A Plea to Pastors on Behalf of the Orphan
Is your pastor neglecting a great Gospel issue?
Up until two years ago, I’d never heard a sermon on adoption. A great multitude languishes in our midst, devoid of hope, desperate in affliction, and most of all, ignorant of the life-changing message of Jesus Christ. Who will be the one to deliver the words of life to the orphan, even by proxy? The issue of the orphan is a great Gospel issue.
Here is the logic. Pastors desire to reach the lost with the Gospel. Many (most) of the lost are unchurched and unlikely to repent as an adult. Yet, every year, we ‘graduate’ thousands of unchurched children into adulthood via the foster system, swelling the ranks of those least likely to repent.
Adoption, physical adoption, serves to reach them as children or teenagers, when they are much more receptive to Christ. This is a Gospel issue, a great and tragic Gospel issue. Pastors preach against sin and its ill effects, as they should, but tracing the problem as close to the source as possible, an ever increasing number of children have no parents to teach them about Christ.
Orphans suffer physical affliction far greater than you may imagine. Every year, thousands turn 18 without being adopted and enter a life of affliction: incarceration, addiction, pregnancy out of wedlock, and homelessness. Bleakness shrouds their future. Statistically, all of them will fail at life. Yet, this is not the real issue. The real issue is that most of them don’t know Christ!
The Gospel is relational, communicated most effectively to people with whom you have a relationship. Not to discount the random encounter with a stranger – the Holy Spirit moves where He wills – but from the beginning, God’s people were to spread over the earth via procreation and discipleship. (Genesis 1:28) The parent-child bond should be the tightest of all relationships. Even secular researchers acknowledge the vast influence of parents over their children. This is why the Bible so vehemently exhorts parents, fathers really, but parents, to teach.
Train up a child in the way he should go… (Proverbs 22:6a)
You shall teach them [these words] diligently to your children… (Dt. 6:7)
Make them known [the things of God] to your children… (Deuteronomy 6:4)
We will not hide them [the things of God] from their children… (Psalm 78:4a)
Children unequivocally inherit the faith, or lack thereof, of their parents, their fathers really, but their parents. For this reason, God commands parents so pointedly to teach our children about Christ, to bring them up in the way of the Lord. Now, consider those who have no parents. What about them? Who will teach them about Christ?
Yet, pastors seem largely silent on the issue. I was saved in 2005 and have attended church at least weekly since then and until our church preached through the issue two years ago, had never once heard a sermon on the need, on the biblical mandate, to adopt.
My frustration is that God’s Word does not return void. Based upon the few times we’ve preached on the issue, several families have answered the call to foster and/or adopt and several more seriously consider it. From our tiny church, more than a dozen children, from unimaginable backgrounds, are now being reared in a loving, godly home, and brought up in the way of the Lord…all from the faithful exposition of God’s Word on the topic.
Where desperation once prevailed, hope abounds.
The system struggles with need. In our region, the Department of Children’s Services scrambles to find homes for 1009 foster children from among only 249 foster families. In all of Tennessee, DCS counts only 2434 foster homes to place nearly 9,000 children. Thousands of children will never be taught about Christ from the most trusted people in their world, their parents.
Two years ago, the desperation of the situation prompted a local youth judge to assemble the pastors in our community. He sought encourage our local pastors to exhort God’s people to adopt, to foster. We met a few more times and talked about it a bit. After that, the group dwindled and disbanded.
When I asked one of my peers about the apparent disinterest, he commented that each pastor already had their own ‘projects’ they were working and typically were hesitant to add any more to their already full plate.
Pastors exhort their people to obey the Great Commission, to seek and to save the lost. (Matthew 28:19-20, Luke 19:10) We challenge our people to open their mouths and communicate the life-changing message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ…to strangers. We’ve invented programs – Sharing Jesus without Fear and The Way of the Master come to mind – to teach us how to share the Gospel…with strangers. Each summer we dispatch church members on short trips to far-away lands to serve and talk about Jesus…with strangers.
What if God’s under-shepherds (pastors) exhorted God’s people to adopt, to raise these children in godly homes, to teach them about Christ? What if pastors exhorted the Church to repent of this oversight and to see adoption as the desperate Gospel issue that it is? Maybe then, the Church would not stand idly by as this multitude languishes, desperate for what they cannot fathom. Will you be the one to tell them?
Call upon your pastor today and challenge him to preach the full counsel of God’s word concerning the orphan.
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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