opened eyes

Friday, June 3, 2011

Finally, a first post about the Christian Alliance for Orphans Summit VII. For reference, the first post will be kind of an overview. I'll get into specifics later.

I was admittedly a tad nervous about attending this particular conference. Excited, yes, but sometimes I find the way Christians treat orphan care a little too provocative, fairly romanticized, and with a load of guilt thrown in for free. I was pleasantly surprised to not find any of that at the Summit. At least, not in the general sessions, and definitely not in the break-out sessions I attended. What I did find was support, encouragement, challenge, realism, and quite a bit of provocative material...but provocative in all the right ways.

I think the thing that has most stuck with me from the couple of days we spent at the Summit was this verse. I'm not sure where I heard/read it, but I can't forget it:

Once our eyes are opened, we cannot pretend we do not know what to do.
God, who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls,

knows we know and holds us responsible to act.

Proverbs 24:12
Our eyes have definitely been opened over the past couple years. Now we are responsible to act. W and I have felt for some time that what we're doing in foster care is larger than just our family. We're not exactly sure what that bigger picture is going to look like in the future, but we feel very strongly that we are called to continue in this life's calling. For the immediate time being, we need to concentrate on stabilizing our family, gathering ourselves from the initial trauma and grief of the past couple years, and putting our lives in order again. For a little while at least. (We actually have some opportunities brewing that we are grateful to be a part of - more on that later, I hope.)

The first and probably most important lesson from the conference is that orphan care is not an option for God's people. It's a command. We are all called to orphan care as followers of Christ. God's Word could not be more clear on this subject.
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this:
to look after orphans and widows in their distress
and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

James 1:27
It looks different for everyone - by no means is everyone called to adopt, to foster, to sponsor children, or to work in rural Africa helping families with sustainability so that they can provide for their families effectively. We all will be doing different things to answer God's call to care for the orphan, but make no mistake, if we do not answer God's call, we will be held accountable. This was especially impacting to me because I want to continually be sure that I am following, listening and obeying. I can't just rest on the fact that since we've been fostering, since we're going to adopt Mr. B and Baby R, and since we sponsor children in Africa that we are fulfilling God's call in our lives in this area. I can easily see us falling into the trap of thinking that we've already done our part. As if God calls us to obey Him and then once we've done what He asked, we're free. The question for me is - what is God calling us to now? It might be to continue on with what we've been doing, but it also might look very different than what we are currently doing, what are we are planning for the future, than what we think is best. We have to be open, ready, and willing to obey with whatever He puts in our path.

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