There is a problem in “the church” in America. I don’t have any one church in mind here. But there is a problem of sorts. Perhaps you could call it apathy in some cases. Maybe foolish spending in some cases. Ignorance of the problem in other cases. Consumerism in some. But I think the problem is a “Sending” problem more than it is a “Laborer availability” problem as this 8 minute video explains. This video was recently shared by a friend on Facebook. It combines well with thoughts about this problem that have been rolling through my head. Watch the video if you can.
This is a problem that we need to repent of as a body of believers. We need to repent of this and let Him change us from the inside.
The Problem Statement
That’s how I approach technology problem resolution.. What’s the problem statement? The statement is simple – “There are a lot of orphans in the world. But there are enough Christians and Christian churches arguably to take care of the problem. In more than one spot Christians are told that this is an area of concern for us or shown it is an area of concern for our Father”
“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, andto keep oneself unstained from the world.” James 1:27
“When the ear heard, it called me blessed, and when the eye saw, it approved, because I delivered the poor who cried for help, and the fatherless who had none to help him.The blessing of him who was about to perish came upon me, and I caused the widow’s heart to sing for joy.” Job 29:11-13
That’s the problem statement. Now please don’t take this as me calling out any church, any believer or asking any organization to repent of some sin. I am, however, calling myself to repentance here. I am calling the body of believers in America to repentance. We love our comfort. We love our money. We love our stuff. And, sadly, I am included in each of these We’s. What a shame.
My prayer here is “Oh God! Would you allow us to see our state. Help us see how we have paralyzed ourselves with convenience. Show us how we have chosen complacency in a hurt and dying world. Show us where we sin both through our actions and through our inactions in the midst of the needs of this world. Start with me. Change me. Change us. Change our churches. Let us not be idle in the face of the slaughter of abortion, let us not be slack in opening our wallets, our homes and our hearts to the needs around us. Let us hear the great commission and understand it is given to us.”
Same Problem Statement Pattern – Many Problems
I believe there are many problems with similar problem statements. We live in a world of suffering. We live in a world where there are still thousands of unreached people groups without the Gospel! We live in a world where there are many problems. A world with a clean water problem that costs less than what the USA spends on Christmas each year.
This is a world, though, with adequate workers and supplies to handle these problems. The church in America alone could be used to fix many of these issues with the abundance of blessings we’ve received.
So the problem statement is the same for each of these. But I’m focusing on the one that is on my heart the most right now, in my prayers and on my mind right now. But the root problem is the same. The heart transplant we need to address all of these problems is the same. It is the same surgeon we need to visit before we can be used by Him to help others.
What Can we do about this? What’s the Solution?
The pattern is the same no matter which specific problem statement you come up with. We repent. We seek Him first and His Kingdom. We ask for Him to show us how He sees the world, to have hearts that feel, have eyes that cry and hands and feet that move as they are led.
Quick Aside – Why Adoption? Adoption is on my mind as my family is somewhere around 3/4 of the way through an adoption of an older child from Ukraine. There is nothing special about us as a family that qualifies us for this over another family. There is really nothing that drives us towards it other than open hearts that were willing to go on this journey and see where He leads us, the realization that there really isn’t any good reason to not extend our family this way and the fact that nothing in the Bible tells us not to – and the only verses we see really sort of say “yes.” There is more to it than that, those who know us know more – but this is really a God driven, God started journey. While I’m disobedient in sadly many areas – we’ve been obedient here. It took us awhile. Our hearts were stirred to adoption for a long while before we took steps in faith.
Here’s the deal though. Adoption – local or international alike – is not inexpensive. In most cases you are talking 10s of thousands of US Dollars. Internationally there are trips, facilitators, government fees, red tape, etc. With in country and international there are home studies, social workers, courts and government approval processes. Now I am one who firmly believes that God can and often does break down barriers and when He calls someone to a task, He will see that it is possible to finish it. So this isn’t a moment of doubting God – but I know there are many families who see cost as a barrier and don’t pursue it.
There are still many families who perhaps don’t know the plight or need out there. They don’t know that the statistics on a child leaving an orphanage at “graduation” are absolutely horrible in many locations (in one nation from a UN report – 10% commit suicide; 10% graduate college, start a family or meet some other mark of “success” by this study; 80% end up either stuck in a well below living wage job in a nation without much support structure, involved in drug dealing, get trafficked where the life expectancy is a few years after being trafficked often for sex work, choose prostitution or end up as drug users with no hope).
Please note – I am not saying that every family is called to adoption. I am not saying that every family should. I am not saying that we should be put on a pedestal because God has made this idea blossom and brought us along on the journey – in fact this post is a difficult one to write while in the middle of the process, I risk sounding prideful though that isn’t my intention.
But… I can’t read the Bible and not see that we are all called here. More families are called, and yet the call goes unheeded. More families with open hearts, loving homes and the ability to bring in a child are missing out on being a part of giving and receiving a blessing because they haven’t been equipped. There are laborers called to missions who are right now sitting in comfort not realizing they are called or not exploring that possibility.
So here is where the problem statement comes to mind. I find myself with no other option than to believe that on the whole our churches can do much more here. Some do – some make these types of problems their business and encourage a culture of adoption, a culture of poverty fighting, a culture of supporting missionaries reaching unreached people groups. A culture of equipping the saints to service and then sacrificially supporting them. It should be the majority, though. It should be all of them.
Many are caught up in building programs, in trying to reach the most youth they can reach, trying to fill as many pews as they can, fighting other churches for “taking” their members, promoting a book their Pastor wrote or arguing about how much the new PA system should cost and who chooses the worship music style… Again I am not thinking of any specific church here, but I sadly just painted quite a few.
Our churches will make a difference when they:
- Make financially supporting adopting families a priority. I’d love to see a church raise an “adoption fund” before raising a building fund if they aren’t in a desperate need for space. What if they encouraged potential adoptive families and helped them in dramatic ways. We’re blessed by my career. We’ve cut corners and the budget feels the strain – but we’ve been able to do this. What a blessing! But 4 years ago? No, this wouldn’t have been possible as it has been. What about a family that wants to but the cost of an adoption is about the same as their annual income?
- Taught and reminded families about the needs as much as they promoted a ladies conference or a special youth concert or activity. If they made it a point to teach what the Bible says about giving as we have received. Taught about the urgent needs around the world and showed how the families in the body could make a difference. Instead of going on a short term mission trip to do part of a house building – they can serve for a lifetime in their own house.
- Equipped families. It’s like having a new baby – but older, from a different culture, with some traumas and hurts to work through. Create some groups to not just encourage adoption but come along side and help the families emotionally, prayerfully and proactively. I am sure every church out there does this – but do they do it when a family stumbles on adoption? Or do they set the programs up on a quest to encourage their church to be a beacon of life to some of the people who need it the most. Remember most children over the age of 5 aren’t going to be adopted out of an orphanage. Most are going to live out their days in the institution and then be pushed into the cold real world. Most with special medical or mental needs are stuck in cribs right now – and they will be in one until they die.
Again. Replace the problem statement as you like there. And yes, there is a danger of being spread too thin to the point of not being effective. I get that – but when I look around and talk to folks at many different churches, the risk that more than a few have isn’t being spread to thin – it’s becoming too stale and comfortable and myopic with tight wallets, soft hands and hard hearts.
This generation of Christians could do so much to alleviate many “problem statements”. We could be used to equip, train and send more into the field to bring the Bible to unreached people groups. We could be better equipped to be the Godly mothers and fathers we are called to be raising our children right. We could have an overwhelming desire to cut back our comfort a few notches and support more on the fields. We could do more to encourage, partake in and support families going through adoption. We can surround women in crisis pregnancies with the Truth presented in grace. We could confront a culture of death that has taken over our land. But for some reason we aren’t.
I’m not saying that social justice trumps the Gospel. I’m not sharing this out of bitterness about anything in our situation – we’ve not asked for help and we’ve received some unsolicitedd support from brothers and sisters in the Lord and folks at our church.
I just want to see us all think through this more. I’d love to see churches ask “What more can we do as His hands and feet to make an impact today?” That starts with us seeking repentance here. It starts with us asking God to show us where we could do more. And it starts with us trusting the change that He begins in our hearts and living it out. I pray that you join me in praying for this in your life, in our lives, in my life and for God to work through that and for there to be a revival of sacrificial giving and serving across the American church.
Deuteronomy 14:28-29: “At the end of every three years, bring all the tithes of that year’s produce and store it in your towns, so that the Levites (who have no allotment or inheritance of their own) and the aliens, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns may come and eat and be satisfied, and so that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands.”
Did you catch that? The blessing isn’t in getting stuff and getting fat and comfortable (I’m guilty on both charges here..).. The blessing is in sharing what He gives us.