- Book Reviews
- About me
Welcome to the online home of Tim Challies, blogger, author, and book reviewer.
This Week's Sponsor: Adopting for Life
November 24, 2009
Why We Are Adopting For Life
By Russell D. Moore
This past summer, my denomination adopted a resolution “On Adoption and Orphan Care,” while my sons stood in the crowded room watching. It was one of the most emotionally weighty experiences of my life.
I knew the resolution by itself wasn’t going to spark an orphan care movement among Christians. Neither is my book on adoption, and neither are a thousand manifestoes on the subject. Only the Holy Spirit can do that as local churches start to embrace a vision for orphan care.
The resolution, though, was meant to prompt some questions. If one person in that convention hall was moved to simply pray, “Lord, how would you have me minister to orphans?” then the resolution was a success in my view. If one pastor was prompted to ponder how he could preach on adoption, or lead a foster care ministry among his folks, then the work has started.
I was overwhelmed with emotion on the platform to see my sons, two little ex-orphans, looking out on a sea of yellow ballots as thousands of my brothers and sisters affirmed that we want to be the people who love fatherless children. I realized that, in an alternative story, my boys would still be in an orphanage, not knowing even the name of Christ Jesus. But there they were, watching the world’s largest Protestant denomination recognize there are hundreds of thousands of children as helpless and alone as they once were.
There’s a long way to go. Literally one day after the resolution vote, I received correspondence from an employee of a denominational agency saying that adoption and orphan care doesn’t fit under the “umbrella” of “evangelism and missions.” Tell that to the thousands of children who know Christ today because they are growing up in Christian homes, rather than in institutions or on the streets. And tell it to Jesus who says something very different to us (Jas. 1:27). Following the Great Commission requires moving beyond short-sighted definitions of “evangelism and missions” as rallies and revivals.
But something is afoot among Christian families and churches of virtually every kind. God is calling the people of Christ to see the face of Jesus in the faces of orphans in North America and around the world. All brothers and sisters in Christ who affirm a belief in the authority of Scripture are recognizing that the Bible tells us that pure religion is defined by “care for the fatherless.”
As those who should be defined by our commitment to evangelism, we must confess that there is no greater field as “white unto harvest” right now as children in orphanages, group homes and the foster care system, children who don’t know a parent’s love and who don’t know the name of Jesus.
When Satan wars against children, we should be the ones who have compassion on them, even as Jesus did and does.
My prayer is that twenty years from now there will be thousands of pastors, missionaries and church leaders who started their lives as orphans, but are now preaching the gospel of God their Father.
Not many years ago, through infertility, miscarriage and two little boys in a Russian orphanage, the Lord changed my understanding of the gospel, of missions and of myself.
The Bible, after all, tells us that human families are reflective of an eternal fatherhood (Eph. 3:14-15). We know, then, what human fatherhood ought to look like on the basis of how Father God behaves toward us. But the reverse is also true. We see something of the way our God is fatherly toward us through our relationships with our own human fathers. And so Jesus tells us that in our human father’s provision and discipline we get a glimpse of God’s active love for us (Matt. 7:9-11; cf. Heb. 12:5-7). The same is at work in adoption.
If you sense the Lord may be calling you to adoption, or if you want to start a discussion on orphan care in your church, I hope you’ll join me for the “Adopting for Life” conference February 26-27, 2010, on the campus of Southern Seminary in Louisville, Ky.
You may be wondering whether this will be a conference about the doctrine of adoption or “real” adoption. Well, one of the things that we’ll be discussing is the fact that you can’t talk about the one without talking about the other. Also, it is not as though we master one aspect and then move to the other — from the vertical to the horizontal or the other way around. That’s not the picture God has embedded in his creation work.
So we’ve invited a number of great speakers to “Adopting for Life” — speakers such as David Platt, Jedd Medefind and Justin Taylor, with worship led by Andrew Peterson — who will seek to equip us to create a culture of adoption in our families and churches. We’ll be answering questions such as, “What does adoption have to do with the Great Commission?”, “How can I pay for adoption?”, and “How can we start an adoption ministry in my church?” — along with so many others.
I would love to see you here in Louisville for the “Adopting for Life” conference, as we think together about how God might be leading us to be on mission with Christ for the sake of the orphans of the world.
Join me and your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ as we talk about how we can carry out the Great Commission through adoption. After all, adoption is about more than a manifesto. Caring for the orphans of the world, in the end, is about the gospel of our Lord — and our brother — Jesus.
Russell D. Moore is the Dean of the School of Theology and Senior Vice-President for Academic Administration at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He also serves as a preaching pastor at Highview Baptist Church, where he ministers weekly at the congregation’s Fegenbush location. Moore is the author of The Kingdom of Christ and Adopted for Life.