God’s Love Made Visible…

There is little doubt that as believers we all think the world would truly be a better place if we were all able to make God’s love visible on a daily basis. God’s love is the perfect love, like that of the little toddler gazing into his Mommy’s eyes. Perhaps that is what makes mission trips so darn special is the relinquishment of self and then acute awareness that by helping and loving and touching the very least of  these that you are digging in the very same trenches where Jesus himself might go today if he were still walking on earth.

As I learn more about the harrowing plight of the orphaned child I am driven to understand the best ways to care for them. The family and the church are doing more good than ever before in reaching the child who has no choice when a family member or family members are gone. They are here and must find ways to survive. We know that statistically the orphaned child is at great risk to be prostituted and or trafficked into untold circumstances. We must act alongside governments and NGOs to prevent such horrors. It first requires awareness and then action. What can you do to become part of the solution? Drop me a line and let me know how this article below makes you feel.

I love how Medifind states that all our efforts, although wonderful, are no match for the 147 million plus orphans who wait. We must spread the blanket and truth of God. We must show each and every deserving child God’s love. We must Be the Change one child at a time with a visit, a letter, a check, a mission project, a prayer, a sponsorship or an adoption. We must make God’s love visible to these hurting children who cannot continue to wait on an NGO or a government plan. Perhaps he or she is actually waiting for me and for you.

March 25, 2011

Written by: Jedd Medifind

The unmatched significance of the family is perhaps never more visible than when a child must face the world without one.  The depth of each orphan’s sorrow and struggle can leave us breathless, while the scope of what many call the “global orphan crisis” can paralyze.  But ultimately, both the breadth and the depth of orphan need must lead us to and then beyond the mass scale solutions that can be furnished by government and NGOs alone.  The homes and the church must play the watershed role.

Studies of orphans worldwide consistently lay bare the inadequacy of mass scale care for children.  Commodities like food, shelter and medicine are vital, and can often be effectively delivered by the machinery of governments and NGOs. But that same machinery proves utterly insufficient to meet the deeper needs for love, nurture, and belonging.  Though sometimes necessary as short-term solutions, even brief stints in orphanages affect everything from a child’s physical size and mental health to her intellect.

We see the same in the U.S. foster system. By their mid-20s, less than half of those who graduate from foster care are employed.  More than 80 percent of males have been arrested, compared to 17 percent overall.  And 68 percent of the women are on food stamps, compared to 7 percent overall.

We have a mass scale need that cannot be solved en masse.  18.3 M orphans in the world have lost both parents. Roughly 500,000 children live in the U.S. foster system.  Yet meeting their most fundamental needs can only be done one child at a time, by caring adults willing to share their homes and their hearts.

With all that is involved with loving an orphan—whether via adoption, foster care or even mentoring—the typical drivers of charity are simply not enough. The motivation of guilt, duty and idealism are ultimately outstripped by the vast need.

There is, however, one Source that can match both the breadth and depth of the need. Christians believe that at the center of the universe is the God who pursued us when we were destitute and alone, who rescued and adopted us, who invites us to live as His children.  This God calls those who have tasted his adoption to “defend the cause of the fatherless” (Is. 1:17) and “set the lonely in families” (Ps. 68:6).  The motivation is not guilt, duty or idealism, but because such a heart reflects God’s own.

Christians today are rising to this call in ways not seen in generations.  In Colorado, families stimulated by Focus on the Family and Project 1:27 have taken the lead role in caring for foster youth—cutting the number of “waiting” children bymore than 50 percent in two years.  Similar church-based efforts can be seen across the U.S., from Florida to Arkansasto Illinois to Texas.  Efforts to care for orphans worldwide—through both international adoption and orphan care—are often intertwined with these initiatives. Some U.S. churches have also begun to support recent indigenous adoption movements from Ukraine to Ethiopia.

New York Times article summed it up matter-of-factly, “Evangelical Christian churches, which have increasingly taken up orphan care as a tenet of their faith…”   As they do, we see clearly it is the family alone that can provide the love each orphan needs, and the Church alone that can provide the community and support each family needs to persevere along an often difficult road.

The end of this story is yet to be written.   But what I observe again and again is that as Christians rise to defend the fatherless—filling a role that government alone can never fill—no one remains the same.  Children’s deepest needs are met.  Individuals’ faith becomes vibrant.  Church communities are deepened and enriched.  And a watching world sees God’s love made visible.

Jedd Medefind formerly led the White House Office of Faith Based and Community Initiatives, and now serves as President of the Christian Alliance for Orphans.  The Alliance’s annual Summit has become both a catalyst and a hub for the growing movement of Christians engaged in adoption, foster care and global orphan ministry.

To respond to the author of this Commentary: capcomm@cpjustice.org