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NOTE FROM PAUL PENNINGTON
Executive Director and Co-Founder, Hope for Orphans

When the World Throws Rotten Tomatoes …..Which Side Will You Be On?

“But so that it will not spread any further among the people, let us warn them to speak no longer to any man in this name.”

And when they had summoned them, they commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus.  But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.” ACTS 4:17-20

Over 30 years ago, Robin and I heard an older man speak in Houston who said much the same.  In Swiss mountain attire and with a stylish goatee, we heard him say these words: “If there are no absolutes by which to judge society…..then society will become absolute”. Of course that prophet was Dr. Francis Schaeffer. Now, as we live in a post-Christian 2010 America in which zealous religious secular humanists spread their gospel through almost every means possible, we see the vision of what Dr. Schaeffer warned us about. In Barbara Rainey’s soon to be released devotional book, Growing Together In Courage, she says this:

“To be countercultural means to go against the flow. It means that you will do what is right and true no matter what others are doing, even if you are the only one. You recognize that just because something is the popular thing to do does not necessarily mean that it is the right thing to do.”

“Courage goes against the flow. It is countercultural.”

In March of 1861, in Austin, Texas, there was a large meeting, a convention no less, to decide whether Texas would secede from the Union and its leaders swear an oath to the Confederacy. The Governor of Texas, Sam Houston, was a man almost bigger than life. In fact, he is the only man in American history to be the governor of two different states. He lived much of his early life with Native Americans. His father was a close friend of President Andrew Jackson. He was a Senator, a General; he was the George Washington of Texas independence as both Commander of the Texas armies during the war with Mexico and then as the first President of the Republic of Texas.  Few men in Texas stood as tall as Sam Houston.

But in the days leading up to March of 1861, Governor Houston campaigned against secession. He thought it was unimaginable that Texas would leave the Union. This was not a popular position. It was, by all means, countercultural. But of course, he stood for what was right….

As the votes were counted, it was easy to see that it was to be the Confederacy. Not far from the capitol was the Governor’s mansion where Houston and his family waited for the inevitable results. Crowds stood outside the mansion waiting to see if Houston would pledge his allegiance to the Confederacy. Instead, in dramatic fashion, he addressed the crowd from his balcony and stated that he would not and that instead, effective immediately, he would resign as Governor.

In fairly short order, Houston’s family loaded their wagons to leave Austin for their home in Huntsville. This man who had led the armies of Texas to victory and freedom, road out of Austin with his family through streets of angry people screaming insults, and in some parts bombarding his family with rotten tomatoes.  “Courage goes against the flow.”

This story has always fascinated me because this man’s conviction was put to action when the response was sure to be painful. Peter and Paul lived this life. They understood that there are two different kingdoms in conflict. Each of us, with our actions, serves one or the other.

Another large meeting will be held in Austin, Texas this October, when our friends at Together for Adoption hold its 2010 National Conference.  We at Hope for Orphans are privileged to be a partner in this event. This meeting will not be about secession, but instead, it will be about the sanctity of human life. In particular, it will be about the love of God for orphans. Though much of the church has lost interest in orphans in the last 100 years, there is a movement of God in which thousands are standing up for that which concerns the heart of God.  The world continues to devalue, traffic, commercially exploit and suppress even the conception of children. The Bible sees children very differently than today’s world, saying that each child is valuable and made in the image of God, and we should as well.

Children who have no family should compel us even more to understand how we and our churches can be used by God. At Together for Adoption’s conference on October 1-2, you will be taught by some of the most knowledgeable leaders in the country how you and your church can be used in the lives of orphans. Even if those in your own church don’t understand orphan ministry….and even if they toss a few rotten tomatoes around…..will you come to Austin and stand for the pure worship that is found in loving and caring for orphans?

If you are able, please join us in Austin as we gather to grow and be inspired by those whom God is using in the Orphan Ministry movement. Join us in taking a countercultural stand by saying that all children have value because they are made in the image of God.

Blessings,

Paul

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