Welcome to the KingZoo and Funny Farm, where we learn to live, laugh, and love together. Here you'll find snippets of life in our zoo, parenting tips we've learned along the way, reflections on shining God's light in this world, passions in the realm of orphan care, and our journey as parents of a visually impaired child with sensory processing disorder. Have fun!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Orphan Sunday

As we change the calendar from October to November, we also switch from National Squirrel Awareness Month to Adoption Awareness Month. While I'm sure squirrels need our love, too, and there are probably many orphaned squirrels, my heart definitely leans toward the orphan of the human variety.  My apologies to all my nut collecting, birdseed stealing backyard buddies.

Many churches across our nation will celebrate Orphan Sunday on the first Sunday of this month.  It has been exciting to read various blogs and Facebook posts about the ways in which churches are bringing awareness to the many issues surrounding the orphan.  Some churches, sadly, will not even mention Orphan Sunday or adoption awareness during this month.  For some, ignorance is the reason; they just haven't heard about Orphan Sunday.  Still others may not see the need.  And there are some who will not mention the cause of the orphan because they are adamant that church should  not be an informercial.

For those churches who have not heard about Orphan Sunday, or Adoption Awareness Month, it's up to us to spread the word.  For those who don't see the need, or who think that church should not be an infomercial, I suggest a quick look at Scripture.  We teach our congregations that God tells us to love our neighbor, to trust in Him, not to worry, and to use our gifts.  How then is James 1:27, "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," an infomercial or not necessary?  And Isaiah 1:17, "...learn to do right!  Seek justice, encourage the oppressed.  Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow?"  Psalm 82:3 tells us to "Vindicate the weak and the fatherless; do justice to the afflicted and destitute" and Jesus himself says, "I was hungry and you fed me, I was thirsty and you gave me a drink, I was homeless and you gave me a room, I was shivering and you gave me clothes, I was sick and you stopped to visit, I was in prison and you came to me...Then the King will say, 'I'm telling the solemn truth: whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me - you did it to me."  I don't think Jesus considered it an infomercial to encourage, even mandate, His followers to care for the fatherless, the husbandless, the homeless, the oppressed, and the destitute.  As Richard Stearns says in his book, there is a big, gaping hole in the Gospel that many of us live.

Maybe it shouldn't have been named Orphan Sunday or Adoption Awareness Month because I can't find any verses anywhere in the Bible that say we all need to adopt.  Maybe a better title would be Destitute Sunday and Oppression Awareness Month.  They don't sound very nice, do they?  However, adoption Awareness Month and Orphan Sunday don't have to be scary to churches or to those of us sitting in them.  Just like Breast Cancer Awareness Month doesn't mean that we all need to have breast cancer, and National Squirrel Awareness Month doesn't mean we need to love squirrels, Adoption Awareness Month doesn't mean that we all need to bring orphans into our homes.  Reading Scripture, however, does give us reason to bring awareness to the topic, and to encourage Christians to follow God's mandates to care for those who can't care for themselves.  We also need to thank and support the ones who are already doing this and to provide encouragement and options for those who don't know how yet.

I love to watch the body of Christ in action.  As each part comes together, as each one uses his/her gifts, as each family lovingly works together, Christ's call to love orphans and widows gets that much closer to His original plan.  How?  These are the people that I love to see.  These are the ones who are caring for orphans and widows in their distress. . . .

The grandparent of an adopted child, who wasn't the one feeling the call to bring this child from an orphanage to a home in the US, but who supports her daughter's family one hundred percent.  Or the grandparents who invite their adopted grandchild to spend several weeks of summer vacation in their home, even though they know that the special needs of that child will take all of their time and energy.

The family of young children, doing fine but struggling to live on one income, who chooses to donate money to the adoption fundraiser of a family in their church.

The family whose neighbor was recently widowed, that makes an extra plate of food from their dinner, thus creating "TV dinners" for her freezer.  That same family helps rake leaves and shovel snow for her.

The teenage boy whose best friend lost his father in a tragic accident.  The teenage girl who befriends the insecure student sitting next to her in class, later finding out that she is an adoptee struggling to find her place in her family and school.

The college student who chooses to babysit for a family with an adopted child, realizing that those few hours each week may be difficult due to the behavioral issues of the child, but knowing how much the break refreshes the weary parents.

The congregation that sets up an adoption fund or benevolence fund to financially support those in need or those stepping out in faith.

The teen girls who choose to maintain contact with their friend, a foster child, even though she is moved to another home.  They value her friendship but they also know that they are now the most stable relationship she's ever had, as well as her only Christian influences.

The extended family giving up part of their Christmas vacation to work in a homeless shelter together.

The small group that gives their time, labor, and financial resources to support an organization working with orphans in a third world country.

The family that has a special fund so that every year at least one member of their family can serve on a missions trip.  Many times, they all go together.

The young man that chooses to give one hour every Sunday morning to be a "buddy" to the preschool child with Down Syndrome since the little boy finds sitting and attending in Sunday School to be a struggle.

The couple, with an empty nest on the horizon, that decides to do foster care.  Eventually, their oldest daughter and her husband adopt one of the foster boys raised in their home.

The family that brings the neighbor boy to church every week and who also support that same boy's single mom in whatever ways they can.

The married couple, struggling with infertility, that chooses to adopt an infant and to maintain contact with the birthmother, praying for her healing and salvation as much as they pray for their newborn son.

The former addict who now mentors teens and young men, keeping them accountable and encouraging them as they struggle to remain clean from their own addictions.

The small group of families that seeks ways to bring awareness to the issue of sex trafficking.

The woman who walks alongside her best friend, purposefully praying for her and her family of adopted children on a regular basis and listening to the joys and struggles of the journey.  She has their picture on her refrigerator and their names in her Bible so she never forgets.

These are the faces of adoption awareness month.  These are the people caring for both literal and figurative orphans.  These are the hands and feet of Christ.  Caring for "the least of  these" isn't an option but how we care for them, that comes with many options.

Now go!

1 comment:

  1. Cindy, this was a real encouragement to me today. Thanks for sharing it and also for confirming that I don't have to love squirrels. Cause I really don't. But I'm excited about this Sunday!