(Now, this one chokes me up. I’m glad I’m typing and not speaking.) We have couples who’ve decided that they should adopt children from poor countries — as a ministry for Jesus.
Adoption is common enough, of course, but most who adopt do so because they want children and adoption is the only way they can have children. And so they adopt.
But these couples in our church are capable of producing more children the biological way. But they feel compeled by the love of God to rescue a child from poverty, not by sending a check each month (which is very noble and good itself), but by bringing in a child from Ethiopia or the like and raising him or her in a Christian family. Oh, wow!!
Tragically, many countries that have many orphans are unwilling to allow them to be adopted by Americans — or else they charge ridiculously high fees, making them effectively traffickers in orphans, but this is how it is. It’s astonishingly expensive to adopt across national lines even though many countries are unable to care for the orphans they have.
There really needs to be an effort to push Congress and the White House to negotiate a treaty allowing cross-border adoption at a reasonable cost. The present situation is inhuman.
We have a group of adults who take some teens with them each year to the Bahamas to volunteer at an orphans home there and do other good work. This effort began as a youth ministry thing, but the adults refused to stop going just because their kids graduated!
One regular volunteer grew attached to a young man in the orphanage and tried to adopt him, but the Bahamian government wouldn’t allow it, even though the children are kept in destitution. One summer, they allowed him to visit the family, and the child packed a can of beans, assuming this would be his only food for the week visit! He had no idea of the abundance that awaiting him that week with this family. In his world, if you leave the orphanage, you pack a can of beans. (He is finally of age, and they just received a visa to let him live here.)
Another couple that regularly makes the trip fell in love with a severely retarded child at the orphanage — and wanted to adopt him. Again, the government refused, and it will be years before he can be rescued.
And so, I feel entirely unworthy to be an elder for people like this. I feel like John the Baptist when approached by Jesus — unworthy to stoop down and untie the thongs of their sandals — because I see God in them.
This is what ministry does when it reaches outside the church to the hurting, the poor, and the oppressed. It lifts Jesus up — showing the world the very face of God. And, I’m convinced, it will change the world. There is no greater evangelism strategy than loving as Jesus loved.