Saturday, September 17, 2011
Coffee with Dennis Rainey
This past Wednesday I had coffee with Dennis Rainey, founder of Family Life Ministries, here in Little Rock, Arkansas.
Okay, there's one small caveat. I, along with about forty other area church leaders, had breakfast with Dennis Rainey yesterday. We were attending a Pastor's Summit hosted by The CALL (Children of Arkansas Loved for a Lifetime), a foster care initiative with the vision of placing each and every foster child in Arkansas in a loving home. Having recently joined the statewide board of The CALL, I am thrilled to join this awesome mission.
If you've been following my blog, you know I've been seriously contemplating the mission of my life. Why am I here? What is my higher purpose on earth? When I leave this world to go spend eternity with God, what work do I want to have completed? As I've stated in previous posts, I keep coming back to social justice. I want to fight for the rights of the underprivileged, the disenfranchised, the forgotten.
But sometimes I get overwhelmed with all the needs in the world. I ponder all the world's problems -- poverty, HIV/AIDS, human trafficking, and many more -- and I wonder if I can really make a difference. Can I do anything to put even a small dent in the world's problems? It feels overwhelming -- impossible even.
And then I had coffee with Dennis Rainey.
Dennis shared about his love for orphans. He shared about his adopted child, and his love for her, even through a difficult period of rebellion. He has reminded his daughter time after time that if he had the chance, he'd adopt her all over again. As an adoptive mom, I totally get that.
He spoke of God's heart for the orphan, evident in His Word which includes forty-five scriptures exhorting God's people to care for the orphan. He reminded us church leaders that God is pro-life and pro-orphan. He exhorted us as believers to fight as hard for orphans as we fight against abortion, boldly asserting that perhaps God hasn't moved our elected officials to overturn Roe v. Wade because He knows we Christians aren't ready to open our homes to all the children that would be born and not aborted. Ouch.
Dennis stated that orphans are an antidote to the superficial, self-absorbed Christianity of our day. "I used to think that orphans needed me," he said. "My Christianity needs them."
He closed by giving examples of individual Christians and churches living out James 1:27: "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." There are churches that are attempting to place every single child in the foster care system in their counties and states in loving Christian homes. And there's Katie Davis of Franklin, Tennessee that I mentioned in my July 13th post "Passion-Filled People" who began her work as a foster mother to multiple children, and now adoptive mother, in Uganda, Africa while a mere teenager.
And while Dennis' testimony and the testimony of these people and churches ministered to me, nothing compares to the moment when I actually peered into the heart of God. The revelation came in the quoting of an alarming statistic.
And so I now ask you: Do you know what the greatest predictor of homelessness is? Is it drug use or alcoholism or mental illness?
No. It's none of those. It's foster care.
And get this: foster care sets children up for all kinds of social ills -- incarceration, sex trafficking, teen pregnancy. You name it -- the list goes on and on.
When Dennis quoted that statistic, it was as if God had tapped me on the shoulder and whispered into my ear. "Psst. Carla, if you pour your heart and your life and your resources into orphan care, you'll be pouring your heart into many of the world's problems and needs around you."
God didn't speak in an audible voice, but I heard Him loud and clear. So I'm moving forward, steadfast in the calling He's placed on my life. I'm here to serve the fatherless in my community and the world. And I pray that He'll use me to point the fatherless to the Father. It's the least I can do.
Will you join me in serving the orphans of the world? I hope you will.
Standing for Justice and Mercy,