I preached on a topic last Sunday that had never been my main point in over 35 years as a pastor.
I used as my text James 1:27, "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."
The main idea of the sermon was simple: We have been called to care for the most lowly and downtrodden in our society, orphans and widows.
And I went so far as to say that Christians have a responsibility to foster and adopt children in need.
The fact that I am an adoptive father perhaps gave a bit more credence to my main point. My wife and I were foster parents to four little boys back in the 1980s and 1990s, adopting two of them as our own.
But I shared with my church family the deepest regret of my life. We only fostered four children. We only adopted two.
There were valid reasons for this. Finances. The fact that we moved from Georgia to another state, and we would have had to go through all of the training and paperwork again. And I suppose I could give others.
But the simple fact is that I wish today we had done more.
I recently read that if every church in the United States had one family that would adopt one eligible child from the foster care system, the foster system would become obsolete. I realize there might still be children in the system whose goal is to return to their birth families.
But I want you to feel the staggering nature of that claim. If Christians in America would "visit orphans in their affliction," (the word visit in the Bible always means do something), we could literally change the world of these children.
What would happen if we took this calling seriously? I’m not saying it would be easy. In fact, I can guarantee that it will not be easy.
Adopting or fostering an older child, or a special needs child, is a daunting task. But God has not called us to easy lives. He has called us to sacrificial living.
God is not calling everyone reading this column, or hearing my most recent sermon, to adopt or foster. But he may be calling you. Are you willing to hear him and say yes?