Wednesday, February 22, 2012

are we obligated?

At the end of an informational meeting my wife and I were leading, the pastor and I were talking, and he stated, "Orphan care is not so much of a calling as it is a responsibility."  I nodded my head half agreeing because to be quite honest, I wasn't sure.

This is not a Ouija Board for those
who are unaware of the greatness
that is Trivial Pursuit.
When my wife approached me about becoming a foster family my response was an emotionless, "Okay."  I wasn't geeked up about the idea but I wasn't against it either.  You could say I have a very laissez faire approach to life at times.  For example, every time my wife and I have decided to have another biological child, a game of Trivial Pursuit has been involved with the winner determining if and when or final choice on the name.  I believe I have won 2 out of 3.  That being said, she felt called to be a foster parent, and I didn't.  I had read something somewhere in the Bible about caring for orphans and went along for the ride.

It's not that I was disengaged by any means.  I participated in training, welcomed children into our home and loved them with reckless abandon as they hurt and healed in our family.  And while I sensed that this journey had not begun in any kind of heavenly revelation for me, as time went on, the calling (or whatever we want to call it) became clearer.

I suppose I'd rather consider it an obligation along the lines of Luke 17:1-10 than a calling.  We tend to do a lot of scary things as Christians under the guise of being "called" to ministry or a specific job, town, person of the opposite sex, etc.  After all, what do you do with your "calling" when what you're called to is a child that tells you he doesn't want to be your son anymore?  Or worse yet, a child whose behavior and emotional trauma is so substantial that your marriage is falling apart over your inability to parent them?  Are you still "called" then?  I suppose the other side of that coin is that if you're obligated to care for orphans it's much easier to detach emotionally and simply move onto the next child that comes along.

Hector was a good pet, but all dog's
go to Heaven...so let's move on, it's
just a dog for crying out loud!
Suffice to say, not everyone is qualified to be a foster or adoptive parent.  People who love their pets in the kind of awkward sense where they have them enshrined when they pass probably wouldn't make good foster or adoptive parents no matter how much they feel called.  When our pets die, they get flushed, tossed over the back fence or buried in the backyard only to have the next set of pets come dig them up and chew on their bones (yes, that actually happened).  People who carry around mom- or dad-complexes bestowed upon them by their parents looking for validation probably wouldn't make good foster or adoptive parents no matter how much they feel obligated.  I'm sure there are a hundred other scenarios, but the obligation we have is a biblical mandate that doesn't necessarily require us all to do foster care or adoption.  It does, however, require us to do something.

The greatest reason for the world's population of orphans today is not the incredible number of children at 146 million.  It's not the rise of drug exposure, HIV/AIDS, the economy or any other related factor.  The greatest reason is INDIFFERENCE in the CHURCH.

And when I say the Church is obligated to do something, I don't just mean the rich American Church that spends billions on short-term mission trips so teenagers can site-see and build subpar housing that indigenous people could have done in order to maintain a living and billions more on buildings that sit empty 95% of the time.  I mean the global Church rising up to alleviate poverty, restore families, heal wounds and care for the least of these in their own backyards as a physical expression behind the words that Jesus came to reclaim what was lost.

That is our very privileged obligation.

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