Monday, November 26, 2012

Orphan Care

{I started writing this post on Nov. 5th and am just now finishing . . . it's been a crazy month!}

November 4th was designated in churches all over the US (and hopefully the world) as Orphan Sunday.

A day set aside to dwell on what God's Word reveals about His love and concern for orphans and to highlight and educate the Church about the global orphan crisis.

I helped put together the Orphan Sunday emphasis at Edgewater so I'd love to share with you some of the verses and statistics we shared through a video with our faith family . . .

God’s heart for the orphan is unmistakable. 

“He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing.”  Deut. 10:18

“A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.  God sets the lonely in families . . .”  Psalm 68:5-6

“Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed.  Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.”  Asaph’s cry to God in Psalm 82:3-4

The numbers are staggering.

The UNICEF definition of an ORPHAN:  a child who has lost one parent (single orphan) or both parents (double orphan)

The total number of orphans worldwide – 153 million 

The number of orphans worldwide who have lost both parents – 17.8 million 

In most of the world, to lose your father means the loss of all provision, protection, and hope.

The number of orphans who have lost their father – 101 million 

The number of children who are orphaned by AIDS each day – 6,000 

The percent of HIV positive children in resource poor settings who will die – 50% by the age of 2 

The number of children in the US foster system – 500,000 

The number of children waiting in US foster care who are qualified for adoption – 104,000 

The number of young people who “age out” of the foster system each year without a family – 20,000 

The number of children in the foster system in New Orleans – 450 

The call is clear.

“Religion that God 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.”  James 1:27

Now here is where things can get a bit confusing, heated, and just flat out wrong.  When we see God's heart for orphans and we understand the call for the Church to care for orphans, there can be the tendency to put a simple equation together . . . Orphan Care = Adoption.  

The problem is that this equation isn't true and believing this way leaves out a massive number of orphans who still need our care.  Adoption is most definitely part of orphan care, but orphan care is not in any way limited to adoption.

Those who have or are adopting are usually passionate and excited to talk about adoption specifically, but this can sometimes come across as communicating that false equation. 

Adoption is amazing, needed, and certainly Gospel proclaiming, but it isn't the only way.  I'm sorry if any of you have ever gotten that message and felt guilty or judged or resolved that you can't be involved in caring for orphans unless you adopt.  You can!

With this confusion in mind, we also gave our faith family a handout with 10 ways to be involved in orphan care that I'd love to share with you as well (my friend, Brigette, made a beautiful handout, but I can't figure out how to get it on here. Grrrrr. So you just get a plain old list.).  We used a similar resource found at, but made it specific to the needs and opportunities at Edgewater. 

Ten Practical Ways to Engage in Orphan Care

  1. PRAY for Orphans.  Display a waiting child’s picture in your home or car to help remind you to pray ( or Use the 40 Days of Prayer for Orphans guide at
  2. SPEAK UP on their behalf.  Share God’s heart for the orphan and information about the global orphan crisis with family and friends.  Become a court appointed special advocate for a child in foster care (
  3. DONATE to Edgewater's adoption fund or to organizations that give grants to adoptive families (,
  4. VISIT orphans in their context.  Pray for the India mission trip in March 2013 as they serve at an orphanage. Be looking for future mission trips involving orphan care. Volunteer at a group home in NOLA (,,
  5. SERVE those who have adopted or are fostering.  You could write an encouraging note, babysit, mow their lawn, or bring them a meal.
  6. INTERCEDE for those in our faith family who already have or are in the process of adopting or providing foster care. (I listed all the Edgewater families, but won't throw all their names out on here!)
  7. GIVE sacrificially to allow our India mission team to purchase 5 water bu ffalos for the orphanage in order to provide much needed milk for the approximately 300 orphans there.
  8. SUPPORT orphans in practical ways.  Sponsor a child with a financial gi ft and encouraging letters (,,, Connect with a young adult who has aged out of the foster system.  Mentor a child in a local group home.
  9. PARTICIPATE in opportunities to care for orphans provided by our Orphan Care and Foster Care Life Groups. Th e Foster Care Life Group is kicking off a "3 Day Bag" project for children brought into the foster system and could use our help!
  10. PURSUE adopting or fostering. For more information on becoming a foster family or adopting a child through international, domestic, or foster care adoption, a resource list is available in the foyer. (We had a list of books, websites, agencies, and info for local foster care to give families a place to start as they pray for direction.)

I hope, as was our prayer for the Orphan Sunday emphasis, that you have clearly seen God's heart for orphans and the Church's call to be the hands and feet of Jesus to them.  

For some of you, I hope this list has taken away the guilt or judgment you've felt about not adopting and given you new ideas and a renewed desire to engage in orphan care in different ways as God leads.

And maybe for a few, I'm hoping that you are no longer able to ignore the call.  If you are a Christ follower, your life should be marked by what proclaims the heart of God . . . orphan care, then, cannot be denied or pushed off on others.  Don't ask God, "Should I care for orphans?" . . . that answer is YES!  Instead, dare to ask, "How should I care for orphans?" and watch God rock your world!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


I want to apologize if I’ve ever come across on the blog as super-spiritual or like I’ve got it all together.  Because I’m not and I don’t. 

I usually don’t write on the blog until I’ve processed things, until I’ve come out on the other side.  So maybe I don’t do a good enough job of communicating the hard and weary road in the middle.  I’m sorry if that has made it seem like I’m something I’m not.

Cause I’m messed up.  I struggle with sin.  I fail. 

I need Jesus.  I need the salvation that only comes through His life, death, burial, and resurrection.  I need the Gospel.

And, as was all too clear today, I need to be reminded of the Gospel daily.  I need it in front of me.  I need to preach it to myself moment by moment.

But (and I’m about to get real honest here folks) what I usually preach to myself is far different.  My thought life at times goes like this . . .

I think about something negative that others are probably thinking about me (but there is no one else in the conversation so it is really just the negative I think about myself).  Then I’m beat down, ashamed, and defensive.  So I naturally defend myself against this attack (defending myself to myself . . . I told you I’m messed up!).  I remind myself of why I’m not so bad and bring to the front anything positive until I feel better about myself.  Sick.

The main problem is that nothing in this scenario proclaims the Gospel.

Self-condemnation is not the Gospel.

Self-righteousness is not the Gospel.

I am hopeless apart from the grace of God in Christ . . . that is the Gospel!  Jesus died on my behalf so that the condemnation of sin is no longer mine.  He died so that my righteousness, that could never be enough, is not what secures my future or makes me a child of God. 

Are you wondering where all of this confession is coming from?  I’ll tell you where . . . World War III with my girl today!

Ava is sick (I hate you croup!) so I’ve spent $35 and the last 24 hours trying to get some medicine to help her not sound like a barking seal.  The doctor for some reason thought that it would be possible to get a 4 year old to swallow 7 mL of a one dose medicine instead of giving us the three dose stuff that Grayson has taken just fine.  Add to that the fact that the pharmacist failed to tell us that said medicine tasted like death so we didn’t even think of trying to have flavoring added.  This resulted in a massive battle with our tip-lipped 27 pounder and EVERY. SINGLE. DROP. of that precious medicine being spit on the floor.

Now can you understand why I have been reminded today to preach the Gospel to myself?  I need grace!  I lost my mind during the drama, yelled at my sweet girl, and was as frustrated as I’ve been in a long time.

I spent this afternoon so grieved and ashamed at how quickly my flesh can rise up.  Then I worshiped because I was fully aware of my need for forgiveness and so grateful that I’m already forgiven.  The Gospel.

After prayers and tears, I sat down to read Hosea.  I’ll begin teaching Hosea this week, but I just wanted to read . . . not for study or information, but with hope that God would whisper sweet words to my hurting heart. 

I only made it to verse two. J

“When the LORD first spoke through Hosea, the LORD said to Hosea . . .”

The whisper. 

Before God was going to use Hosea to proclaim His words to others, Hosea needed to understand the message himself.  He needed to know the heart of God.  He needed firsthand experience with love and grace.

And it’s still the same.  As a follower of Christ, I’ve been given a mission to make disciples.  But how could I ever expect someone to be overwhelmed by God’s grace if I’m not?  How can I passionately share the great love of Jesus if I’m not gripped by it?  How can I honestly speak to someone about their great need unless I’m keenly aware of my own? 

I need to never believe I’m so different from those with whom I’m sharing the Gospel.  No different in fact . . . needy, hopeless, a wreck . . . but for the grace of God.  That heart knowledge brings compassion in proclamation . . . and you know our world could use a little more of that!

So although it has been draining day, I’m thankful for the reminder of my great need of grace.  I’m humbled at the great price Jesus paid on my behalf.  I’m grateful for the salvation that I could never deserve or earn.  I have a fresh joy as I consider all that is mine in Christ.  And I have a renewed desire to proclaim the good news that has transformed me.

Because the Gospel, when you’re brought face to face with it, begs to be shared. 

So if you’re a mess like me and have no hope or peace other than what you can muster on your own, leave me a comment . . . I have something I’d love to share with you! 

And if you’re a mess like me (cause we all are!), but do have hope in Jesus, then I pray that my rough day will serve as a reminder of the great grace, the moment by moment grace, that is yours in Christ!