I am processing something these days and I write to process – so welcome to my inner monologue. And bear with me – it’ll be long.
A few weeks ago I wrote a post about Confession. It has occurred to me that another side benefit of confession is that from it flows compassion. It is easy to stand back and judge the sinner until you admit you are the sinner – until you know the pain they are in and the battle they are facing. God is compassionate and as we become more like Him – our compassion grows. Lamentations 3:21 – 23 says Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
I was taught compassion by my amazing mom. If you know her – you know what I am talking about. This is a part of her testimony and she doesn’t mind me sharing – my mom as a very young teenager found herself pregnant and had an abortion. There were crazy circumstances surrounding her decision – and in the world’s eyes – her decision was an easy solution to a complicated problem. But I will tell you that decision hurt my mom deeply. When she became a Christian she finally began to mourn that decision and heal from the pain. Although she knows her sins are forgiven, I have seen her pain and it has made her DECIDEDLY pro-life. She will help any young woman and relate to them because she feels that abortion is, frankly, incredibly difficult on the heart of the young mom (in addition to the obvious life of the child). The young woman may not deal with it immediately, but it is her belief, from her experience, that they eventually will deal with it and that it is a painful reckoning – a loss of innocence. She is amazingly brave and honest to share her testimony and I grew up knowing about this from an early age. And it made me compassionate. It made the abortion debate not about a hateful sign held up at a rally – it made it about the fear and loneliness of a very young girl in a terrifying situation and what I could do to help that girl. I can’t tell you how much I love and respect my mom for sharing – for confessing. What a brave thing for her to do. For using even her most painful moment to teach me and my siblings the redemptive power of our King. To illustrate for us true compassion. So, growing up in her home, the question of whether or not I was pro-life was an easy decision. I was. For my mom and all moms. Women who say that pro-choice is the stance that supports women simply aren’t talking to all women.
But my mom also taught me to back up my political point of view with action. You can’t SAY you are pro-life and not be willing to lay down your life for the mom and/or the child. To sacrifice to support her in her choice to give her child life. If you want her to make that difficult choice – you have to be willing to help her. You can’t legislate morality and then walk away and not help women navigate the difficult waters of adjusting to an unplanned pregnancy. I grew up watching my mom do things like this – in part because of her experience. She has a heart for young women. She understands them and hurts for them. She wants to give love to them and rescue them before they ever make the decisions that will lead them to unplanned pregnancy. Her compassion overflows onto the hurting. Period. It was great to grow up in her home and witness that firsthand.
Justin and I are in pain for children in our world. I have come to realize this feeling as compassion – taught to me by my sweet mom. Our hearts hurt – we want children’s lives to be redeemed. We want them protected, provided for, safe, loved, whole, healed. We want to adopt. We sponsor children through Compassion International. We read blogs about human trafficking, adoption, diseases, and other issues surrounding children around the world. Bottom line – we want to rescue children from death (and introduce them to Christ). We want to use our money and our time in the most effective way possible to help as many children as possible. We also want to be mindful of the children the Lord has already blessed us with. So along with our considerations for the children out there who we want to rescue – we also have to weigh the affects on our own children. I don’t mind them paying a material price – they don’t get as many toys and junk but get instead a baby brother either in our home or around the world in a Compassion project. That’s not even a consideration – we’re willing to make that sacrifice. But we do want them safe from abuse or harm. We want all of our children to know a loving, safe, joyful home where they can build a great foundation for life. So as we make decisions – these are the things we consider.
Lately, the hunger in me to adopt has grown, but also some interesting things have happened that have kind of refined my vision for our future.
As Believers, I believe we are supposed to change the world – to bring heaven to earth. To provide community and fellowship, sacrificial love and friendship to people around us who need it. That doesn’t mean that we are all to adopt – but James 1:27 says that “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.” Jesus Himself in Matthew 25:33 – 40 talks about who He will let into heaven and He separates the righteous and the unrighteousness based on their service to “the least of these.” If you take the Bible seriously you see that a fruit of true righteousness is caring for the least of these. We have been given so much – we have to give back. Because of the grace, love, provision, protection, life we have been given, we have to give grace, love, provision, protection, and life to others in our world.
Some friends of mine illustrated this for me this past week. Because of their privacy, I’ll not give the details except to tell you that they lived this principle out when they were introduced to someone making a decision about a potentially very difficult special needs pregnancy. They met with this mom and offered to help this mom in any way to be able to have this child – first of all to help financially and with support if she decided to keep the child, and second they were ready to adopt the child if the child was indeed born with special needs and if the mom didn’t feel she could cope. In talking to my friends, their willingness to do WHATEVER this mom needed to support her was incredibly impressive. They had compassion – they were willing to make her difficulty their shared difficulty. They brought heaven to earth. And the mom responded in love.
Around the same time – I read a difficult blog about an adoptive family that was actually having to give up one of their children because of some serious abuse that he had faced before they adopted him. It was one of the most powerful things I’d ever read. It was the first time I’d considered the dual goals of strengthening families in a certain country as well as providing adoptive services in a country. I know that sounds simple – but I’d never thought of it. It is exactly what my mom always taught us. Yes – providing adoption is a powerful sacrifice and is incredibly giving to a child. But if you can heal a home so that a child never faces terrible abuse before they are adopted – how much better is that for the child? Rescuing them from a terrible circumstance is an incredible gift – but if you can spare them from even needing a rescue so that they only know safety and security in their birth home? So much better. Even if it is in a difficult country.
What does redemption look like for children of the world? What does bringing heaven to earth look like? I think my goal as a Believer should be first of all healing and strengthening family units worldwide. Ideally, there would be no broken hurting families giving up children for adoption. Reducing the overall number of orphans at the source should be an equal goal along with getting all of the 145,000,000 orphans in our world today adopted. So caring for the orphan, as a Believer, suddenly becomes MUCH broader. It means we care about poverty, the spread of preventable disease, the sex trade, war, starvation – all of the factors that influence the family and that turn children into orphans. It becomes big – overwhelming if you don’t take into account the number of Believers that the Lord was speaking to when He gave the command in James. James 1:27 and Matthew 25 aren’t written to super Christians. It doesn’t only apply to the clergy. It applies to ALL BELIEVERS. So if you spread these challenges among 2.1 billion professing Christians in our world (1/3 of the world population), it becomes much more manageable. What are 145 million orphans in a community of 2.1 billion people who believe in Jesus Christ as Savior? Not so overwhelming, right? But here are some statistics that bring shame on the church and I believe shed light on why this problem seems so big. According to Barna, If 7% of professing Christians adopted, there would be no orphans. But adoption is a big sacrifice and a big gift – and unfortunately the church today isn’t so big on giving. A recent study by Barna showed that only 3% of Christians tithe, down from 8% in 2001.
This is where we need to RISE UP. We need to change the world. We need to start giving our 10% to the Lord. To the church, to organizations worldwide that fight for the family (www.worldvision.org, www.compassion.com). We need to INSIST that our churches support the widow and orphan, that they restore and redeem families. We need to befriend hurting people. We need to be people of compassion. We need to support women when they face an unplanned pregnancy. Not judge her. Not shun her. Not call her names or distance ourselves from her. Love her. Support her. Stand with her. We need to hear and respond to the call of the orphan. If we have room and resources, we need to consider adopting and giving these sweet children a safe home.
As a part of the church of Jesus Christ we will stand and give an account. And I think if we have worked hard to “make a nice life for ourselves” while 10 million children die each year from preventable diseases and while 145 million orphans live without hope worldwide, we will have wasted our lives and we are going to have a rude awakening when we face our Creator. Jesus never promised us a nice life. He never promised us a safe suburban life for us and our children with a fat retirement account. He promised us in John 16:33 that “in this world you will face trouble, but take heart! I have overcome the world.” He has won the battle if we will only show up and fight.
My Pastor and I discussed it recently – and God is raising up an army of students – their heart for the widow, orphan, poor, and hurting in our world is unprecedented. God is raising up an army that cares and will make a difference and we, as adults, can either be a part of it or we can dismiss it and squash it as the idealism of the young. I’m convinced it is happening right now. They are fearless. Students – Please don’t waste your life. Please don’t get wrapped up in nonsense “reality” shows and ignore the world around you. Follow the call. Heed the instruction. Be a generation that worships God and obeys His call to change the world. Parents/Adults – we have the resources to support these students and make their vision for the future a reality. We need to step up and meet that need.
So this is what I am processing these days as I think about our future and about when we will follow the Lord in obedience and adopt. One thing I realized – and again this is simple but I’m clueless sometimes, is that our call to adopt isn’t something we came up with and now we need the Lord to provide the way for us to work it out. It is something He called us to and He will be faithful to bring the resources and requirements into line when He is ready. He began it, and He will accomplish it, and He will get all of the glory. And until then, He has called us to Compassion and He will provide the resources for us to continue our support of those sweet kids and those sweet families even during tough times. He called us, He will accomplish it, and He will get all of the glory. He holds us in His Hands, and He is always faithful.
Jesus please lead us to be a light to this dark world. Please allow us to heal hurting families and rescue orphans before they even become orphans, to give lonely hurting girls a safe place to make the decision to protect life. Please let us bring heaven to earth while we are here and take so many hurting people with us when we go to live with You. Please RAISE UP an army that not only Believes in You but is ready to LIVE for you and GIVE for You.