Wednesday, June 24, 2009

What does James 1:28 say?

I admit that I am totally stealing this idea from Tim and Wendy without asking their permission, but I'm sure they won't mind the link. I feel like I really know them because I've been listening to their podcast for almost 2 years, but actually, I've never spoken to them.

Anyway, I'm a few weeks behind, so this morning I listened to their April 11th broadcast called "A Conversation for Christians." If you are a Christian who gets frustrated with the way other Christians perceive us who are foster and adoptive parents (we must be special or saints because we do this) you should listen to this episode. They talk about how other Christians are compelled to give them all the reasons why they could never be foster or adoptive parents. And Wendy quoted me, though she really didn't quote me because she doesn't know me. But she said, "Who ever said we shouldn't do something just because it's hard?" which, if you are a reader of this blog, you have read many times like in this post or this one.

If you are a Christian foster or adoptive parent, you probably are already familiar with James 1:27. It says,
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.
Tim, on the podcast, goes on to give many options of what many Christians think James 1:28 must say. I paraphrase of course, but they were things like:

You should do this (take care of orphans) UNLESS you'd get too attached and couldn't handle giving them back;

You should do this (take care of orphans) AFTER things settle down for you;

You should do this (take care of orphans) WHEN you get to a different point in your life;

You should do this (take care of orphans) AS LONG AS they don't have emotional problems.

and I could add several other excuses that I've heard:

You should do this (take care of orphans) ONLY when you're financially secure;

You should do this (take care of orphans) AS SOON AS your birth children are out of school;

You should do this (take care of orphans) IF you feel you could handle the stress;

or even You should do this (take care of orphans) SOME DAY.

THe podcast concludes with a reminder that we can do all things through Christ who gives us the strength.

I'm grateful to Tim and Wendy for going out on a limb to say things to us, the church that need to be said again and again. Wendy did the math, and I believe that she concluded that there were 449 people who call themselves Christians in our country for every orphan in the U.S.

I want to repeat everything that they said here, but that would hardly be fair and then you wouldn't want to listen to the podcast. But there is a lot of good stuff in this episode so if you're a Christian, you should head over there and hear it.

And to answer the question, there is no James 1:28. And I think that is incredibly powerful. The verse doesn't even exist. The chapter ends there, as does the issue as far as James, the writer of the book, was concerned. He defined true religion in verse 27. There are no some days, or ifs, no "as soon as," only, "as long as", when, unless or afters. It's a statement, a verse, and a chapter that ends right there.

There is no James 1:28. Dang, that's powerful.


Foster Ima said...

When Marian Wright Edelman spoke at a conference I went to (/was on the planning committee for), she made the point that if every faith community -- so here I am extending beyond the calculation you referenced -- took in one foster child (it might have been "one to three," forgive me for not remembering precisely), there would be a home for every kid who needs either fostering or adoption.

I definitely get a lot of "wow, that's amazing" when people here that I am working on being licensed. It's embarrassing, as I'm certainly not doing it for the attention and praise. (I also get a lot of conflation of foster care and adopting. I sometimes wonder if my community as a whole has just been very sheltered and isn't familiar with the idea of foster care.)

Jill Miller said...

I too was embarrassed by all the attention and praise Foster Ima. My husband and I had six birth children and after doing foster care for ten years decided that we would be making more of an impact if we adopted these children in foster care and giving them a forever home.
We have adopted eight children now and can't believe the positive impact that these children have had on our lives.
We went from a family sitting in the front of our church to a family sitting in the back of the church. The people that would come to us and say how great we are and how do you do it? So many times I would tell them it's not that hard you could do it. Our church was very pro-adoption and the pastors wife would get up and tell people that we need to take care of our orphans ect... Then when I would tell people that I saw a family today of these wonderful little ones that need a home, I would get some of the same things Claudia mentioned, "I don't want to do that to my birth kids". WHAT EVER birth kids sometimes need to see that there are children that have no family and no education (most of the time). So many times I get the question "What do your birth children think of the adopted children?" I tell them that even if they don't like it it's what God has had your father and I to do and we are going to do what God says. For the most part the only complaint I have ever gotten was that they won't get as many things with more kids in the house. Yes, I know that's sad that my kids think they need so many things but If you knew my kids they have almost everything that they have wanted and more than they should have.
Any how if more Christians would see the impact they could have on even one child sitting in foster care and give it a chance they would be so blessed and amazed at what God can do for not only that child but also you and your family. God never gives you more than you can handle. You may go through some hard times but God will give you what you need to get through those times.

Hopewell said...

I just found you via Cindy's blog, and have been reading Bart's for a long time. I find the other extreme: Christians who wonder if I abuse my son due to his issues. It's not happened much now that he's a teen, but when he was little I was always "that mom" at baseball or soccer--I demanded,as politely as I could, that he pay attention, listen etc. I get more than my share of what you mention--"saint" stuff, too, don't get me wrong. All I am is one single Mom who prayed, heard an answer and obeyed it. I can't undo the damage the birth mother did. Somedays I want to say to someone who says "I couldn't" "I know YOU couldn't" lol, but of course I don't. It's so much harder and so much more worth it than folks can sometimes imagine!

achild said...

Lukyamuzi Herman Fabris:
Am From Uganda East Africa and am the Founder of "Raise Up a Child Foundation" A christian Faith based Foundation, i have 14 children so far in the Orphanage, i thank God that at this Age at-least i can serve Him am only 20 years Old Now. I love this Children like they are my own and they Love me too.