Sunday, April 22, 2012

Your treasure and your heart dwell in the same place

Tony Evans has said that if you get a man's wallet, you get the man.  


This was said in church today, and it has me thinking.  I manage the FIG Grant funds for Project HOPEFUL.  I talk to a lot of people who want to adopt but worry about the money.  I talk to a lot of women who are in agony about obeying the call to adopt an orphaned child, but who have husbands who can't get over the financial hurdle.  


This is what was said to me just the other day. (forgive me if you are reading this.  I didn't ask you if I could write about it, but really, while your words were spoken to me most recently, it could have come from the mouth of many women I have spoken to.  I don't think it's going to identify you specifically.  Consider it a composite quote),


"If God wants us to adopt, not one dime of the cost will come from my money."


Gentle fellow, you are not alone in this statement.  Many MANY men have said the exact same thing.  A lot of christian men are willing to obey the call to adopt as long as God provides all the funds, meaning it will not happen at the expense of money that they already have in the bank: savings, investments, etc.


They like to think of it as a "fleece". 




That is all well and good, but don't you understand, God has a fleece too.


Matthew 25 tells a parable about servants who were entrusted with their master's money.  One was given 5 talents, one was given 2 talents, and one was given 1 talent.


The first 2 servants took the money and made more, but the third took the money he was responsible for and buried it in the ground.


When the master returned, he was pleased with the first 2 servants.  
He commended them saying, "Well done good and faithful servant.  You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master."


These kind words were not shared with the third servant.  In fact, the talent he had was taken away and he was cast out into the darkness.  


We know that a talent is money or other items of value.  It is also revealed that what was entrusted to us  belongs to the master.  


Do you get that?  


NOTHING WE HAVE IS OURS. 


Our money is God's fleece.  


God gives us a few things to manage, for example money.  If we do well, he blesses us with more things to manage and we are invited to enter into His joy.  


Do you really believe if we bury the money He has given us to manage in the bank for our safe future rather than use it to feed, clothe, and house the least of these, He is going to bless us with the managing of something as important as HIS ORPHANED CHILDREN?


The first failure is thinking we own anything.


The second is thinking that we derive any security with money.  


How heartbreaking this lack of faith must be to our Father.


But He's not done.


He follows this parable with a final story of the judgement.


Matthew 25: 31-45


  31 “But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; 33and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left.
   34 “Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father,inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; 36 naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? 38 And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? 39 When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40 The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’
   41 “Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; 42 for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; 43 I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.’ 44 Then they themselves also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not[e]take care of You?’ 45 Then He will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ 46 These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.


Why do you think He tells about how to manage money before He tells what will happen when He judges us?


He has made it abundantly clear how we are supposed to live.


Micah 6:8
He has told you oh man what is good.  And what does the Lord require of you but to seek justice, love mercy and walk humbly with your God.


Romans 12:1
So brothers and sisters, since God has shown us great mercy, I beg you to offer your lives as a living sacrifice.  Your offering must be only for God and pleasing to Him, which is the spiritual way for you to worship.  


Our worship isn't the songs we sing or how many times we go to church or the money we put into the plate.   


Our worship is how we live our lives. 


If we don't understand that it's our whole lives, our entire selves, EVERYTHING that we give back to him in worship in order to bring glory to His name, then we really don't get it at all, and if we are going to hang so tightly onto something as inconsequential as money rather than onto the everlasting faithfulness of our heavenly Father...


I don't know how to finish that statement.  As I wrote it, the offense of it all breaks me.   


YOU CAN TRUST JESUS FOR EVERYTHING. 


THERE IS NOTHING YOU CAN DO OUTSIDE OF HIM.


EVERYTHING WE DO, 
EVERYTHING WE EXPERIENCE, 
EVERYTHING WE HAVE IS BY HIM AND THROUGH HIM AND BECAUSE OF HIM.  
OUR VERY BREATH IS ONLY BY HIS GRACE.  


It can't be that we think we protect ourselves.  That we create our security.  That money protects us.  


I beg you not to put out that fleece.  


Instead go quickly and be about your Father's business. 



Thursday, April 19, 2012

Orphan/adoption ministry proposal

If you are familiar with me at all you recognize that I believe that the care of orphans is the responsibility of the church.  I think sometimes it seems so big that it is easier to ignore than to figure out where to start.  
Below is the proposal I presented to my church.  Feel free to edit for your area and use it.  
Please let me know any ideas you have to add to it.

Orphan Care/Adoption Ministry Ideas

Orphan Care:

Foster Care
Encourage and Support church members to become foster families, host seminars and educational classes.
There are over 500,000 children in Foster Care in America who need permanent placement, and many thousands more who need to be in temporary placement.  

Safe Families:
Melissa Dykema  Safe Families Coordinator 708-770-7415
Safe Families for Children is a movement of hundreds of families of faith who have opened their homes to care for children whose parents are struggling. By demonstrating Biblical Hospitality, Safe Families for Children returns the church to the forefront of caring for orphans and widows - where historically the church was the leader. 

Safe Families for Children is only successful when it is embraced and adopted by the local church. Churches of all sizes are necessary to provide for vulnerable children within our communities. Following are a few of the opportunities churches have embraced when adding Safe Families for Children to one of their existing ministries or adding a entire new ministry at their church.

Orphanage support
Every orphanage I have ever been in is underfunded, understaffed, and undersupplied.  In conjunction with traveling adoptive families, collections of necessary items like clothing, medications, diapers, etc., can be donated and transported to orphanages around the world. 
I have established relationships with a number of orphanages in Ukraine as well as in Ethiopia if the Church wished to become a regular supporter of an orphanage.  Mission trips could be arranged to bring supplies and perform repairs.

Foster Family support:
Many children who need families cannot be legally adopted and are warehoused in orphanages.  Christian families in other countries are willing to foster children and love them and give them family, but are financially exhausted.  Through a relationship with Eastern European Outreach/Mercy Projects, families here in America can partner with families in Ukraine by becoming monthly supporters.  Letters and gifts can be shared between families and trips to visit can be facilitated.  I have profiles of families and some orphanages that need sponsorship.
Mission trips to work with orphans and/or perform needed repairs can be arranged through Eastern European Outreach to Ukraine, to Nigeria through missionary friends there, and through Project HOPEFUL in Ethiopia.




Adoption:
Practical and Emotional support:
Form and facilitate support groups for adoptive families, connecting adoption mentors with new adoptive parents.

Church support volunteers could provide the following services as needed

  • Lawn care while family is traveling to bring child home.
  • Baby siting while family travels (trips can be as short as a week and as long as months)
  • Meals when the family comes home
  • Respite babysitting to help new parents deal with the transition.  It can be very difficult and parents need a break out together
  • Supplies to equip new children: clothes, bedding, furniture, diapers, toys, and bikes.  These items do not need to be new.  I don’t know any adoptive family who minds hand-me-downs.

Financial support
  • Voluntary monetary donations from congregants who feel led to help
  • Fundraisers are helpful, like a church rummage sale where proceeds from donated items are donated to a family in the midst of paying for an adoption.
  • Consider an adoption fund that families can apply for.
  • Life Song has an awesome program called BOTH HANDS.  It is a way to help widows and orphans simultaneously.  A group of capable volunteers from church seek sponsorship and donations to perform a daylong improvement project for a local widow.  Many times local home improvement stores and construction businesses will donate something toward the project.  All the sponsorship funds are given to cover adoption expenses, and the needs of a widow are met!  It is fantastic. http://www.lifesongfororphans.org/bothHands.html

**Side note: This is going to hit on a point above and beyond adoption.   I have collected this information from many adoptive moms who have shared this with me and I am including an idea to meet this need.

Many adoptive families are called to adopt the child with special needs.  Did you know that most families who have children with special needs do not attend church?  This is not because they don’t want to go, it’s just that most churches do not have any accommodations to meet even basic special needs.  As an example, many volunteer Sunday school teachers do not feel equipped to be responsible for a child with, for example Downs Syndrome or autism, and the child is not welcome in class.  The parents cannot attend services because their children can be disruptive in service (many angry glances and occasional rude comments about disruptive children) and aren’t welcome in the nursery because while they may behave at a very young level, they are much older.  This leaves a family with no choice but to stay home.  
I would propose that we partner high school helpers with a special needs child to accompany him/her to class.  The benefits would be twofold.  The child’s needs are met, and our teens would grow spiritually by helping someone else as well as gain valuable experience at the same time.