This post could be so much longer. A few things have not left my mind, though…
The Church Caring For Orphans:
One speaker rehashed something he had heard a woman say long ago. It goes like this: If God is the father to the fatherless, and the Church is His bride, then the Church is to be the mother to the orphans.
If you haven’t heard, there’s a movement among the Church to care for orphans. I’ve heard of Christians calling adoption — especially inter-racial adoption — a “social experiment.” (cringe.) But there is a body of believers actively pursuing the truths of James 1:27. And like many, I’m praying there will be a world without orphans in my lifetime.
Do you want to hear the most awesome example of the Church caring for orphans? In Ukraine, there were 300,000 orphans 10 years ago. A local pastor felt the call and began advocating among his congregation for orphan care. Now, 10 years later, there are 30,000 orphans in Ukraine. Still 30,000 too many, yes, but that’s a 90% decrease! Praise God.
Encouraging With Integrity:
A strong theme of the pre-conference workshop led by Karyn Purvis was this: If we are to encourage friends and those in our churches to foster and/or adopt, we must do it with integrity. Parenting a child from a hard place is not normal parenting. There is no “normal” in adoption. Part of this acting with integrity can sometimes mean discouraging a family from adopting, and instead encouraging them to “care for orphans” in a different way.
A couple that works closely with Dr. Karyn and have started an adoption ministry at their church spoke of the need for adoptive parents to work out their own issues before ever bringing a child into their home. “If we want to become an agent of healing in our children’s lives, we must start with our own healing,” they said. Adopting will not erase the problems a person had with their own biological parents.
I also got the opportunity to go to a breakout session led by Esther Havens. She’s a humanitarian photographer who has done work for Toms, charity: water, and lots of others. She flipped through a bunch of pictures she’s taken, and she knew the name of each person. Her message to us was this: Do not exploit those you photograph. Get to know them, know their story, and know how they would want to be portrayed.
Have you seen this picture? Absolutely heart-breaking, isn’t it? The photojournalist won a Pulitzer prize for it. And though he could of carried the child to a medical clinic nearby, he didn’t. He got his photo and left. He committed suicide soon after the Pulitzer. And, in her own take on “faith without deeds is dead,” Esther said, “Awareness without action is pointless.”
Worship was led by Aaron Ivey and his band. Turn off your lights and turn up Let Your Kingdom Come. I loved the song before I went to the conference, and I love it more now after having worshiped with 1,000 other orphan advocates. The time I spent in worship was a real blessing.
Okay, now a bunch of quotes and a video.
Instead of Sunday morning guests, the new metric for the church should be zero orphans and kids in foster care in your city. – Dave Gibbons
The church should be more about emptying the orphanages of other countries than helping build them. – Dave Gibbons
Love on display is the ultimate apologetic. – Francis Schaeffer
The church should be lined up outside the social worker’s office saying, “We have come for our children.” – Robert Gelinas
The social worker should not have to tell the church how to do the church’s job and care for the fatherless. – Robert Gelinas
There are 40 million orphans among unreached people groups. If you care about orphans, you must think about this issue.
Tears upon seeing this:
[click into post for embedded video]
And last thing. This woman has a super great, well-known blog. She went to the conference, and has written the most honest recap I’ve read. So if you’re into this stuff, read this, too.