Archives for posts with tag: orphan crisis

I’ve seen some disturbing things in my life. For a while in the early 90’s my route to the university where I taught took me through one of the most dangerous areas of my city. I saw the remains of people killed execution style — a shot between the eyes, followed by torching. A “file burning,” they called it, to refer to the act of eliminating one who knew too much.

As disturbing as that was, it was not the most devastating thing I saw lying on the road. What got me more than anything were the tiny bodies of recently born babies, either abandoned or smothered by their moms. Sometimes they were carefully wrapped in a blanket, but other times they could simply be found on top of a grey trash bag. Unfortunately I had to encounter this more than once, and even after these many years I cannot erase the images from my mind.

While some no doubt use this stark reality to argue for abortion on demand, that thought would never occur to me. What grieved me the most was that whoever the mother was, in that moment of desperation she could not find someone who could provide her with a life-giving alternative to keep her baby.

It is easy for us as the church to speak out against abortion, and we must do that, but the reality is that in the U.S. alone there are 250,000 churches and yet 100,000 children in the foster care system are waiting to be adopted. You do the math. The Church of Jesus Christ could put a big dent in the orphan crisis in the U.S. in one day, between the hours of 9 am to noon. Why are we so timid in taking action?

I have some thoughts as to why this doesn’t seem to be important for the church:

  1. We don’t know the Scriptures that well.

Adoption is a major theme of the Bible, and especially in the New Testament, where it is a favorite metaphor for our redemption in Christ Jesus. There are also countless references in the Old Testament to what I call “the triad of the dispossessed,” namely the foreigners, the fatherless and the widows. The more we study Scriptures, the more we learn of God’s passion for vulnerable children, which He is careful to tell us needs to become our passion.

  1. We are focused on fighting other “wars.”

Many Christians are more preoccupied with keeping the 10 Commandments displayed in public places than with the despicable acts perpetrated against innocent children behind closed doors. We get more energized about keeping “In God We Trust” on our currency than about exposing the use of our currency to traffic women and children. It is time that we reassess the importance of the battles we choose to fight and reallocate our resources toward the battles God wants us to fight. The battle cry to protect at-risk children is sounded high and unmistakably clear in Scriptures.

  1. We think this is a “third world” problem.

First of all, the expression “third world country” doesn’t even make sense anymore in a realigned geopolitical world post the fall of the Berlin Wall. During the Soviet years, the world was divided into three clusters — the “first world,” composed of the few rich nations, “the second world,” meaning the countries under the Soviet/communist bloc, the so-called “Iron Curtain,” and “the third world,” a reference to the poorest one third of the world. It stands to reason that with the fall of communism and the rise of China’s economic power, this distinction has become meaningless.

Of course people still continue to use the expression “third world countries,” either because they don’t know about the genesis of the expression or because they intend to use it pejoratively to refer to a country that, in their way of thinking, is not up to the standards of developed nations.

But I’m digressing. The point here is that though the orphan crisis is indeed a worldwide phenomenon — there are an estimated 153 million orphans around the world — there is still a huge number of children in the foster care system in the United States — 400,000 to be exact — and about half of them are waiting to be adopted. Yes, the problem is much bigger overseas but it is not negligible in one of the richest nations of the world, namely ours. Let’s educate ourselves about the plight of the orphans in our own backyard and let’s become a force for good in this crisis.

I am so proud of our people from Grace Church who are personally involved, have championed, and are contributing financially and in other ways to help at-risk children both here and abroad. Yes, we can do a lot more, but your sacrifice and work of faith are not going unnoticed, especially by God, who loves these precious children more than we can ever imagine.

Join us this Sunday in both services as we learn more about how we can get involved in serving the orphans.

“Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.” (Isaiah 1:17).

Pastor Ivanildo C. Trindade

Lead Pastor, Grace Church, Lititz, PA

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“This particular family just touched me. They’re so cute and they need some help.” With those words, Gus Kenworthy, one of the U.S.’s Winter Olympics’ athletes, summarized why he decided to get involved in adoption while he was participating at the recent Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia. Adopting a family of dogs, that is…

Gus Kenworthy, athlete turned animal rights activist

Gus Kenworthy, athlete turned animal rights activist

Now, please, don’t get me wrong. I think what Gus Kenworthy, Lindsay Jacobellis, David Backes, and others did is awesome. But the amount of coverage this story got is a little ridiculous. They even gave it a name, “The Strays of Sochi,” which is interesting because in Russia these “strays” are not really “strays.” They are just dogs which inhabit the streets, some of them, no doubt, in deplorable condition, but the majority just going about the business of hustling for food like a great percentage of people around the world do.

Jacobellis and her adopted mutt from Russia

Jacobellis and her adopted mutt from Russia

As we have seen recently, Russian leaders care about their naval bases, their natural gas, their nuclear weapons; they don’t seem to do enough about their “strays,” whether dogs or people. And that is what spotlighting that kind of story only outrages me.

During the entire Olympics coverage, I never saw even one story about the orphaned and disabled children of Russia. The ones who suffer in silence with no one to speak for them. The ones, as one blogger puts it, “… who sit in filth, alone and cold, digging holes in the wall, their only view, tied to their beds, as we laugh from our abundance at their hotels and empathize, become called to action to adopt and care for their lonely dogs.” (In part referring to Americans criticizing the hotel accommodations in Sochi).

No one knows the exact number of children who are institutionalized in orphanages in Russia but to give you an idea, that number was estimated at 300,000 in the mid 90’s. 1 to 1.5 million youth are also homeless. The number of orphanages has increased by 100% in the last decade. In the Sochi region alone I did a quick search and found seven.

The condition in these orphanages are so inhuman that researches have stated that children under 3 lose one IQ point for every month they stay there. “Children adopted from Russia are also more likely than any other country to have fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. Doctors visiting some of these institutions have even reported seeing toddlers sitting alone, rocking back and forth, staring blankly, or even banging their heads against walls. Children are often not provided with proper nutrition and are not given quality living and sleeping conditions…”  (Wikipedia).

The CRU devotional today ends with this question: “Do you want to serve a great and gracious King who has fought a losing battle for you and come out victorious?”

Sometimes, in the face of darkness, we tend to lose heart. We forget that the battle is not being fought by us alone and we lose sight of the fact that many things will not be rectified until the end of times. But what do we do until then? Knowing that our King will ultimately triumph, we should intensify our fight.

And here is where we must educate ourselves. Again, forgive me for digressing but this year I am using the Lent period to educate myself on topics that often tug at my heart but normally because of my schedule only garner a mere mental note saying “to be pursued, if time allows.”

So if you are interested, please check Kate Brooks’s photographs about orphans in Russia. Beware: some of the pictures are disturbing. Secondly, take a moment to familiarize yourself with Vera Drobinskaya, a warrior who does some courageous work, often facing threats from the Russia’s most powerful and corrupt men, the real “strays of Sochi.” If you can only commit to praying for Vera and the countless children who suffer in Russia during this Lent season, that would be a great start.

Scripture:

1 Corinthians 15: 12-19 (NLT)

“But tell me this – since we preach that Christ rose from the dead, why are some of you saying there will be no resurrection of the dead? For if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, then all our preaching is useless, and your faith is useless. And we apostles would all be lying about God – for we have said that God raised Christ from the grave. But that can’t be true if there is no resurrection of the dead. And if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless and you are still guilty of your sins. In that case, all who have died believing in Christ are lost! And if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world.”

 Prayer:

“Father, please, look upon Vera and countless others like her, who have dared to take on the establishment because they can no longer stand the evils that are being committed large scale against some of your precious little ones in Russia. Father, strengthen them with supernatural power and man-made resources that will allow them to continue their work unabated. Change the hearts of those who perpetrate evil and save the children from more suffering. And help us who have been spared atrocities, to recommit our lives re-enlist for our King in His battle against evil in the world.”

Pastor Ivanildo C. Trindade