Sunday, October 23, 2011

11 Takeaways from Together for Adoption including cottage cheese

For the past 2 days I've had the privilege of representing Lifesong for Orphans at this year's national Together for Adoption conference in Phoenix. What a great honor and blessing this has been to be in the middle of such an amazing group of people and to share about the great work Lifesong is doing!

I've got so many things flinging around my head that it's difficult to string them together, but a few takeaways from the 2 days in no particular order of priority or seriousness:

it's still seriously hot in late October in the middle of the afternoon in Phoenix (the exhibitor tables/booths were all outside!)
there isn't near the volume of hipster christians at an adoption/orphan conference as there is at a Catalyst conference, but they are still seriously committed and crazy about orphans!
young couples with no children who travel to an adoption conference to learn about advocating for orphans and knowing God has called them to this journey deserve a HUGE amount of praise, respect, and support (and no they aren't infertile and don't "have" to adopt)
Noel Piper can draw a crowd!
God never calls you to do what YOU can do, but rather what He can do so there's no doubt who's pulling it off! @JeffVanderstelt
American Christians have to figure out concept of "enough" to make big kingdom impacts in areas like adoption
Christians should be about social justice because we have God's grace, shouldn't do social justice to get God's grace
If I was anywhere near Memphis I would definitely be trying to get to Bryan Loritts' church Fellowship Memphis
Black people, for the most part, don't/won't eat cottage cheese (see Bryan Loritts above)
Young pastors with families who start new churches in difficult places amaze me! (see @JeffVanderstelt above)
There are some crazy cool organizations doing amazing things for orphans and adoption in general and I'm learning so much about God's grace through it all!! 

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Going the distance for the fatherless!

This past year or so has been a very transformational one for me and my family. We saw the 5th addition in a young and energetic 3 year old from China. Fisher is our 2nd adopted child and even though we already had adopted Eli five years ago, God really began a work on the hearts of our entire family for the orphaned, the fatherless.

We have truly come to believe in the redemptive picture we see in the earthly adoption and care of orphans in how God loves us, his children and has adopted us into his heavenly family.

Isaiah 1:17 implores us to "...learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause."

James 1:27 provides a directive for what religion should like: "Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world."

In that vein the Freeman family is committed to advocating and defending the fatherless in any way we can. Even in painstaking ways like swimming, biking, and running for 140.6 miles at Ironman Florida on November 5th! (yes, in one day)

I have had the fortune of partnering with Lifesong for Orphans along this journey. I'm hoping that you too would consider partnering with me, and Lifesong, to plead the cause for the fatherless and those who need defending, visiting, taken care of, and adopted.

Follow This Link to visit my fundraising page and help me in my efforts to stand with these children.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Were you building something? Yes, relationships

The first question we get upon our return from Zambia is some variation of the following:
Were you building something, a school, a house, a well, or what?
This seems to sum up the American Christian perception of missions; it's all about "doing" something. Or put another way, it's task oriented, it's about the accomplishment of something, the to do list of items to be completed, etc... There isn't anything inherently wrong with wanting to do these things for other people, but they seem to often take on the central purpose. Much has been written, spoken on, blogged about the whole short term mission idea and if it's even the right thing to be doing. Does it have to be all or nothing? Is there any worth at all in showing up in far flung places for a week with gifts, cameras, a VBS program, hammers, nails, and then leaving a week later?

There has actually been formal research on this and couched under the oxymoronic notion of When Helping Hurts. This is a great book by the way and should be required reading for any church sending short term mission teams out. It will challenge just about everything you probably thought you knew about taking the Gospel to the far reaches of the planet and especially the poor or "least of these". There has also been much anecdotal discussion from the perspective of those in the field and sometimes even heatedly so amongst fellow "brothers" and "sisters" in place like here, and here.

So what has my answer been to this ever present question of, so what did you DO?
We built relationships
We didn't build anything physical in nature.

We spent time loving on and playing with 200+ orphans and highly vulnerable children.

We listened to the Lifesong for Orphans school staff tell their stories, their testimonies, their dreams, their prayer request.

We listened to 12 and 13 year olds share their horrific life stories to date and how grateful they are for God's grace in rescuing them and a new found hope.

We listened to a caregiver in the local village share what she has to go through to scrape together enough for her $10/month rent and her dreams for her children.

We wrapped our arms around the missionary directors and their 3 children under the age of 6 and prayed over them.

We praised our creator and Father with a freedom rarely seen in the American Christian church.

I look forward to God cultivating these new relationships. And from these relationships will come true understanding of need, mutual respect/love, and Kingdom building opportunities.

Because at the end of the day, everything we saw Jesus model was relational in nature.