in an Orphanage
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.  We provide money monthly that goes to our child's 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! 

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!

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. 

Mission Trips
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!

Show Love
Do you have friends who are adopting?  What can you do to help them while they are away from home?  What can you do to help them when they return?  What can you do to help them if their child has surgery?  We have been truly blessed by wonderful friends who went out of their way to provide for us while we were in China, after we returned home, and after Paxton's surgery.  Friends provided groceries for us when we returned home, one friend cut our grass while we were out of the country so that we did not have to do it as soon as we returned, several friends cooked for us in the weeks following Paxton's surgery, one friend brought lunch the day after we returned from China.  Friends have done countless things to make our lives a little bit easier.  Show love for your friends who are adopting!

Several years ago I read this blog post and have continued to think about it many times and I have continued to be convicted by it over and over again when I have re-read it.  It is written by a mom of 12 children (soon to be 13).  I encourage you to read it.  God wasn't kidding when he told us to care for the orphans. 

How is God calling you to care for orphans?  I believe that the way that we are to care for orphans changes over and over again throughout our lives.  Sometimes, we can only support friends adopting by showing love to them.  Other times  in our lives, God calls us to GO (go adopt, go foster, go on a mission trip).  I encourage you to do whatever God calls you to do so that you will be blessed more than you could ever imagine!  Be a part of God's plan for a child!

Seven months ago, we said yes to this little boy...

Four months ago, he was scared and nervous, but he became a White.  He became a son, a brother, a grandson, a nephew, and a cousin.  He was no longer an orphan, no longer fatherless.

And, now, he is HOME!  He is secure and comfortable and happy!  He knows he is loved.  He knows his mommy and daddy.  He knows his brothers.  He is our son!

I am so thankful for adoption!  I am so thankful that adoption made us a family of five!  I am so thankful that God called us to adopt and I want everyone I know to experience the amazing blessing of adoption, but if you are not called to adopt, I want you to experience the amazing blessing of doing whatever it is God has called you to do to care for orphans!

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