Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Orphans, Abba and Mission

I just came across this article in the July issue of Christianity today- WELL WORTH CHECKING OUT. I love hearing others speaking my language!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Rethinking Orphan Ministry- Introduction

I have been involved with orphan ministry and visited or read multitudes of literature of various orphan ministries or those seeking to partner and work with orphan ministries to know that we as a people (and I'm speaking mainly of Christians) need to do some serious rethinking about orphan ministry, both those caring for orphans and those partnering or supporting.

My family and I are preparing to head back to the US for a 6 month leave, and in that time I hope to put much of what is in my head into writing (as well as on this blog). But first, I would really like some feedback from each person who reads this. Please help me with the following questions:

1. What issues do YOU think need to be carefully thought through by those who are working HANDS ON with orphans? Why? (i.e. Vision statement, cross-cultural baggage, etc.)

2. What issues do you think need to be addressed by those seeking to support/send teams/partner, etc. with ministries caring for orphans. (i.e. cross-cultural baggage, etc.)

And I guess finally, is there anything specific that you'd like to see this blog address on this topic.

I'm going to wait a good month or more before taking this up again, mainly in hopes that some of you will take the time to think on these things and answer, and also because our family will need some time to transition cultures!

Looking forward to taking this one up.


Saturday, February 27, 2010

Adoption, Ethnicity and Worship- Part 4

Unity in Diversity- I find this little phrase to be marvelously beautiful and paramount to the various issues and concerns raised below. It's an incredible three words, something that seems so impossible in the context of a fallen world marred by both Division in Diversity and Division in Similarity. And even though there is a lot of talk about UNITY, it is often simply a lofty concept devoid of any genuine meaning or foundation. Yet I see this is absolutely foundational for the discussion taking place here.

How incredible that God has revealed Himself as ONE God, yet revealed in THREE persons. The Father is not the Son and the Son is not the Holy Spirit, yet they are perfectly (and uncomprehendingly) ONE. Their diversity is seen most clearly in the way they relate to the world- or in their economies as Wayne Grudem describes in his Systematic Theology. In John 14 and 17 Jesus describes Himself as "in" the Father and the Father as "in" Him, and in John 17 He states that He shared the Father's glory before the world ever existed (vs. 5). This is an incredible Unity in Diversity.

Because of God's own Unity in Diversity, it should not be surprising that God's creation (the unveiling of His Glory) reveals an incredible unity in the context of extreme diversity, with so much of life here on earth dependent on the entire ecosystem.

The Word of God, the Scriptures, reveal an amazing unity in diversity, from the multiplicity of authors, cultures and history, to the various purposes which brought each book about, yet throughout the story of Scripture, there is amazing consistency and unity weaved throughout in such a way that only God Himself could accomplish such a feat. The ESV Study Bible does a wonderful job drawing this out in the context of salvation history.

The Church, the Body of Christ, follows the same pattern, revealed in Jesus' prayer in John 17, "I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me (vs. 23)." This "perfect" oneness is ONLY possible through what Jesus accomplished through His death and resurrection, the unveiling of the Gospel that alone can unite peoples, economic levels, tribes, languages, and nations into ONE incredible worshiping Body of believers, willing to lay down preferences, history and sin in order to love and serve one another, delighting in the unity in diversity reflected in His body.

Marriage also reflects the possibility of amazing unity in diversity, as the two become one (what a mystery!), pointing to the greater reality of the unity and diversity of Jesus and His Church (Eph. 5). Again, this true intimacy and oneness is found through the work of Christ, declared in the Gospel, as two redeemed people come to Him in desperate NEED for grace to love and forgive, both dying to self in order for Him to be glorified.

And finally, family reflects unity in diversity, when the Gospel turns the hearts of the fathers toward their children and the children toward their father (and mother) (Lk. 1:17) and God's own character is seen in the unity possible through individuals diverse in character, personality and giftings.

It is in the context of all of this that the doctrine of adoption should come as no surprise at all, that through the death of Jesus, God not only justifies sinners but also adopts them back into His very own family, where the true Father is unveiled (Jn. 14) and our King Jesus becomes our brother (Heb. 2:11-12) through the incredible work of the Holy Spirit.

We can not escape it. We are called to pursue unity in diversity, intentional multi-ethnicity, at all costs, as it is the call of the Gospel and the purchase of God through the blood of His own Son. We are also called to live out this adoptive relationship of diverse unified family through adopting fatherless children of all cultures into our homes and therefore churches. We are also called to celebrate the diversity of the Body, rather than force ONE ALL CONSUMING CONFORMITY that robs the beauty of unity in diversity, which is a celebration of the Gospel itself. Old and young, Spanish speaking and Luganda speaking, light and dark skin, "family" made up of many cultures, all coming together in worship of the Lamb who was slain to purchase a bride on the earth. What an incredible vision our Father has set before us!

May we each truly seek first this incredible kingdom of God, and truly the world will know that God did indeed send Jesus. He is, indeed, building His church. May we pursue unity in diversity at all costs. To the praise of His glorious grace.