Why Does America Have Orphans If It Has Christian Churches?

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America has nearly 115,000 orphaned kids in foster care waiting to be adopted. Some wonder how this is possible in a country with Christian families. Surely, there are 115,000 missional families in America, right? Missional families, for example, embrace the redemptive mission of God and practice “true religion” in their local communities (James 1:27). Missional Christians in America could eliminate the foster care system tomorrow if we would stop “shootin’ up” with the American Dream (heroine) in order to get high on a lame life lived for the sake of comfort and ease.

…The Washington Times reports that there are about 65 million evangelicals in America. So, again, why are there 115,000 orphans in America’s foster care system? Does this mean that there are 65 million people missing huge sections of their Bibles? Would someone please alert Crossway and Zondervan!

Historically, the early church was known for taking in their culture’s orphans and the needy. This is such an ancient tradition of the church (except for post-1960s American evangelicals) that Pope Benedict XVI even talked about it in his first encyclical “God is Love.” He writes, “the Church cannot neglect the service of charity any more than she can neglect the Sacraments and the Word. . . Justin Martyr in speaking of the Christians’ celebration of Sunday also mentions their charitable activity, linked with the Eucharist as such. Those who are able make offerings in accordance with their means, each as he or she wishes; the Bishop in turn makes use of these to support orphans, widows, the sick and those who for other reasons find themselves in need, such as prisoners and foreigners. The great Christian writer Tertullian relates how the pagans were struck by the Christians’ concern for the needy of every sort.

While not all Christians are gifted or equipped for taking in orphans it’s pretty convicting that 65 million American evangelicals can’t rescue 115,000 kids from an unstable hell. If the pagans in our neighborhoods aren’t struck by how our churches are applying the Word of God to the needy it’s possible that we aren’t the real deal yet.

(Orphans vs. American Dream)

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  1. I am struck by your post and have been thinking about the same things lately. It is indeed a shame that the more important elements of God’s law and his heart are neglected. If only hearts would break at the condition we are faced with. Perhaps is we were a little poorer in spirit…

  2. Great blog! This is an issue that has been disturbing me for a while now. Even christian couples who can’t concieve seem to place adopting foster care children on the very bottom of the list. Surely God wants eveyone to be able to raise an infant in perfect health from the day of birth in order to make effective new disciples right? Hmmmm.

  3. I agree to a certain extent. However, even if Christians were to alleviate the current foster care system by taking in its current 115,000 children –> more children would always get dumped into the system.
    SO, we should address issues which cause families to dismantle: injustice, poverty, lack of education.

    A friend of ours is creating an organization which will help families whose children have been taken by CPS, get their kids back by learning how to be better parents, and through help from social workers and lawyers, will fight parental termination proceedings. This will alleviate major burdens on the foster care system and will create better families.
    Christians should be thinking of wholistic and preventative solutions rather than merely addressing the fruit of the problem (although both are needed). Thanks for posting.

  4. I think you are overlooking all of the red tape that has been placed in the paths of those Christians who do want to adopt. I think that if the process were simplified, more people would be able to adopt.

  5. I agree that orphans are to be cared for and that Christians are called to do so. Another point to remember is that children in foster care are not orphans, they still have parents and are (usually) in a caring family, hence “foster” family. True orphans exist all over the world with no foster care family to care for them…places like Haiti and Africa where children lack even basic care and die a silent death because their lives are considered insignificant by so many. So please, let’s separate foster care from caring for the orphans..there is a wide expanse dividing the two..and foster care children have opportunities that true orphans in third world countries cannot even dream of.

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