“My mommy says you talk a lot, but I don’t think so!,” said the little girl as she wrapped her arms around my legs at the start of Sunday school. For the first thirty seconds or so after she finished speaking my feelings were hurt. (In spite of the fact that I have 3 children, I do still have feelings sometimes.) But, the more I thought about it, the more I realized her mommy’s right. I do talk a lot. Probably more than most people would like me too. In fact, I realized I’ve become the mom that everyone turns away from or wishes they hadn’t asked “How’s the adoption going?” because they are likely to get a good five minute update on global child trafficking or the abortion rate in South Korea. And heaven forbid that my conversation slow someone down or make them late for the buffet line at the Golden Corral on Sunday afternoon. (And by the way, did you know that for what you spend for one Sunday dinner you could sponsor a child through World Vision?) I’m not blind to my faults it’s just that I’m starting to wonder if God doesn’t view me and some of my shortcomings a little differently. Maybe that’s part of the reason why He thumped me on the shoulder and said, “Hey, you! Pay attention! See that baby over there. The one that’s different from you? I love him just as much as I love you. He’s just as important. Go and get him!” Because along the way to “getting him” I’m learning more than I ever thought possible about the 153 million orphaned children across the globe. Children that belong to God. Just like I do, just like you do. And unlike me, many of them have no voice. So perhaps, just perhaps part of the reason he thumped my shoulder was to use my big mouth to help tell their story. And here’s a few important things you should know:
· More than 20,000 children ages 5 and under die every day worldwide from preventable causes such as starvation. That’s twice the population of my hometown. Every day. Every single day. From things like malaria, malnutrition, and AIDS. All preventable diseases. Two of my 3 children are 5 and under, how old are your babies? [i]
· 2,000,000 children are trafficked, that’s the nice, modern, politically correct way to say slavery, every year for child labor and sexual exploitation. 2,000,000. I cannot even wrap my brain around a number that large. So guess what I discovered? According to the U.S. Census Bureau in 2011 that was roughly 2/3 of the entire population of Arkansas. So that means every year 2/3 of our state’s population would just disappear. Most would never be heard from again. And we are NOT talking about the rapture, people. We are talking about forced labor and sexual acts of violence against children. [ii]
· 211 million children between the ages of 5-14 are working. 120 million of those are working FULL time. Some of these children are as young as 5 years old. Can you even imagine waking your child up every day to send them to work instead of school? These families must make this choice or starve. It’s that simple. [iii]
· 20 million people worldwide are enslaved. But you say, that’s impossible! It’s 2012, and we live in a modern age. Surely slavery has ended. Let me assure you, as long as man breathes he will try to make a profit on the back of another man, woman, or child. And he will try to accomplish this in some of the vilest ways possible. Modern day slavery is alive and well and we as Christians should be paying attention to the Global economy of it. Our brothers and sisters and their children in bondage deserve no less.[iv]
Some of you may be wondering why I feel the need to share this kind of information. Why would I think it’s necessary for everyone I meet to hear these things? Because my Savior has given me a burden for these children and their families that I cannot carry alone, and as my brothers and sisters in Christ I am calling on you to help me pick it up and carry it. Now that may come in different forms. But I pray that it comes. I pray that God uses you to change the lives of these people. I pray that this information haunts you like it haunts me. I pray that when you look into the faces of your babies you start to see the faces of God’s other children as well. I pray that during this process God draws you so close to him you cannot help but reach out and lift these brethren up. There are many, many ways to accomplish the task that has been set before us.
· We can pray unceasingly that God will protect these children and brethren as we work to get help to them.
· We can become informed consumers. Learn where and how and by whom the products you buy are made. Would you really buy that sweater if you knew a 5 year old help make it? Free2work can provide a phone app that scans barcodes that tells you whether a company is transparent about their workforce and their products. http://www.free2work.org/?open&lpos=ctr_txt_free2work
· We can work with World Vision to sponsor children and their families so that these children can get the food, education, and medical care they need for better lives and futures. They are truly making a difference one child at a time in this vast world of need. http://www.worldvision.org/?lpos=top_img_wvLogo
· We can prayerfully give to people like Katie Davis and her organization like Amazima that provides schooling and food programs for thousands of children in the Ugandan countryside. http://www.amazima.org/sponsor.html
· We can prayerfully consider becoming foster parents or adoptive parents. Millions of children domestically and internationally need regular, Christian parents to help raise them. You do not have to believe you are special or talented to answer this call you just have to be willing and obedient and trainable.
· We can pray that God changes our hearts to respond to needs of these children and brethren in the manner he wants and not the manner that is most comfortable or appealing to us. And friends I know this is tough, truly I do. But if you will surrender your heart to him and truly be open to what he wants you to do your cup will not be able to contain the blessings God has in store for you. Paul spoke to the church in Ephesus about seeking God’s heart and not our will in Ephesians 2:17-17-18,
“I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that they eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you.”
You may wonder why I have such a burden for these children and their families. Why can’t I just be content to write a check and be quiet about? Why can’t I just walk away? What motivates some middle aged mom of three to get her feathers ruffled over some people and children she doesn’t even know? For the same reason I cannot just say I am a Christian but not live it out in real life. Christ loves me.
“For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.” 2 Corinthians 5:13-15 (underlining mine)
His love for me and the grace it brings just overwhelms me and I cannot stand the thought of anyone not knowing or experiencing that in their lives. I cannot stand the thought of one of his children not having food, clean water, or the other basic necessities of life I take for granted on a daily basis. I cannot stand the thought of one of his children never knowing what FAMILY can mean. I cannot stand the thought of disappointing my best friend when he asks me why I didn’t do the things I could to help because I was unwilling to risk ridicule or sacrifice. And while I’m as far from perfect as you can get I’m committed to doing whatever I can to draw people’s attention to God’s children in need.
So, I will keep talking more than I should about things that probably make you uncomfortable. I will keep telling you more statistics than you asked for about people you don’t know in time zones you’ve never heard about. I will keep proclaiming how many children need homes until that number becomes zero because I am not just a mother who’s adopting a child I’m also an adopted daughter of the King.
“For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will”- Ephesians 1:4-5
Oh, and in case you are wondering how to get in on this God’s family thing for yourself, Galations 4:1 gives you the start: “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.”
Of course you could always stop by and visit with me. I’m sure me and my big mouth could find some other verses to share with you. At least that’s what my favorite little girl in Sunday school would tell you.