Saturday, April 2, 2011

The heart of the Matter

Excerpt from a letter we wrote explaining our decision to adopt internationally...

In response to your letter to us voicing your concern about our adoption process, we would like to share with you a little of our vision and why we are on this journey.

First, it has been made clear to us through the Word that it is God’s will that we should care for the needy and the orphans. While it may not be adoption for every family, we are certain that it is God’s desire, His command even, that every member of the body of Christ participate in caring for the least of these (Mat. 25:34-40, James 1:27, Ps. 68:5-6). For us, God laid adoption on our hearts as the way to fulfill His calling.

Choosing where to adopt from is complex. It is God’s plan that every child everywhere should be loved and cared for by a family. Unfortunately, the consequences of a fallen world mean that sin, disease, and poverty leave children orphaned all over the world. While we are open to caring for a child from here in the U.S. and are aware that at some point the Lord may lead us to foster or adopt here, we felt at this time to pursue an Ethiopian adoption because of the dire need. Ethiopia, like many other third world countries, is desperately poor. They do not have foster care options like we do here. In Ethiopia alone there are aprox. 6.4 million orphans, a staggering number we cannot even comprehend. 1 in 6 children there die before their 5th birthday. Because food, clean water, medication, and doctors are so scarce and therefore disease is so rampant, the life expectancy of the people there is very low, and 43% of their population are under 15 years old. Many of the orphaned children who are not adopted will try to survive on the streets, begging, selling themselves, experiencing horrors we cannot even imagine. When we learned of these conditions and considered the people there in light of Mat. 25:35-40, how could we not reach out to them?

In contemplating a child becoming a part of our family who would look a little different from us, we again looked into the Word. Unlike the animal kingdom, God sees humans as one race, the human race (Acts 17:26-28). We all have the same body make up. Though there are small variations in DNA (the DNA variations in any two people would typically differ by just 0.2%, and there is much more variation within a people group [e.g. within Caucasians] than between people groups [e.g. Asians vs. Caucasians]) the differences are miniscule and all peoples can reproduce. The differences between us, such as slightly different amounts of melanin, the coloring pigment that gives each of us different skin tones, do not define who we are. Whether we adopt a child with more melanin who has dark brown skin, or give birth to a child who has no melanin and has white (albino) skin, does not affect how God views them because they are all His children, created in His image, and therefore it should not affect our relationship with them because we have the mind of Christ Jesus in us (Rom. 2:11, James 2:1-13).

To quote a mother of 12, six of them a part of her family through adoption; “A Christian worldview does not overemphasize any one culture nor does it place importance on the amount of melanin in an individual’s skin, their eye shape, their hair texture, not the shape of their nose or the size of their lips. Race, culture, socio-economic status are not how disciples of Jesus categorize people. God loves diversity… He Himself has the most culturally diverse, multi-racial family ever.” (J. Groothius)

Ultimately, we feel like diversity in the family of God gives us a little glimpse of heaven, where we are going to be spending eternity worshiping Jesus and enjoying the company of brothers and sisters from every nation, tribe, people, and language (Rev. 7:9). Diversity in our family now is just a taste of what we anticipate experiencing in our big family for eternity.

While the hands and feet of the Body all have different roles, and not everyone is called to adopt, we do feel that adoption is something that is very much a part of God’s heart, and is clearly woven throughout the gospel message. We know that Jesus’ primary reason in coming to this earth was to do a great work of redemption, to make a way for us to be adopted and become the children of God and joint heirs/siblings of Jesus (Rom. 8:15, Eph. 1:5). It seems only natural that we, having been the recipients of such an indescribable gift, and having been given the Spirit and the mind of Christ, would want to offer this same redemption message of love to the least of these.

So there you have a little glimpse into why we have made this decision to adopt. We know this venture is big. It has not been easy and we expect it to get harder. We know it is an idea that takes some time to ponder and get used to, and we aren’t asking you to be immediately excited about something that may seem so unusual. We simply ask that you would consider what the Word of God has to say, and we would appreciate your prayers; for us, and especially for the 147 million orphans around the world who need families and ultimately need to know of the love of Jesus.