Trust Not in Man…Even Urban Meyer

If Urban Meyer lied, Ohio State ought fire him immediately.

Make a bold statement. The Institution, the game, it’s bigger than any one man, even one of the winningest active coaches. (73-8 record at Ohio State with a national championship, two Big Ten titles, two College Football Playoff appearances and annual dominance over archival Michigan)

He is a legendary man.

He is a man…a fallible one. Just like you. Just like me.

I’m reminded of the Psalms:

Put not your trust in princes,
          in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation.
                                                           Psalm 146:3

What if?

Just once, I’d like to hear something like this when a person of renown is caught up in a transgression.

“You know, I’ve transgressed. I’ve violated my ethics, my principles, the good faith of this institution, and the fans. As such, I hereby and immediately resign from my position as XXXX. I also request that any severance package or contractual obligation be nullified. Based upon the nature of my transgression, I will accept no further compensation from this institution.”

I don’t recall hearing anything like this.

Even more, I’d love to see a man self-admit before being caught. Can you imagine if Coach Meyer had come to the press the day after the Big Ten media day with a confession.

“You know, I wasn’t quite honest with you guys yesterday…please forgive me.”

Does anyone have a conscience anymore?

My Beloved Buckeyes

For a second, just a second, this was hard to write. That alone should be indicting enough.

I love the Ohio State Buckeyes.

I won’t say that I bleed Scarlet and Gray. Maybe I sweat it.

My brother attended The Ohio State University. It’s a family school, though I was not privileged enough to attend.

I love Buckeye football. I love the Sweater Vest and Beanie Wells. I love Braxton and A.J. Hawk. I love the Bosa(s) and Holy Buckeye. I love Script Ohio and the Shoe.

Several years ago I had to take a step back, do some self-analysis. At some point, the fate of tOSU football team became closely intertwined with my mood, my emotions. When they won, all was well with the world. When they lost, my mood turned sour. I actually allowed a game played by kids to determine my emotions, to affect things between me and my spouse even. Silly, right?

I was even following recruiting, allowing the decisions of 18-year-old boys to drive my emotions. Even more ridiculous, embarrassing.

I put the genie back in the box, but the temptation is always there.

Will people fall on their swords for Urban?

The Crime

Though I obviously don’t have all of the facts, it seems that Coach Meyer knew his assistant was beating his wife in 2015 and made no move, and then lied about it to the press this week. There was a history of abuse dating back to at least 2009, so it wasn’t a new thing.

The other coaches’ wives knew. Shelley Meyer knew.

This begs a few obvious questions.

If Mrs. Meyer knew, did she tell her husband? Her texts with Courtney Smith seem to indicate that she did. And if she did and he took no action, how did explain that to his wife? If my wife knew that one of my men was beating his wife and she told me and I did nothing, she would probably demand an explanation at some point.

Is this really that hard?

Zach Smith may be a good coach, but he’s far from irreplaceable. It’s not like the fate of the team hinged upon him. And it’s not like hundreds of men wouldn’t be waiting in line to apply for the job.

And he was roughing up his wife. I would’ve fired any of my officers for such conduct.

Is this really that hard?

Principle Matters

Let’s stop pretending that principles matter.

Ohio State football is a machine, a lucrative machine. Last year it generated $57 million in revenue. The budget for Ohio State’s athletic department itself is over $100 million. For reference, that’s larger than the GDP of several smaller nations, depending upon your source.

It is a machine and Urban Meyer is its cash cow.

Ohio State has perhaps the largest and most rabid fanbase in sports and they love their Buckeyes to a fault and demand wins. Just ask Isaiah Prince after his disastrous game against Penn State in 2016.

Urban Meyer wins. He generates revenue. End of discussion.

I’m reminded a bit of the Penn State fiasco. I’ll resist comparing Jerry Sandusky’s crimes with Zach Smith’s. Both are heinous in their own right. What I will compare is the response. At some point, Joe Paterno knew. He, along with a few other members of the administration, knew that Jerry Sandusky was raping young boys but hey, they had “a football season to worry about.”

They won games, and that’s what counts.

Will my beloved Buckeyes put themselves in this category?

Will rabid Ohio State fans defend Coach Meyer as rabid Penn State fans defended Joe Paterno?

Fallibility

Who cares about the National Championships?

Who cares about 85 yards through the heart of the south.

This is bigger than all of that.

A woman was beaten, roughed up by the one man she should’ve been able to trust with her very life, the man who should’ve loved her as Christ loved the church. (Ephesians 5:25) Let’s forget football and consider that this seems like a systemic issue. This poor woman suffered at the hands of her husband for years.

Urban Meyer likely knew. He had the chance to act and did not.

Urban Meyer is a man, a fallible man.

We can be disappointed when a man falls, but we mustn’t be surprised. Men fall every day, common men, everyday men. Urban’s fall just happens to be visible, his sins on display for all to see.

On the other hand, we should not revel in them or delight in his fall…even if you’re a sorry Michigan fan. Remember what has actually happened here. Would we delight that Coach Meyer’s inaction possibly contributed to further violence against this woman?

He is the face of a program, an institution. Mothers and fathers charge the care of their sons to him. He is a leader, responsible for everything that his program does, or fails to do. He failed to act.

Now, Ohio state has a chance to act.

I pray that they will gird up their loins and act like men.

If—and that’s a huge if—these allegations prove true, they must fire Urban Meyer. It will be a win for everyone involved. Can you imagine the message if tomorrow, they released the following statement:

“Effective immediately, Urban Meyer is no longer the head coach of the Ohio State University. We cherish his commitment to this institution and all that he has given, but we cherish our values more. Beat Michigan.”

O-H!

Bradford Smith

Bradford Smith

Author - Founder

Soldier, Pastor, Author – Bradford stays busy, with his wife Ami, raising their 9 children, serving the nation, pastoring, preaching, and writing books (#3 is due out October ’17).

THE 413 REPORT

If you loved this article, and would like to learn more about foster and adoption care, and to stay up to date on our projects, missions, and programs, as well as the release of Bradford's third book, Brave Rifles, please sign up for our Newsletter. The 413 Project is made up of common people empowering and serving others to accomplish an uncommon good.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

This is a powerful read in a small book. The subtitle hits the mark with its description of, "A Biblical Treatise on Adoption." The author poses a challenge to the reader to stop reading the book upfront if the reader does not want to be moved to action.

   Janice S. Garey  

The call that sounds for the incredible need of emotionally and physically abandoned and orphaned children and one that when answered manifests the love of Christ.

  Anne Rightler

This book is a must read for anyone affected in any way by addictions. So many of the situations in this book seem hopeless, but as Brad so clearly points out, Christ is the solution and the only hope of man. As long as there is breath, there is hope!

  Scott Doherty

In Scourge, Brad offers us more than cold statistics or a cautionary tale. Instead, he offers us the solution - faith backed by action - to overcome this insidious problem Insightful and provocative, Scourge is a warning flag, guide post and rally to hope for all of us.

 Chad Chasteen

The Frustration of My Foster Sons

I’m breaking your plate and bending your spoon…”

…one of many commonly regurgitated platitudes express by my father, this one in regards to his imminent actions on my 18th birthday. Does everyone’s father repeat the same pithy sayings ad nausem? Curiously, I’ve been accused of this very thing my own children (traitors).

In essence, he was going to force me to “man up” by rendering our home inhospitable to my continued presence by the apparently ritualistic breaking of my plate and bending of my spoon.

The feeling was at least mutual.

The idea of living at home after High School was pure anathema to me. No one did this, at least that I knew. Not to mention that my parents, though I had love and respect for them, would certainly infringe upon my freedom of maneuver at some point. A break-up was as necessary as it was inevitable.

And so we did…we had a mutual break-up, parted on good terms.

I literally left home on my 18th birthday, forever…well, not forever, but you understand the point I’m making.

The Issue Realized

My oldest son arrived from the streets of Memphis at the age of 16. As he rapidly approached adulthood, two things became very obvious to us.

  • He desired independence.
  • He was completely unprepared for independence.

Straddling legal adulthood, he began to want to go wherever he wanted, and do what he wanted, when he wanted. He desired the freedom to do as he pleased. And he desired no accompanying responsibility.

Having spent most of his life in the foster system, he was completely unprepared for life, for any level of freedom really. Simple things that most of us take for granted like how to work, fill out a job application, or drive a car had never been taught, not to mention larger issues concerning decision-making and morality as the things he began to desire did not jive with the biblical ethic of our home.

I patiently(sometimes) explained to him that as an adult, he could do whatever he like, he just couldn’t do it here.

You want to smoke marijuana? That’s your prerogative, you just can’t be a resident of my home and do that.

You want to stay out all night? That is fine, you just can’t do that here.

You want to participate in premarital relations? Also fine, just not in my home.

The tension, the frustration was generated because elsewhere was just not an option. He desired things that were contrary to the established ethics of our home, but because of ill-preparedness, through no fault of his own, he could not do the one thing that would free him to do what he liked, be independently responsible.

Frustration

The apex of the conflict is the magical age of 18.

A date passes on the wall and suddenly, your an adult! You can vote. You can buy tobacco. You can sue and be sued, get a tattoo, join the military, play the lottery. You can be arrested and tried as an adult.

This seems to work out for most kids. They seem to mature into adulthood around the time that the law decides they are an adult. In fact, you could make the argument that it should be younger, that our society allows young men in particular to languish in the fictional condition of adolescence for far too long.

But what about the system kid?

Depending upon the source, each move while in the system sets the kid back developmentally from months to years. Every single move hinders their emotional and psychological growth. Thus, my 18-year-old son who spent five years in the system with multiple moves is truly a 15-year-old in terms of development.

But he desires the things of an 18-year-old and doesn’t understand why that is impinged upon. 

Therein lies the rub.

More Frustration

A young man ought to get busy with life.

I claim to not understand how a young man could be content living at home for any length of time, an increasing phenomenon amongst today’s generation.

One of my son’s friends hit me up in the gym the other day. He was deciding between remaining at home and joining the Air Guard or going active duty Air Force, and wanted some input.

I assured him that either option was a good option but that as a young man, while he’s able, he should quit being a sissy and just join the Air Force—contradictory advice, I get it—and get out of the house and see the world. Why hang around home? There was an entire world out there waiting on him to explore. Get busy living; you only have one shot.

I’m not sure which he chose.

At some point, a young man ought to desire freedom. A young man ought to desire independence. A young man ought to desire autonomy.

We ought to foment a young man’s innate desire to set out, to conquer, to go forth.

But what to do when acting upon that desire will assuredly lead to destruction?

Failure

Though I left home on my birthday, my parents had been preparing me for this moment for most of my life.

They had poured into me and I had internalized their cherished qualities of personal responsibility, accountability, and hard work. I had adopted their notions concerning ethics and morality. This was a culminating event.

Except that it wasn’t.

I actually left the purview of one caretaker for another, the United States Military Academy where, if anything, I was more coddled than at home. Yes, it was challenging, but I was fed, clothed, and housed, even had my laundry done for me. It was only after another four painful years of preparation on top of my parents previous preparation that I truly set out on my own, around my 22nd birthday.

And still I failed!

When I graduated flight school a little over a year later, I had three credit cards maxed out with absolutely nothing to show for it. My paycheck failed to cover the minimum monthly payments. I was broke with a pregnant girlfriend.

Way to go Smith!

Even with 22 years of preparation, I fell apart. What could we expect of those with scant preparation and countless developmental setbacks.

Even More Frustration

If anyone has any ideas, I’m all ears. Seriously.

How do we honor a young man’s manhood while protecting him from himself?

Is there a spectrum between justice and mercy?

On the far end is Option 1: My rules, my house. Either follow them or get gone. Seek life elsewhere. Neat and tidy. Nice and easy. This option errs on the side of justice or maybe unreasonability.

On the other end of the spectrum is liberal Option 2: Turn the cheek. Set some minimum standards and as long as they at least attempt to comply, turn a blind eye to anything else. This option errs on the side of mercy or maybe ignorance.

Option 1 is the easiest option, requires the least amount of deliberation, and is also the most likely to end up with the kid on the street, spiraling into destruction. Option 2 is the most likely to conclude with the kid abusing the afforded grace to the point of eventually forcing you toward Option 1.

Remember, this is not your average kid we’re dealing with. This is an emotionally traumatized kid with intense amounts of psychological baggage. I’m sure there’s a middle-ground we’ve yet to find.

Thus I find myself fluctuating between Tyrant and Accomplice, between Dictator and Enabler. Frustration ensues, giving birth to resentment then anger. The clash happens like clockwork. We’ve been through it three times now with a fourth underway.

All I know is I’m tired.

I’m tired of seeing the world betray these young men. I’m tired of managing situations that seem to have no resolution. I’m tired of feeling like a failure.

My prayer is for the Lord Jesus to move in the hearts of my sons. I pray that He would allow me to see them as He does, to love them as He does, to be what they would need me to be.

He is able.

I pray that my sons would no longer be frustrated by the promises of a world that will one day betray them, just as it already has.

My frustration matches theirs.

 

Bradford Smith

Bradford Smith

Author - Founder

Soldier, Pastor, Author – Bradford stays busy, with his wife Ami, raising their 9 children, serving the nation, pastoring, preaching, and writing books (#3 is due out October ’17).

THE 413 REPORT

If you loved this article, and would like to learn more about foster and adoption care, and to stay up to date on our projects, missions, and programs, as well as the release of Bradford's third book, Brave Rifles, please sign up for our Newsletter. The 413 Project is made up of common people empowering and serving others to accomplish an uncommon good.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

This is a powerful read in a small book. The subtitle hits the mark with its description of, "A Biblical Treatise on Adoption." The author poses a challenge to the reader to stop reading the book upfront if the reader does not want to be moved to action.

   Janice S. Garey  

The call that sounds for the incredible need of emotionally and physically abandoned and orphaned children and one that when answered manifests the love of Christ.

  Anne Rightler

This book is a must read for anyone affected in any way by addictions. So many of the situations in this book seem hopeless, but as Brad so clearly points out, Christ is the solution and the only hope of man. As long as there is breath, there is hope!

  Scott Doherty

In Scourge, Brad offers us more than cold statistics or a cautionary tale. Instead, he offers us the solution - faith backed by action - to overcome this insidious problem Insightful and provocative, Scourge is a warning flag, guide post and rally to hope for all of us.

 Chad Chasteen

My Wife Has the Gift of Healing…Change my Mind


Advocate: one who pleads the cause of another; specifically: one who pleads the cause of another before a tribunal or judicial court


God is described by the Psalmist:

     Father of the fatherless and protector of widows

        is God in his holy habitation. (Psalm 68:5)

God is a father to the fatherless and a protector (dayan) of widows, those most desperate for protection. Dayan means judge; God renders justice to the those who have none. Dayan means advocate; God moves on behalf of the downtrodden, those who have no patron. Dayan means champion; God battles on behalf of the powerless.

God is a champion to the dispossessed, a judge, an advocate, a protector.

I know of some in need of one such as this.

Injustice

System kids have suffered a great injustice.

They’ve been wronged. They’ve been victimized. They’ve been dealt a bad hand.

A million different circumstances put a kid in the system. Neglect puts a kid in the system. Addiction puts a kid in the system. Abuse puts a kid in the system. Really, betrayal puts a kid in the system. They’ve been betrayed by those whom they should’ve been able to trust the most.

The destruction becomes more poignant in light of what should’ve been. They should’ve been raised by a loving father and/or mother. They should’ve been cared for, provided for, and protected. They should’ve been loved upon…all in the context of certainty, assurance, and they should’ve been brought up in the way of the Lord.

The injustice is not without grave consequence.

Affliction Generalized

Where to even start?

It’s only been in the last year or two that I’ve even begun to fathom the trauma suffered by my sons. I’ll never fully comprehend and it’s tough because they mostly look just like any other kid…but they’re not.

The carnage cuts a broad swath across their bodies, their minds, their hearts, and even their souls.

The stage is set for a life of affliction from before conception. Circumstances and often the prevalence of generational sin dictate their suffering from the outset. The sins of their parents weigh heavy upon them.

Affliction invades the safest of all sanctuaries, the womb, as countless many are victimized by prenatal drug and alcohol abuse. The effects of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and prenatal drug abuse persist for life. From this, they are born into a vast and varying smorgasboard of suffering…often, but not always, at the hands of their parent(s). They are physically abused, beaten. They are neglected, left to fend for themselves. They witness…things.

Ultimately, they are betrayed and then ripped from the only normal they know, dysfunctional though it may be.

The effects are not something you can just wish away.

Affliction Personalized

Like many foster parents I suspect, we entered the system naive to the harsh reality.

I honestly thought that you’d just send us a kid and we’d love on them, teach them about Jesus, and things would be just fine. That isn’t quite how things worked out.

Each of my sons languishes under a different burden(s).

Our very first foster kid who became my son was born addicted to crack and meth. I still remember his first seizure, when he stopped breathing, epilepsy being his cross to bear along with a host of other conditions including Tourettes and autism. For the first four years of his life, he never slept more than two or three consecutive hours.

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome scourges another two.

One witnessed violence against his mother. Two others spent their formative years in the heavy and sordid meth scene.

Developmental delays abound, and attachment disorders.

One of my sons is hearing impaired though we still don’t know the full extent.

Because of this, my sons all have intense needs, special needs. They need Christ-like love, they need Jesus, they needed a forever family. What my sons need is an advocate, someone willing to take up their case and plead it. My sons needed a champion, a dayan.

Into this fray charged my wife.

Justice Realized

My wife is a warrior.

Headlong she charged into the battle for the health and welfare of these sons of ours, with no regard for her own well-being.

Physically, there is no magic bullet, no cure-all, especially for those with multiple conditions. Referral after referral, specialist after specialist, often with competing diagnoses—anyone with a special needs kid will understand.

Did condition X cause condition Y or vice versa? How do they relate to condition Z?

Come back and see us in three months…

Mountains of red tape and bureaucracy confront those trying to navigate an often obstructionist healthcare system. Frustration abounds. Wait for three hours to see a specialist who confirms absolutely nothing…and then do it all over again.

At one point, one of my sons had four separate therapies each week. Occupational therapy. Physical therapy. Speech therapy. Tennessee Early Intervention.

My wife is a fire-breather.

She didn’t sleep an entire night for about four years. One of my sons has a sleep disorder, the epileptic. He’d sleep for two hours and then be awake and when awake, he’d rage at the night, crying out against an injustice that he’ll never comprehend.

And my wife would hold him and kiss his face, for hours, and whisper in his ear that everything was going to be okay and rock him in his rage. Another son, we later discovered, also had a sleep disorder. Ami went back to work, loving and holding and kissing and soothing, the only way she knew how.

My wife is a fierce combatant.

A son labouring with mental health issues began to drift, slowly at first and then startlingly fast, descending into the pits of depravity. My wife stood before him and demanded accountability, respect, and righteousness while at the same time offering the unconditional love of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

When he camped in the woods for days on end to smoke marijuana, she stashed peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in his bag so that he wouldn’t be hungry.

My wife is the champion of my sons, their advocate. My wife is a healer.

The Fruits of Justice

In her advocacy, we see healing.

One of my sons showed up in a literal catatonic state as a baby. He had no startle reflex, no reaction to sound, nothing. Diagnosis after diagnosis accompanied each visit to an expert.

My wife lavished love upon him, flooding him with affection and grace, and she fought for him, she advocated for him. I dare anyone to stand in her way as she fights for our sons and slowly, ever so slowly, but as sure as ever, a miracle occurred.

Today, after several years, my son is alive and I mean, alive! He radiates life more abundantly. He resonates with joy. He beams with liveliness. He still has a ways to go but he is being healed as much as he has been healed.

The Lord brought him out of his affliction and into life…under the strong and steady hand of my wife, my son’s greatest advocate on this earth.

She has the gift of healing, in the caress of her strong hands, the touch of her kiss, the warmth of her embrace, and the steadfast fierceness of her love.

There are others, some more dramatic, some less. My epileptic was declared mysteriously free from a blood clot in his brain. The puzzled doctors could not understand why the MRI refuted the initial X-ray. Our kids with sleep disorders, generally speaking, will sleep through the night. One of our sons is interested in West Point, another in law enforcement.

And they all share a common grace, the fierce love of a godly mother…

…which manifests itself in her advocacy for them.

The world issued them an injustice, punishing them for sins they never committed and they will never know of the extent to which my wife plead their case to a harsh and uncaring world.

And still she charges, relentless in her neverending advocacy of those who have no one to stand on their behalf, my sons.

Perhaps you are gifted as she, willing to champion the cause of those in desperation. They are out there…would you be willing to stand and plead?

Bradford Smith

Bradford Smith

Author - Founder

Soldier, Pastor, Author – Bradford stays busy, with his wife Ami, raising their 9 children, serving the nation, pastoring, preaching, and writing books (#3 is due out October ’17).

THE 413 REPORT

If you loved this article, and would like to learn more about foster and adoption care, and to stay up to date on our projects, missions, and programs, as well as the release of Bradford's third book, Brave Rifles, please sign up for our Newsletter. The 413 Project is made up of common people empowering and serving others to accomplish an uncommon good.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

This is a powerful read in a small book. The subtitle hits the mark with its description of, "A Biblical Treatise on Adoption." The author poses a challenge to the reader to stop reading the book upfront if the reader does not want to be moved to action.

   Janice S. Garey  

The call that sounds for the incredible need of emotionally and physically abandoned and orphaned children and one that when answered manifests the love of Christ.

  Anne Rightler

This book is a must read for anyone affected in any way by addictions. So many of the situations in this book seem hopeless, but as Brad so clearly points out, Christ is the solution and the only hope of man. As long as there is breath, there is hope!

  Scott Doherty

In Scourge, Brad offers us more than cold statistics or a cautionary tale. Instead, he offers us the solution - faith backed by action - to overcome this insidious problem Insightful and provocative, Scourge is a warning flag, guide post and rally to hope for all of us.

 Chad Chasteen

An Open Letter to Non-Adoptive Parents

You are in the majority.

The vast majority.

Though Christian families are more than twice as likely to adopt as the average American family, only 5% of them actually adopt. Studies reveal that 38% of them seriously consider it while 26% of non-believers give it any thought.

Growing up, I scarcely remember hearing of adoption or foster care. I never knew an adoptive family or a foster kid. It simply was not on my radar. This condition persisted into my 30’s and years into my Christian walk.

The Holy Spirit introduced us to the idea. Ami and I had attended a prayer event and one of the things we prayed about was the end of abortion. As we were detailing the event to some folks, a friend asked us a question,

“If you’re against abortion, are you willing to take in the unwanted children that the end of abortion would generate.”

Our foster care/adoption journey began in that instant and has dominated our lives to date, at some point just becoming who we were.

I’ve hesitated in addressing this issue because I do feel so strongly about it. My fear is always that my personal beliefs would trump what God says and so my consistent prayer is that my own thoughts and opinions would blow away as chaff in the wind.

All I can do is present the facts as I know them and allow the Spirit to work in your heart much as He did mine. Would you hear Him out?

The Bible assumes care for the orphan.

The Old Testament law stipulates much in the way of social justice, including care for the orphan.

There’s really not a Hebrew word for orphan. Yet the Torah establishes provision for the yathowm (יָתוֹם), the fatherless. The fatherless were among the most powerless in society, the most helpless, and in His mercy and compassion, God requires His people to care for them along with the widow and the sojourner. (Deuteronomy 14:29, 24:17, 24:20-21)

The law even describes God as one who, “executes justice for the fatherless and the widow,” a facet of His character that is communicated just as clearly in the New Testament.

James describes religion as this, “to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” (James 1:27) Here is religion, true religion, religion that is “pure and undefiled before God”. Forget a religion that costs you nothing, that makes no demands of you. Faith without works is a dead faith, not really faith at all.

Visiting” an orphan, gazing upon them with the intent to benefit them or care for them (from the Greek), taking “the least of these” into your home, is akin to caring for Christ Himself. (Matthew 25:40)

It is a Gospel issue, not a social issue.

From Genesis forward, the Bible demands that parents disciple their children.

And the most effective evangelist of all is a loving and engaged father. It’s not even close. The Bible declares it, reality bears it out. Children tend to inherit the faith, or lack thereof, of their fathers.

What of those who have no father?

It was several years into our adoption journey before I realized that adoption is a great Gospel issue. Our oldest son who we adopted from inner-city Memphis at age 16, began to struggle. We did some research and learned that kids who graduate the foster system without being adopted will almost certainly fail in life in some way. Addiction, homelessness, incarceration, children out of wedlock: affliction runs rampant among never-adopted former foster kids. Almost none of them will attend college.

This is a great social issue and for that reason alone, we ought to seek them out. Yet, the social aspects pale in significance to the eternal ones. Children with no father, growing up absent the most effective evangelist, demand a troubling question.

With no father, who will teach them about Christ?

Verifying Scripture’s urgent call to parents to bring up their children in the way of the Lord, reality demonstrates that there are very few adult converts. Most who grow up and leave home without Christ will one day die apart from Christ.

And every year we “graduate” upward of 30,000 foster kids into adulthood who have not been adopted. Most will struggle in life and continually perpetuate the struggle to a new generation but even more troubling…most of them will not know Christ!

Yes the process is painful.

Lord is it painful.

The Lord called us to be a DCS foster family so we’ve shunned private organizations for only that reason. Like with any profession, there are great DCS workers intermixed with a few slackers. Many are extremely overworked, with most handling an enormous caseload.

The system is rife with red-tape and bureaucracy and often moves at a snail’s pace. The system frustratingly errs on the side of the biological family, as it must. Yet, this further exacerbates and complicates the process.

I’ve raged against the system, in frustration and anger. It took nearly four years of pain to adopt two of our sons.

Four…years…of pain…

…but I have sons! I’d gladly labor another four if that’s what it took.

How much red tape would you slay to own the home of your dreams or finance your retirement?

They’re kids, at the end of the day.

My family is weird; we like teenagers.

We’ve had a number of young kids over the years, but at some point, the Lord began sending us teenagers. The system is full of teenagers and since many are afraid of teenagers and we were willing to take them, the system obliged.

They are like any other teenager would be without certainty, structure, maybe discipline, love and affection. They smoke weed, have premarital sex. We’ve been lied to, stolen from, cussed at.

And I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

I recall with particular affinity a number of poignant situations.

There was the time my wife wouldn’t let my oldest son back into the house so in broad daylight, he walked across the street, secured my neighbor’s 30 foot aluminum ladder, and proceeded to prop it against the front of my house and enter his bedroom window to obtain what he wanted…while my wife stood on the front porch and watched.

There was the time we were hosting the youth from our church for a weekend retreat when right in the middle of Bible study, my front door opened and a cop walked in. “Can I help you, Sir!” The girlfriend of one of our young men had called the police over an argument. It turned out to be nothing, but the youth from our church left with a good story.

But they’re kids, kids who’ve been abandoned and betrayed by the very ones who were supposed to love them the most. How could this trauma not impact them emotionally and spiritually?

Shouldn’t the ones most afflicted by society be the ones we lavish the most love upon?

It will challenge you.

There is no way you can open your home to anyone, much less a traumatized youth, and it not impact your life.

Including multiple combat tours to Iraq, Afghanistan, and Africa, fostering and adopting has been the hardest thing I’ve done.

Fostering and adopting will stretch you out spiritually and demand that you give of yourself more than you ever thought you could give. It will test your spirit, your fortitude, your faith, your relationship with your spouse and your children.

Fostering and adopting jams you into the mold of Christ, whether you are ready or not. The edges may just get ripped off in the process.

Is anything worth doing ever easy?

It’s worth it.

I was daunted, maybe as you are.

I hesitated, resisted, wrestled with the Holy Spirit.

But the Lord never relented and praise God, I have my sons.

My youngest son showed up at two months of age and as I held him, I begged God to remove him from my life. At 42 years of age, I was just too old to start over as a father. I just couldn’t do it. It was just too hard. I didn’t want it.

He wore me down, both God and the little guy. As I gazed into his dark brown eyes, I was overwhelmed by the voice of the Spirit whispering into my ear, “It’s not his fault. It’s not his fault.”

Over three years later, I cannot imagine my life without him, without any of my sons. God, in His sovereignty, brought them to me and I will forever praise Him for this.

We have the capacity.

Though I hesitate in throwing around the idea of shame, we, the church, have more than enough capacity to provide a family for every single orphan in America.

As this is a Gospel issue, it’s certainly a church issue and I challenge you to find a greater blind-spot in the eyes of the church. Believers ought to be elbowing one another out of the way to care for orphaned children. But a mere 5% actually take the plunge…

We have more than enough capacity. What are we worried about, our quality of life?

Consider that over the previous decades, the average American home has nearly doubled in size while the size of the average American family has decreased by nearly a person. Let that sink in. As we’ve become wealthier with bigger homes and smaller families, more and more children languish without a home.

These are just the facts, painful though they may be.

Now you know.

Your biological children will be fine, better than fine. You can afford it. You have enough room. Birth order, it turns out, is irrelevant. It possibly won’t turn out well, as you can’t just wish away years of trauma. There are as many answers as there are questions but the one that bears asking is…what then will you do?

I’ll concede, maybe God is not calling you to open your home to the orphan.

There are other ways to support foster care and adoption. Consult God’s word on the issue. Find a foster or adoptive family and support them. Challenge your pastor to preach about it. Pray about it, seek God, and He will lead you.

All that I believe God requires is that we examine ourselves to this end.

Would you open your heart to the Holy Spirit concerning the orphan?

Bradford Smith

Bradford Smith

Author - Founder

Soldier, Pastor, Author – Bradford stays busy, with his wife Ami, raising their 9 children, serving the nation, pastoring, preaching, and writing books (#3 is due out October ’17).

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This is a powerful read in a small book. The subtitle hits the mark with its description of, "A Biblical Treatise on Adoption." The author poses a challenge to the reader to stop reading the book upfront if the reader does not want to be moved to action.

   Janice S. Garey  

The call that sounds for the incredible need of emotionally and physically abandoned and orphaned children and one that when answered manifests the love of Christ.

  Anne Rightler

This book is a must read for anyone affected in any way by addictions. So many of the situations in this book seem hopeless, but as Brad so clearly points out, Christ is the solution and the only hope of man. As long as there is breath, there is hope!

  Scott Doherty

In Scourge, Brad offers us more than cold statistics or a cautionary tale. Instead, he offers us the solution - faith backed by action - to overcome this insidious problem Insightful and provocative, Scourge is a warning flag, guide post and rally to hope for all of us.

 Chad Chasteen

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