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by Pastor Jack Lash
In 1999 and 2000 our family adopted two precious newborn African-American boys, Elijah and Ezra. It is not surprising that some reacted to this with bewilderment. Why would a family with nine biological children adopt two more? Here I would like to reflect upon some of our thinking behind this admittedly strange step.
For a number of years, the many places in the Bible where God says He has a special concern for orphans have touched us:
1. Psalm 68:5 (and other verses) where God is referred to as “a father to the fatherless.”
2. Psalm 10:14 “You have been the helper of the orphan.”
3. Hosea 14:3 “in You the orphan finds mercy.”
4. Psalm 27:10 “For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the Lord will take me up.”
And the numerous instructions in the Bible for us to care for the fatherless have weighed upon us:
a. Job 31:17, 22 “If I...have eaten my morsel alone, and the orphan has not shared it...then let my shoulder fall from the socket, and my arm be broken off at the elbow.”
b. James 1:27 “This is pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father, to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.”
c. See also Ex. 22:22-24; Deut. 10:18; Deut. 14:28,29; Deut. 16:11,14; Deut. 24:17-22; ;Deut. 26:12,13; Deut. 27:19; Job 6:27; Job 22:9; Job 24:3,9; Job 29:12,13; Job 31:16-18,21; Ps. 10:14,17,18; Ps. 27:10; Ps. 68:5; Ps. 82:3; Ps. 94:6; Ps. 146:9; Prov. 23:10,11; Isa. 1:17,23; Isa. 10:1,2; Jer. 5:28; Jer. 7:6,7; Jer. 22:3; Jer. 49:11; Hos. 14:3; and Mal. 3:5.
But we had plenty of our own children. Weren’t we doing enough already? How could we minister to orphans on top of everything else we were doing? It is so easy to say no. It is so easy to say, “Let someone else do it.” But when Jesus stood before the 5000 He said to His disciples: “You feed them.” They felt like they had nothing left to give, but still Jesus said, “Give!” We felt the same way as the disciples. Then a fellow pastor – older than we are – with an already large family told me they were adopting a little African-American baby girl, and suddenly bells started going off in our heads. As we thought and talked about it more and more adoption seemed to us like such a Christ-like thing to do – and one good way that we, as a family, could minister to orphans by welcoming some into our family.
The world is filled with needy children, and Christians have a special reason to adopt. Through adoption we can by God’s grace reach out to orphans and show them His love. And yet so few Christians are adopting as a ministry. And there are SO MANY non-white babies in this area in need of adoption. Both times, when we applied to adopt a baby at the Fairfax office of Bethany Christian Services, though dozens of other families were registered to adopt, we were the only ones at the time who were willing to take an African-American child. More and more it seemed like this is what the Lord wanted us to do. And He continued to open door after door once we started down this path. The folks at Bethany Christian Services were not only a joy to work with but became our dear friends.
We did this not out of drudgery or duty, but out of the joy of serving Christ and pouring our lives out for Him since He poured His life out for us. There is such satisfaction in knowing we have extended Christ’s mercy and love to needy children. To be sure, it has not been easy. Once again we've seen that He doesn't only call us to give when it is pleasant. But the Lord is our Helper.
Paul describes himself “as poor yet making many rich” (2Cor.6:10). And he praises the believers of Macedonia for giving out of their poverty –- “Now, brethren, we wish to make known to you the grace of God which has been given in the churches of Macedonia, that in a great ordeal of affliction their abundance of joy and their deep poverty overflowed in the wealth of their liberality. For I testify that according to their ability, and beyond their ability, they gave of their own accord, begging us with much urging for the favor of participation in the support of the saints.” (2Cor.8:1-4) When they manifested generosity out of their poverty – even giving beyond their ability, for Paul this was evidence of grace given! In 2Cor.12:15 love drove him to say to the Corinthians, “I will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls.”
The Bible does not paint a picture of serving God only when it is convenient and comfortable. When we give even when we feel like we have nothing to give, we attract His blessing. Jesus said, “Give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, they will pour into your lap. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.” (Luke 6:38)
We’re not saying adoption is God's call for everyone. The Lord may have other things for you to do. But I am saying that this is not just for people who can figure out on paper where the time and money are going to come from. I have realized that if I wait to feel like I have extra time or energy or money to help others, I’ll never help anyone. (Admittedly, you can go overboard on this.)
The experience has been a deeply joyful one for our whole family. I am so blessed to have a wife who cares so much about others that she’s willing to give more than she feels like she has to give. Our life is not smooth and orderly (although compared to some it IS easy). But we are both strongly convinced that this is what the Lord called us to do. We don’t know what lies in the future – but we know it’s in His hands.