Imagine this scenario… I’m a 43-year-old pastor and Dad of three. I’m sitting outside of our local courthouse in my old, embarrassing minivan—alone and crying.
Actually, crying would be quite an understatement. I was uncontrollably sobbing!
I was ugly face crying and embarrassed about my uncontrolled emotions over two kids that don’t look like me, share my last name, or even technically belong to me. They have experienced many horrors. Things I don’t speak of often. The list of traumas is unbearable to think of at their tender ages of two and four. But what they do firmly have going for them is that they have my heart. I’m “daddy” to Aurora and Anacely. At first glance, you can’t help but notice that we don’t share skin color, eye color, or ethnicity. We share no genetics. We just share a roof, a table, and my heart.
It all started when my wife felt called. You might know how that goes. She felt called to foster kids, but me? Not so much. So, I spent years dragging my feet to training, social services offices, and random, unorganized meetings. She prayed that God would align our hearts and waited for my stone-cold heart to thaw. Only two years ago did I surrender my comforts at the altar and willingly take in not one but two orphans. Good grief, what was I thinking? I’ll admit that the first months were awful! Extremely difficult. But we survived and are now thriving. Praise God!
Can I tell you a secret? I still sometimes want to quit. While you could rightfully shame me, I’d prefer that you prayerfully join me.
Do you care about life? Would you go so far as to call yourself pro-life?
I could have answered “yes” in my pre-orphan days, but I only meant I was against abortion. I still am, by the way. Staunchly! But what I’ve come to learn is that being pro-life involves much more effort than just being against something. Even something as horrific as killing people.
Jesus said, “Whoever loses their life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 10:39). I agree with Him. Now, He wasn’t talking about fostering, adopting, or advocating for the orphan in this case, but I bet Jesus wouldn’t object. In the Gospels, He was very protective of children, loved spending time with them, and even called us to have faith like they do if we are to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
I believe the Church has no leg to stand on except being unapologetically pro-life. But I think that should encompass a “cradle-to-grave” appreciation for “life and life to the fullest,” to quote the Master.
At least, that’s what I tell the church I pastor in North Carolina. Recently, I expressed this view from the pulpit, and a visitor stood up, obnoxiously got my attention, and flipped me the “double bird.” That middle finger salute told me we have a problem, even in the Bible Belt.
And therein lies the tension. “Pro-life” has become a political slogan, inevitably triggering a heated debate. Will the church and its pastor take the chance of being mocked or heckled to say, “We believe caring for a life, not our own, is the most Christian thing we can do?”
Even having the courage to say that in today’s world is one thing, but then will we actually put that into practice? You might look around and wonder… what can be done?
Our church decided to stop sitting on the sidelines right around the same time my wife’s prayers changed my life. Funny how that works. We don’t have it all figured out, but here is how we are trying:
We support two local crisis pregnancy centers with our money, time, and assistance with their upkeep.
We offer “Embrace Grace” and “Embrace Life” (two programs designed to disciple expectant mothers and new mothers).
We throw amazing baby showers when a girl decides to give her baby life. And it’s expensive! So are the massages, gifts, strollers, pampering, and meal trains, but it’s so important to support these women and show them love.
We walk, sing, and pray beside abortion clinics with “Love Life.” No shouting. No nasty signs. Just prayer and singing. We love moms and babies, and we believe prayer changes hearts.
We give post-abortive counseling and care.
We sponsor small groups to support fostering, adopting, and serving those families.
Our members have started fostering, adopting, volunteering to serve as guardian ad litem (a court-appointed guardian that watches over a child during a case), providing respite care for weary parents, etc.
We serve widows and the elderly with service projects, home repair, meals, etc. several times a year.
WE GOT SERIOUS!
1,780 unborn babies get aborted in the US every day. That tells me that, while I’m preparing sermons and prepping orders of worship, innocent life is being taken. The Church has still not gotten serious enough about pro-life issues.
Roe v. Wade might change federal laws, but the problem isn’t found there. It’s a heart issue for the people of our country.
On any given day, the 424,000 babies, children, and teenagers who cycle through the unforgiving and overwhelmed foster care system means the Church has not gotten committed enough to pro-life issues.
“Unstained from the world,” like James mentions, could describe holiness. Caring for orphans and widows could describe holiness. Repentance from comfort is where we should start in America, in my opinion.
Now I’m talking to you—you, reading this holiness magazine. Are you willing to take in an orphan or serve a widow? Thereby resisting the temptation of comfort, which is one of our most formidable foes, in my opinion. At least it’s mine. My affluence, compared to the rest of the world, makes me fear losing my comforts. You’re welcome beside me at the altar of repentance.
I’m certainly not perfect. Remember who I am? I am the guy who refused to foster and definitely didn’t want to adopt. You won’t receive any judgment from me if you aren’t ready. I am the guy who bemoaned the three weekends “wasted.” But remember what God did to me? He melted my heart for two little orphans who needed a roof over their heads and some food in their bellies. Now, I’m praying God will open a door for our family to sacrificially adopt them because they need me, and I need them. So, until that adoption, I’ll probably be found outside more courthouses crying from overwhelmed emotions about legal frustrations, waiting for the thumbs up from a judge. But you can also find me cheering on the moms who choose life and not death. I’ll lead a church that honors unborn life all the way to the last natural breath a person takes as a God-given gift.
The question I have for you is this: Will you join me in actually being pro-life?
If so, please pray about how God is calling you to be pro-life and what that looks like for you. Genuinely seek God’s direction, no matter the cost.