In Ephesians 1:5 we read, “he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ.” This statement is number two in Paul’s presentation of the spiritual blessings for those who are in Christ. It is vitally connected to the first blessing in Paul’s list – that of being “chosen in him before the foundation of the world (v.4).” Setting aside the theological differences between those inclined toward a reformed (or otherwise) interpretation of this passage let’s simply look at Paul’s actual point. He is trying to get Christians in Asia Minor to understand the blessed reality of who they are in Christ. In the two verses above Paul is making the point that God picked them and decided to adopt them.
Paul is using adoption language to help us understand salvation. After all, in human adoption prospective parents look for a child and then choose that child for adoption – prior to the child’s knowledge. The parents then pursue that child ending in the transformation of a child’s status from “orphan” to a “son” or “daughter.” Is this not in the spiritual realm what God has done for us in Christ? Is this not Paul’s point?
What is described above is a Gospel-foundation for moving toward the orphan. Just as our heavenly Father brought us into His family, even so, we seek to bring orphans into our families. We believe that in doing so we display the heart of our adoptive heavenly Father.
God is doing something in our day – not something new; rather, renewed – for the purpose of His glory being seen as His people change orphans to sons and daughters. It’s one thing to theorize and even sympathize about the plight of the orphan. It’s an even deeper thing to go visit the orphan (overseas mission trip or local work of some sort). More impactful still is when a Christ-centered, Jesus lover brings an orphan home and changes that orphan to a son or daughter.
So how do we move toward the orphan? Do we even see where they are? Certainly we know there are orphans internationally. We’ve seen the pictures, heard the sad stories, perhaps even shed a tear, offered a prayer or donation of funds. But have we really seen the “orphans” who live next door? We more typically call these children a more common label: Foster Kids.
Did you know that about 500,000 kids are in the US foster system? Of that amount approximately 120,000 are available for adoption. In Oklahoma there are nearly 10,000 kids in state’s care. In Oklahoma County alone there are nearly 3,000. Did you know that over 1,000 kids in OKDHS care have a permanency goal of adoption? The orphan lives next door.
God has called His church to “care for widows and orphans in their distress (James 1:27).” He has also told us to love our neighbors as ourselves (Mark 12:31). Jesus is not simply talking about social ministry. Let us also not forget the directive to make disciples of ALL nations (people groups). When you mix all these biblical commands together and consider the legal orphans among us can we have any other response than to engage in orphan care evangelism? When we change the physical status of an orphan to a son or daughter we are bringing the mission into our living rooms, into the core center of who we are. Going on mission is great. Bringing the mission home is even better.
In an attempt to help the church move toward legal orphans in our state Council Road Baptist Church hosted the Oklahoma Foster Care Forum on April 25. The event, in partnership with Project 111, included a pastor’s breakfast. Nearly 50 pastor’s and ministry leaders enjoyed delicious food, and fellowship and were encouraged to consider helping their church move toward the orphan. About 350 people attended the Forum itself. Ministry leaders, including Micah Kersh (Henderson Hills), state leaders, former foster kids, and current foster parents made presentations that helped participants understand more clearly the needs of kids at risk in our own state. For more information about this event or to discover ways to get involved contact James Hunt at firstname.lastname@example.org.