We are living in a world that is hostile to God and His Word. It says that you can be great and do big things with your own strength, and you don’t need God. People value and uphold the ‘strong,’ ‘big,’ and ‘fast.’ The world says that if you are not strong you will be defeated, if you are not big you are insignificant, and if you are not fast you will be left behind. If you want to be successful, then words like ‘weak,’ ‘small,’ or ‘slow’ shouldn’t be in your vocabulary.
I often hear church leaders talking about their big plans, organizing big revival crusades, and implementing big projects to impact their nation. These plans require big budgets and manpower that only a few big churches have available. The desire to be effective for the Lord in a big way is a great thing, but the problem is they seem to think the way the world thinks. They look down on small actions and are in danger of believing a lie that says, “Bigger is better.”
I walked into the auditorium at the end of the “youth fellowship time.” In other words, I walked in on 15 teenagers somehow managing to simultaneously text on their smartphones, run laps, flirt and eat junk food. I might have mistaken it for any other youth group in town, except that I couldn’t decipher a single word they were saying (since they were speaking Nepalese) and there were one too many saris in the room.
In fact, 14 of these 15 kids are children of refugees. This is the youth group of the Himalayan Community Mission Church in Phoenix, Arizona.
I was there to meet the pastor…to find out just one thing: What does effective ministry to refugees look like?
We met Palash, Dawa and their family through Lutheran Social Services in November of 2014. They came to the US after having lived in a Nepali refugee camp for over 20 years. Their son Gopal was born there and Dawa had only seen life outside the camp for 1 year. They spoke no English and had no idea what I meant when I told them (demonstrated to them) that the winters in Sioux Falls would be very cold!!!
The family is of Bhutanese decent but had been relocated for several reasons as refugees in neighboring Nepal. With little physical resources but big hearts the family arrived to Sioux Falls in November and started their new life here as American citizens.
As a family we had no idea what spending time with our new friends from Bhutan/Nepal would mean. We had never done this before but we were excited to welcome our new friends to our country. Many questions remained but we quickly jumped in and started to get to know them.
We all want to help people. We all want to make a positive impact in someone else’s life, especially if that person is hurting physically, emotionally, or spiritually. The danger is that sometimes this desire to help others can manifest itself in a way that has come to be known as ‘the savior mentality.’ It’s the idea that people who are vulnerable need another person to save them from their situation, because they cannot do it themselves.
This mentality is damaging to communities. It gives those in the community the impression that they have nothing to give, that they cannot help themselves because you have more education, knowledge, and expertise. But how can someone who doesn’t know and understand the community know what is best? Those who live in the communities are the ones who are best equipped to lift themselves, their family, friends, and neighbors out of poverty. In Chapter 6 Keller writes,
Vulnerable Children: They’re Everywhere.
Yesterday, my five-year-old stated at dinner, “The kids in my class said, ‘Your dad is so cool. We wish we had dads too.’” This haunts me.
Turns out, one little girl’s dad has died, while two boys’ fathers are in prison. Those are just the ones who we know about. These kids are vulnerable.
This month, we’ve had many amazing blogs about foster care. But not all vulnerable children are in the foster system. In fact, there are so many vulnerable children all around us. Children whose parents are divorced. Children of unwed mothers. Children of illegal immigrants. Children growing up in poverty. Jesus’ call to care for these children is unavoidably obvious in Scripture.
Embrace Oregon is a movement asking the key question, “What would it look like if we as a community lived into embracing the most vulnerable children among us?”
And it’s no mystery where the most vulnerable children in our community go – through the doors of a Department of Human Services (DHS) Child Welfare office.
My husband, Luke, and I have been foster parent’s for 11 years and have 4 children, ages 9 and under, two of them we fostered before adopting them.
When I was asked a few weeks ago to write a blog for people interested in finding more information about foster care I was a little nervous. I am the first to admit that foster care, though I am an advocate of it, is an issue relatively new to me. I have friends and family who have adopted both domestically and internationally but I know few people who have been foster parents. So, I wasn’t sure where to start to provide you, the reader, with some valuable information.
I figured since my experience was limited I would ask others who have been working in this area to share their thoughts, resources and suggestions. I have gathered the very helpful information below. If you are interested in learning more about foster care or getting connected with a helpful organization the following resources should get you started on your path.
As we close our series on autism, I realize in many ways we have only just started to touch the surface of this area. For those who want to go deeper, we have gathered some resources that you may find helpful.
“Our desire is to love well. To allow our special needs kids the opportunity to hear God’s word in an environment where they can hear, touch and experience God’s saving grace.” – Theresa Messer, Hope Church, Mason Ohio
As we discussed in our opening blog this month, “Clueless”, going to church is one of the biggest challenges for families with special needs children in the US. No wonder 90% of families with special needs children are thought to be unchurched. With such a challenge confronting us how can the church respond?
The boy stood there, moving his arms in a rhythmic fashion, a bemused smile on his face. His mother watched from the corner of her eye, and the people were looking back and forth amazed. And then one person said to the mother, “Why do people give birth to children if they cannot take care of them? Why don’t you take more care of your child?” Tears formed in the eyes of the mother and she withered inside, but said nothing. She felt it was her karma for giving birth to an intellectually challenged child. As she shared this with me, she asked, “Will I have to listen to this kind of comment for the rest of my life?” I was quiet, for I had no answers. And I did not know if I ever would. I cried at the insensitivity of the people saying it, I cried at the pain the parents would go through in hearing the comments from people who did not understand. And I cried at the lack of awareness on the issue among the general public.