James 1:27 and the Church

Most conferences speakers are asked months ahead of time. I am sure that was the case for most of the very excellent speakers I heard at Together for Adoption.  But the talk that most touched my heart was given by a substitute, asked two days before when someone else got sick.

Substitute he was.  Unqualified to speak he was not. Robert Gelinas is first of all a father. He and his wife birthed one little girl, then adopted 3 kids born in America. A perfect family, they thought: two girls and two boys.

Then a woman in their church sent him a picture of a little girl named Mihret in Ethiopia who needed a family. He prayed for the little girl and then deleted her picture, thinking he’d done his duty. The next Sunday the woman asked his wife about the picture, and his wife thought their duty might go beyond just praying. They began paperwork to adopt her.

And then came the piercing question: How do you go to Ethiopia, a country with half a million orphans, and only come back with one child?

They had their homestudy written for two children, and came back home a few months later with Mihret and her brother Temesgen.

And then, after telling his story, Robert Gelinas had a question for us: How do you live in America, a country with a half a million children in foster care, and not do something?

He said, maybe Pharaoh’s daughter didn’t just go to the Nile for a bath?  Maybe she knew what her daddy was doing to all those boy babies. Maybe she went to save one. Maybe she wanted her life to make a difference.  She couldn’t save all the baskets floating by. But she could save one.

These days baskets are still going down the river in the U.S. foster care system. Most of them are safe for now.  But they’re floating down the river, growing up, 19,000 of them aging out of the system every year without ever getting chosen by someone.  Without ever having a family to call their own.

We the Church are letting those baskets go right on by. Psalm 68 says God is the Father to the fatherless, placing the lonely into families.  He claims them all.

If He is the father to the fatherless, who is His bride?

The church is.  We are.  We are to be the mothers of these children. We can’t let those baskets keep going by us. If only the church would come together.

God has been waking up the body of Christ.  Churches all over are getting more serious about caring for orphans. Possom Trot, TX is a town of 300. Pastor Martin’s wife said there are kids in foster care. We should do something about it. He said, we can’t.  She said, I know we ‘can’t’ but it’s the right thing to do. He knew she was right and he told the need to his church. There are fifty families in his whole church and they took the message to heart. In that little church they adopted and fostered 130 kids.

The bride of Christ is waking up.

Six years ago Robert Gelinas took a challenge to the 1500 churches in the Denver area. At that time there were 875 kids legally free to be adopted in the Colorado foster care system. He challenged the Denver churches to commit to adopt 10% of those kids. So began Project 1:27.

Money should never get in the way of getting families for kids.  When we say we can’t afford adoption, we’re saying the Father won’t provide for the fatherless, that He’s a deadbeat dad.  Untrue.  Our daddy is a really good daddy.

Project 1:27 set out to find families for orphans.  Families would pay no more than the $50 it cost to fill out the application.  For every one family willing to adopt, 3-5 other families were needed to come around that family and help out.

Right away amazing things began to happen. One man said he couldn’t adopt, but he pledged to buy bunk beds for every family that did.   Another man finished basements at cost.  Another person started college funds. You see, not everyone can adopt. But everyone can help. Everyone can be part of the solution.  That is the body of Christ in action.

Since 1:27 started, 136 children have been adopted. 71 children have been placed in families working towards finalization. There are currently 163 more families lined up applying to be part of this program.

The number of kids in foster care in Colorado right now?  365.

The eventual goal?  Zero.

They are well on their way.


James 1:27

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.


  1. Thank you for sharing these truths.. God is stirring my heart. Please pray for my family as we consider adoption in the future and that God would move us soon to where we our church is so we can even consider it.

  2. This was such a great speaker!! I so enjoyed the conference as well. Thanks for putting it on paper to ‘hear’ it again.

  3. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and views on the conference. We were well on our way to being empty nesters when the Lord put these precious children in the American foster care system on our hearts. In our mid 40’s, we didn’t feel comfortable to adopt, but we decided to take in babies born addicted to drugs. Our first foster baby just turned 8! We adopted him when he was 18 months old. So much for not feeling comfortable to adopt:-) The Lord, however, wasn’t finished yet. Last spring, we were volunteering at a foster care event and my husband helped a little fellow with some of the activities. 3 months later, he was living with us and almost 4 months later, we are almost through the process of adoption. Early 50’s and starting over – God is full of surprises and we are sooo blessed. Is it hard – yes! Are we the most blessed people on earth – you bet!! I would say, never let finances and especially age stop you. The blessings are more than you can ever imagine!

  4. Lamar Wadsworth says:

    I am an adoptions case manager with Polk County DFCS in Cedartown GA. I’m also a Baptist minister and an adoptive parent (my wife and I adopted a sibling group of 3 in 1980). Such a challenging message here! I know that Georgia has far more churches than it has children legally free for adoption (the same is likely true for every state). Every church has at least one family that could give a child or a group of siblings permanence in a good home. Every church has individuals and families that could support and encourage adoptive families in some meaningful way. No excuse for children lingering in foster care after they are free for adoption when God has plenty of people who can do something about it.

  5. Thanks for this wonderful post. I would really love to adopt one day but I’m just not sure how easy it is here in NZ. We don’t have many kids here put up for adoption as most mothers keep their children due to the welfare system (which is perhaps not a bad thing) and I’m not sure how complicated it is to adopt from overseas or the costs involved from here. I’m single and 33, so adoption might be the only chance I have of having a family in the future, but in all honesty it feels like trying to conceive naturally would be easier. But I’d really love to give someone a home too. Pray for me!

    • Hi, kazzles – not only can you adopt from the states as a single, but there are many countries that allow singles to adopt as well! Sometimes it is easier and even less expensive to adopt from another country then it is in the states (keep in mind that I did say “sometimes”!) If you feel God directing you in a certain direction do some research online. For foreign adoptions, google words like “adoption”, “singles”, “country” and “requirements”. God bless you wherever He takes you!

      • Thanks that is good to know… though I think it would be something I would consider closer to my forties if I don’t get a family another way 🙂 Being a single parent has never really been my ideal situation in life, I know it’s pretty tough.

        I’m not actually in the States though, so I know it’s impossible to adopt here. The very, very few babies that are given up for adoption would not be placed with a single woman when there are couples to choose from. So the only option would be children from overseas. I guess I’d better start saving.

  6. Stephanie says:

    Thank you so much for posting this. My husband and I were also at the conference and Mr. Galinas message really spoke to us, as well. I tried to share it with the ladies in my Bible study at church, but wasn’t able to articulate it nearly as well as you did.

    I also really appreciate your website and adoption information. My husband and I are praying about the route we’re supposed to take in this journey (it seems we aren’t going to have bio children) and I’m enjoying reading your experiences. God is using you in ways you may not be aware! Thank you!

  7. Speechless…

    If He is the father to the fatherless, who is His bride?

    Just about to cry here.


  8. So glad to hear you highlight this! We have adopted from the foster care system. The transition and bonding has most refining process of my life, without question. BUT, through it, i see myself more clearly and know my need for our Savior more deeply and that is precious.

  9. Shawna from Nampa says:

    Dear Mary,
    I have often desired to adopt through the foster care system, as my parents’ did when I was younger. I have 4 young children and 1 on the way. Many people have discouraged me since my children are so young. These are all Christians and some with a background in social work. I know that my leading needs to come from God, and I am patiently waiting for Him to guide us. I have been told that once you have a certain number of children in your home, you cannot qualify for the foster care system. I am close to that number. Since the Bible calls us to care for the orphans and widows, is that the only answer I need, or do continue to wait on Him? From someone who has adopted, do you think it is wise for me to pursue this with young children? If I wait until some are older I am likely to pass the number of children allowed and will therefore be unable to adopt the foster care route. I have a huge desire to have a large family, but I do not want to rush into things if it is not God’s plan for our family. **Sidenote…I heard about your blog from a dear friend that is also a mutual friend…Debbi Busack. I love the Busack family! Also, thanks for your encouraging posts!

    • HI Shawna,
      I would talk to your husband, proceed very slowly and only if he is fully on board, and do a *ton* of reading about the kinds of issues kids have when they are from difficult places. It is NOT like parenting your bio kids who have been nurtured by you since birth.
      All the best as you seek God’s will for your life.


    • Shawna,

      Adoption isn’t the only response. You can also help other families who are adopting. You can support a child through Compassion. Check out HopeForOrphans.org, and Focus on the Family’s website. They have some concrete ideas about what every Christian can do to support orphans.

      By the way, I’ve fostered through the state, had 5 birth children, and then adopted 2 older children internationally. The older child, international adoption was by far the most stretching thing I’ve ever done in my life, but taught me more about the heart of God than anything I’ve ever done as well.

  10. There’s a really wonderful organization that I used to volunteer with when I lived in CA. It is called Help One Child. http://www.helponechild.org/ They work through area churches to try to encourage more families to become foster and adoptive families. They also work to provide support services for foster families. I worked with them as a respite care provider. I really loved my time with them and would encourage anyone who lives in the San Francisco bay area to check them out.

  11. What an awesome story. Those adopted children will be also be blessed by the fact that the whole community has a higher level of understanding and support for them.

    I always joked that I should ask my friends to sign a waiver every time I accepted a new foster child–since I knew I would suddenly be calling them for help a lot more often. 🙂

    Also thanks, Mary, for lovingly pointing out that adopting children with special needs/trauma is a whole different game than parenting biological children.

  12. OK. I’m crying. I heard that if one family in every church in North America adopted a child from foster care, there would be no more children in the foster care system. I bought an orphanage in Burundi, Africa, 6 years ago. They are being cared for in country and taken off the streets every time someone sponsors a new child. My husband and I leave next month for Ethiopia to meet our first child. We are open to whatever he has in store for us. I love the multitude of scriptures on God caring for widows and orphans. Just today I read Psalm 82:3 “Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. Rescue the weak and needy…”

  13. Wow…I got chills reading your post. We are bio parents of 4 and will be finalizing our 5th adoption out of foster care in the next 6 months (prayerfully)! I have kept my mouth quiet at my large Baptist church for too long. Praying about what my next steps should be! (P.S. Cannot wait to meet you in person at the Oklahoma Homeschool Convention in 2011!)

  14. Mary,

    I heard Robert Gelinas speak when I lived in Denver and my husband and I were still dating. I have had adoption in my heart for as long as I can remember, and I was told that the Pastor Gelinas was going to speak about prayer…
    Well, as you might guess, he did NOT…well, not really. I heard the same talk you did, and this was three years ago now. What he said to us is, “We speak of children slipping through the cracks. But these children are not slipping through the cracks. They are slipping through the fingers of the bride of Christ.” Since that day I have never thought about anything else but adopting from the county, whatever county I may live in when the day comes. Project 1:27 is the best ministry out there, and a very good friend of mine just finalized her adoption last week after beginning the journey three years ago with me at her side. Unfortunately, we have since moved back to California and will be trying to find something similar here.
    I’m so glad that you could be blessed by hearing Pastor Gelinas speak. What a wonderful man with a wonderful and clear message to the church!

  15. We are a large family who met and fell in love with a little boy in foster care. We became good friends with his Christian foster family. At his adoption placement hearing a Great Aunt and Uncle and his great gramma who were Christians found out that we were believers and praised the Lord that we wanted him.

    He came to our home this summer legally free. Our homestudy had been completed months ago through Bethany Christian adoption agency. After several months the state learned that we used spanking as a small part of our family discipline methods and decided that our foster son would be traumatized by even hearing the spankings behind closed doors. In our state it is not illegal to spank. We observed that it was actually healing for our foster/ adopt son to see our five year old come out smiling and forgiven from his spanking. We paid out of pocket for a therapist per the request of the state. The state started questioning our parenting and our Christian agency testified against us and maligned us to the state. Our little boy was taken by police escort and put back into the system. Our hearts are broken.

    This just happened two weeks ago. As the parents of 8 biological children we are well known in the community and have numerous reference letters from those who know us. We even have letters of reference from CPS workers who go to our church in Canada (we live near the border).

    Our adoption agency receives a good chunk of money for each child they place through the state. They wanted to make sure that they didn’t lose that relationship with the state so they sided with the state when we were called into question. We have an attorney who says this happens quite often.

    My question is for all the Christian ministries that are working with the state and foster care. How can they make sure they don’t compromise their convictions and cave to the wonderful temptation of the money that is involved? In this case, a seven year old bi-racial boy lost a forever family.

    When I see the big push for Christians to get involved in the foster system I think it is wonderful but I think we all need to be forewarned that it is an ungodly system that uses unscrupulous methods to deal with families.

    This has been a terrifying experience for us. I never would have believed that this could have happened. I’m not sure why the state is so quick to pull children back into the system…I do know that our little guy had a large financial stipend attached to him and all sorts of agencies had benefited from him.

    I don’t mean to be the lady ranting on your comment section but we did everything “right” and had full approval before hand and were his court appointed guardians and he was snatched from us. Our agency had two homestudies from us (we started with Ethiopia two years ago) and knew where we stood as far as parenting goes. We were honest. We feel like criminals and feel like we have ruined this boys life. We talked about his future with us:(

    Jill F.

    • Jill,
      I’m so sorry this happened to you. I don’t have any ready or good answers, and I am sorry you and the child you cared for were so ill-treated by the system.

    • Thanks you so much for sharing your story. We successfully adopted a sibling group of three through foster care, but before that, we had months of VERY bad experience with our “Christian” faster care agency. We were assigned a social worker that just simply did not like us and had a terrible “Holier-than-thou” attitude. He put us through so many trials! We finally had to say that the agency could either change social workers for us or we would tearfully give 7 day notice on the two dear teenage children we had at the time and leave the agency.

      They decided to change social workers. We became the case of the head of the agency. After working with us for a couple of months, she confided that she had no idea whhat that social worker’s problem with us had been and she thought we were very good foster parents.

      The entire situation wearied us so much of the foster care system. It was though that that we were led to adopt a young sibling group and get out of the system. We adopted our three and didn’t look back. In the five years we served we saw so many things. It is desperately important to get those poor Lambies into loving families. Those families need to be aware of how difficult it can be, though, and go in prayerfully led by the Spirit and not in their own strength.

      • mamaofmany, I had to reply because my password on many of my pages is momofmany(!). Great minds think alike.

        Yes, I wish we had changed social workers before this horrible experience but we were lulled into complacency by the sweet “Christian” demeanor of ours. Very very frustrating. I have lost weight and sleep over this and feel very much like we have experienced a child to death.

  16. I love this post it is so true. This line made me shout! ” When we say we can’t afford adoption, we’re saying the Father won’t provide for the fatherless, that He’s a deadbeat dad. Untrue. Our daddy is a really good daddy.” AMEN!

  17. cheryl a. says:

    When speaking of foster children know that in a HUGE number of cases the parents want the children,fight for them and exhaust resources to have children taken because states get money to keep them in foster care. Parental rights are terminated capriously. Right now married parents are being told since dad was stay at home while mom works can’t have 2yo,4yo:kids in fostercare 60+ days,mom distraught. 9yo girl lost her parents because teen sister made comment alleging sexual abuse,parents didn’t divorce because was not true. An adopted child did not see her mom 1 yr before trial and was denied medical and psychological care in foster care.Grandparents are routinely denied the children.Siblings are routinely denied visits with children taken. Children are taken because parent or grandparent uses injectable anticoagulants under doctors orders.2of the 5 kids in one family were taken for that reason.

    Do not assume this children are unwanted and you are doing some grand save until you read what Nancy Schaeffer and Pam Roach have been written.

    Strengthening the family starts with making it illegal for CPS to torture families by making them “jump through hoops”to have their children. Every family goes through rough times and CPS makes it catastrophic in ALL cases. Foster care is NOT the answer. Foster care in US is child trafficking.

    • We truly did see some parental abuse in our years of doing foster care. When the state had the ‘benefit’ of lots of money, there were many, many more detentions than when the state was struggling financially. The was a huge red flag.

      During the states ‘good times’ we had a placement of two siblings. Their folks fought tooth and nail and jumped through all the hoops placed before them. We were continually told that the children *would* be placed for adoption eventually. We said we would adopt them *if* the parents weren’t complying, but it seemed to me that they were doing everything! Mom contacted me privately (which she was not supposed to do) and pleaded with me to allow them to see their children more than the one hour they were allowed. Of course I couldn’t do that. I would be liable if something happened. They hired a high priced lawyer. A few days later I was called and told that I was to have the children ready to go home in a couple of hours, they were going home. That situation was NOT right. Mom and I continued to visit after the children were returned. Those children were not in any danger from those parents.

      The children we adopted were a different story. They were truly abused, neglected and needed a true home. I will not tell their story online, but it was horrific.

      Do not avoid foster care because of the stories of parental abuse. Simply be wise. There is much need.

  18. Amazing – thank you for sharing this! I have a real heart for foster adoption and hope God calls us to it someday!

  19. We currently are doing this in Georgia. FaithBridge Foster Care and Project 127 Rome are partnering together in Floyd County and are also in several other counties. We have one Polk County child in a FaithBridge family with CM Alicia Wade. See the websites I listed for more information. Do you know of any churches in Polk County who would be willing to partner with us to recruit and traing Christian foster families in Polk County and transform the foster care system there? Please email me or call me at 678-332-8386 for more information. Thanks for your words.

    Chris Hayes


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