I had never even been outside the U.S.! Well, except for a weekend at Niagara Falls, but I don't know if that counts. I had never even applied for a passport.
But the statistics haunted us.
147 million orphans. Millions of children trafficked and enslaved. Famine. Abuse. Hopelessness. Death.
And then the real knife in the gut came...a photo in the slide-show of a little boy, shirtless and beautifully ebony, hands folded in prayer.
He looked just like our youngest son.
My husband looked at our friends and said...
I sprung into action. I started the daunting mountain of paperwork affectionately known as the Dossier. We began sponsoring more children...one at a time and now the mantle over the kitchen fireplace sports the faces of several beautiful children. Their letters bless me to my core every time I receive them. We traveled across oceans and continents and mountains of paperwork to bring home our fifth child, a daughter from Ethiopia, and we became active in an orphan care ministry. I became more vocal about my passion for adoption than ever before.
Throughout the change of focus this brought, I have read extensively about adoption and orphan care, poverty, the movement within the American church toward social justice, and sought to be a part of the solution in whatever way God called me to be. I have been guilty of being judgmental in my heart toward those who “don't get it” and of talking way too much about these issues, resulting in blank stares and uncomfortable pauses in what should have been a two-way conversation.
I have been guilty of talking about adoption and orphan care and the need to help victims of poverty and injustice more than I talk about Jesus. I have, at times, fallen prey to the common sin of worshiping the gift instead of the Giver. Idolatry. In my love for orphans and adoption and poverty-stricken souls across the world, I almost forgot that feeding and adopting them does not save them. It can be a vehicle to that desperately needed conversation about Jesus and why He came, but too often...at least in the books I have read and in countless conversations I have had...His name and His Word are woefully left out.
I have watched as dear sisters and brothers in Christ spend themselves on behalf of the needy, yet lack a filter when it comes to the influences they allow in their lives and families. I am unashamedly conservative, believing that our hope does not lie in government action but in the power of God alone inspiring the hearts of His people through the Holy Spirit to be His hands and feet and prayer warriors. I believe that a country that feeds the poor while destroying it's unborn is teetering on the precipice of destruction.
We cannot talk out of both sides of our mouths. We must walk in Truth...ALL of it.
And that is why I am writing this.
We are called to holiness. We are called to be set apart. We are called to serve in order to glorify Him. We are NOT called to imitate or participate in the lifestyles of those we serve in order to get their attention or draw them to church.
Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”1 Pet. 1:13-16 NKJV
And take heed, lest you lift your eyes to heaven, and when you see the sun, the moon, and the stars, all the host of heaven, you feel driven to worship them and serve them, which the LORD your God has given to all the peoples under the whole heaven as a heritage. But the LORD has taken you and brought you out of the iron furnace, out of Egypt, to be His people, an inheritance, as you are this day. Furthermore the LORD was angry with me for your sakes, and swore that I would not cross over the Jordan, and that I would not enter the good land which the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance. But I must die in this land, I must not cross over the Jordan; but you shall cross over and possess that good land. Take heed to yourselves, lest you forget the covenant of the LORD your God which He made with you, and make for yourselves a carved image in the form of anything which the LORD your God has forbidden you. For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.
The current movement toward social justice and responsibility, though based in a true desire to do good, to serve, help and change the circumstances of the underprivileged, has become an idol for many Christians. "Green" living on the part of Westerners is touted as the solution to worldwide drought and famine, reduction of our consumption will supposedly leave more for those who have less. Gardening will save the failing Earth and get us in touch with our “roots” (pun intended) resulting in a distaste for all things mass-produced. Free-trade is god and recycling is mandatory for a true Christian walk. And adoption? Well, how can anyone be a Christian and not want to adopt? We are after all, adopted into the family of God, right? (Eph. 1:5)
Now, again, I write this as one guilty of all of the above. I believe in taking care of God's creation. I believe in taking care of our bodies. I believe in making responsible choices with my dollar. And I believe in adoption. (5 beautiful children are asleep upstairs because of the blessing, the miracle, of adoption in my life.) But it is the emphasis placed on these things and, too often, the legalism that results that has me troubled.
Whew! I know this is a lot of soapbox talk. Bear with me, though. I will explain what I mean by all of this tomorrow.