Abortion has been at the forefront of media coverage lately, particularly due to the changes in legislation occurring in many states throughout the country. As a result, more churches than ever are seeking out how they can become engaged in pro-life ministry in their communities, and this is certainly something for which we should fervently praise the Lord! However, we must come to the realization that if the church is fighting for the lives of the unborn children, we must also be prepared to care for an increasing number of orphans. Foster care and adoption must be a priority when it comes to holistic pro-life ministry within the church. In Until Every Child is Home, Todd Chipman uses his own unique perspective, as well as the stories of many Christians who have chosen to adopt, to explain why the church can and should engage in foster care and adoption ministry.
The Author’s Unique Perspective
Todd Chipman found out that he was adopted when he was six years old. His mother was a high school student, and when her parents found out she was pregnant, she was kicked out of her home. When Todd was born, she placed him in adoptive care. Todd’s birth took place only five hundred days prior to Roe v. Wade. He is struck by the realization that if his mother had been in this situation two years later, he may have been one of the two hundred and fifty million children that have been aborted since 1973.
Along with five biological children, Todd and his wife, Julie, adopted two girls, Maggy and Molly. Their personal experience of having their local church shower their family with love, wholeheartedly welcoming and caring for the girls, is what sparked Chipman’s passion for writing this book. He realized that the church is uniquely equipped for all-around orphan care because of how the gospel shapes every facet of the Christian life. “Because of what God has done to rescue believers, the church has the unique capacity to meet the spiritual, emotional, and social need of orphans.”
Orphan Care and the Christian Life
Chipman shows that, throughout scripture, we see God’s immense care for orphans. For example, in Psalm 68, God is described as the “father to the fatherless.” Because it is part of God’s character to care for orphans, we should be motivated to do the same.
He is also careful to explain that orphan care is a distinct act of spiritual warfare. Since humans are God’s unique image-bearers, we are under Satan’s attack, and children become the victims. Just as God draws those who are weak into his salvation to show that he is great, bringing orphans into the care of the local church displays this same imagery.
Furthermore, orphan care fulfills the message of the Great Commission. As Chipman states, “The Great Commission was given because of humanity’s orphaned condition.” While Jesus’ disciples were left alone, his death, resurrection, and ascension allow us to call God our heavenly father as we are adopted as his sons and daughters. Therefore, we are called to share this good news with all the world.
Orphan Care and the Church
Chipman introduces church involvement in orphan care by reminding us that the church may not be open to the idea right away. In order to take on orphan care ministry, a church must be dedicated to giving freely because of what they have received freely by grace in Christ Jesus.
Yet, in other cases, the Lord may choose to convict the church to act in ways we never expect. It is God who equips and prepares us for ministry, and sometimes he will do above all we could ask or think to stir the local church to action.
One of the most crucial arguments Chipman makes for the church becoming involved in orphan care is that ministry begets ministry. Once the church gets involved in orphan care, it tends to encourage them to get involved in other areas as well. If you’re having trouble getting your church to volunteer for things like the church nursery and the welcome team, don’t fear that adding orphan care ministry will feel like “yet another thing.” Sometimes, it’s just the thing that’s needed to equip your church to get involved throughout the church.
Moreover, Chipman calls pastors to action in orphan care, taking on the role of the primary example. he uses biblical reasoning, describing how Paul, Timothy, and Titus led by example in the early church. When church members see pastoral leadership caring for orphans, it helps them to see that they can do the same. Also, in leading by example, pastors can create a framework for the rest of their church to follow.
Orphan Care and Issues of Social Justice
The church can play a vital role in standing up against social justice issues, such as racism and sex trafficking, through orphan care ministry.
The church is called to racial unity, as Paul reveals clearly in the book of Romans. Chipman explains, “Because of the racial diversity of kids in foster care and orphanages around the globe, churches have the opportunity to appreciate how the gospel unifies diverse races.” The local church is the perfect place to bring together every tongue, tribe, and nation, and it is the place that true reconciliation can take place because of the unity provided through the gospel. Foster care and adoption provide the perfect avenue to open up our churches to racial diversity, allowing the Lord to soften and change hearts to accept unity given by his grace.
Chipman also explains the crisis of sex traffickers preying upon children in the foster system, as they tend to be vulnerable, easy targets. Believers fight this by bringing foster children into their homes. In addition, the local church can provide the structure, relationships, and support that foster children lack, as this promise of support is often what lures them into the sex trafficking industry. The relational structure of the local church is one of the strongest tools in protecting these vulnerable children from the lies and false security offered to them by those working in this industry.
If you are a pastor or a member of a local church seeking to understand the calling to orphan care, Until Every Child is Home is an excellent resource. As the local church, we must join together to stand for life, and orphan care is a pivotal aspect of that. May all who read this book be encouraged to immediately take the next step to engage their church in foster care and adoption ministry.