The Blind Side – Michael Oher Adoption Story

I am back from a great Thanksgiving holiday and a week with my family. One of the things we did was go and see the Blindside, the story of Michael Oher and his adoption by an upperclass family in Memphis. I thought it did a great job of touching on a number of things-

1. The reality of poverty in our own backyard.
2. The fact that many of us don’t realize there are kids and families living on the street.
3. The hopelessness and danger of poverty and homelessness. 
4. The joy of sharing with those in need and how it transforms both the giver and the receiver.
5. The power of adoption.
6. The importance of family.
7. The need for racial reconciliation.

It has been awhile since I laughed and cried and was moved so deeply by one movie. I understand it is a very unique situation and story but it does point us to the need to consider the many other kids (130,000 in the US!) like Michael Oher who may not be superstars but have just as much potential in a thousand other areas. Their stories may not be as spectacular or glorious but their God-given life is spectacular in an of itself and not one of them should be without family.

Here is a video of the real Tuohy family. You can also read the book The Blind Side by Michael Lewis, or watch the trailer for the film starring Sandra Bullock, at the official site.

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The Boys of Baraka

 

My wife and I watched The Boys of Baraka the other night and I have not been able to get it off my mind. 

The documentary looks at the lives of four inner-city boys from Baltimore, MD who spend a year at the Baraka School in Kenya. The goal being to help them boys overcome the obstacles that most of their fellow students face in the public school system in Baltimore. 

The film begins with  this haunting statistic:

76 percent of black males who enter high school in Baltimore will not graduate. 

That is almost unbelievable to me! 

Bill Cosby comments in the Special Features that this movie shows us that these young men need mentors. To quote Cosby, “Put a body on them!” They need someone to believe in them, walk with them, to push them to not give up. 

We don’t necessarily think of these youth as orphans but there is a real sense in which they are. One definition of ‘orphan’ is a person or thing bereft of protection or position.’ These youths are largely “fatherless” – their mothers and grandmothers are carrying the brunt of responsibility in raising them. Their fathers have moved on, are incarcerated, or dead. They are left with little or no protection. On top of that they are born with little access to resources to gain skills that will put them in positions of worth in this world. They are in America the least and the last and the truly lost. From the world’s perspective they are ‘throw aways.’

So, what ought to be our response to a movie like this? To the reality of this in our own cities? What would it look like if the church took the lead in providing mentors for these young men. To step up and be the “fathers” they need. To be the “body on them” that will believe in them today and not stop believing until they succeed. 

One of our ABBA Fund families just watched the movie as well and blogged their thoughts here. They are also involved in a ministry doing just what this movie calls us too. I love what she writes: 

Volunteer at a school related program for inner city children in your area. Take one day a week to spend with an at risk inner city child. Invest in them, encourage them, mentor them. Be that somebody, that person that lets them know they can hope, they can dream and see their dreams happen. They not only can beat the odds but change the odds.

You can be a part of changing a child’s future.

Watch this movie. Pray for these kids. And consider what you can do. Let me know what God does! 

Here is a clip from the movie – 

God Bless the Child

My plan was a nice relaxing Saturday night, laying on the couch with my wife, popcorn in hand, and a good movie to entertain us. I had forgotten which movie we had waiting for us in the Blockbuster-by-mail envelope and put in God Bless the Child. I was not prepared. What I saw floored me, humbled me, and in many ways broke me and is breaking me still.  

The basic story follows a single mother who struggles without a job and a home with a young child. She is forced to rely upon welfare and sleep in shelters. She is a woman who has all the desire and ability to work but due to circumstances is brought into poverty. It is often overlooked that there are many factors that lead people into poverty. We often think of it being the sole fault of the individual; their irresponsibility and abuse of drugs or alcohol. This movie introduces the viewer to the other face of poverty – that of families and children, many of whom are working as hard as they can to climb out. In one memorable scene a social worker describes poverty as a “disease” that grabs hold of folks and beats them down until they loose all hope. This movie brought to light, in a way I have never seen before, the awful downward spiral that folks find themselves in.  

The most heart-breaking part of the movie though, for my wife and I, was watching this mother make the difficult choice of whether her only child whom she loved more than anything should remain with her on the streets, in rat-infested apartments, and in shelters, after friends and family can’t help them out anymore.

This brought to mind the situations that our birthmothers faced in choosing to place their children for adoption. I can’t express the emotions that I feel. I have a new respect and a new brokenness over what they went through in making that decision. We are praying for them with fresh awareness and love and respect. I am also praying more specifically about what it looks like for the church to care for mothers before they come to this place and for the poor in my community.