This past weekend, I attended the inaugural ADOPTING FOR LIFE conference at Southern Seminary here in Louisville. This conference is a testimony to the growing adoption movement among the churches within our city. I believe there were roughly 650 in attendance which I thought was a good number considering it is the conference's first year in existence and I know that many pastors have cut back on the conferences they attend do to the recession. You can't help but to go to such a conference and get revved up for orphan care. With every sermon preached and each session I attend, my vision for what could take place in my own life and at our church grew. In reflecting back on the weekend, 5 truths stood out to me:
1) Orphan care is intrinsically good. In our world, few things seem to be wholly good but I think orphan care is. It is pure. It is right. I guess that's why Jesus compared the kingdom of God to children. James tells us that faith lived out rightly will involve caring for the helpless. I think we all want to live lives that matter and make a measurable difference. Orphan care provides a person with that opportunity. Please don't read these words and think in any way I am trying to place myself or Lydia up on some pedestal because we have adopted. Our involvement in adoption is not a testimony to our goodness but to God's, whose Spirit has moved our hearts toward orphan care.
2) Orphan care is addictive. I mean that in the best way possible. I was amazed by how many conference attendees had adopted multiple children. I felt as if I was green around the ears since our family has only been through the process once. One speaker had children from four different countries and he said it makes watching the Olympics a lot more fun! I don't think Guatemala is a perennial power in the summer or winter games. Maybe we should consider Russia or China next time! Why is orphan care addictive? I think its because when you are so intimately exposed to the orphan care need, as happens when you adopt, you can't help but respond. And its also natural for a person's fervor to grow when they invest so much into something. Don't be surprised if the Ring's adopt again one day and with our family, children always seem to come sooner than later :).
3) Orphan care is becoming increasingly accessible. I cannot lie; the adoption process is challenging. Its time consuming. Its costly. Its emotionally draining. Its a process filled with uncertainty. And as prohibitive as all that sounds, people still do it because its the right thing to do. The good news is that the process does seem to be getting easier in some ways. I will mention two. First, information is more readily available. You don't have to such very hard to get the information you need to know to get the process started. Second, financing is becoming less of an issue. This weekend I heard that the average adoption cost, domestic or international, is $25,000. That's a lot of money but the good news is that every year there seems to be new organizations and ministries forming that are committed to helping people finance their adoption. If you will be diligent in doing the redundant paperwork involved in applying for scholarships, you might be surprised how much help is out there. Money should not keep you from adopting if you feel lead to do so. I know that may sound nonsensical and unrealistic. It did to me when a dear friend said those exact words to me four years ago. But its true. I can't explain how. It just does. Its a God thing.
4) Orphan care is a powerful testimony. When God's people care for the orphan, we are communicating to God and to the world that we are willing to sacrifice our own agenda for God's agenda. We are not about maximizing our comfort in this world which seems to be the mantra of the America we live in. People are jaded toward Christianity. People are skeptical of our motives. People think we are irrelevant. BUT, few things in life can reverse these preconceived notions more quickly than orphan care. I think we should consider the possibility that God might even begin a spiritual revival in our nation through the testimony of millions of Christians caring for the most helpless in our society. When the average American thinks "adoption," I would guess they first think of Angela Jolie and other Hollywood stars before they think of the Church. While I am grateful for those in Hollywood who have adopted and for the exposure they have brought to the adoption issue, I am extremely saddened that it hasn't been the Church leading the way. From today on, the Church must be at the forefront of the orphan care issue. Why? Because Jesus would have been.
5) Orphan care can radically change the local church. I will complete this blog post soon....