Last month, we had an “Orphan Sunday” at Grace Church. This event put another log on the fire that’s been going on in my mind for several years now: Christians (individually) and the Church (collectively) should take a major role in the care of orphans worldwide, primarily through adoption.
Here are some reasons why Christians should take the lead in adoption:
The problem is huge
There are over 132 million orphans around the world. These are children who have no one to care for them, and whom God has called his Church to care for (James 1:27). The HIV/AIDS epidemic in Africa has created a huge population of orphans, comprising almost 12% of the child population. In Asia, there are estimated 65 million orphans.
Christians value human life
One of the hot-button issues in Christian circles is abortion, and the basis of the Christian view on abortion is that life has value. We believe that each human is born with the image of God imprinted on them (imago dei, Genesis 1:26), and that gives each person inherent value. This idea that each life has value should also inform our position on adoption. Christians who value life should be willing to take in abandoned infants, unwanted children from unwanted pregnancies, and children from broken homes, because each child has value in the sight of God. We shouldn’t just rail against abortion; we need to “walk the walk” in this area… be willing to back up our convictions with actions.
We bring glory to God
As Christians, we strive to glorify God in everything that we do (1 Corinthians 10:31), and following his command to “look after orphans and widows in their distress” is following God’s example. God is glorified when Christians bring in an orphan and raises him in the nurture and admonition of God. Christians have a history of doing this, in fact. During plagues in history, when everyone and their fourth cousin was fleeing the city, Christians stayed and took care of the sick and the orphans. This helped lead to the rise of Christianity (it also helps that its message is about the sovereign salvation from the one true God that leads to eternal life).
We have a huge impact on a child
When we adopt a child, we have a significant impact on that child’s life. As in our spiritual condition (we are all destined for a destitute spiritual life before God saves us), these children are physically and emotionally bankrupt, in some cases, and we can give them a physical life that mirrors the spiritual life that Christ gave us on the cross. We can give them a home, an education, a loving family that they never would have had in their former life.
We imitate Christ
The whole narrative of the Bible is how God adopted sinners into his own family. We were “dead in our trespasses and sins,” but God took us as made us alive in Christ. He adopted us as sons/daughters. We were strangers and enemies of God, but he sent his own son to die so that we might be reconciled to him. We imitate Christ (not so much in the salvation part, but in the adoption part) when we adopt children.
My adoption story isn’t spectacular; I didn’t adopt a child from overseas, or rescue a child from a broken home, and it certainly was not as expensive as a non-familial or international adoption. When I met and married Ellie, she came with Darcy, a 10-month-old beautiful girl. In the year after our marriage, I went through the process of officially adopting Darcy as my own, and at the final hearing, the judge said that “it will be as if she has been your child since she was born.” My officially adopting Darcy has been one of the most exciting and fulfilling acts of my life. Darcy has brought so much joy to my life, and has spurred me to grow as a person and as a father. I highly recommend it.
(Side note: there’s another adoption-in-progress story that you can read here)
Steps churches can take:
- give adoptive families space to tell their stories in church;
- find ways to give small starter grants to people interested in adopting;
- encourage the adoption of children with special needs; and
- develop a full spectrum of responses, from child sponsorship to adoption.
Grace Church has started an adoption ministry in the last year. Over the last few years, there have been several adoptions at Grace and, through our affiliation with The ABBA Fund, couples in the church are currently in the process of adopting at least three children from Ethiopia. The church is gathering around these couples and encouraging them (emotionally and financially) in this process. This is what the church should be involved in. If your church doesn’t have an adoption program, encourage them to start one. If they have started one, give to it so that couples in the church can adopt a child, or so that YOU can adopt one.
Have you ever thought about adopting a child? Were you adopted? What was your experience?