September 7, 2011

Religion That is Pure

Today I spent my afternoon sitting in an overstuffed recliner with an almost-3-year-old little boy. He isn’t feeling too well, and tomorrow is his birthday. Our skin color is different, but our hearts are bonded.
He’s usually bubbling over with Jesus’ joy—an active boy who loves to sing—but today even his eyes lack their usual sparkle. I love listening to him when he sings “There’s a sweet, sweet spirit in this place” with the Gaither Vocal Band. I’m blessed by hearing him on the monitor in his room as he wakes up singing “Jesus is coming in clouds of pure white to take His children home. I must be ready when Jesus comes to take His children home.” How does he even know that Jesus is coming in clouds of pure white? Why is he filled with Jesus’ joy? It’s because he was chosen.
A Broken Baby
We have another little one who was chosen to live with us as well. She is seven months older than this little boy. She came to us at 3 months of age very horribly broken—literally. She was born at 30 weeks, weighing a mere two pounds eight ounces and tested positive for cocaine and alcohol. She spent the first six or seven weeks of her life in the hospital without a mommy or a daddy to touch her or hold her, to talk to her, to will her to live. When she left the hospital and went home—a place where the family was licensed for foster care and had shown interest in adopting—she was supposed to be home for good.
2011 1525 page26By the age of 12 weeks she had grown to be a “big” girl, weighing eight pounds. One day the “daddy” was caring for her while the mommy was on a church outing. It seems that he couldn’t cope with a little baby’s crying, so he shook her—violently! He slapped her across her beautiful tiny face. When the mommy came home she found a broken baby.
The mommy took her to the nearest emergency room, where the broken baby was assessed. Then a helicopter transported her to a hospital that had more adequate facilities to handle a critically ill infant (the same hospital from which she had been released just a few weeks earlier). Nobody thought she would live through that flight.
But live she did. Three days later, on Wednesday, she did come home for good—home to our house. She had broken ribs, the handprints of her “daddy” on her chest, a handprint on her face from being slapped, a swollen eye with warnings of possible blindness from a detached retina, plus a diagnosis of cerebral hemorrhaging.
Fast-forward to today and you will find a happy, bright miracle of a girl who can see out of both eyes. She is a testament to God’s healing power and to what love can do. Those first few weeks at our home we held the broken baby girl almost constantly. We sang to her about Jesus’ love and about how special she was. She was willed to heal because she had been chosen.
Where the Journey Began
We started on this road more than 20 years ago when we adopted a baby girl from India. As she grew up, we asked God to lead us to a ministry—to show us how to look outside ourselves. We had no idea what the answer to our prayer would look like, but God did answer that prayer and gave us a ministry.
That baby orphan from India grew up and searched for her calling as a young single woman still living at home. Because of her lifelong love for children, babies in particular, she chose to work in a day-care facility. There she met people involved in the foster-care system—foster kids, foster parents, foster-care caseworkers, parents whose children had been removed from their care, attorneys, and so forth. She felt God leading her to become a foster parent.
When she asked us if we would support her in this venture, we said we would, not knowing, of course, all the ramifications of that decision and the road that God was about to take us down. It has turned out to be a two-way road: in one way it has brought a new focus to our lives, and in another way it has brought healing to broken babies.
I have learned much during this journey that I never expected to know anything about. Outside this journey, I might never have paid much attention to the estimated 140 million or more orphans in the world.1 Sure, I knew a little about the subject—after all we had adopted a baby from India some 20 years ago. But I had never searched the heart of God for His will concerning the orphan girl.
Pure and Faultless Religion
Only you and God know what He is calling you to do, but I encourage you to read James 1:27. In the New International Version it says: “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.” To me, that sounds quite straightforward—with no room for excuses.
God could be asking some of you to take a child (or children) into your home through adoption. Maybe He is suggesting to you that your home become a foster home full-time or part-time for respite care. Maybe you are equipped to address some specific needs, such as a pregnant teen or a teenage mom and her baby—one who is aging out of the system and needs support and encouragement.
Or maybe you’re not called to make your home a foster home. Perhaps you’re being called to go on a mission trip and give hugs and love to children in orphanages, to tell them about Jesus. Simply teaching them the name of Jesus is a gift. Maybe you could give and show support to their bone-weary caregivers. Perhaps an orphanage requires some manual labor that you have the talent to help with. Or you could become a voice for a child in foster care by becoming a child advocate.
Many organizations have a sponsorship program in which you can pay for a child’s care, food, and education for a specified dollar amount each month—some as low as $20 per month. If you go to, an Adventist grassroots organization, you can read about REACH’s sponsorship program and philosophy.
The movement for churches to establish orphan ministries is growing. Consider organizing a small group—?perhaps your Sabbath school class—to serve as an orphan support ministry. There are many possibilities, but whatever you are led to do, expect to be changed.

Bombarding the Throne With Prayers
As you seek God’s guidance on this subject, I encourage you to read The Ministry of Healing, pages 202-206. On page 205 Ellen White writes, “Many of them have received an inheritance of evil . . . but they are the purchase of the blood of Christ, and in His sight are just as precious as are our own little ones.”
We need to remember that we all can pray for these children whom God holds so close to His heart. How thrilled God would be if His throne was bombarded daily with prayers for these little ones.
“I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!” (Matt. 25:40, NLT).2
2 Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Carol Nash Jordan is a retired grandmother who spends her days and sometimes her nights cuddling babies and reading to preschoolers. This article was published September 8, 2011.