Awaking a Sleeping Giant

The American church is a sleeping giant.

So many in America claim to be Christians. Relative to so many countries, we have so much wealth. We have the opportunity and ability to make a gigantic impact.
And yet.
We sleep.
We do nothing.

We have allowed atrocities to take place around the world, and neglect to go on under our nose. What can rouse this giant?

Yesterday, I observed the giant stir.

At 8pm Tuesday night, a local foster-care ministry got a call saying in the next day or two, a plane with 300 Haitian orphans would be headed to Indianapolis. Could they quickly find foster families?

Around 11:30pm, an email went out to my church of more than 6,000 people. "Could any families take in two or more non-English-speaking kids for a month or more, potentially to adopt?"

Half an hour later, they had found homes for 92 children. I sent off a tweet to a blogging friend who I knew was an adoption advocate, and she knew the right people to contact. Twitter lit up. By 10am Wednesday, Safe Families was receiving eight emails a minute about wanting to host children or help in some way. Throughout the day, because of the overwhelming response, they required that applicants have a current background check and home study and agree to take in two children and be a potentially-adoptive home- and even with that requirement, at 1pm they cut off applications, saying they had plenty.


God's people stepped up. Hundreds of families in less than 24 hours were willing to radically alter and rearrange their lives in a permanent way to make space for "the least of these". Wow.

Reports are that the airplane headed to Indianapolis isn't as looming as was reported, and fewer children may eventually be on it, when and if it is put together. That fact is disappointing for many families, but misses the larger picture: Thousands of people in our little area were ready to deploy for the Kingdom. The church stirred, and was ready to make a difference in a big way.

Where to go from here? The hundreds of emails demonstrated to me that there are hundreds or thousands of empty beds and bedrooms in Hamilton County and the Indianapolis area, and thousands of families who love children. As a local adoption agency tweeted in the midst of the day yesterday, the orphan crisis isn't just today, it's every day. There are parentless children that could fill all those beds and hearts, not just from Haiti, but from China, Ethopia, Ukraine, and our own neighborhoods.

Hopefully, this event sparked some good conversations in families in the area, and fostering and adoption will become priorities. Or the plight of Haiti won't be forgotten, because yesterday it became personal and, very literally, close to home. Or the "least of these" living next door or a few miles away will be served with the same life-altering willingness.

Let's hope the giant doesn't drift off again.


"The Queen of Free" said...

Oh lady. Write something like that and I just might have to get uncomfortable. ;) Lots of adoption talk in our house yesterday. No clue where it will lead but I'm glad to be "awake". Thank you for who you are.

Joanna said...

Adoption talks continued in our house yesterday too- we've always talked about it. Being serious about this caring-for-orphans-and-widows thing isn't always easy. One of these days we're going to have to move beyond just talking about it.

Matt said...

I agree that yesterday's experience brought the needs of the world home in a much more visible way than most ways the American church operates, but don't forget about the very active ways the church operates on a daily basis, through women's shelters, food pantries, and resources going out to missions internationally.

A quiet giant is not necessarily a sleeping giant.

Becca said...

James and I have hoped to adopt for a while, since we have so far been unable to have children. The mechanics of adoption are far and away too large a hurdle for us. As we tweeted back and forth yesterday about these adoptions, I was doing some soul searching. I wondered if I just wanted a "trophy" Haiti child, if I wanted a reduced-price child, what it was I wanted. As I read your post, I realize that I just want to be able to adopt a child without the fear of them being taken away again or the insurmountable debt that could potentially go along with it!

Rob Yonan said...

Brilliant! Thanks so much.

Stephanie said...

Thanks Joanna. I really appreciated your perspective. Kiel sent me a link to your blog. Yesterday was quite the day, but things like this sure do help in the aftermath. -- Stephanie, Safe Families Case Coach

Joanna said...

Stephanie- I was thinking of you all day yesterday! Thanks for all your work!

Karen Sue said...

As the natural mother of 3 & adopted mother of a boy from Russia, please don't be too hard on the sleepers. International adoption is complicated, immense amounts of paperwork, and honestly, a ton of money. Seems a crime for child to be without families because the fees are high, and they are high. And sometimes travel, and very extended travel is required to add to the cost and the disruption of your present homelife. Although I know you are not trying to condemn anyone for these reasons, just know that many, upon researching adoptions and international adoptions in particular must make the difficult decision that they just cannot do it.
But thanks for the encouragement for those who try and are able to complete it. It is truly a blessing.

Brad Ruggles said...

You echoed my sediments perfectly. Yesterday's experience is a reminder why the church of Christ is an unstoppable force on this earth waiting to be unleashed to our full potential. When Jesus said that the gates of hell wouldn't prevail against it He wasn't kidding!

Great post. Thanks for sharing.

Todd said...

I felt a little disappointment when we found out we weren't going to "eligible" to foster and potentially adopt. It was exhilarating to make a significant decision to help so quickly. We had prepared our minds and hearts for a big change.

We needed to remind ourselves, however, that this was not about us, it's about the children who need help. It's wonderful to know so many people are willing to help and so many children's lives will be transformed. If nothing else, the experience will hopefully make my family more open to actually getting involved with causes we believe in.

Michelle@Gotchababy said...

It was all kinds of amazing, wasn't it?? For anyone who is thinking of adoption/foster care, free seminars are happening all over town, for all kinds of programs. Adoption can be a roller coaster, but it's been the best ride of my life.

Seriously, if anyone wants more info/personal perspective (and ideas on how to pay for it)...stop by my blog or email me. My sincere prayer is that people who discussed it this week will pursue finding out more about being called to this type of parenting.


Blog Widget by LinkWithin