Most of us who have spent any time in church have heard the verse James 1:27: “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” We preach on it. We agree with it. We make banners and t-shirts. But I went to an adoption conference this weekend and it opened my eyes and my heart. Dave Gibbons asked us the question: if you were the devil and needed a plan to paralyze the church, what would it be? Maybe it’s not a huge direct opposition. Maybe it’s not a war. Maybe it’s simply sowing the illusion that we’re doing something when we’re actually doing nothing.
Is this what we’re doing with the orphan crisis? We talk about it. We agree with the scripture. All the while a half a million American churches leave a half a million kids in the fostercare program in the US. One kid per church would wipe out the need for fostercare. One family willing to love a child. What if one family adopted a child and 10 other families committed to be a part of the process? Maybe some families committed to giving an amount` of money each month to that family to help them with their bills, but also with the extra things like counseling that may come with a child from a difficult background. What if a few people committed to babysitting for that family a couple of times a month, so the parents could have time to still work on their marriage? What if a carpenter in the church came over and built bunk beds? What if we as the church invested in the raising of a child more than just providing childcare on Sundays?
19,000 kids age out of the foster care system every year with no place to call home. They hit the adult world with no family to go home to on holidays. What if we changed that? What if we used some of the energy we spend picketing abortion clinics, and took care of the kids we DO have? Dr. Karyn Purvis said that the first thing we can do for a child from a difficult background is to give them a voice. To let them know we hear them. To let them know we care. The first two years of a child’s life, all they hear is “Yes, I hear you crying and I’m going to take care of your need.” What about the kids who grew up and stopped crying because no one ever met their needs? I believe God heard every one of those cries, but I believe He may be answering those cries with us. We are how He is meeting their needs.
“Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation,” Psalm 68:5. If God is a father to the fatherless and the church is His bride, then we are their mother. Every one of them in need is noticed and mourned by the King of kings, by our bridegroom. Every one. What will we do?
20 thoughts on “Erasing James 1:27”
I saw you and POFR in Jeff City, MO last Friday night and the statement about that God is the father of the fatherless and the Church is His Bride, we are the mother did hit me. I had never seen that verse in that light before.
I already support 2 kids, one in Inda and one in Brazil thru Compassion, but with that statement, I realize that I should be praying and writing more than I have done in the past. Thanks for kicking me in the pants, Brother.
I completely agree. We raised a child whose parents had abandoned her. We were told she would never be “normal” and could never have a healthy relationship with a man. I am proud to say that with a whole lot of love, counseling & church community, today she is married to a Godly man & has 2 children. Our church became her family and she became whole again through Christ’s love! The reward is great when we take care of His children- for the child, for the kingdom & for us!
Well said, my friend. You summed up his comments perfectly. This is what has been heaviest on my heart since we’ve been home.
I live this everyday. As foster and adoptive parents, we are fighting “the system”, but it is so hard. We have 2 birth children, one adopted son, and one foster son. Our foster son has been in our home over a year, since the day after he was born, but the system is sending him back to the birth parent. I know part of the problem is that the people that should step up to help with the burden do not. I firmly believe that not everyone needs to BE a foster parent, but EVERYONE can support those of us called to parent these children.
Thank you for your timely blog. My husband, seven year old daughter and I were at the T4Adoption conference as well, and our lives will never be the same. We simply CANNOT go on living in the same way, in light of what we learned. I apologize in advance for this long response to your blog, but really want to share what is happening in our lives.
God affirmed our plans of adoption this past weekend, and we plan to begin the process again, next year. (This will be the third time for us to seriously consider and map out the adoption process for our family).
We went to the conference with no pre-conceived notions on adoption details, other than we would like to adopt a girl, 2-4 years old. After the conference, we feel confident we will start the process of adopting a little girl from Ukraine.
Although it’s very exciting to share the news of our plans to adopt, I’m even more enthusiastic to share the news that God has given Darryl a HUGE vision for the orphans in our world, and things will never be the same for him. He feels a deep burden for this global crisis. (163 million orphans in the world). Darryl has begun the process of starting a Non-Profit Fund-raising effort, in order to raise money for Christian families who desire to adopt children. He met several key figures in the “adoption world” the conference last weekend, including the president of “The Abba Fund”, an organization which gives no-interest loans to help families adopt. (Darryl spoke on the phone with him this this week). He has also met with men in our community every night this week to begin gathering counsel and wisdom for the project. Darryl is not wasting any time, and God is already bringing people from all over our city who are coming alongside him with the wisdom, knowledge and resources to bring this to fruition.
The plan is to begin a bike ride, modeling the MS 150, called Cycle for Adoption. Cycling is a global sport, and orphans are a global issue. The last MS 150 from Houston to Austin raised 17.3 million, so we know the ability to raise funds through cycling is very real, and very big.
We anticipate the first ride to be held late next spring (2011).
Please pray for our family. For the little girl who will find her home with us as planned by God, and for Darryl as he ventures into this calling God has placed upon his life.
We love your ministry, and are so thankful for what God has done through you!
Darryl, Justina and Alexa Kathryn
This has been weighing on mine and my wife’s heart lately. We are seriously considering adopting our next child as opposed to conceiving. What drives me to do so is the fact that we may have the opportunity to give a child a chance that may not otherwise get one. Thanks for speaking out, Todd.
Thank you so much for this. My husband and I have been convicted of this very thing. We are going through the process to become licensed foster parents in the state of Florida. We are also open to adopted any of these children. One child per church is all that is needed. Why don’t we stand up and fight for these “little ones?” They seem to be forgotten by the church. My heart truly breaks as I think of them. I want to take them all in. 🙂 I pray that we, as the church, will rise up and take care of God’s children.
Thank you again for being the voice for the children. May God bless you.
oops. I mean adopting not adopted.
Thank you for these hard words for all of us to hear. We spend so much time in the church fighting over issues that will not have impact on us in the “kingdom of God”. The color of the carpet or the songs we sing have no impact on the mission we have been given. And the way you twist this, is very cool. What if every church in the United States were to adopt and orphan? What if the congregation pledged to raise a child. It takes a village to raise a child and what better village than a community of those who believe Christ is our savior and called us to take care of the orphan and the widows? What could happen if we stopped arguing with each other over doctrine and colors and unimportant stuff and actually did the work Christ called us to?
true words. thank you for sharing. my family has made a commitment to work in haiti, and my husband and i spent 2 months there this summer to rebuild an orphanage.
our tough decision was whether to foster/adopt here or from haiti, or help many orphans by going to where they are and trying to improve their circumstance. we decided on the latter…God is blessing our mission.
more churches need to take care of the widows and the orphans…and i would add the single parents.
Very sobering statistics and a great call to action. There are a ton of ways to get involved in helping solve this very real problem, which exists all over the world.
As Christians, we need to see James 1:27 as a command (because it is) – just as strong as “Thou shalt not commit murder.” But I think we muddy the message when we talk about becoming adoptive or foster care parents as the only way to live out this verse, which is why I am very encouraged to see the part of the original post about how supporting these families is just as much about caring for these kids as taking them into their homes.
Let us be clear that God’s heart beats for the fatherless and He will sustain us when we move into those arenas. There should be no time to consider it or pray about it – only time to do it…whatever you can to make sure these kids find their forever home.
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Hey Todd, great article! As a former foster kid I am so excited to see someone taking notice in what is happening. I went into a group home situation that had its good and bad sides and I relate to the aging out part. Although I did have family I was in contact with they were not in a situation to help me. If it had not been for a great christian family that took me in I really don’t know what would have happened to me. I have such a heart for kids in the foster system because they are seen as outcasts in society. Thank you, thank you, thank you for this article!!!
I do look forward to seeing you this friday nt….
I have to tell you, this has been weighing heavy on my heart. I am a single mom of two girls, am graduating with my masters for education..to teach in May and keep telling myself that when I get a contract, I will take in foster children. I’m scared to financially now but it weighs so heavy on me today…do I keep waiting till next year? I don’t know…i’ve been praying about it, then saw this blog…I truly want to do it in the right time, of I knew when that was.
Thank you for your post…your faithfulness…
I was also at the T4Acon, in Austin. It was life changing. Thank you for posing these important questions. Are we willing to step outside of the T-shirt shop, and actually DO something to help? These are the questions we (Christians) all need to be asking ourselves. God adopted us. What better way to show Him love, than to love the fatherless.
I am in Texas and attended, sounds like the same conference with the speakers, Oct 1-2 in Austin, TX. I was convicted. My husband and I are pursuing to become foster parents (to adopt) even with having 3 children of our own. I also plan to make our newly launched church an adoptive/fostercare friendly church. But, really it is all in God’s hands. I have told Him I will do what and where He guides me. And this has been a really tough 1.5 weeks since that conference. Your words resonated with my exact thoughts. Now, we’re gonna change our “religion”.
I am so thankful that God puts on our hearts as individuals to be bold and to share what He places on our hearts with others in such a way that it might cause a spark that may ignite a fire, and Todd, you are right on point with this observation.
I grew up in a single parent home, from house to house as the addictions of my mother took flight, and even today, I am just putting pieces together in our lineage that have been left unanswered, and that have caused many questions for me throughout my life, not to mention my own battle with drug addictions later in life.
You are so right when you point out that kids become adults, which when are fostered out of the system, they often do not have the needed tools, and many end up in the streets, which is something that I see everyday as I work with the homeless and people in general, some of which are graduates from the world of temporary foster care, and if we were to step out on the faith that we claim to have, and “train up a child in the way they should go” as a family, as the body of Christ, then I feel secure in trusting that God would be true to His Word, and that they “will not part from it.”
The fact is, like Shane Claiborne mentions in his book, The Irresistible Revolution, “people had told me what Christians believe, but no one had ever shown me how a Christian lives” is an all too common problem within the body today.
If we are to lead by example, casting a clear reflection of Jesus in our lives, work together to love others, then we would see a beautiful thing emerge, the bride of Christ.
Thanks for sharing Todd!
YES!!!!!! There are 2.2 BILLION Christians in the WORLD. and 147 million FULL OR HALF orphans (lost one or both parent). That means that if only 7% of the church would RISE UP and adopt or even sponsor a child the orphan crisis would be NO MORE. If only 1% of Christians will sponsor or adopt a FULL ORPHAN child, there would be NO MORE full orphans left in the world. RISE UP CHURCH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Let’s do this! STAMP OUT THE ORPHAN CRISIS with HIS ADOPTIVE LOOOOOOVE!!!!! ARE YOU IN THE 7?????? GET IN!!!!!!!!!!!!!
As a foster parent, I will chime in that not everyone is cut out to be a foster parent. It is excruciating to see a child sent back to a abusive/neglectful, toxic situation just because that person is “blood.” If God has called you to be a foster parent, then do it with all your might. If not, find other ways to support.
One thing that I find awesome is when I hear preachers preach the message of caring for orphans and I see the fruit in their lives; the preacher at the church I grew up in has numerous adopted children. What a fantastic testimony.
I love your idea of one family adopting and 10 others supporting. Have you implemented this plan? If so, how did it go? I am asking because I am part of a program at UC California to launch projects such as yours. If you haven’t done it, I’d love to talk to you about helping to launch it, or something like it. Thanks, Sarah Morgan