Be Imitators of God - Orphan Sunday
Laurie Coombs is a follower of Christ, wife, mommy, author, public speaker, and the founding director of A New Song International. She is the author of Letters from My Father’s Murderer: A Journey of Forgiveness, an incredible true story of grace, mercy, and the redemptive power of God. Her story was featured in Billy Graham’s film, Heaven, as well as on many other national and regional radio and television programs. She is a contributor to Zondervan’s NIV Bible for Women and writes at LaurieCoombs.org. Laurie and her husband, Travis, make their home in Nevada along with their three daughters.
- 2015 Nov 10
It was Orphan Sunday yesterday, a day for Christians to take a stand on behalf of the world's orphans. To be a voice that cries out for redemption and justice for those most vulnerable. Orphan Sunday holds greater significance in my family than in most. It's a special day. A day to remember why we're doing what we're doing, giving us perseverance to stay the course toward adoption despite the many challenges we've confronted and the innumerable unknowns and uncertainties we continue to face.
Travis and I were asked to participate in the sermon at our church yesterday along with another couple who is pursuing the adoption of a little boy through foster care. Our pastor preached an incredible message illustrating the heart behind adoption by Christian families, which is certainly something that Travis and I are passionate about. Not all churches bring this aspect of the Gospel to light, but ones that embrace, encourage, and support adoption display the Father's heart beautifully, and so I am thankful to my church and my pastors for allowing God to cultivate that heart for adoption in our community.
The sermon got me thinking.
I just love the doctrine of adoption, the evidence of God's relentless pursuit of you and me. Ephesians 1:4b-5 says, "In love [God] predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of His will." John 1:12 tells us, "But to all who did receive [Jesus], who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God." You and I, we've been adopted (provided you're a follower of Christ). We're part of the family of God.
Have you ever seen a little girl or little boy imitate their mom or dad? It's ridiculously cute to see a little girl walking in her mommy's heels or a boy in his daddy's cowboy boots. From birth, it seems, we're wired to imitate our parents. Ephesians 5:1 tells us, "Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children," and how better to display the heart of God than to adopt children ourselves?
Now, I think I've made it clear in other writings just how trialsome our adoption journey has been, drawing on the spiritual growth it's cultivated in my family and me along the way, but quite honestly, I don't think I've spent much time sharing some of the gospel truths we've been able to see illustrated along the way. (On a sidetone, most adoptions that I've seen have gone much smoother than ours, by the way, so don't let our experience deter you!)
The parallel between our adoption journey and our adoption as sons and daughters of God the Father that sticks out most to me is relentless pursuit. Travis and I thought our adoption journey was going to be quick and relatively easy, but boy were we wrong! If anything, it's been long and messy and hard. But what's incredibly neat about that is that this long, messy, hard journey has required us to relentlessly pursue the child God has for us to adopt. This is precisely what God does with us. He pursues us relentlessly, and that pursuit isn't quick or easy either. It's long and messy and hard. God the Father has pursued us with determination and passion. Scripture tells us that relentless at all cost.
Romans 8:15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us[b] for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. Ephesians 1:
What Can You Do?
The other couple who participated in the sermon yesterday said the question they faced when deciding whether or not to pursue adoption was not, "Why adopt" but "Why not adopt"? I think it's a valid and profound question. Why not adopt? Why not take open hearts and willing hands to the throne of God and ask whether or not you're called to adopt. He may call you to adoption or He may not. But either way, we are all called to do something. James 1:27 says, "Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world." We're to be imitators of God.
ADOPTION INFORMATION AND RESOURCES
“ I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” - John 14:18
We are all called to care for the world’s orphans. If you don’t feel called to take an orphan into your home, consider helping another family do so, but there are many other ways you might be able to pour your time, money, or resources to help the least of these. Let’s all be God’s hands and feet to ensure His children are loved and cared for.
WAYS TO ADOPT
- Foster to Adopt - To receive more information, contact your local foster care adoption recruiter.
- Private Domestic Adoptions - For more information, research your local private adoption agencies. If you live in or around Utah or Nevada, Premier Adoption is a wonderful agency.
- International Adoption - All God’s Children International is an incredible agency that primarily considers themselves to be an orphan care ministry. My family’s experience with them was amazing. We highly recommend using them if you feel called to any of the countries AGCI work in. Embracing Children Adoption Services is a reputable small agency who several local families have used.
FUNDING YOUR ADOPTION
Federal Tax Credit - There is currently a federal tax credit of $13,400 per child adopted for the year 2015. Please note that this is a tax credit, not a write off. Be sure to check the adoption tax credit each year, as it changes.
Grants - There are many ministries and secular organizations who offer grants. Some of the most noteworthy are:
Fundraisers - An adoptive mom put together a great list of fundraising ideas on her blog. Check them out by clicking here! Some are additional ideas:
- Garage Sale - Have friends and family donate all their unwanted goods and host a huge garage sale. My family was blessed with $4500 with their garage sale back in 2011!
- Craigslist - Sell big items you have hanging around the house on Craigslist.
- etsy.com - Are you crafty? Make and sell things on Etsy.
- Spaghetti feed
Collect Tax Deductible Donations - There are some non-profit organizations who will collect donations on your behalf, allowing donors to write off their donation on their income taxes. Contact the following for more information:
- Revise and cut back your current budget
- Borrow against your 401K
- Ask about employer adoption benefits
- Get creative!!!
SOME GREAT RESOURCES
Lifesong for Orphans - A wonderful Christian organization that seeks to mobilize the Church, His body, where each member can provide a unique and special service: some to adopt, some to care, some to give. http://www.lifesongfororphans.org
Christian Alliance for Orphans - CAFO represents a group of Christian organizations and churches joining voices to care for orphans. https://cafo.org
Abba Fund - Resources and grant information. http://www.abbafund.org
Show Hope - A great ministry that seeks care for orphans in various ways, including supporting adoptive families. http://showhope.org
BOOKS TO READ
Adopted for Life – Russell Moore
Orphanology – Tony Merida & Rick Morton
The Connected Child – Karyn Purvis
Kisses from Katie - Katie Davis
SCRIPTURES TO REFERENCE
“For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ’Abba! Father!’” - Romans 8:15
“In love He predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of His will…” - Ephesians 1:4b-5
“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” - James 1:27
“Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed.” - Psalm 82:3
“A father to the fatherless, a defender of the widows, is God in His holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families…” - Psalm 68:5-6
“In You the orphan finds mercy.” - Hosea 14:3