Should the Hardships of Orphan Ministry Deter Us from Orphan Ministry?
For many months, we have been praying diligently for Darren and Jacky Lewis, precious members of our church family who have been pursuing the adoption of two girls in Africa. Jacky and Josie arrived home this week to be happily reunited with Darren, but they returned without the two adoptive girls. For them, an adoption process that was supposed to take three months turned into over seven months, and it finally failed because of poor personnel and procedures in the country of origin. This attempted adoption has proved to be a season of heartache for Darren and Jacky, as well as for the two girls there in Zambia.
I know of another family that God sent out from Morningview a few years ago. They completed a couple adoptions from the former Soviet Union. They were very loving parents, but one of their adoptive sons really struggled to adjust to his new life here in the United States. They persevered, and after a couple years, they returned with their children to the country of origin to engage in some ongoing orphan work. However, their adoptive teenage son ran away while in-country, creating a whole host of difficulties.
I know adoptive parents and foster parents who have gone through all kinds of heartache. They have suffered tremendous verbal disrespect, anxious nights seeking runaways, upset family schedules, and a host of other difficulties, many of them quite severe. When people consider adoption or foster parenting, it is these kinds of horror stories that often deter them. I can recall family members specifically advising me against being open to adoption and foster parenting because of these kinds of stories. But do such things release us from the biblical command to care for the orphan?
There are three facts I would like to draw our attention to. First, though there are difficulties that sometimes arise in caring for orphans, the vast majority of adoption and fostering experiences are wonderful blessings for both the children and their adoptive/foster parents. There are challenges that come even with raising your own children, but parenting is a God-ordained blessing meant to strengthen our faith and dependence on God. Adoption and foster parenting are no different. Furthermore, many of the adoptive families who have faced difficulties could share amazing stories of how God’s love and grace was displayed through those situations in miraculous ways. (Romans 8:28!)
Second, when there are significant difficulties involved in orphan care, remember that God never promised us that the path of obedience would be the easiest path. On the contrary, He told us that the path of discipleship requires us to deny ourselves, take up our crosses, and follow Him. When you are tempted to think that adoption has too many pitfalls or that the personal price of orphan care is too high, remember that Jesus had to die a torturous death on the cross to secure our adoption. As His children, we are called to embody that kind of love and that kind of sacrifice as we proclaim His Gospel and minister in His name in this world.
Third, God will not call all of us to do orphan care; I understand that well. But I also have no doubt that if we were all obediently prepared to heed His call, if we were prepared in Christ to do hard things, He would raise up an adoptive Christian family for every needy child. I do not doubt this because human adoption is a perfect picture of God’s glory in spiritual adoption, and God is all about elevating His own glory! So do not allow the adversities of adoption and foster parenting deter you from orphan care. God is in it, and He will keep you unto His purpose, so serve as Christ has served you.
In closing, I want to share words that Jacky shared through her blog posts as she was preparing to part from those two precious girls in Zambia: “Please know that right now our hearts are broken, yet the Lord has granted us peace and unity in our decision. It doesn’t mean it’s easy, it doesn’t mean that any options on the table were completely right or wrong. This simply is the way that this story is playing out thanks to the ever merciful and good hand of God himself. . . I never would have chosen to go through the struggles I have, but I feel a SMALL kinship in Christ’s sufferings that I never would have known otherwise. Christ paid a price to ransom my soul for adoption. I’ve done very little in comparison.”
Thank you for your example, Jacky and Darren. We love you, and we love Christ more because of how we have seen Him through you.