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.