Answered Prayer and God's Heart for the Fatherless
This week God has answered a long-standing prayer request and given Occoquan Bible Church cause to celebrate joyfully. The adoption of two precious girls by a family from the church has been finalized after a nearly five-year journey to give the siblings a home and family. The timing couldn’t be more perfect as this Sunday November 11 we will observe Orphan Sunday and November is National Adoption Month.
God’s Heart for the Orphan
Why do Christians enter the lives of children who have no family, no parents, no place they can call home? We care deeply because the Holy Spirit is moving Christians in every generation to reflect God’s heart for the fatherless. The Psalmist describes God this way:
“A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families.” Psalm 68:5-6
In the Scriptures, God and his people welcome with open arms children who have lost one or both parents as a result of the brokenness of this sin-cursed world. In the Old Testament, the godly father Job “rescued the poor who cried for help and the fatherless who had none to assist them”(Job 29:12). The Law of Moses protected at-risk children by instructing Israel “Do not take advantage of the widow or the fatherless”(Exodus 22:22). As the New Testament opens, Joseph functions as adoptive father to Jesus, embracing him and protecting him from danger as though the Son of God were his own child (Matthew 1:24-25, 2:19-21). Jesus’s half-brother James teaches the church that “religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress”(James 1:27). Intriguingly, God describes his relationship with the Davidic king–and by extension to the Messiah himself, in adoptive terms, where he says to David and royal kings descended from him: “You are my son, today I have become your father” (Psalm 2:7; Acts 13:33).
A Living Picture of The Gospel
Furthermore, God’s Word looks to the act of adoption as a vivid, living picture of his saving love in Christ for those who come to him by faith. The Lord expresses his sovereign love for Israel by assuring them, though “‘You are not my people, they will be called ‘children of the living God’”(Hosea 1:11). Paul turns repeatedly to “sonship,” an ancient word for adoption, to describe the beauty of the gospel. In Romans 8:15, Paul names the Holy Spirit “the Spirit of Adoption,” describes salvation as “adoption to sonship,”and presents assurance of salvation in adoptive language whereby the Spirit leads us to cry to God “Abba, Father!” (Romans 8:15).
Vertical Adoption Fuels Horizontal Adoption
God’s adoptive love in the gospel then moves recipients of his grace to live out adoptive love in the world as a reflection of God’s own heart. Once, I heard Dan Cruver of Together for Adoption explain that:
“Adoption is vertical before it is horizontal. Vertical adoption is what God does; horizontal adoption is what we do. Adoption was invented by God even before He created the world. It is how God brings us into his family with all the rights and privileges of Jesus, our Elder Brother. As a result, we should see the earthly practice of adoption as a wonderful, though imperfect, reflection of God’s work of adoption in Christ.”
Because God has loved us immeasurably by adding us to his family through faith, we learn from him to open our hearts and homes to children who are in need of a loving family.
Exploring Pathways for Love
A wide range of pathways are open for Christians in the Washington D.C. Metro region to serve children who do not have parents and a place to call home. Consider exploring one of the following:
- Come alongside foster and adoptive families.
Do you know a family who has adopted or is providing foster care? Pray for the parent(s) and child today. Ask the Spirit to grant them wisdom and strength for the journey they’re on as a family. Then tell the family that you’re praying for them and ask how you could serve them, perhaps by babysitting to giving them a night out, bringing over a hot meal, or praying with them for their child’s heart.
- Look into becoming a foster parent.
Virginia Kids Belong reports that 5,200 Virginia children are presently in the foster care system through no fault of their own. Explore Virginia Kids Belong or the Prince William County foster care department to learn what becoming a foster parent involves and how you can provide belonging to a child temporarily or long-term.
- Learn about domestic and international adoption.
You can’t care for every orphan in the world, but perhaps God is calling on you to care for one. What kind of adoption is best for me? Domestic adoption? International? Closed adoption? Open adoption? Do I go through a private or public agency to be connected with a child?
A helpful way to act on your curiosity is to attend an information meeting by agencies such as Bethany Christian Services, America World Adoption (online information meetings), or Prince William County social services to consider what route may be right for you. Thankfully, a variety of funding sources are available to support you as you “visit the fatherless in their affliction” (James 1:27).
- Receive Post-Adoption Support
Behind every adoption and foster care situation is a story of brokenness. Children placed in homes may have experienced trauma in the womb, during key developmental years, and through their wait for a forever family. Moms and dads–you are not alone! Support for adoptive and foster families is plentiful. Here in Northern Virginia, counseling centers like the Center for Adoption Support and Education (C.A.S.E.) offer clinically-trained therapists who specialize in counseling for adoptees and adoptive parents. The Post-Adoption Support hotline at Bethany Christian Services is available for free for birth parents, adult adoptees and adoptive parents to seek advice from adoption-competent and trauma-competent counselors. Focus on the Family and the Christian Alliance for Orphans offer informative articles, videos, and audio talks geared toward families wading through adoption and foster-related challenges. Help is a phone call or web page away.
If you have questions about orphan care, fostering, adoption, or how to become part of God’s forever family, we welcome you to reach out to Occoquan Bible Church and visit us this November 11–Orphan Sunday 2018–at the 8:30 am or 11 am worship services.
Jonathan Matías, adoptive father of two, husband of Christy, and D.C.-based church planter, is Minister-in-Residence at Occoquan Bible Church.
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