This is not meant to ignore the vital part of James 1:27 that calls for believers to look after widows in distress, but God has taught me so much over the past 2 years about his heart for the orphan. He's stretched my understanding of what it means to be an orphan. In my mind, and I believe from God's perspective, an orphan is not just a child who has no living parents, but is a child who is neglected and robbed of love by their parents whether they live with them or not. I am convicted in my own life that I have not done enough, risked enough, sacrificed enough for the sake of the orphan. Unloved, unwanted and abandoned children is an epidemic in this world. But there is hope and it comes through the life changing power of Jesus. Over the last 2 years I've seen God's people stretch themselves and move closer to his heart through their willingness to look after orphans in their distress. Let me share with you a few examples and then a vital prayer request.
My sister & brother-in-law (Chris & Amber Irving)-- God gave them a desire and a call to adopt. As they explored the system they realized the great need for foster care. Not only did they foster multiple children, they ended up adopting a sibling group. Two boys already into their pre-teen and teen years. A hard choice to say the least but a beautiful reflection of God's heart.
Multiple Church planters-- That's right, church planters. In the midst of their struggle, financial hardship and spiritual battles, I've seen several church planters go through the adoption process. Two particular planters have adopted children with special needs from China. The heart of God is a beautiful thing.
Trinity Baptist Church-- When we were down south for our partnership trip we went to the missions conference of Trinity Baptist in Ada, OK. We were surprised to see "adoption" as a break out session. How amazing that they don't view adoption as something separate from God's call for the church. They view adoption as going hand-in-hand with the mission of God. While we were there we met more couples than I can count who were fostering and/or adopting including the youth pastor & his wife. That's not an epidemic, that's a movement of God!
Becca Hurst & Laura Stevenson-- This is the one that is hitting close to home for our family and The Pathway. Becca and Laura are a part of our Leadership Team and sacrificed so much of what it means to be "young and free" by coming to serve with The Pathway. Over recent months they felt God calling them, as roommates, to become legal guardians for a 16, now 17 year old girl who has been abused in more ways in her short life than I can fathom. Did it make sense? No. Has it been easy or ideal? Absolutely not. But they saw an orphan (although her parents are living) in distress and they could not turn the other way.
Right now is a difficult time for our church as I shared in my last post and we believe it is because God is moving. My kids have been attacked through their health (and they are both doing much better) but Becca and Laura are being attacked, and quite frankly beaten down, through their James 1:27 heart. Their child is hurting and broken and this pain is manifesting itself in ways that are hurtful and inexplicable. They are trying to love her but their hearts are being destroyed. Please pray for three things...
1) Pray for Becca and Laura to throw all that they are into the hands of God. When we are weak he is made strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)
2) Ask God to show you if you could do more, give more, risk more... trust him more when it comes to looking after the orphans in distress all around you. And remember, many of those orphans have parents.
3) Pray that what God is beginning to do here in Tacoma would not be thwarted by Satan's attacks on our church and leadership.