Definition of an Emergency

Shaun Groves:

This past weekend – thanks to an e-mail from a blog reader – I listened to a sermon by Francis Chan (three times) called “Living To Display The Gospel” and was re-inspired by a new answer. In his message he told the story of how he decided to give away a large sum of money he earned. And he ended the story by saying that some people ask him if it’s wise to give it all away. “Shouldn’t you be more moderate in your generosity?” they essentially ask. “Shouldn’t you put some of it away in case of emergency?”

To which he answered, “Are you saying that what’s happening in ‘the developing world’ isn’t an emergency? …Oh, you mean an emergency that involves me. Because if it doesn’t involve me then it’s not a real emergency.”

He explained passionately and gently that God is not moderate in his generosity toward us. Jesus didn’t look at the mess on Earth and say, “Well those problems aren’t my problems so I’m staying out of it.” No, he gave all because he loved the whole world. Love says your emergency is our emergency and then it sacrifices without moderation to intervene. Love, Francis believes, doesn’t save a sum so large for it’s own future needs when someone else is in tremendous need right now.

Francis reminded me that moderation isn’t a bad thing but even moderation must be pursued in moderation. And it’s thrown out the window entirely in case of emergency. And all over the world, this is an emergency.

[HT: VitaminZ]

Is Adoption Missional?


My friend Johnny Carr, National Director of Church Partnerships for Bethany Christian Services, wrote this piece for the Q Ideas blog. I think he nails it. Johnny also lives it; he and his wife have two adopted children who are both deaf.

 

Is Adoption Missional? 

I guess the first thing is to define missional. “Missional” is one of those junk drawer buzzwords that has become common in our Christian vocabulary with several definitions floating around. Wikipedia says that “missional” is a missionary-term that describes a missionary lifestyle, and I guess that is as good a definition as any. To live “missionally” is to express the Gospel holistically in the way you live – every day and in every thing. It is a way of life, not a program. It means living like Jesus lived. If you know much about Jesus you know that includes helping to meet the emotional, physical and spiritual needs of others. Living missionally means making a conscious decision to live each day with others in mind, rather than yourself.

In other words, YES – adoption is missional.

Recently, I was speaking with a lady who had asked her church for financial help for their adoption. The church leader responded that the church did not help with “optional” things like adoption. The pastor’s perspective seemingly saw adoption more like consumption than ministry. He saw adoption as a want – much like I want an iPhone. He was not viewing adoption from the perspective of the child.

When I meet with Pastors to discuss adoption ministries, I will often ask them, “Who does adoption help?” The typical response is “infertile couples.” That is when I lovingly explain that adoption primarily helps children. Whether the child is an orphan from war, genocide or disease in Africa; whether the child is an orphan due to abuse and neglect and the state has severed the rights of his/her birth parents, or whether it is a new born baby that was born due to an unplanned pregnancy – adoption is (or, at least, should be) always about the health and best interest of the child. Unfortunately, many Christians are focusing on adults (us) rather than the child (them).

When adoption is seen through a child’s eyes, it is easy to see the missional nature of adoption. In fact, this may be the ultimate missional decision because adoption is a lifetime commitment. Many people today are adopting children with special needs. Some of these children will never grow up to be independent. The people who are adopting these little ones know that they are making a decision today that will affect the rest of their lives. Instead of raising a couple of healthy kids, sending them off to college, and then sailing off in their motor home into retirement, they will be serving the least of these until one of them “retires” into eternity. That is truly missional.

Someone once said missional living was “religion without all the junk added,” I thought that was interesting in light of James 1:27, “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.” (NIV)

There are many different perspectives on the best ways to care for orphans, but with 143,000,000 orphans in the world today, something must be done by followers of Jesus Christ. Only 1-2% of these children will be adopted. We need many strategies that will best fit the cultures, values, and
environments of the places where these orphans live, and adoption is a one great strategy.

Adoption is not the one-stop cure all for the orphan crisis, but it is a strategic and effective mode to care for the orphans of the world. It’s also a commitment of sacrifice, a holistic manifestation of the Gospel, a missional posture and a service to Christ.

Giving to a Local Church Adoption Ministry

Why give to a local church adoption ministry? Here’s part of Zach Nielsen’s answer to this important question:

When I write a check to my local church adopting family,
or to the church’s adoption fund, I know that I will get to observe and
perhaps participate in God-centered justice for the weak and voiceless
in a very personal way. There is a strong tie between relationships and
resources and our church is strengthened as we pursue justice in the
world TOGETHER.

Read the whole post.

New Way to Be a Missionary

Owen Strachan, Managing Director of the Carl F. H. Henry Center for Theological Understanding at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School posted on adoption yesterday. I love his thoughts and dreams for the church when it comes to adoption and the church:

Perhaps in coming days, we’ll see churches flooded with children from around the world worshiping the living God, the One who cares for the poor and needy (Psalm 140:12).  Once abandoned, once destitute, perhaps we’ll see a great movement of children who now know not only warmth and care, but love in its most extreme form, the love of God in Christ as preached and lived out in the local church.

Were this to be true, we might see that all tribes and tongues of the earth may discover the gospel not simply through missionaries who go and stay, but missionaries who go and bring back.  That is, couples who could spend their money on a bigger home, or a faster car, or yet another expensive vacation will catch a vision for investing their hard-earned money in the salvation of the lost through adoption of the orphan.  Maybe you don’t have to be sent through a foreign missions board to be a missionary; maybe you can be one by the simple but life-transforming act of adopting a child or two (or three or four).

Couples could do this when past the child-bearing years, as well.  Have some money and extra time?  Maybe adoption–or support of the adoption efforts of other families–is for you and will be a better way to pass the time than still more perfection of one’s golf swing or enhancement of one’s wardrobe.  There’s nothing wrong with these things in moderation, but there seems to be a higher cause to serve with one’s time in later, more comfortable years.

It is difficult to estimate the difference we Christians could make if we wholeheartedly bought into this mission.  How much would we bless lonely, isolated, suffering children by adopting, and how much would the Lord bless us in our decision to deny ourselves yet another material pleasure and to spend that money as a missionary and an agent of mercy to the lost?

subtext · practicing missional principles in the suburban context

The Missional Church in the Suburban ContextJoe Thorn and Steve McCoy have started a new website discussing the preaching and practice of the gospel in the suburban context. If you are a Christian living the suburbs and going to a suburban church and wrestling with how to live out God’s mission this site is for you.

And here’s a question to ponder over the weekend: How are you practicing the missional principle of God’s care for orphans in your suburban context? I would love to hear your thoughts!