If you were charged with caring for orphans, how would you do it? According to the Bible, you are! Listen to today's broadcast for some practical ideas on how you can obey Christ in this all-important area.
If you were charged with caring for orphans, how would you do it? According to the Bible, you are! Listen to today's broadcast for some practical ideas on how you can obey Christ in this all-important area.
Bob: Have you ever wondered what's going on in the heart and the mind of an orphan? About the longing for a forever family?
This is FamilyLife Today for Friday, November 24th. Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. We'll talk about caring for the orphans on today's program. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us on the Friday edition. When you saw the movie "Annie," did you stop and think about orphans? I mean, I don't remember that that was on my – Little Orphan Annie, of course, is who she was, but …
Dennis: … not much for me. I mean, I think there was the heartfelt feeling for an orphan; a little girl who was without a family, but I wouldn't say that anything clicked within me at that point.
Bob: You stop and think about it now, we don't have any orphanages officially in the United States, but there are foster care homes, there are families taking care of children who don't have families. There's adoption that's happening, and most of our listeners aren't aware – they've heard us talking about the needs of the orphan over the last several weeks here on FamilyLife Today, but they're not aware that we've had a lot going on behind the scenes in preparation for what we've been talking about on the air.
In fact, last spring, we had a rather historic gathering here at the headquarters of FamilyLife.
Dennis: That's right. It was actually the second gathering of a group of ministries, more than 60 different orphan care and adoption ministries from all over the United States joined together in an Orphan Care Summit.
Bob, this was historic in that never before had this group of people, as Christian leaders of agencies and orphan care ministries, churches, leaders of organizations like Focus on the Family, Shaohannah's Hope, foundations representing money to be given for adoption – this group had never come together – ever – as a meeting of Christians to express a concern about what are we going to do with the worldwide crisis of orphans and from those two meetings, I'm going to tell you, it has been incredible to watch God work. He has put together a coalition of ministries that have said, you know what? We're going to cooperate. We're going to check our egos and our logos at the door. We're going to be selfless, and we're going to be concerned about the needs and the plight of the orphan worldwide.
Charles: My name is Charles Detter [sp], I'm the director of communications with Global Aid Network. For the last 15 years, Global Aid Network has been taking large groups of American Christians overseas to reach out with the Gospel and ministry to children, and our greatest focus has been children in orphanages.
We often say that the life changed on a trip is probably going to be your life, the life of the participant, the person coming with us. You come to realize that God is a bigger God when you go to a foreign land, and that He's not just the God of the United States of America.
Bob: Dr. Carol Cheney is herself an adoptive mother. She has also spent time helping out at orphanages in other countries.
Carol: When I experienced what I did some eight years ago, the blinders just wouldn't stay on my eyes and heart, and I knew more of God's love after the encounters I will now tell you about.
Jorge was 11 years old, being one of the older children at the orphanage in La Ciudad Victoria, Mexico. He was outgrowing the cute stage of childhood and was already aware of a harshness in life that we Americans would never want our grown children much less our 11-year-olds exposed to.
During my month of visiting and helping at the orphanage, Jorge had overcome some of his shyness and would want to talk to me and tell me about himself. He would draw pictures and give them to me and often would just want to walk about and hold my hand when the younger ones were not in my lap.
One day, shortly before my departure, he came to me with tears in his eyes and asked me to take a gift home with me so I would remember him. My gift was the only physical possession he had in this world. He kept it in a shoebox beneath his bed. His treasure – a wooden cup-and-ball toy. Jorge proudly handed the precious toy to me in his hand that was missing two fingers due to a cruel knife cut early in life.
As I fought back tears and gave him a hug, the disparity of our worlds hung like a heavy invisible weight upon my heart. My mind could not conceive of a child being willing to give up his only personal possession to someone like me who was only passing through his life for a few weeks.
I wanted to say, "No." But his eyes were gazing directly into mine looking for acceptance and love. His eyes bravely pleaded to belong in some way to this stranger he tried to speak his language, listen to his stories, kept his pictures, and held his crippled hand. After meeting that gaze, I accepted his gift with a simple, "Thank you, Jorge, I shall always remember you and your kindness."
And then there was David, a small, wiry, mischievous 10-year-old. He had the attention span and activity level of a bumblebee. He was definitely buzzy and often in trouble, but he had the most endearing nature and, for a few minutes, after a spanking, really did try to do better. David, too, was frequently at my side holding my hand and wanting me to read to him.
During one of these reading sessions, he asked me if I could please take him home with me so that he could have a family, and we could read every day. On the last day at the orphanage, he hung onto me, off and on, the whole day, crying and asking me to please take him and to be his mother.
These eight years have passed since I saw Jorge and David. They are now grown and have left the orphanage. I do not know where they are or what they are doing, but I am grateful to them for the lessons they taught me. They showed me the wonder of sharing love of giving. They returned to me a thousandfold my gift of time and effort. Their gifts to me were rich with bright smiles and hugs, tears on dust-smeared faces saying, "Thank you, and goodbye." I hope those children's memories of me someday will bring them a bit closer to God as my memories of them have done for me.
Scott: My name is Scott Hasenbalg, and I'm the executive director of Shaohannah's Hope. When we're on a 71-city tour, and we do all these tours, and Steven is sharing his heart for adoption, and in the meet-and-greets afterwards, I see all these kids lined up and all these families that are affected by adoption, you step back, and you think, "Man, heaven is going to be pretty cool when we're all lined up, because God's adopted us." I know God in heaven is looking down at the work that we're all doing saying, "Well, that's good, but I am the Father to the fatherless, and there's millions of these out there that I know the hairs on the heads of each one of them."
And I think what's happening in adoption today, God is giving us an opportunity to experience Him at levels that we would never have imagined experiencing unless we stepped in faith. It's an invitation. It's an invitation to go deeper with Him.
Michael: If a church comes to me and says "Why should we start an adoption or orphan ministry, I would respond to them, in all sincerity, "Why not?"
Bob: Michael Monroe and his wife, Amy, head up Tapestry. That is the ministry to adoptive and foster families at Irving Bible Church in Irving, Texas.
Michael: Somebody the other day asked me, "Why do you give so much time to this ministry?" I said, "Because I can't find anything better to do." I mean, I truly don't have anything better to do than to give my heart and my life in gratitude to the blessings I receive.
We don't promote adoption. We promote awareness of God's heart for these kids. We promote awareness of the blessing that adoption can be. We promote awareness the blessing of fostering can be, and we hope that individuals and ultimately church bodies begin to catch that vision.
For me, I'll just give you a personal example – for me, it was working nursery about six months ago, and I'm sitting there, and I've got six children captive in their little highchairs eating animal crackers, and I realized I'm looking at these six children, only two of these children were born in the United States. Four of the children were not – two from Guatemala, one was born in China, one in Russia, and I'm thinking "God's heart for adoption for orphans – if we capture that, and if some of us respond to that call for adoption, it's changing the face of the church," and I think changing it for the better because it becomes – the church then becomes, as these kids grow and these families expand and they tell their stories, and they live their stories, and they represent their stories just with a mere – the visibility of their – how it looks visually, they have a story to tell, and it's about God's grace and God's love and God's blessing, and it's there for everyone to see.
And so adoption and orphan care ministries can't help but change us and can't help but change our church visually where we're going to see, over time. I think it's really cool
Amy: When you go into orphanages, and you see the faces of the kids, and you see the hunger in their eyes, and you see the sadness of their situation, one of the first things you notice, especially about orphan children, are the clothes that they have on, especially their shoes, if they even have shoes.
Bob: This is Amy Norton. She directs Shoes for Orphan Souls with Buckner Orphan Care.
Amy: So many of the orphanages, no matter where we go in the world, one of the biggest needs that we are told about, before we even started a shoe drive, was the need for new shoes for the children. Shoes, in general, but new shoes especially because orphan children never get anything new. They never get anything that's theirs to keep.
To do a shoe drive – it's a great thing to do to really excite and invigorate a church and for them to feel like they've really done something, I think, to impact. I've seen little kids, even two and three-year-olds that can understand the fact that, you know, "When my shoes get too little, Mommy and Daddy go buy me a pair of shoes." But these children don't have mommies and daddies to go buy them a pair of shoes, and they can go out and, even if they're shopping for school, they can go buy a pair of shoes that match; can buy two pairs and every day they put those shoes on, they can be praying for that child that's got the same pair of shoes.
It's a powerful thing. Each pair of shoes represents a child, and that's what you want the church and people to see, and especially the children, young people. You know, shoes can be a wonderful way for them to actually realize there's a child, there's an orphan, and there's something that we're supposed to do to help them.
Kent: I'm Kent Hatfield, I'm a deacon at Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, Kentucky. The reason a church should start an orphan's ministry is because it is a call from Scripture. One of these days, I'm going to have an accurate count on how many times and how many places in the Bible it says "Take care of orphans. Take care of the fatherless."
I know of at least 17 or 18 that I have marked in my Bible, and it's all throughout Scripture – James 1:27, of course, is a primary one.
Marydell: And what I love about the verse is it says, "pure religion." And it's interesting how, you know, churches want to get right doctrine and correct teaching and great theology, but what about pure religion? What does that really look like? My name is Marydell Sandburg. I'm with Bethlehem Baptist Church, and so if that's God's definition, we've got a lot of work to do. And I think we don't want to dream up better little boxes of what we can accomplish in the flesh. I think this is going to take a task that's going to be eyes have not seen and ears have not heard what God has planned. And are we willing to ask for things that are bigger than we can accomplish?
Bob: Jay and Suzanne Foskey [sp] are from First Baptist Church in Brenham, Texas.
Jay: Five years ago we started Forever Families, the group dedicated toward helping other families find resources for adoption, and in the process of also starting Here I Am Orphan Ministries where we actually care for orphans and go to orphanages to try and help them and locate potential families for these children.
We have 14 children, of which 12 are adopted from all different nationalities – three from India, one from China, one from Colombia, three from Russia, and four from Kazakhstan.
Man: And what are their ages, do you know?
Jay: That I won't try.
Suzanne: Fifteen, 15, 14, 13, 13, 12, 12, 10, 10, 9, 8, 5, 5, and 2.
Jay: The care that orphans need is just amazing. There are faces that just do not go away that you see on those trips, and it's what keeps you going back.
Suzanne: While we were in Colombia adopting our son, we found out about an orphanage that was there for older children, and we went to go visit this orphanage, they had recently purchased bed frames for 70 girls, but they didn't have the money for the mattresses, and so our ministry was able to raise the money for 70 mattresses for the girls, and they also had a need for undergarments – socks, underwear, that type thing – and actually some of the girls were having to go to school without undergarments because they only had one, and when it was washday, it wasn't dry, and so the church pulled together, and the ministry, and took about 500 pairs of underwear and lots of socks and bought shoes and pajamas and everything for those girls in Bogotá, Colombia.
When we leave they beg us to come back, and "When are you going to come back?" and ask you if you'll assign them a family, and it's really hard to go on this trip.
That's really hard and usually when they say that, it usually brings me to tears because I realize that, for some of them, they won't ever have a family, and therefore I feel that's why it's even more important that we plan mission trips and stuff, because even if they don't have an earthly father, we feel like they need to know that they do have a Heavenly Father.
Jay: You can't change the life of every one of these children, but you can love them and help them and that's the starting point. If they feel love, it gives them hope, something to hold onto, even if it's just for a week while we're visiting the orphanage. Just seeing one of their friends find a home gives them hope that maybe they're the next one.
Suzanne: I think it's changed by perception of God because I recognize Him more as a Father where before I think I viewed Him as Creator and Master of the Universe, all those type things, where I think it's put me in touch with the Father that He is to us.
Bob: That's Michael W. Smith, and I think what he is singing about there reflects what was on the heart of those folks who gathered for the Orphan Summit here at FamilyLife back a few months ago. We can't wait any longer, because there are millions of children who are waiting, and they can't wait.
Dennis: They can't, and those voices we just heard, Bob, of men and women sharing what they have done on behalf of the orphan. Well, they're just – they're people like you and me who decided to take a step of faith on behalf of the orphan – some adopted and some of have given money, and some have established ministries, and some of helped build orphanages, and they've just made a difference because they've sought to be responsible for what God wanted them to do as individuals.
And I think that's really the message I want our listeners to take from today's broadcast, is you can make a difference. It may only be in the life of one child, but God may call you to adopt a child. He may call you to adopt and orphanage or call your church to establish an orphan care adoption ministry that you lead. Well, you know what? FamilyLife wants to be a part of encouraging that movement of God, and it's already occurring. I've been a part of very few things in my life that I could see were marked by God's spirit like this.
It is clear that God has – is really up to something when it comes to the orphan. The question is, what will you do? Will you pray? Will you give? Will you establish an orphan care ministry at your church or perhaps will you consider adopting? I mean, the question is what does God want you to do? And you can't do it all, but you can do something. Don't wait any longer to do what you need to do.
Bob: And someone may say, you know, we really can't do much in our current situation, and the reality is there's a lot that all of us can do. In fact, our team has put together something called "Ten Ways Every Christian Can Care for the Orphan and Waiting Child." And when you unfold this you can post it in your church, you can put it up in your home. It lists different ways that all of us can be involved – everything from praying for orphans to providing a safe place, giving, cheering them on, mobilizing your church for them, supporting those who support them – all kinds of ways that any of us can help care for the needs of orphans and waiting children all around the world.
This document is available on our website at FamilyLife.com. You can download it when you go to our website. Click the red button in the middle of the screen that says "Go," and that will take you right to a page where there is more information about this document and how you can download it on your computer. There are other resources available on our website as well including a book that we've just published that helps a church walk through the process of beginning an orphan ministry in your church.
Again, our website if FamilyLife.com. If you click the red button that says "Go," in the middle of the screen, it will take you right to a portion of the site where there is information not only about helping orphans but also about the issue of adoption and whether that's right for your family.
Again, our website is FamilyLife.com. You can also call us at 1-800-FLTODAY for more information about these resources, and we hope you will do what you've heard many of our guests talk about today, and that is do something to care for the needs of orphans and waiting children all around the world.
You know, I mentioned that one of the things we can do for orphans is to pray for them. Certainly, as moms and dads, we want to be praying for the children God has given us. FamilyLife has produced a prayer guide called "While They Were Sleeping" – 12 character traits for moms and dads to pray for your children or for your grandchildren.
This hardback book is a book that we're making available this month to anyone who can help the ministry of FamilyLife with a donation of any amount during the month of November. We're listener-supported, and so your donations are critical for the ongoing work of this ministry. You help keep FamilyLife Today on the air on this station and on other stations all across the country. And, again, this month when you make a donation of any amount, we'd love to send you this book as a thank you gift. The prayer guide called "While They Were Sleeping."
You can ask for a copy as you make a donation. If you're filling out a donation form online, when you come to the keycode box on your form, type in the word "pray," p-r-a-y, and we will know to send the copy of this book to you. Or if you're making a donation by phone at 1-800-FLTODAY, just mention when you make your donation that you'd like a copy of the prayer guide you heard us talking about on the radio. We'll be happy to send it to you. Again, it's our way of saying thanks for your partnership with us in the ministry of FamilyLife Today. We appreciate your financial support, and we appreciate your prayers on our behalf as well.
Well, I hope you have a great weekend. I hope you and your family are able to worship together this weekend, and I hope you can be back with us on Monday, when we are going to hear about how you can excite the imagination of a child, stir up his sense of mystery, and share not only the Christmas story with him but also share with him the good news of the Gospel. That comes up on Monday; I hope you can be with us for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We'll see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas, a ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ.
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