Friday, June 17, 2011

the least of these...

If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person's religion is worthless. 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.
(James 1:26-27)

    Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
    “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’
 Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
(Matthew 25:34-46)

you might think adoption is a trend these days.  with celebrities like angelina jolie making a statement, churches preaching this message and even movies like kung fu panda 2 addressing adoption, it seems to be what everyone is talking about these days.  but the reality is, adoption and caring for the orphan is not a new trend, it has been part of god's plan all along.  you see god knew that through the fall of man, relationships were going to be broken and people were going to be in need of help - orphans being one of these. so he told his church to take care of them. this is and always has been the church's job. just beccause it is resurfacing today, does not mean it is a trend.  it is god opening the eyes of his people to start doing the work he commanded them to (caring for orphans and widows is by no means all of the work - just some of it).

now i do no think that caring for the orphans means that everyone has to adopt.  everyone is not called to adopt - just like not everyone is called to go overseas.  BUT everyone is called to live on mission - be it here or over there.  the same applies for caring for the orphan.  you may not be called to adopt, but as a child of god, who has been adopted into his family, you are called to care for the orphan.

so what does this look like then?  how can you care for the orphan if you are not adopting?  here are some ways that people around me have been helping and are getting involved in orphan care.
  • go to this website (it will break your heart beware) and pray over these children. these are children who are in the foster care system here in texas right now and they are legally free for adoption.  you can search by age, area, etc.  these are ready to be adopted, they just need a home. pray for them. pray that they will be adopted. pray that god will draw them unto himself.
  • you can get certified to help those who are fostering.  to babysit for someone who is in fostercare, the state requires you meet some qualifications (TB test, background check, CPR). this is a HUGE help to those who are fostering, since not just anyone can babysit for them. you can also get certified for respite care or family support.  these certifications require some classes as well as things done to your home, but they allow you to keep a child in your care longer.  for example, when i am fostering a child and i need to go on a trip for work, i will need someone who is certified that can watch my child for the few days i am gone. i have a few friends around me that are already certified, but if you are interested in helping out, let me know.
  • you can volunteer at a local children's home.  there are at least two that i know of here in austin - the texas baptist's children's home and helping hands home for children.  you can play with the kids, help them with homework, read them bedtime stories, etc.  simple things that go a long way.
  • you can also pray about how to financially support those around you who are pursuing adoption, whether international, domestic or out of foster care. Sthe lord has done this with a few people in my life lately.  out of no where, he has led them to support me. i have been able to use their money to buy furniture for the kid's room as well as buy what i needed for my home inspections.
  • you can sponsor children through world vision or compassion.  this is also a great opportunity to teach your children about caring for the orphan.
caring for the least of these is not an option - just like missions is not an option.  it just looks different for each person.  i know my list is not comprehensive by any means, so i would love to hear more ideas or ways that you and your family are caring for these little ones. leave a comment with other ideas for myself and for others.

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