You may notice that there is now a giant thermometer on the side of this blog with a whopper of a number above it. No, it's not the current temperature in Florida. That monstrosity is there to keep track of how much money we raise to help with our adoption expenses.
Why in the world would we want to show everyone how much this is costing us? Why show how much we have been given in donations by doing fundraisers? Why are we allowing the public to see what some people would consider no one's business?
A year ago, we weren't sure we wanted to share those numbers with anyone. We struggled with the idea of asking for donations to help fund our adoption. We thought, "Why should we ask for help? We never asked for help paying for the births of our 3 biological children." A sermon preached by our Associate Pastor a year ago completely changed our thinking.
Alan and I had been discussing the fact that we knew other families participated in fundraising. We read the blogs. We saw the numbers and statistics and scrolled through the testimonies. We just weren't sure it was the right thing to do. Would God approve? What was His will for us in this process? We knew He would provide if He had called us to fill out hundreds of pieces of paper, have our lives dissected, miss time with family to make phone calls, cry in frustration trying to get everything together we needed to present our dossier, fly around the world to a foreign country, and bring home children that needed a family. He didn't call us to do that in our backyard in Florida. He called us to do it in AFRICA. If you want to read that story, you can click here:
If He called us to all of those things, we knew He would provide the means. But how?
Last January as we sat in church with our beloved brothers and sisters in Christ and listened to the sermon on Sanctity of Life Sunday, our pastor talked about abortion. Then he talked about adoption. They go hand in hand, you see. If we as believers are against abortion and want mothers who cannot keep their children to choose life over death, we have to be in support of adoption. If we are in support of adoption, guess what? That has to play out somewhere. We can't have millions of believers saying they are for adoption but not have believers to take those babies when the mothers choose life. It just doesn't work like that. That's why we have millions of orphans all over the world. That's why we have thousands of children in the foster care system in the United States alone. They are there because of all the people who do not "feel" led to adopt. This world is so broken. The church is broken. We are a people much of the time who like to speak about the good deeds that God would like us to do but we don't actually want to get our hands dirty doing them. We want the homeless to be fed, widows to be visited, people to be loved, children to be cared for, but we don't want to have to interrupt our lives or make our lives uncomfortable to make those things happen. I am not just trying to make everyone else feel bad here, for much of my life I have been in these categories, too, and in many ways, I still am. It's time for a wake-up call! Time for action!
Okay, I went off on a tangent. Let me go back. When our pastor spoke about adoption, he focused on it like a ministry. He said (I know, Scott, this may not be word for word here, I'm paraphrasing :) that adoption is a ministry that the church was called to undertake just like taking care of widows and feeding the needy. James 1:27 says, "Religion that our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." The orphan crisis is a mission field. What better way to show a child the gospel in action than to love them, care for them, feed them, rock them, comfort them, discipline them, and let them see the love of Christ through you every day. (That's not to say I live up to a Christ-like figure every day. Ask my kids- they'll tell you about all the times I mess up, yell, and get impatient. They'll also tell you I ask for forgiveness and I bet they will tell you that their mom loves the Lord. They KNOW it.)
Our pastor then pointed out that when the kids in our youth group (or even adults) go on a mission trip, they send out letters asking for support in the way of donations and prayer. People give because they have the means to give and are not able to go on the mission trip themselves. The kids don't have all the means but have the desire and willingness to go. God provides a way for the people of the church to participate in the mission by their donations from their hard-earned money, and people who are willing to physically go and do the work. It takes both. If some people were not willing to give and other people were not willing to go, the mission wouldn't happen.
It's the same with adoption! If adoption is a mission of the church, it makes sense that there are some people called to adopt and others called to support that adoption.
When Scott spoke those words, Alan and I looked at each other, he leaned over and said, "I think we have our answer. We're fundraising, and we're not going to be ashamed to do it." After church we spoke with Scott about his message and our desire to adopt, and received his counsel about the fundraising process.
Fast forward almost a year. We are getting ready to have our first large fundraiser in 3 weeks. A BBQ dinner and silent auction. We have had so many supporters for this event. It's wonderful! We are excited about the way God is bringing everything together.
For every few supporters, there is, however, someone who doesn't understand. Who doesn't "get it". They see us as asking for money for something that should be only our responsibility. They don't understand why adoption costs so much. They make comments like, "Why can't you just get a kid right here from the foster system?", or, "Why are you asking for money when this is your decision and not someone else's?", or the dreaded, "What are you trying to do - buy a baby?"
I know that we are not the only ones who receive harsh comments and admonitions. I read about them often from new families in our adoption group through our agency. They put out messages in frustration and hurt when people let them down through unkind words. We have been there. We were blessed to have people that have adopted before us give us a heads-up that we would encounter all kinds of cruelty. But isn't that fitting? Think about it. When you are in God's will, I mean really in His will and doing things the world thinks are crazy and radical because of this "Jesus" person, you are promised that people will think you are nuts. Jesus himself told us that we as his followers would be persecuted. Persecution comes in many forms.
Satan hates adoption. That's right. Adoption is such a picture of how God adopted us into His family through Jesus Christ and Satan can't stand that. So I believe he whispers in people's ears untruths that they in their sinful nature believe may be right. He did it to Eve. He's still doing it today. It's hard to ignore people's comments that you don't know very well. It's harder to ignore negative comments from your family. But in my opinion the hardest thing to ignore is when believers hurt other believers. They don't do it on purpose! I realize that. But it's then that I have to pray without ceasing, asking God to help me forgive and not have resentment towards people I love.
I hope that even if you don't agree with the fundraising efforts of adoptive families, you understand their point of view a little bit better.
We are trying to serve God. In whatever form that looks like to us. We need to rise up as a church body, get off our backsides, and live out the gospel. Like Stephen Curtis Chapman says, "Live out loud!" That's another thing Satan has succeeded in - getting us to be lazy and complacent. Lazy Christians don't make a dent in the world for Christ and Satan loves every minute of it. He doesn't have to make us have terrible things happen in our lives, he just has to make us content. I'm not talking about the contentment we are supposed to have in Jesus, I'm talking about the contentment that makes us think we are doing "enough". Sinful contentment. It may be the same word but the meaning is totally different.
Father, I pray that people's hearts will be opened all over the world to love orphans. I pray that as pastors in America preach this coming Sunday on the Sanctity of Life, you would open people's hearts to see that pro-life issues and adoption go hand-in-hand. Give us a desire as your people to proclaim the Gospel to every one we meet through our actions and words. Help us to love people the way you love people. In Jesus name, Amen.