The foster care system is messed up. It is easily the most broken system I have ever encountered. When there are twenty kids dumped into the system in ONE county in ONE afternoon, you know something is seriously wrong. The system has more problems than I can count, and if you get me up on my soapbox, I can talk about it for hours. The issue is that it is really easy to talk about the all the problems the fatherless face, but really hard to solve them. Talk won’t fix it. We need action! And who is in a better position to act than the church?
Now I know that when I said church, many of you just scoffed. The church? Really? Do you seriously think the church is the answer, but I don’t only think the church is the answer, I know the church will be the solution. The state won’t fix it. They don’t have the time, the energy, the resources, or quite frankly the motivation to solve this problem. Individuals won’t fix it. It is far too big for any one person to solve. So that leaves the church. When I say church, however, I don’t mean my church. I don’t mean your church. I don’t mean a denomination or a geographic area. I mean THE church. The bride of Christ. The body of people who believe in Jesus.
The church has a responsibility to this problem. Psalm 82:3 says, “Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless: maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed.” Are we doing that? James 1:27 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.” Does our religion fit that description? God takes orphan care very seriously. Adoption is part of every believer’s story. God has adopted us as sons and daughters. (“For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, Abba, Father.” Romans 8:15)
He calls us to love as he loves, adopt as he adopts. Now don’t hear me wrong on this; not every believer is called to adopt a child. But every believer IS called to care for the fatherless.
Caring for the fatherless can manifest itself in many ways. From giving foster parents a night off, to truly trying to understand the complexity of this issue, to working as the church with the state to make the licensing process easier, to providing resources to help biological families get back onto their feet, there is no end to the practical ways to care for the fatherless.
That being said, there are several things we must realize. Firstly, we cannot do this alone. A single church can’t solve this. It’s going to take us looking beyond the things that typically divide us, and deciding that orphans are more important than our pride, or than being right. Secondly, human strength won’t fix this. God’s redemptive power is our only hope. We are his hands and feet in this world. He will use us to bring this change, but he gets all the glory. And finally, this is going to take time. It will be hard. It will be frustrating. There will be setbacks. This probably won’t even be solved in our lifetime. We can, however, make progress. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the staggering statistics, but we must remember that while we can’t do everything, we can do something.
I dream of a culture where adoptive families are not an anomaly. I dream of a world where children don’t go to bed hungry. I dream of a culture where adoptive families can walk through the grocery store without being asked awkward, ignorant, or even plain offensive questions. I dream of a world where every child has a home and a family. The question we have to ask is, are we willing to put in the work it will take to make these dreams a reality? Church, now is your time! Will you rise up to meet this challenge?