Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Adoption is Love

In March 2005 Andy and I began attending a church called Eternal. The name of the church itself forces you to think about things that have eternal value. The church literature and messages stress the importance of the three things that are eternal: God, people, and scripture (www.eternal.gs). Since attending Eternal, it seemed like everywhere we turned the message was clear: it’s time that you start helping those in need around you. Jesus said that the two greatest commandments were to love God and love people (Matthew 22:36-40, Mark 12:28-34, Luke 10:25-28). I began feeling a deep need to branch out of my comfort zone and care for those in need in my own community.

This desire was reinforced in the summer of 2005 when the faculty at my school was asked to read a book by Ruby Payne called A Framework for Understanding Poverty. As a teacher in a school with approximately 65% of the students on free and reduced lunch, my heart was broken. You hear about kids in third world countries all the time that need food and clothing, but I knew of many within a five-mile radius of my own home that needed the same care. What was I doing to help?

I began talking to Andy about finding ways to work some charity into our budget and we began sponsoring a child through World Vision (www.worldvision.org). But I still felt that wasn’t all God meant when he told me to serve others. What about the kids right here around me?

I searched for organizations where I could volunteer and directly impact the lives of my students outside the classroom, but it seemed like everywhere I turned I ran into red tape. Many of the organizations that helped my kids wanted administrative help or physical labor, but not many of them would actually let me interact with them unless I was trained or on staff with them. I wanted to serve them food, to clothe them, to directly impact the quality of their lives. I wasn’t successful in finding opportunities to do that.

Meanwhile, once school began, it seemed that God had given me a unique kind of love and compassion for my students that I hadn’t known before. It didn’t matter the race, gender or social class, they were all becoming precious to me. Minorities in particular found a tender place in my heart. I didn’t know that I could love kids that weren’t my own like I loved these kids. I wanted nothing but the best for them and had a desire to teach them not just dance, but to love and care for each other. But I still felt a need to help outside of the classroom.

When we first contacted World Vision about sponsoring a child they sent a video about all the ways one could help through their organization. The video stated World Vision’s beliefs about the most effective ways to help. From that I learned that taking someone one meal might satisfy my need to help and their hunger for that day, but without sustained help they will still die of starvation. World Vision’s idea of helping is to train a whole village of people to be self-sustaining and provide them with the supplies to do so. I immediately identified with this truth.

While driving one day I passed a car with a bumper sticker that said, “Adoption is Love.” Could this be the way our family should answer the call of the second greatest commandment, to show love to those around us? I began to get excited as I realized that we could rescue someone in need from a desperate situation and feed him/her not just one meal, but three meals a day for at least eighteen years! Just the thought of it ended what seemed like months of searching to find the outlet God wanted for us to serve others. I smiled all the way home and couldn’t wait to share my thoughts with Andy.

Next Post: 6/7/2007

3 comments:

jimmy (dge.y.m.ie) said...

I've read that Ruby Payne book. Good stuff. And, yes, we should all find a way to provide a ministry of mercy, and disciple those in need so that they can grow into people who can help other people.

Lindsey Jones said...

You guys are awesome. I'm so glad I get to keep up with what's going on in your lives this way. And happy belated birthday, Shell!

Anonymous said...

I have been wanting to read that book too. Great Post - wow! God has given you such a vision and "tuned in" heart sweet friend.

Love-Leigh Ann