Archive for the ‘children’ tag
We live in a complex world with awful problems and Satan prowls trying to amplify the destruction and havoc he has already caused in the families of children who are left exposed to the cruelties of a world that preys on kids. As a family (Donna and I as a husband and wife, and our son and his wife, along with our daughter), we are committed to helping children know Jesus while escaping poverty, abuse, and life without hope. I learned this from my parents, who wanted us to have more and do better than they did, but they also taught us that we were to share and help others who didn’t have the blessings we enjoyed.
So my heart broke when I heard about an all out attack on evangelical Christians adopting orphans in one of our largest media magazines. This salvo will just be the first to emerge in a culture of attack on Bible believing Christians who are just now awakening to the fact that we are loathed by many in the media culture. The other side of the coin, however, is that there have been missteps, poor choices, unethical practices, and well-intentioned errors that opened up legitimate concerns from which these kinds of attacks have been launched.
So tonight, I am thankful for a great article on this: The Adoption Crusade: What a misleading article in the ‘The Nation’ can teach evangelicals. If you care about kids, you will want to read the article and also take a peak at the other articles referenced at the end.
I have three responses to the article:
- We will continue to support and care for children through great organizations like Compassion International and Christian Homes and Family Services.
- We will be personally involved in hands-on loving children young and old through support and visits to help places like La Comunidad de LosNiños – Sagrada Familia north of Lima, Peru — see more about our first trip, here A Journey to Sagrada and helping young internationals know they are known and loved by God and by us.
- We will continue to love and pour our hearts into our foster grandchildren, loving them as our own as long as God allows them to be with our kids.
I hope you will make a similar commitment or two. Children are not just our future and hope, but how we treat them, teach them, and protect them reveals much about who we are as a culture, a people of faith, and as human beings.
I was convicted and affirmed by what I thought was the most powerful thing said the article mentioned above:
Christians must always pair compassion with knowledge in caring for orphans, and even an article like “The Evangelical Adoption Crusade” is an important means for weighing how best to do so. But it provides no excuse to ignore the cry of the orphan. The world is hurting, and to address this hurt wisely will always come with difficult questions. But we dare not turn from sacrifice and hard decisions and return to comfortable homes and lives simply because the cost and complexity are too great. That was never Jesus’ way—and it must not be ours.
Let’s remember that life is more than stuff and that we can make a difference to at least one, but it begins with one!
Journey to Sagrada: Our Journey to Share Home — Sunday: Post 1
For the next week or so, I want to ask you to join me on a journey, a sacred journey, a journey to share home with those who desperately needed it and have found it at La Comunidad de Los Niños Sagrada Familia.
This is a blog of our trip taken back in July, but the postings will reflect the actual day of the week the events happened. This focus of my blog for the next several days has several very specific purposes: I want you to know about an incredible effort to give an amazing home to over 800 orphaned children in Peru. I want to invite you to be a part of this journey in a special way. I want you to be encouraged and reminded that you can make a difference: this journey is a reminder of how everyday people who love Jesus and love children can make an incredible difference.
This leg our journey began for us in a sweet way …
Donna and I had gone to Austin to speak at the Westover Hills Church where we had served for 22 years. I spoke on Wednesday night and shared about experiencing Immanuel from the teaching of Matthew. I used the experiences of my trip to Chiang Mai, Thailand, as examples of these four powerful principles. On Thursday, we had our Heartlight.org board meeting and on Friday, we had a lovely luncheon with June and Ira Hill to discuss African Christian College and the possibilities there. But our real reason for the trip to Austin was the journey to Sagrada!
On Saturday, we left for the Austin airport and joined a large group from Westover Hills to go to Lima, Peru. The trip was organized magnificently every step of the way thanks to Malena Rampy, Cyndy Miller, and Scott Zapalac.
Each of us had a bag resource materials to use in our classes at “The Community” (shorthand for La Comunidad de Los Niños Sagrada Familia) to check along with our own personal bag. We each paid for the extra bag, which was carefully labeled and packed with a little weight to spare to make sure there were no problems.
This packing plan was no small organizational miracle since the 80 or so of us going were going to be teaching over 800 children six hours a day for five days and we had to bring all the materials in that we would use. In addition, materials were brought to help do teacher training for the teachers at the K-High School accredited schools in “The Community” — again, all materials used had to be brought with us and all were left as resource materials.
The first leg of the flight was from Austin to Houston. At the two airports, we had wonderful moments of reunion with folks we had known for years. We also began hearing stories of previous trips and how deeply impacted those who had gone on them had been. “The children get into your heart and never leave you,” one person said to me. Having been on similar trips, I knew this would be so, but I really had no idea how deeply the events of the next week would impact me.
We all knew the day would be quite long and that we had much to do before we slept to be ready for the Sunday trip to “The Community,” but we were excited to get our trip started! Reunion was sweet, fellowship rich, and time on the plane whizzed by with conversations and anticipation of what was to come.
We arrived at the Lima airport about 10:30 and began collecting our bags and going through customs. We arrived at our hotel about midnight, then did some sorting of the bags of supplies. For most folks, everything went off without a hitch and we were thrilled that nearly every bag made it without any problems. However, some of us had rooms with no running water — there had been a problem outside the hotel and water was cut off to certain parts of it.
By the time we got to our room and turned off our light, it was 3:15 in morning. We had left our hotel in Austin about 7:00 that morning and we would be leaving the hotel for the community at 9:00 the next morning. Like so many mission trips, we began tired, but thankful — thankful to have arrived safely, thankful to be with “forever friends” we hadn’t seen in awhile, and thankful for the opportunity to do some great work for the Kingdom of God.
Very seldom in life do you get to experience something you know is in the sweet spot of the will of God. But this week would remind us again and again that this is where the Holy Spirit had led us. Little did we know what God had in store for us in the lives of “our kids” in Casa Tia Susanna!
If you want to get a sneak peak of what we are talking about, I invite you to go to http://www.peru-orphans.com and see for yourself!
I sat on the back porch this morning, using Skype to call China while thinking about our experiences in Peru and praying about our foster grandchildren. In the background, I could hear the thunder of an approaching thunderstorm. The outflow of the storm had made the morning cool and the back porch very enjoyable. I thought of how this summer has changed my world, Donna’s world, and how our priorities for everything, and how we are trying to figure out how to re-orient the rest of our lives to a new and profound way of viewing God’s world.
The thunder is not so distant. Neither are China and Thailand. Neither are the precious children of Communidad de Niños Segrada Familia, and neither are our memories of two precious little boys in Kentucky or the precious young woman from Madagascar we meet with regularly — a new follower of Jesus.
Thunder. Thunder is loud. Thunder reverberates through our world. Thunder shakes our foundations and captures our attention. Thunder speaks of a great power that has been unleashed. And yes, our thunder is not so distant.
Today, this thunder is a deep reminder of two events on our trip to Peru that I cannot shake — that haunt me and beckon me back.
The first is of precious Araceli, sitting in my lap, clapping, laughing, and enjoying the good bye party one minute, then sound asleep with a sweet smile the next. Then, as the party was wrapping up, the crying and sobbing when she realized that we were leaving — not for the night, but for good. Having to pry myself from her to leave was excruciating — and to be honest, part of me is still there and always will be. Yes, the thunder is not so distant and it still reverberates in places I can’t see, but I can feel soul deep inside me.
The second rumble of thunder is the memory of the older children gathering to say good bye to us as we pulled out for that last time. I could only take a brief glimpse … it was too hard to leave. And this was my third good bye of the summer … each good bye contained no assurance I would see these children, the children that I wanted to be in my family and sleep in my house and sit at my table — some children are grown and young adults and some just babies. Yes, the thunder is not too distant and it vibrates in my soul.
Abilene is green this summer. The rain, and it’s accompaniment of thunder and lightning, have been frequent. Stuff grows in places it would normally never be in the season of wilting heat and parching dryness. New things grow in my heart, some in places where things haven’t grown in a long time. And despite the tears and deep emotion, I am thankful that the thunder is not so distant and I pray it comes my way again.
Me talk about dresses? Me? Yep.
Those who know me know that I’m no fashion expert. Dresses are not my specialty. So, I will make one fashion observation about the little girl and the dress pictured here: cute! Okay, I know that’s not overly elaborative, so I’ll add, precious!
This is a 7 pocket dress from the group Pocket of Dreams. You can read about it today in Heartlight.org. It’s an effort to give folks a good product (a cute dress for a precious child) that helps women and children in Uganda in very tangible ways.
As many of you know, I went with a group of Compassion Bloggers to Uganda this past February, so this kind of effort is near and dear to my heart. We sponsor three children through compassion — I’ll tell you more about our third compassion child tomorrow — but this is a way to help families that gives us a real connection and provides real help. I hope if you have a cute and precious little girl or granddaughter or niece or friend or … you will check out Pocket of Dreams and give a gift that touches many more people than you know on this side of heaven!
“I’m not a gooseball!” I died laughing.
That’s what one of the sextuplets said as his dad, John, joked with him about having his shoes on the wrong feet. But to understand, I need to tell you something.
But before my confession, I need re-assert my masculine side. So … I love sports, played quite a few, and even went to college on an athletics scholarship — well, kinda an athletics scholarship, it was golf. On a recent trip to DFW, I took my daughter with me to what she calls, “A Man Mall” — Bass Proshop and other manly destinations which she describes more delightfully in her blog. In addition, I am a bow hunter — please, before animals lovers get mad, let me remind you of two things: 1) I eat what I shoot, and 2) they call it hunting and not killing because mostly you sit and admire the scenery. So even though I’m over the hill and balding, I am still a full blooded, testosterone carrying, male. Whew, my identity was a bit confused for a minute, glad I got that out of my system.
So here’s my confession … (dramatic pause) … one of very favorite TV shows ever is called, Jon & Kate + 8. While the TV plays down their faith, it runs through every program and you can see the Scripture memory verses in the background. They have twins and sextuplets, yet manage it remarkably. While neither of the parents are perfect, I think I would have had many more moments I wouldn’t want shown on TV as a dad and husband than Jon and Kate have, and we only have two children. How they do it is remarkable — and in part thanks to a wonderful family and some cool friends that help them.
Part of my attraction is that as the preacher guy for a pretty big church and also president of Heartlight.org my life is filled with stress and chaos. So I guess I enjoy watching someone else try manage absolute chaos — something I would compare to juggling warm Jello®. Yet I have to admit that a big part of my interest in the show is just plain admiration. John and Kate know their 8 children, call them by name, know their children’s toys and clothes and comfort toys, do the same kinds of things with their children most families do, and still manage to joke with each other about it. Yes, they do have bad moments, but all in all, they are incredible. And they do it all in front of a camera.
In the end, however, I am reminded every week that each child — Jon and Kate’s, yours, mine, and everybody else’s — is a distinct creation of God. Filled with personality, needs, wants, talents, interests, purpose and unique flashes of God’s image (Psalms 139:13-16 NLT).
Our family prays for this family and these parents and these children that their lives don’t lose touch with our Abba Father, the Creator and Sustainer of us all. John and Kate, the Warehouse gang loves you guys and you have never met us. Don’t let the camera mess it all up for you and don’t lose sight of how precious each of you are to each other and your kids! So until next Monday night, God bless. And stay off those “hair panes”!
Oh yeah, and did I mention I went to a NASCAR race earlier this year? (Just didn’t want that manliness to get lost in the sentimentality!)
P.S. — Be sure and look at their videos!
I had to restrain myself!
When I drove past the children’s home and saw a news truck, reporter, and camera focused inside the grounds, I had to make myself keep driving. My instinct was to pull over and park my old Tahoe in front of the camera and block their view.
I guess I’m old enough to have seen enough wars, political maneuvers, famines, and idealistic religious movements to know that the children always suffer first, longest, and worst when things go wrong in our world. This time, all the media fuss was over a number of children arriving at a children’s home. These children had been removed by Texas Child Protective Services from the YFZ polygamist sect in Eldorado — CNN has several stories on this and I’ll link you to them because they do not talk about our situation.
I’ll leave it for someone else who knows the firsthand facts to wade through all the DNA evidence, charges of child abuse, pre-teen forced marriage, polygamy and other details about charges. Regardless of the merits or the facts in this case, the children are caught in the middle. Their world, their sense of security, their understanding of family, and their sense of safety have all been turned upside down and sideways. They’ve been taken from the homes they knew to places they had never seen and asked to mesh into families they have never known.
To me, it seemed like a huge intrusion of privacy and safety for a news station to show footage of their arrival on the evening news — even though it was grainy and taken at a great distance. In addition, this media exposure is a potential risk of safety of those who give foster care and other children in foster care with those families. While I am all about public openness in government in most situations, the care of children should trump everything else.
So this leads me to one question and one request:
- Do you think I’m being too hard-headed about this, or do you agree that we don’t sufficiently protect children caught in the middle of adult messes?
- Would you please pray for these displaced children, those with whom they share homes for awhile, their mothers from whom they are separated, and those who offer them foster care?
In a few hours from now — it’s late Friday night — I will be leaving for a board meeting for a children’s home. I will be with people whose lives are dedicated to caring for babies, adoptive parents, and moms wanting to find stable and loving homes for their babies. So children are on my heart this weekend. I hope and pray they are on your heart, as well.