Well, I have to say I have succeeded in reading a lot for Adoption Awareness month, but not done so well in the writing and sharing my thoughts part. But oh well. Since my last post I have read 5 books that deal with the fatherless, ministry to children, at-risk children and youth and ways the Church can step up and make a difference. Most of them were books that I read a few years ago during some of my missions classes at LCU and some of them are ones I have gotten from various conferences. They were all great reads and I was grateful to refresh my memory of them as I read them with "older" eyes (instead of the eyes of a college student reading just to finish her homework).
One of the best ones I read was by Dr. Wess Stafford, the president of Compassion International. While not a book strictly about adoption, Too Small to Ignore is a book written with his story mixed in while giving the facts of what hardships children endure and what the Church can do. He was raised in the Ivory Coast as a missionary kid. He has wonderful memories of being in his village of Nielle and not-so-wonderful memories of being abused at his board school. He shares his story, the good and the bad, and puts it in light of what children face every day around the world. It is an amazing book and one I would recommend to anyone, whether you're interested in adoption or not.
One of the best parts of the book was the way that he tied his information and experiences into the stories of Jesus when the disciples are turning away the children. He took that Bible story that many glance over on a Sunday morning and made it come to life in light of a harsh reality. He wrote a lot about how Jesus became harsh and let his rage loose on the people (including his disciples) who were saying the children couldn't come near him. He showed how Jesus talked a lot about the fact that adults needed to become like children in order to enter the Kingdom or how Jesus said that if someone made life harder for a child, that person needed to be drowned with a weight around his neck. He used these stories to prove his point that while children are most often the easiest and first to be ignored and cast aside, Jesus says they are just as important (if not more) than anyone else.
Dr. Wess Stafford is a champion for children all over the world. He spends every minute of every day raising support and awareness and money so that children around the world can have a chance at a better life. And he does it with the heart of Jesus beating inside of him. He does it with the stories of Jesus' compassion for children ever present in his mind. And he urges everyone to do the same.
The whole book is fantastic, but one of the paragraphs he wrote really struck me as I thought about what can Spencer and I do? What does the Church need to do? What does the world need to do in order to help each and every child? He wrote:
We must see them one child at a time. We must reach out to them one child at a time. If enough of us do this, great things can be accomplished!... It is the mandate of the Church to be salt and light in the world, bringing healing and hope wherever it is planted. Just as I argued earlier that societal change can start at the very bottom with the life of one child, I also believe in taking this cause to the very top of society. The Church -- that is, all of us who love the Lord -- needs to challenge our governments and cultures and make them accountable for the welfare of the youngest and most vulnerable citizens. Imagine the amazing good that could be accomplished systematically if powerful individuals, both nationally and internationally, could be motivated to use their influence on behalf of the little ones (page 245).
WOW! Talk about possibilities! If everyone stepped up and tried to make a difference for one child at a time, amazing changes could sweep across our world. But it's a matter of will we choose to see? Will we choose to step up? Will we choose to put ourselves last and the littlest of these first?
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Here is the list of books I have read so far as I seek to become more aware, more educated, more compassionate and more active on behalf of the world's children, and orphans specifically. I highly recommend all of them!
Choosing to SEE: A Journey of Struggle and Hope by Mary Beth Chapman
Hands & Feet by Audio Adrenaline
Raising Up Young Heroes by Efrem Smith
Fatherless Generation: Redeeming the Story by John Sowers
Too Small To Ignore by Dr. Wess Stafford
Whose Child is This? by Bill Wilson
Reclaiming Our Prodigal Sons and Daughters: A Practical Approach for Connecting with Youth in Conflict by Scott Larson & Larry Brendtro
Children of Hope by Vernon Brewer with Noel Brewer Yeatts