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Posts Tagged ‘Orphan Care’

Next week, Monday through Friday, FamilyLife Today will host Steven and Mary Beth Chapman.  The Chapmans have been tireless champions for the fatherless for years and have continued to speak up on their behalf, while helping mobilize the church to care for them in many ways, through their ministry, now called Show Hope.

In the first three days of interviews, the Chapmans will talk about, among other things, how they met, Mary Beth’s new book, entitled Choosing to SEE: A Journey of Struggle and Hope, and some of the darker times in their lives, including the tragic accident that took the life of their precious daughter, Maria Sue, and the way God has demonstrated His grace in the midst of those times.

On the final two days of interviews, the Chapmans will talk about Maria’s Big House of Hope — the latest initiative from Show Hope — a six-story, 60,000 square foot orphanage that houses and provides medical care for special needs orphans in China.  They will also share music from and talk about Steven’s latest CD, Beauty Will Rise.

Please be sure to tune in to the broadcasts next week, August 30th through September 3rd by clicking here.  Also, take this opportunity to share this link with family and friends who may not be aware of what God is doing through the Chapmans and others on behalf of orphans all over the world.  You and those in your circles will be richly blessed by these programs.

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Last fall, we were part of a life group through our church that looked at God’s heart for orphans, and His desire for His people to care for them through adoption, foster care, and orphan care.

One Sunday afternoon, we invited three adult adoptees from our church to come and share a little about their experiences growing up.  As we listened, it was fascinating to me to see to the contrast, especially between the two young women who shared.  Both women were adopted as babies.  One had a family that seldom talked about adoption.   One had a family that talked about and celebrated adoption.

One of the young women was in three homes by the time she was seven months old.  Her family didn’t discuss adoption very much while she was growing up.  She said it is hard to explain, but she still struggles in some ways as a result of being in three homes and she has a hard time talking about her experience growing up as a child who had been adopted.  She is pro-adoption, but it just isn’t something that she talks about easily.  Interestingly, her job now entails counseling kids in foster care.

The other young woman was placed for adoption at birth.  Her family talked about adoption all of the time and were very positive about it.  She is, in turn, very positive and open and comfortable talking about her experiences.  After working several years as a child abuse investigator for L.A. County DCFS, she is now working for an adoption law firm, counseling birth parents and working with adoptive parents through the birth and placement of the children.

The contrast made me think of my own family and the way we talk about adoption.  With six children, all of whom came to us through foster adoption, and five of whom were already adopted , we want to make sure our children view adoption in as positive a light as possible.  We don’t want them to ever feel like adoption is something to be ashamed of or something to hide.  Because of this, we shout it from the rooftops.  We make it a point to talk to people about the joys and blessings of adoption wherever we go, and we make it a point to do so in front of our kids.

I’m sure there are some that would disagree with our approach, but if we see adoption for what it really is…part of God’s redemptive plan to bring restoration to His creation as He places hurting and lonely children into families, then how can we be anything but positive about it?  How can we not tell everyone we see?  It’s a glorious thing God does when He places a child into a home and gives that child a mom and a dad to love and care for them.

Last night we repeated a ritual that we’ve been doing for years.  We celebrated the fourth anniversary of the date our daughter Aruna moved into our home.  My mom made Aruna a three-layer coconut cake.  We all went around the room and named things we appreciate about her.  We told her “Happy Anniversary” repeatedly throughout the day.  In our family, we celebrate our children’s homecoming days as much as we celebrate the anniversaries of their adoptions.  I think it has something to do with the way we view Psalm 68:4-6, which says: Sing to God, sing praise to his name, extol him who rides on the clouds — his name is the LORD— and rejoice before him.  A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.  God sets the lonely in families, he leads forth the prisoners with singing; but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.

The psalmist is singing to God and praising Him, declaring Him to be Father to the fatherless.  And then, he tells of God’s great works, with the first example being how God sets the lonely in families.  If the psalmist is praising God for setting the lonely in families, should we not praise Him for placing our children in our home?  Of course we should…to do otherwise would be to discredit God’s plan for our children, our family, and His creation.

Celebrate your children’s adoptions…celebrate adoption for what it really is.  Praise God for placing your children in your home.  And while you’re at it, shout it from the rooftops.  Your children are watching.

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This week, Hope for Orphans’ Executive Director, Paul Pennington, will be delivering one of the keynote addresses at The Baby Conference: A Historic Family Summit on the Triumph of Life over the Culture of Death.

The Baby Conference, sponsored by Vision Forum Ministries, will bring to light issues that are pervasive in today’s pro-choice world.  Is it excessive to have 4 children in today’s world?  Is it right to bring a child into this world without being able to provide a $150,000 college fund?  Are children indeed a blessing from the Lord?  The Bible says, “Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb is a reward” (Psalm 127:3).  The next two verses continue, “As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.”

The Baby Conference is centered on the celebration of life — the life that we are called, as followers of Christ, to enjoy and cherish and honor.  All life is to be valued.  All of us — the orphan, the widow, the stranger – are fearfully and wonderfully made, in the image of God.  This conference will take a hard look at Scripture and will demonstrate, among other things, how adoption and orphan care fit within the church’s responsibility to what God has called us to do.

Join us, along with Doug Phillips and Jim Bob Duggar, on July 8 -10 in San Antonio for this challenging, yet fresh perspective on how we to look at human life biblically, in a post-modern, pro-choice world.

To learn more about the issues and topics that will be discussed, or to register for this event, please click here.

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(The following comes from our June 2010 E-Newsletter. You may subscribe to our bi-monthly e-newsletter by clicking here.)

Some of the very best things in my life have happened as a result of some of the hardest things in my life. There was a day that Robin and I learned that we had lost a baby and the ability to ever have a biological child short of in-vitro fertilization. It was a hard day. It was hard to pray or understand. But little did we know that as this was happening a little girl was soon to be born. This little girl was our daughter Kit whom God brought to us just 6 months later. Not only was she a gift we could not have imagined, but also through her, the Lord led us to more of our children, some born on the other side of the world, and ultimately to this ministry.

In his new book about Ruth, A Sweet and Bitter Providence, Pastor John Piper shares a quote from William Cowper, an 18th century poet and hymn writer:

“Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust him for his grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.”

Joseph experienced this frowning providence when his brothers sold him into slavery. But as you know, God knew this very act would bring about the rescue of those same brothers from famine and His grace would be demonstrated through the centuries like a chain in His word to us in the 21st century.

Every adoption begins in hurt of some kind. Sometimes being the parent of a child through adoption involves a lot of hurt. We all come from a hard place because of the first Adam’s fateful choice in the garden. Thankfully, the second Adam also made a choice in a garden, a choice not to save Himself, a choice made so that we might receive adoption as sons of God through Him.

As we consider with eyes wide open the road of adoption and loving the fatherless, let us remember why Ruth the Moabitess was able to say to Naomi in Ruth 1:16-17 that she would follow her from all that was familiar and safe…how she committed herself to this widow to the point of saying that Naomi’s God would be her God and Naomi’s people her people.

Ruth was grafted into this family and met her kinsman redeemer because as Piper says, “Here we have a picture of…faith in God that sees beyond present bitter setbacks. Freedom from the securities and comforts of the world. Courage to venture into the unknown and the strange. Radical commitment in the relationships appointed by God”. In this case, a relationship that led to line of David and The Messiah.

May those called to adopt, or to love a foster child, or to serve churches overseas in loving orphans be likewise radically committed to the relationships appointed by God for them. May we see the world as the work of God, and that we are privileged and blessed to be invited to join Him in His work. May we see God who sometimes uses frowning providence in bringing about His will, as the very One in whom we will very soon see His smiling face.

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Summertime.  The very word conjures up images of parks and pools, baseball and barbeques.  Summer is a season when we allow ourselves just a bit more laziness…a time in which we seek relaxation, and family vacations.  The fact is, it seems that everyone loves summer.

In the midst of summer, though, we need to pause and think of those who might not welcome summer as robustly we do.  For the orphan, summer doesn’t bring to mind all those thoughts that make it a favorite season for many of us.  No, for many orphans, summer is simply 92 more days to survive the dangers of life, to wait for rescue, to long for love, to hope for a better future.  In the midst of our summertime content, we must remember the orphan’s year-round discontent.  We also need to remember that God has not forgotten the orphan, and that we must remember them too.

In our June E-Newsletter, which came out today, we highlight the story of some schoolchildren in Birmingham, Alabama, who were touched by the orphan crisis in Haiti and decided to do something about it.  They raised nearly $4000 to help bring much needed relief to children suffering in the aftermath of January’s devastating earthquake.

It’s always exciting when we meet others who “get it”.  It’s even more exciting when we see children “get it”.  When we see kids gripped with God’s heart for orphans at a young age, we can only imagine what God will do through them later in life.  Kids loving orphans are infectious and inspiring.

What might God want to do through your children in reaching the least of these?  Dads, would you be willing to set aside a portion of your free time with your kids this summer and look at what God’s word says about orphans, and what His expectations are for us in relation to them?  Moms, would you be willing to take on a project serving orphans with your kids this summer?  Perhaps you could collect shoes for orphans overseas.  Perhaps you could pray for the children in your local foster care system.  Perhaps you could collect money to help offset the cost of adoption for a family in your church.

At Hope for Orphans, our job is to serve the church as it serve orphans.  That includes your children.  We have developed two tools that we hope will better serve you as you seek to educate your children of the mandate from God, and the needs to be met among the tens of millions of orphans in the world.

The first tool is our website for children, which can be found here.  At the website you will learn more about God’s heart, you will find ideas of how your kids can serve orphans, you will read about what other kids have done to address the orphan crisis, and much more.

We have also developed a curriculum for children, called God’s Heart for the Orphan…and Me!.  The curriculum is designed to be used in Sunday school classes, Vacation Bible Schools, or even in your own home with your family.  It is an interactive children’s Bible study that exposes children to God’s passion for orphans and waiting children.  You and your kids will talk about what God wants us to do for orphans, and you will be given the tools to take action and start making a difference in children’s lives right away.

If you have ideas of how you and your children will serve orphans this summer, or perhaps have served together in the past, please share them by commenting below.

Would you consider making this a summer in which your children and family become more closely aligned with God’s heart for orphans?  Imagine what God might do in you and through you if you commit yourselves to just that.

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We were so blessed to be with so many of you at last week’s Summit.  It was amazing to see God working in so many ways in and through His church to reach the children He loves so much.  It has taken a few days, but we are starting to settle back into our routines at work and home.  We decided to take this opportunity to reflect a little on our time at Summit VI and to write about the most exciting thing we experienced there.  As you read our thoughts, we would ask that you spend some time asking yourself what the most exciting or impactful thing was for you.

Jason Weber:

At the very beginning of the first session, I was overwhelmed with seeing over 1200 orphan advocates fill the sanctuary.  My mind immediately drifted back to Summit I when 30 something folks gathered together to ask God what could be accomplished together that couldn’t be accomplished individually.  Then, Maridel Sandberg, the MC for Summit VI, asked how many were there for the first time.  The enormous number of hands raised was shocking.  What blew me away was thinking about just how many children each of those hands will come to represent in the months and years ahead as they go out and “vindicate the weak and fatherless . . . ” (Psalm 82:3).

David Leventhal:

There were so many things about Summit VI that were encouraging for me.  I think the one that stands out the most is getting to see and hug friends from around the country whose hearts beat for the orphan.  So often, when you talk to people about orphan care, you get the “glassy stare” – people who love me & love Jesus but just don’t “get” the whole orphan thing.  It’s nice to be able to pull out of town for a couple of days and be around other like-minded people who “get it” in a way that I do.  Listening to the stories & seeing the faithfulness of others spurs me on to continue to engage in the battle.

Shane McBride:

As my role at Hope for Orphans is centered around equipping orphan advocates with the tools and resources needed to start orphans ministries, I was absolutely floored by the number of individuals that wanted to start an orphan/adoption/foster care ministry. A countless number of churches, that up until this conference did not have an orphans ministry, were represented by lay people impassioned to get involved. That means, churches from coast to coast, who did not have orphans ministries, will now have the ability to be mobilized. I am truly excited to see how many of these local champions will have success stories to tell at next year’s Summit VII!!

John Moore:

As always, it was energizing and invigorating to see old friends, and to meet new ones, who are engaged in this ministry.  I think the thing that impacted me most, though, was the constant reminder, as I listened to speaker after speaker, that orphan ministry is not just the latest thing to try out for a while before moving on to something else that lets me feel good about myself.  Rather, this is nothing less than a war over the earthly and eternal fates of 145 million children…and as the church responds more and more to God’s call, the enemy will ramp up the attacks more and more in response.  If this is a fad, we will not withstand those attacks.  If this is a calling to join God in battle, which it is, we have to continue to lift each other up in prayer, we have to continue to arm ourselves with everything God has for us, and we have to stay the course no matter how difficult and painful it might be.  The stakes are simply way too high to take this call lightly.

As you can see, God used our time at Summit VI in varied ways among our team members.  For those of you who were able to attend, we trust that God used it to impact you as well.  If you feel so led, please respond to this post with your own thoughts and reflections on what God showed you at Summit VI.

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Danish Fishermen taking Jews to Sweden

On September 28, 1943, in Nazi occupied Denmark, something amazing happened. Orders came from Berlin to arrest all 8,000 Jews living in Denmark and send them to concentration camps in mainland Europe. The plan was to begin on the night of October 1st and to round up every Jewish person in the country within 48 hours. Werner Best (the Nazi leader in Denmark) leaked the plan to a confidant, who told Danish leaders.

What happened next was a demonstration of what happens when good people who believe in the sanctity of human life DO SOMETHING.  Danes did not just do something however; they risked their very lives because their worldview said that human beings have value as made in the image of the living God.

Christians and ordinary people began offering the keys to their homes to Jewish strangers on the street. They hid Jews in attics, churches, country homes and they even hid 1000 in Copenhagen hospitals.  Hans Fuglsang-Damgaard, the Bishop of Copenhagen, issued a defiant ecumenical letter, which was read in almost every church in the nation. After negotiations with Danish leaders such as physicist Niels Bohr, Sweden announced it would accept refugees.

The Germans only found 284 Jews out of 8000. Within weeks, Danes smuggled almost 95% of all the Danish Jews to safety in Sweden.

Six years ago, 38 leaders gathered in Little Rock, as those who treasure the value and sanctity of life, to deal with a similar emergency. They met to ask the question, “How can the Church be the hands and feet of Christ to orphans, most of whom are threatened by evil forces far greater than perhaps than even the Jews of Denmark?”

This week, over 1000 people will gather in Minneapolis for Summit VI, to consider how God might use them as The Body to lay their churches, organizations and lives on the line for perhaps the largest unreached people group in the world. Because of the magnitude and reach of The Church (through the Local Church), the potential for rescue and hope is staggering. The opportunities for the Gospel and the Glory of God revealed in orphan ministry are breathtaking.  But unless we understand that Faith without Action is not living faith, we will have missed the opportunity. If you are coming to Summit VI….pray for the filling of the Spirit that you will learn God’s invitation for you in this emergency to join Him and step forward just like the Christians of Denmark in 1943.  For those not attending Summit IV, won’t you take time to ask God how He wants to use you to reach and serve the least of these among us?

One of my favorite parts of the Danish Solution story, is how on the night before the round up, Lutheran ministers, knowing the greatest treasures of the Rabbis were their Torahs, came to them and offered help. Rabbis and Followers of Christ, their arms full of Torahs, walked in the middle of the night through the dark streets of Copenhagen and hid those scriptures in the alters of Lutheran Churches. These Christians, who put their lives and money where their mouths were, then led these men and their families to safe places.

Grace is usually not convenient but when we lose ourselves in loving those who have nothing to give us in return, we experience the reality of Yeshua Mashiah…Jesus the Messiah.

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