Orphan Care at the Summit

Posted by Heather on June 6, 2010
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Today’s blog is written by guest blogger Brian Fleming, who is one of the leaders of  the orphan care ministry at the Summit Church.  Thanks Brian, for all you guys doing!

Part of the vision of the Summit Church is to minister to the homeless, orphans, prisoners, unwed mothers, and high-school drop-outs.  These groups represent the marginalized of our society.  God has a record in Scripture of doing incredible things for his glory through those that others have written off as useless.  What we don’t often realize is that as believer in the gospel, we already closely identify with one of these groups — orphans.  Why?  Because we were, as Scripture tells us, alienated and fatherless because of our sin, now adopted by God through Christ.

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. -Romans 8:14-17

If you are a Christian, think about your life before this adoption. You were completely separated from your Father and buried in so much sin, despair, and hopelessness that you could never get yourself out.

In much the same way, children around the world are experiencing this same despair and hopelessness as you read this. To be exact, most estimates put the number of orphans in the world upwards of 150 million! Many of these children are homeless, literally starving and worse yet, have never known the love of a mom or dad.

God’s will for us as it pertains to these millions of parentless children is not hidden… The Old Testament alone contains more than 40 references that show His compassion and concern for the orphaned. This is how God’s people have always showed they understood the Gospel… and James said was 1 of the tests of “true” and “pure” religion. So, a question to consider is: How are you involved in it? In what way will you care for the orphaned?

As Christians, we need to soberly consider how many of the other realities of our lives demand, logically, we be involved in orphan care. For example, how can we tell a young mother that she should give her unborn child life, but not offer that child a safe alternative home after he’s born? Or, how can we experience so many lavish blessings of God and turn a deaf ear to millions and millions of children may never know a parent’s hug or kiss?

All of these are worthwhile considerations, but ultimately, overflowing gratitude to an ever-loving Savior is what will lead us to take action and truly love the fatherless.  Our adoption of them should be a response to God’s adoption of us.

Providing a home to a child without one, through either foster care or adoption, is one way we can respond to the gospel. With the millions of orphans around the world and hundreds in need of a foster home right here in the Triangle, there is a huge need, and the church’s response should also be huge. This response will take us out of comfort zones and into a step of faith, but we are not alone and we are not without God’s promises.

Both adoption and fostering may seem overwhelming to you. Paperwork, financial obstacles and a seemingly endless amount of options and unknown variables can be intimidating. In response to these difficulties and in an effort to help you explore God’s heart for these children, the Summit Church is launching an Orphan Care Ministry this month to help educate, encourage and support you as you consider the possibilities.

Maybe adoption or fostering has never even crossed your mind, or maybe it’s something you and your family have frequently discussed but just never taken the next step. Either way, we encourage you to consider and pray about it now.

We hope to see you at an interest meeting we’ll host at the Brier Creek campus on June 22 at 6:30. There are dozens of other families at Summit who have already fostered or adopted and others who are currently in the process that we’d like to connect you with. You’ll hear more about the new Orphan Care Ministry, be able to collect resource materials, learn from other families’ experiences and ask questions.

Heather

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6 responses to Orphan Care at the Summit

  1. Hey JD, great thoughts as always. For a long while I thought I would actually do adoption when I get married in lieu of actually having my own children. Now that I’m married, I know how much it will mean to my wife, and to me, to have children ourselves. What are your thoughts? Is it purely a spirit/prayer led decision how to balance the two options, or are there particular passages that we should use to guide us?

  2. One thing to understand-when you adopt those children will BE your own. The only difference is biology.

    We struggled with infertility, b/c we (like so many) thought you have your biological children first then if you are led to adopt-you do that next. BOY were we wrong.

    If I had it to do over-I would have started with “GOD-we’d like to start a family-guide away Lord.”

    I have several friends who started with adoption first and became pregnant later. Then adopted again.

    I often wonder if it’s society that influences us to “have our own children” first and not the Bible. It should not matter how God’s children come to us.

    Children are a blessing themselves. And I’m grateful we have been touched by that blessing through adoption. It hurt to deal with the struggle of infertility-but now I see and understand that we needed our little boy as much as he needed us. God led us to and through the struggles, really convicting us of our faith and humbling us. I never understood what “in God’s Time” meant until we started to try for children AND then again in the process of the adoption.

    anyway, just my .02 on the matter. We are now beginning our second adoption!!

  3. I agree that those children will *really* be your own. (Anyone who thinks otherwise should *not* adopt). I guess what I’m wondering is whether there is some Biblical criteria that would help you decide which to do, or whether it really is a prayer/spirit led decision.

  4. Hey Tripp,

    I’m working with Brian and several others on the orphan care ministry at Summit, and I think your questions are really great. Bullcitymama’s comments are right on in my opinion. Many people do begin considering adoption only because of infertility, but then go on to understand that God has called Christians to adoption as a response to the Gospel, not just because they can’t “have their own.”

    I would recommended Russell Moore’s book, “Adopted for Life” to you. Though the Moore’s did struggle with infertility initially, they grew to understand that adoption should be Gospel-driven, and it is not EVER intended to be a second-rate backup plan to “having your own.” When God adopted us into his family, he made us his own–not “like his own” or “sort of his own,” but truly his own. He gave us an identity and an inheritance.

    He then commanded Christians (James 1:27) to do the same to orphans. Orphan care is not optional for Christians. Not all will necessarily adopt or foster themselves, but radical numbers of us should be doing so (as the early church did in their “baby runs”). Those who don’t adopt or foster should be involved in other ways, but all MUST be involved.

    Part of our vision is for adoption and fostering to become the norm. It is no less or more noble than having biological children, and therefore we would love to see it common, never driven just by infertility, but always by Gospel understanding of God’s adoption of us.

    Continue your prayer, and don’t think biological children and adopted ones are exclusive options! God’s answer for the orphan problem throughout the world is families and fathers who have a passion for rescue!

  5. Great, I will definitely read Moore’s book. My wife and I are still in our mid/early 20′s, so I’d love to go forward with a good base on these issues for our family. Thanks!

  6. I am social worker with a therapeutic foster care agency called KidsPeace (Thanks for mentioning us in the message this week JD!) KidsPeace provides home-based foster placements for children in crisis, most of which have been victims of abuse or neglect and now have emotional or behavioral issues to work through. Even though a foster child is not always adopted by his or her foster family, (although sometimes they will be), the level of commitment to that particular child is just as high. And the relationship that you create with the child lasts forever, even when they no longer live in your home.

    Foster care has it’s challenges, and I can tell you from experience that people are not knocking down my door to take these kids in. There is a high need for individuals or couples who can foster these children. As JD mentioned this past Sunday, there are literally hundreds of children in need of a safe, nurturing, and loving home in the Triangle alone. My job is to find the right folks to do this job and prepare them for the task at hand. I sometimes feel that I walk a fine line, because even though we are in desperate need of families, we’re in even more desperate need of good, COMMITTED families. Fostering is not right for everyone, and therapeutic fostering has its own unique challenges. Unfortunately, there are a lot of homes across the country that are probably not fostering for the right reasons.

    I was very moved by the direction that JD took the first message in the Fatherless series. There are a lot of people that make the decision to foster a child in an effort to “save” them. These people tend to get frustrated very quickly if it appears to them that the child is not grateful enough, because they feel that the child somehow owes them something. It’s true that we are providing the child with a healthy, loving relationship that increases their resiliency and gives them a chance for a better future. And this is a wonderful, admirable thing. But we are not their saviors. I will never say that fostering is easy, but what keeps me grounded when negotiating a child’s painful past or challenging behaviors is to take a step back and be able to see myself in them.

    I’ve been a member of Summit for about 5 years and I am so happy and proud that my church family has taken up the cause to lift up this population. My hope is that several families within Summit will become licensed as foster parents. There is a need for families to foster with the various county Departments of Social Services as well as with private therapeutic foster care agencies like KidsPeace. I encourage you to investigate the different agencies to find the right fit for your family. And I’m happy to attempt to answer any questions you may have or help point you in the right direction!

    Thank you to everyone who is at work in this ministry area!

    Ashley Tyndall
    919-412-8032
    ashley.tyndall@kidspeace.org

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