The Crisis: Part I

We are in the midst of one of the greatest tragedies of mankind.

While we sleep under down comforters in warm houses in wintry December, a silent crisis of massive proportions is occurring on the other side of the world.

It probably won’t make the nightly news or even garnish attention from our story-seeking media.

Powerless people living in the death grip of poverty don’t have a voice. For the most part, they only arouse a bit of curiosity and make us uncomfortable in our American Dream.

The global orphan crisis has reached staggering statistics of 163 million orphans (United Nations). The number is so great, it is beyond our comprehension.

And yet it is real. As far as the eye can see, stretching across countless miles, there is a sea of children who live without parents and are in a desperate need of help. Every number is a face, a life created by God, an innocent child whose companion is suffering. Children who have smiles that light up the world, children who play with a ball created from trash. Children much like our own, only born into a gulf of poverty.

When I think of an orphan, I automatically think of adoption.

It has traditionally been the answer in our western minds to this vast need. And while I love adoption and watching the undeniable beauty of an orphaned child rescued and brought to the abundance of our country, I firmly believe that adoption is not the answer to the global orphan crisis.

Is it life changing? Definitely. Does it solve the problem for the orphan adopted? Absolutely.

But for every child that is adopted there are thousands left behind.

What is the answer to the global orphan crisis? I believe it is empowering these destitute nations who lack basic resources with our support through the local church, but even more than that, it is Jesus.

I’m still trying to figure out what this means for me and my family. I believe that giving our finances to Godly organizations like Compassion International is part of the answer. I believe that providing clean water and resources is part of the answer. I believe that it’s God’s desire for Mercy House to empower hopeless girls with the skills and education needed, so they don’t abandon or abort their children. I believe we all need to ask what we are supposed to do-for some that will be adoption, for others it will be something different. But every Christian needs to do something.

I believe a conscious awareness of this global crisis in our every day lives will stir up a resolve to move out of our comfortable lives and do something.

Across our nation, there is a collaborative movement of meaningful conversation rising up to help us think outside of traditional roles of caring for the orphan, one such event is the !dea Camp. I hope you’ll consider joining me in February at this event.

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter”-Martin Luther King

Close your eyes and listen.

Give them a voice.


Where you find an unfathomable crisis, you find God.

God is with the poor.

Comments

  1. 1

    says

    I would really be interested in attending this and it would only be about 5 hours away for me. God has really laid foster parenting on my heart lately. I’d love to be involved with this. I’ll have to check into it further for sure! You are such an inspiration! Thanks for all you do!

  2. 2

    says

    We’ll be trying hard to attend this conference. In the meantime, we’re praying and asking God to continue moving us out of our comfortable American dream into His life-changing, soul-saving Dream.

  3. 3

    says

    In the past year I have heard God calling me, and my church, to defend the cause of the fatherless. I appreciate that you have not stopped speaking for them. I hope that me, or at least someone from our new orphan care ministry, will be able to go to Idea Camp.

  4. 4

    says

    Praise God for you, Kristen! I don’t know what your website numbers are, but I’m sure you could use this platform for your own glory. Thousands of others do. You don’t. You reflect Him.

    Your writing and coverage, coupled with our own recession-related economic crisis (now living below the poverty level), have opened my eyes; I so wish I could give you a big hug!

  5. 5

    says

    I love this. You are exactly right. How do we act as God’s hands and feet? Do we rescue one child? Do we just throw some cash at the problem? Do we depend on other organizations? — these are all a good things, and I’m not saying anything negative about these at all. It just seems like we must at some point look at how to stop the cycle. How do we help these nations become self-sustaining and climb out of the grip of poverty?

    My husband went on a life-changing trip to Ethiopia last December. He is going back next month, and we have been praying and literally racking our brains to think of answers to these questions. It just seems so BIG! How in the world can we possibly even begin to make a difference? But I know that our God is BIGGER and we just need to hear His voice and do what He asks us to do. Right now we are in the seeking/listening phase and I would love to learn more about the idea camp.

    Blessings!
    Melanie

  6. 6

    says

    Oh Kristen, thank you! My husband and I don’t feel “called” to adopt (and I struggle with that) but I have been wanting to go and install water filters for some time now. (I’m an engineer). I don’t discount the steps of saving *one*, but I want to do more on a *macro* level…I can’t make it to Arkansas, but I see that it will be streamed…I’ll be watching, and want to know more. Thank you for being a voice.

  7. 7

    tia bennett says

    You just wrote out my heart’s painful cry right there. Sometimes, I can’t even put it into words, the ache for these children. We too are trying to figure out what it means for our family. I feel like God is telling me to -“just wait, I have something for you.”
    So I will wait. and pray. and sponsor children. and spread awareness.

    Thank you for being so vocal, some of my friends, I am sure think I am nuts! We have 4 active kids, jobs, church, etc. etc. We supposedly don’t have “time” for this. My heart says otherwise.

    I honestly think God puts different ministries, different areas of interest on each of our hearts. That way He can reach the world. But sometimes it feels as if people are critical of others’ calling, even question it.

    Sorry, my heart is heavy today for these orphans. Thanks for listening :)

    • 7.1

      says

      I echo your words exactly……4 active kids, people think we’re crazy, we don’t have “time”, God telling me to wait…..I am right there with you!

  8. 8

    says

    I am an adoptive mother, so I know firsthand how many lives are changed when one child is welcomed into a family. But I know that’s not the answer for the other 147, 000,999 children . . . so I love that you’re championing their cause! Thanks for reminding us all that to those who are given much, much is required.

  9. 9

    says

    How do you type when tears are streaming down your cheeks?

    God *is* with the poor —
    so why would we want to be anywhere else?

    I close my eyes and I can hear it
    “Give them a voice.”

    How God? Show me how.

    Ah, tears and everything blurring…
    May everything blur so that what is important becomes clear.

    All’s grace,
    Ann

  10. 10

    says

    “Where you find an unfathomable crisis, you find God. God is with the poor.”…remembering Mother Teresa.: When asked what difference her little efforts made in the face of unfathomable poverty, she remarked that she didn’t look at the vast numbers…only at the one GOD placed before her and helped that one…and the next…and the next.

    “Nothing is impossible with GOD.”

    GOD’s Peace,
    Connie

  11. 11

    says

    Kristen, this is exactly what prompted us to adopt…as we asked God what He wanted us to do, He told us to adopt. It really was that simple for us, and I believe that if more of us regularly asked God that question, He would give us the answers. Thank you for being part of this “camp” and for stirring us on to keep this ever in front of us.

  12. 12

    says

    One more thought… as church planters, we firmly believe in God’s plan for the local church to be involved in this. This is one reason we sponsor through Compassion as well… but so much more is needed! We need to plant churches globally that are empowered to impact their communities. Because it is the local church that is the present hands and feet of Christ all over this world.

  13. 13

    says

    We’ve adopted two sons, domestically. Children around the world do need parents and partners to stand with them and support them, but we must never forget those children that are with us. The ones on our blocks and in our towns. Every state in the nation has thousands of children in foster homes. Several thousand of those are available for adoption yearly. I just want to encourage anyone who feels God leading them to adopt, to please understand that domestic adoptions are not expensive or drawn out processes most of the time. They are a matter of preparation (most states only require 9 wks of classes one night per week) health check ups, background checks, court dates. So please, if you have felt led but fear the expense or the time or the travel that is often necessary with international adoption, please check into domestic adoption. America’s children need forever homes too. Thank you Kristen for reminding all of us to rally around the fatherless.

  14. 14

    says

    Well said. “… what you do for the least of these.” God has called us all to move in such different ways; what a beautiful tapestry. In our family, it has been a calling to adoption. Let’s not forget — there are many poor and orphaned right here in the US too. We have adopted from foster care, Liberia and are working on papers to adopt again from foster care. So many children… so much need…

  15. 15

    says

    Thank you for this post! Our family is praying earnestly about what God would have us do! It is heavy on our hearts. One thing I’ve noticed though, and I wonder if others notice this…is that as soon as we begin taking steps, we find ourselves heavily oppressed with what appears to be spiritual oppression. It tells me that this is so close to God’s heart and that Satan is alive and actively against it. We are so burdened for this cause. Ann V. especially has opened my eyes this Christmas season to making all the gifts for Him by giving unto the “least of these”. Praying hard for God to move in others’ lives!

  16. 17

    says

    We adopted two little orphans from Siberia 6 years ago, and the faces of the other children in their orphanage still haunt me. As I looked into their eyes, it was as if they were asking me, “Why didn’t you choose me?” We turned and walked away. What happened to them? In Russia, when a child turns 16, they are turned out of the orphanage onto the street. No one will hire them because orphans are considered trash. Because they have no parents, or like our boys, are taken away from abusive parents, their value as a human being is automatically reduced to zero. Our two Siberian sons were on the national registry of Russia for six months and not a single person in the entire nation of Russia even inquired about them! It does seem so huge! But we must do something!! We just found out about a doctor who has invented a nutritional packet that needs no refrigeration. He believes it will affect the world in the same way penicillin did. I hope he is right. (http://mananutrition.org/the-cycle)

  17. 18

    says

    Well said, Kristen –
    Heaven knows the name & faces of these children, even if we choose not to look too close, or learn too much. Our family is wrestling with our wealth right now as well. We’ve decided to downsize, so we can free up more of our hands, our money & our time to help others. I will look into the !dea Camp as well. Thanks for sharing.

  18. 19

    says

    I’ve become so burdened by the plight of refugees since I began working in resettlement. I do believe, as Tia said above, that God gives us a heart for issues so we can become a voice for the voiceless, much like Kay Warren talks about with HIV/AIDS (have you read her book, Dangerous Surrender)? THANK YOU for taking a stand for this issue, even when those around you don’t understand.

  19. 20

    says

    Thank you much for continuing the conversation, for not allowing those in need to remain silent. I’m currently, at this moment, surrounded by beautiful Haitian children, orphaned or abandoned by their families, creating beautiful artwork from materials they found in the office. There is glue, tape, staples, stickers, paper, and children everywhere in here. I am blessed to be part of their sweet lives, and pray that others will continue to find how they are to be part of this too.

  20. 21

    Kim says

    Are you familiar with Dusty Feet? It is an INCREDIBLE organization, covering all areas of human trafficking in Africa. But they go so far beyond that, creating businesses to support their efforts and the community, working politically to bring awareness to trafficking, both in Africa and in the U.S.–they have all the bases covered. Currently, they’re building a safe house for boys. Street boys are being abducted and having their organs harvested. Our Youth group is attempting to fund the bathroom, $1,500.

  21. 22

    says

    The crisis is overwhelming. It would be easiest to put blinders on and pretend it doesn’t exist, but then how could one live with themselves? The maternal mortality rate in Africa is astronomical due to lack of basic supplies for a safe delivery. And when that woman dies, she leaves behind not only a newborn orphan, but possibly many other children as well. Everyone needs to get involved out of basic human decency.

  22. 23

    says

    So true. We do both. We adopted one and are adopting another. We knew we wanted a larger family, so instead of having more children, we decided to do this through adoption. Many orphans out there need homes and families. By the same token, it doesn’t solve the overall problem. So we sponsor places that are trying to work on the overall problem. I think of it as the “now and later” call for our family. We are trying to help the “now” but work hard at preventing the “later”.

  23. 24

    says

    Kristen, I loved reading this post. Found it via Robin’s site, and I love your heart and “bigger picture” approach to the orphan crisis. And it is most definitely that.

    Here in Thailand, I am wrestling with the causes of orphaned and abandoned children. I literally had a woman offer her children to me to care for while riding public transportation one day. There is this idea/reality that children are a “burden” to feed, to care for b/c of the poverty. There there are drugs and little education in the villages and broken families and sexual abuse . . . and all of these things lead to kids being orphaned. In our part of the world, oftentimes it is not literal (no living parents) but it is practically-speaking (no one has the means/desire/willingness) to care for children.

    It’s a hard, complex wrestling to start asking about the problems that lead to the Crisis.

    Anyway, more later, but I just wanted to weigh in on this thought-provoking post. Love what ya’ll are doing in Africa, and love the voice you are giving the littlest of these.

    http://www.lauraleighparker.com/2010/12/wrong-orphan-crisis

  24. 25

    Julie says

    Not to take away from your post, but please also consider the orphans across the world with special needs. Their plight is often wasted away strapped into hospital beds and basically ignored until they die. Even children with very mild disabilities are treated this way. Reeses Rainbow is an organization that tries to find forever families for these angels.

    • 25.1

      kristen says

      Yes, I’m very familiar with this organization and their amazing work! Thanks for sharing about them…these are children that desperately need to be adopted!

  25. 26

    says

    Oh my heart! My heart, my heart. I am . . . Oh.

    I’m nearly speechless which is ten kinds of unusual for me. God has been doing such mighty things in my heart/mind/soul about the orphan crisis. And this Rogers AR? Is like 4 hours from me.

    Oh. I am THERE. Yes ma’am. Can’t wait!

  26. 27

    says

    Thanks for being a voice for the voiceless, Kristen. I so appreciate your challenging and encouraging posts.

    I’ve been watching the Idea Camp website for several weeks ago and mentioned it to Tim on one of our recent runs. I wonder if we might be able to work it into our Give Every Day route…

  27. 29

    says

    Thank you so much for sharing this! We’ve adopted two boys through the foster care system. Our family of three boys (aged 2, 2.5 and 4) is busy, but we’re not full! I’d love for people to understand the blessing of adoption and the many different ways that you can adopt, along with ways that you can help without actually bringing a child into your home.

    Thank you thank you for bringing this crisis to light and calling others to respond!

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