Monday, February 7, 2011

Starting an Adoption & Orphan Care Ministry at your Church

James 1:27 says, "Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you." NLT

It has been awesome to witness the reawakening in some churches as they've embraced their role in the solution to the great orphan crisis! Many have stepped up to the plate in a huge way, raising up and supporting families from among their own congregations to foster and adopt children!

There are powerful examples, like the church in Possum Trot, Texas with only 200 members, yet they have adopted 72 children and counting out of the foster care system! If you'd like to read the book on that amazing true story, it is Small Town, Big Miracle: How Love Came to the Least of These (Focus on the Family Books).

But then there are churches, big, vibrant, Jesus-loving churches who haven't yet caught fire for adoption and orphan care. If, as an individual, you become passionate that God's heart desires for Christians to help orphans, but you go to a church that doesn't scream that from the pulpit or even have a small type line in the bulletin about a support group for adoptive families, well, it can be tough! I know my husband and I went through a long season of trying to start a ministry at our church and there were times it was very frustrating. "How could our church be against something so good?" we wondered over and over! We attended adoption groups at another local church where we were supported, loved on, and educated about many aspects of adoption. We met other couples doing the same thing we were, and I cannot imagine if we didn't have that support!

We were tempted to leave our church and go to the one more supportive of adoption, but the more we prayed about that, the less peace we had about it. And the verse from Esther about, "such a time as this. . ." kept replaying in my head. What if God had us in our particular church and led us to adoption just so we'd fight to get a group started where there wasn't one?

So, we kept on. Literally my husband had to meet with multiple church leaders over the course of more than a year before we began to get buy-in and support and finally recognized as an official ministry of our very big church.

Instead of joining the other church, we adopted the couple who ran the adoption group at that other church as our mentors, you know, "You did it at your church, now show us how to do it at ours!" And they were so gracious to come over to our house at 8:15 pm one night for dessert so we could talk after our kids had already gone to bed, and they did share so much of what they've learned and they continue to be an on-going source of help and support for us!

I've heard several others within various adoption communities, sad that their church does not have any type of adoption ministry and my biggest piece of advice would be, keep asking! Persistence and prayer can pay off!

Links to help you start an adoption and orphan care ministry at your church:

Tapestry Adoption and Foster Care Ministry out of Irving Bible Church is a phenomenal ministry and they so graciously share many of their materials so that other churches don't have to reinvent the wheel!

Also, Hope for Orphans has some super resources and publications for launching a church orphans ministry.

And to continue the resource sharing, before our last meeting I was trying to find a good document that highlighted the main steps of adoption. I know for people just beginning to think of adopting, the process can be so overwhelming! I couldn't find a document that included just the steps I wanted, so I made my own. In case anyone can use this, I put my document out on Scirbd, here is the link: Steps of Adoption. Feel free to print it out and copy it however will best help your group!

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