Workplace Devotionals

June 24, 2011

Adoption

I recently gave my 10th and final speech of the Toastmasters Competent Communicator manual – the speech definitely has a devotional feel to it, so I thought I would inaugurate my participation on workplacedevotionals by sharing the speech here.  Enjoy!

Introduction

When I was thinking about how I might inspire you today, I decided to share something that has deeply impacted my life and that of my family.  It is a joy that has enriched our lives and increased the love in our family.  This afternoon, I will share with you about adoption.  I hope what I share will inspire you to respond through investigating adoption for your family, through supporting financially and prayerfully those who are trying to adopt, and through reaching out to widows and orphans in your neighborhood.

My Experience with Adoption

First, I would like to share what my experience with adoption has been like.  I have a photo of my family, minus my Dad, stepmom, youngest brother, and youngest sister who is now two years old.  The photo was taken at my sister Sydney’s graduation a couple of weeks ago.  The family members in this photograph include my Mom Jody, my brothers David and Alex, and my sisters Sydney and Madison.  In this picture you would  probably notice that my two sisters look a little different than the rest of the family members – that is because they were both adopted from South Korea when they were a couple of months old.  But don’t let the looks fool you – these girls are Menenbergs through and through.

I consider the adoption of both of my sisters to be a joy and great benefit to my family for two main reasons.  The first reason is that adoption has been a blessing to my sisters.  We don’t know the exact circumstances they faced before being brought into our family, but we know that had they not been adopted, their parents would not have been able to care for them and they likely would have spent time in orphanages and without a family.  They might not have had a Mom and a Dad, and they likely wouldn’t have grown up with 3 older brothers.  My family certainly isn’t perfect, but I know that being part of our family has been a great blessing for them.  Their physical needs have been met, they have been educated, and they have been part of a loving immediate and extended family.

Secondly, I consider the adoption to be a huge success because it has been a blessing to myself and the rest of my family members.  Sydneyis now 22 years old and graduated from the Universityof Washingtonthis month.  This Saturday, she left for Washington DC for a year-long consulting job.  She is thoughtful, intelligent, loving, and honest, and it has been a real joy to get to know her over the last 22 years.  Madison is 13 years old, and she just finished 7th grade. Madison is sophisticated, observant, thoughtful, and caring, and she is a tremendous addition in our family.  She is a great badminton player, and playing with her is one of my favorite things to do.  We have been enriched by their sense of humor, by their sensitivity, and by their beauty.  These two girls have made our family immeasurably richer, and I am thankful that God brought both of them into our family.

Biblical Mandate for Adoption.

My family has certainly been blessed by adoption, and it is nice to reminisce about the joy we have experienced.  However, as a Christian, this is more than just a nice story.  Adoption is a central teaching of the Bible and is essential to a proper understanding of our relationship to God.

Romans 8:14-17 says: “14 For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. 15 For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.”

As Christians, we must never forget the great truth that at one time, we too were “children of wrath”.  We were separated from God because of our sin, and we were destined for judgment because of our rebellion.  However, God, in His mercy, while we were yet sinners, sent His Son Jesus Christ to die the death that we deserve and forgive our sin so that we might be reconciled to Him.  And then what did He do?  He adopted us into His family.  Now, for those of us in Christ, we are not orphans, but we have a heavenly Father who loves us.  We have brothers and sisters who are part of our family.  We have our inheritance in God Himself.  This is the doctrine of adoption, and this doctrine is central to the Gospel.

For those of us who are in Christ and who have been adopted – what does it mean that we have been adopted?  How do we respond to this Gospel of free grace and adoption into sonship?  How do we return the generous love of our God who gave Himself for us?  John chapter 21 offers some insight into the proper response when Jesus asks Peter if he loves him.  Three times Jesus asks the question, “Peter, do you love me?”, 3 times Peter responds, “Lord, you know that I love you”, and 3 times Jesus responds to him: “Tend my lambs”.  Jesus, in no uncertain language, tells Peter that genuine love for Jesus is more than a verbal affirmation of love.  True love for Jesus will result in a Christian loving Jesus’ sheep.  And I ask you today: which of Jesus’ sheep are more in need of love than orphans without a family?

For those of us who are in Christ and have faith in His atoning work – what will the natural result of this faith be?  James 1:26 states the following: “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”  James later goes on to state that faith without works is dead.  Therefore, we must conclude that true faith in God’s love and adoption to sonship will result in Christians responding to the needs of widows and orphans.  It will result in Christians opening up their homes and welcoming orphans, trusting in God even when there is uncertainty about how things will go.  Real faith will result in other Christians giving generously to support others who are adopting.

The Need
Now that I have shared my story and the Biblical mandate to practice adoption, you may ask: what is the need?  There are a variety of statistics that I saw in my research, but the picture i saw is clearly staggering.  Most statistics suggest that there are over 100,000 foster children in the US and millions of orphans worldwide. This is an overwhelming number and we may wonder if it is possible for one person to make a difference.  To this I simply say: ask my sisters if adoption has made a difference in their lives.  Ask another adopted child you know what it meant to them.  Even if we as individuals cannot adopt every orphan, we can make a difference in one life at a time. And if the church together rises to this challenge, we can fulfill the great commission through opening our homes to orphans and adopting them into our families.  If we fail to respond and do nothing, these orphans may not be adopted into any family, and they may end up as victims of human trafficking, in jail, or dead.  The stakes could not be higher for each of these children.

The Response
How will you respond to this need?  For my wife and I, we have increasingly felt a burden to respond to this need.  I am being seconded to Zambia by my organization later this summer for a year-long assignment.  We are thrilled for the opportunity to live in Zambia and serve the Zambian people.  However, we believe that God may have something more in store for us than simply working for World Vision.  We have talked about adoption since we first got married, and we planned to adopt at some point.  However, for more than a year, we have experienced infertility, and as a result, we are prayerfully seeking the Lord to see whether or not this is the right time for us to adopt.  We are also in the process of preparation and have initiated a home study in order to be prepared for the potential adoption.

There are other ways to respond besides adopting a child yourself.  There are many adoption agencies and organizations which can use your financial support and prayers.  If you personally know a couple that is trying to adopt, you can support them directly.  Adoption can be an expensive proposition as parents-to-be must complete home studies, get background checks, pay for travel, and many other costs.  Additionally, you can get involved as a foster parent, with commitments ranging from full-time foster care to respite care where you watch a child for short periods of time.  Finally, you can impact the lives of orphans or vulnerable children by volunteering for organizations such as Big Brother Big Sister.

So I ask you again: how will you respond?  Will you investigate adoption for yourself and your family?  Will you consider supporting another family that is trying to adopt, whether through prayer or finances?  Will you reach out to orphans or foster children in your neighborhood?  The need is tremendous, but we serve a God who can do the impossible.  He is a Father to the fatherless – are we?

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