Monday, May 12, 2008

Orphan Conference, Adoption, and Multi-Ethnicity (or the lack thereof)

My wife and I recently attended a conference in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida called “Hope For Orphans”. It was probably the biggest gathering of Christian men and women from various organizations and ministries that focus specifically on orphans to ever take place. Represented were people with a passion for foster care, local and foreign adoption, and international ministry to orphans. It was an amazing and refreshing time for us, as we have never been around so many people so passionate about the same things as us. It was exciting to network with others laboring in the fields of the fatherless, and it was fun to hear the same language being talked about- from the church's desperate need to recover the front lines of orphan care (both locally and globally) to the church's need for a solid understanding of spiritual adoption and what it means to be adopted sons and daughters of God. It was also fun to see so many families exemplifying the doctrine of adoption in their own families through adopting children from around the world. Just a glance around the room and one would quickly notice children from China, Ethiopia, and various ethnicities from within America. How beautiful!

Yet, even as I smiled at such beautiful diversity within various families, my heart was yet saddened by one stark reality- the room itself lacked diversity. Granted, there were a few African brothers and sisters in the room, mainly because they work with orphans in Africa, and there were a few brothers and sisters of color scattered here or there, but overall, a good 95% of the people in attendance of this Orphan Summit IV were white American. My heart could not help but feel saddened. Is this really a conference reflective of the church in America in terms of orphan care, concern, and ministry? Where are my African American brothers and sisters? Where are other established minority church groups? Are these church's simply not involved in orphan care or was the conference targeting one specififc ethnic group (white churches)? I don't have an answer to these questions(though I have some ideas), but I've been thinking about it non-stop since the conference. I am really interested in your feedback in this situation, because I think this is a sad reality on a much bigger level than simply this conference.

It also seems to me that a people so passionate about and so committed to the doctrine of adoption and its implications for the church in both life and practice (in terms of the adoption of orphans from various different ethnicities) should be just as passionate and just as committed to pursuing multi-ethnicity in both church life and ministry practice. It also seems to me that the doctrine of adoption provides a paradigm for multi-ethnic ministry (or the pursuit of unity within the ethnic diversity within the body of Christ)- something I'm working on teasing out in an article form (I'll post that when it's done). How beautiful it will be one day when families, men and women, who are passionate about the doctrine of adoption and who reflect the beauty of that doctrine in their own families, form but a small picture of the larger gathered diverse Body of believers, whether gathering to talk about ministry to orphans, or gathering to worship on Sunday morning.

I guess for now, I'd love to hear your take on these things.