Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Rescue Me

I’ve been feeling uncomfortable disconnected disappointed disconcerted with my church for some time now. It started during my pregnancy for Kimani and it has grown into a nagging feeling that I cannot shake.

I probably could have managed to ignore it if not for the picture, titled Rescue Me, that appeared in the upstairs hallway. I have to look right at it each time I exit the stairwell to go down the hall to my office. It is under copyright so if you want to see it, go look.

It is a picture of part of a child’s face, an obviously non-American child, and on it are the words,

“As the body of Christ our greatest crime against humanity is our indifference and indecision towards the cultural problems we are faced with. This tolerance lulls us into a state of limbo that kills action. Without action there is no rescue. For some, without rescue there is no hope. You can be that hope, you can be that rescue."

It immediately makes me think of orphans that need to be rescued. You might think it is wonderful that our church feels so strongly about this sort of “cultural problem” that such a lovely reminder was chosen to hang on the wall, but...

When God called us to adopt an orphan who without rescue would have no hope in this world, we were shocked to find out the cost of an international adoption. I felt ill as I read the sheet of impending expenses... document fees, required donations, court costs, facilitation fees, translation costs, attorney fees, travel expenses... It was overwhelming and insurmountable.

Then an amazingly generous donor appeared and offered to cover two-thirds of the cost but only if other donors could be found to raise the remaining funds. We were thrilled. We knew we could raise the rest. After all, we are part of a huge church and we have zillions of friends and family and acquaintances who all love God and care about orphans.

Our first stop was the church. My husband met with the appropriate leader and explained our mission to him. He asked for any financial support our church might be able to give. He was told that our church doesn’t assist with adoptions, that the elders have not approved that sort of benevolence.

I admit, I was stunned. We are not an infertile couple seeking help to adopt the perfect Russian doll. We are just an average family seeking to do God’s will to rescue two children facing life in cold hard hopeless institutions. My heart was hurt that our church of all these years showed “indifference” toward this very real “cultural problem”.

And then the fine art print appeared in the hallway and now I can’t ignore my feelings anymore but the problem is... I don’t know what to do with them.


Tara said...

Pick me! Pick me! I know what to do with your church and that attitude, but it's not very nice.

Sorry, I am just so angry about this. Ugh. Makes my stomach turn. Could you attend the next elder's meeting with Reece's Rainbow info in hand and appeal the "ruling"?

The Sanchez Family said...

I will never understand this. How about just spreading the word to the congregation about what you are doing and leaving it up to the members to decide if and how they would like to help?
UGGGH!!!! I have no doubt you will fundraise...with or without their help. Take care!

Ann Kroeker said...

Situational irony can be funny...

But not this time.

Leah said...

I think it's VERY common for churches to DISPLAY the attitude of "help the orphan", but to ACT on that is very different. I guess I would ask the church leadership what their position is on adoption, and since they're promoting sponsorship of orphans, perhaps it's time they start an adoption ministry? After all, I highly doubt you're the only family in your church who is acting on God's call to adopt, or who are considering it. Perhaps SHOWING them what happens in these orphanages would make a difference? It's easy to hide from what you haven't seen for yourself.

phatsmacky said...

I have also needed to think through this dilemma. My nephew has type 1 diabetes, i wish my church (employer) could match the money I raise to ride in the tour de cure.
I also organize a charity to help children who are forced into sex slavery worldwide. My church could probably make a huge dent in this problem if they gave to this charity exclusively.
The problem is my church is big and there are probably 1000 people who have the same wishes as we do. I know my church gives hundreds of thousands of dollars to charity (missions) each year. If they gave more it would have to come from the money that supports the church achieving their mission (reaching those who don't know who Christ is and will suffer for much longer than the short life we experience on this earth). I could argue that supporting me in my charitable endeavors would help them achieve their mission, but they seem to see another way to do it. I suppose we are both right; they have to focus on something and have to have a clear direction, as do I. So I have decided to see this as a partnership. I am actually an extension of my church. My church is focusing on their mission and investing in that, and I am focusing on the specific mission God has put on my heart (while still supporting my church which I have committed to being a part of). I have learned that together we can do more than we could separately. It is still frustrating at times, but at least I am at peace with the relationship.

TUC said...

I love comments... they help me to think and provide so much insight :-)

1. You are right. I should collect up my RR stuff and try to start an adoption ministry at my church.

2. However, in considering sharing my mission with our congregation and letting them decide to help us, I realize there is NO WAY to do that in our church. The church would not allow a blurb in the bulletin or an alter announcement, or even a special donation. We don't do a newsletter and putting it on the "prayer" list is just a sideways method of asking for help. (As in, please pray that our financial needs are met, rather than me saying please help meet our adoption financial needs). Knowing that I cannot share my mission with the body I worship with exacerbates that disconnected feeling.

3. phatsmacky... if you had asked your church to support Love 146 and they said no, we don't assist in sex slave recovery, you might not have peace in your relationship with your church, or at the very least, you might find the Rescue Me picture ironic and annoying. You bring up an interesting idea... when I worked out in the corporate jungle, there were many companies that did a charity match. My company would match any funds I personally donated to a 503 cause. I will have to check and see if my church does that.

Tara said...

I had to come back and add this. This is a quote from the Orphan Justice Center: Americans adopted 12,753 children internationally during 2009. There are an estimated 322,000 churches in the U.S. If all adoptions were by Christian families (which they aren't), that would mean an average of 1 family out of every 25 churches adopted a child in 2009.

I find this very sad.

TUC said...

Wow, I wonder how many of that number represents "waiting children"... but it would probably be best if I didn't know the answer to that :-(

If every one of those churches donated only $100 every year to a waiting child adoption fund, 1288 WC adoptions would be funded, more than actually took place last year I would bet. I can only imagine how many kids on RR would have families tomorrow if the money to adopt them was there. Within a couple years no special needs child would be facing life in an foreign mental institution.

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