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What is Orphan Care?

One of the new ways to serve the Lord here at Flint Hill Baptist is by becoming a part of the brand new Orphan Care Ministry. Several weeks ago we had a ministry launch luncheon, and learned a bit about how we can go about serving orphans in various circumstances in a Biblical and holistic way.

At the word “orphan” people can sometimes throw their hands up. Hit the door running. Click away in fear that somebody is going to wave pictures of sad little cute kids in their face and pressure them to adopt.

The truth is, it’s easy for people to disregard orphan care ministry as something that is someone else’s assignment. “I don’t feel called to adopt, or take kids in through foster care, or go on mission trips, so then orphan care isn’t for me.” People feel uncomfortable with orphan care because they think that’s all there is to it: adopting, fostering, or going on short term mission trips.

And orphan care DOES include those things, but as a whole, orphan care is so, so much bigger than those tiny (though significant) little boxes.

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Orphan care is caring for the world’s most vulnerable children in a lot of different ways, including:

-adoption

-foster or respite care

-child, birthmother, and/or family sponsorship

-short or long-term mission trips that focus on orphans

-adoptive or foster family support

…and so on. But while orphan care may look different in different contexts, orphan care always seeks the same aim. Orphan care ministries and orphan advocates must always ask the question, “What is best for the child?”Biblical orphan care focuses on the needs of the child and asks very difficult questions, such as whether the better solution for a specific child in need is a sponsorship program and not adoption. Maybe for another child in a different situation the best thing is adoption. The circumstances of every child must be examined in order to determine the best type of care they need.

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Orphan care is not:

-exclusively focused on international adoptions and orphanages

-establishing the institutional care of children

-encouraging families to abandon their children

We will never know what is best for the child until we invest significantly in the lives of those we seek to help. We must be able to see and understand the systems they will enter upon adoption or foster care, the actual families who will care for them, and the churches that will seek to serve them. This is what is meant by a holistic approach to caring for orphans. It’s seeing the big picture of the care and compassion that goes into providing relief for orphans in distress.

Why do we do orphan care?

Orphan care is hard, and it’s really messy, but it is the Lord’s command for the Church. Why do we spend our time and resources to do the emotionally and physically draining work of caring for the neediest among us? The answer is simple. We reflect the person and character of God when we seek out the orphan. We do orphan care because caring for orphans is Gospel work.

“God has called us to be a defender of the defenseless because that is who He is. We are returning worship to God when we show His character to the world by championing the cause of the least of these.” –Orphanology by Tony Merida and Rick Morton

The Bible is clear that caring for orphans is not reserved only for those struggling with infertility or who have amassed a tremendous amount of wealth. Being involved in caring for the world’s orphans is a commandment given to every Christian. It is a Gospel-driven command to the Church!

What are some practical ways to get involved with Flint Hill’s Orphan Care Ministry?

  1. Pray about serving as a leader in the ministry.
  2. Become a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) for a foster child. These are people who help make phone calls and track paperwork for foster kids, serving as advocates to make sure that child’s papers are being moved through the system. Often times CASAs make a huge impact on children without ever meeting them! If you have time and a phone and a little tenacity, you can be a CASA.
  3. Adopt or support those who are – through funding, awareness, and even supporting an adoptive family by attending trainings with them.
  4. Support birth mothers through Lifeline Village.
  5. Family sponsorships through Haiti Collective, Compassion, World Vision, etc.
  6. Foster care
  7. Respite care to support full time foster parents
  8. Supporting foster and adoptive families by joining a WRAP team (more on those in a future post)
  9. Participate in short or long-term mission trips that focus on care for orphans.
  10. Read Altar84’s Woven book to pursue more in-depth study about what Scripture teaches about caring for orphans.


The Big Picture

18 Years A.D. (After the Death of a calling)

Nick Saban. Herchel Walker, Don Shula, Kenny Stabler, Joe Namath, Michael Waltrip. John Daly. Jane Seymour. Evander Holyfield. Lee Trevino. John Croyle. Michael Irvin.

All the names above are people that have stood in front of my camera and posed for photos. Some of them, (Nick Saban, John Daly, John Croyle, Evander Holyfield, and more) spent an entire day with me and my cameras.

Then, when I left photography the first time, I worked for a design house. One of my designs was sold in the Stadiums at the World Series. You could also walk into college football stadiums all across the country and buy shirts that I designed as well.

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“Cool story Bro, but what does that mean in the scope of eternity?”

NOTHING. ZERO. NADA. When it comes to eternal matters, all those pictures rank somewhere around a steaming pile of dung (to borrow a phrase from the Apostle Paul).

But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ… ~ Philippians 3:7-8

 

2 Years B.C. (Before Creative Day Jobs)

I remember standing in front of a congregation when I was 18 years old and announcing that I was “called into full time ministry”. I packed up my things and moved onto the campus of Southeastern Bible College. I was actually there at the same time as our pastor. We didn’t know each other at the time, but we were in the same program headed toward the same goal. Bruce graduated and as you well know, is now our pastor. I, on the other hand, was unceremoniously booted out of school on my kiester. Believe it or not it wasn’t because I had hair to my shoulders, or because I walked around campus barefoot, or because I treated class times and dress codes as suggestions instead of rules. I was working full time and going to school full time and it took a massive toll on my health. The dean of students gave me an ultimatum, “Withdraw from school or I’ll kick you out for your own good.” So I packed my stuff and moved back home. A short time later I was on the road as a full time sports photographer.

When I announced I was called into ministry, I believed it 110%. I not only believe it 110% now, I’ve believed it the entire time I’ve been making images/designs to feed my family. I’ve believed it the entire time I’ve traveled the U.S., Mexico, and Canada for work. I’ve believed it the entire time I’ve seen people in the streets wearing my designs on their shirts. I’ve believed it every time I’ve seen my work in a publication. For 18 years, I’ve not only believed it, I’ve secretly been miserable.

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WHAT ABOUT MINISTRY?

I’ve played in countless christian bands, have helped lead worship at roughly 3 quarter bazillion 5th quarters/lock-ins, and I’ve also been a guest speaker to youth groups and churches on many occasions over the years. Those things are all well and good, and they have been my identity in service for many years. Because of that, some of you will want to try and convince me I’m wrong when you see what I say next.

No matter how much music I play, or how many times I preach/teach, it will never be the way I am best equipped to serve the church.

I know the credit for anything good that has ever come from the ministry I’ve been involved in belongs to God. I’m incapable of good on my own and any abilities I do have come directly from Him. Don’t get me wrong, I can serve in those ways, and would be foolish not to be used by in those areas when the church needs someone to fill those roles. But…

Neither of those things is my vocation. I don’t play guitar every day. Most weeks I only pick the thing up for practice on Wednesday, and for service on Sunday. I speak from the pulpit on much rarer occasion. I would hope no-one considers me terrible at either, but I know for sure I haven’t mastered either skill.

Photography, videography, and design ARE things I do every day of my life.  They are things that (unlike music and public speaking) I feel I have at least some level of mastery. So why has it taken me 18 years to understand that I can use my vocation to not only feed my family, but impact the kingdom?

I feel like a total and complete idiot for not putting those skills to use in ministry earlier. I’m writing this meandering confessional to the church because I wonder if maybe, I’m not the only one who needed to figure this out.

It’s not even some mystery that needed unlocking. It’s plainly written in scripture.

Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established. ~ Proverbs 16:3

John answered, “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven. ~ John 3:27

Refer back to my story about getting kicked out of bible college when considering my abilities as a biblical scholar, but when John says “even one thing” it sounds pretty all inclusive to me! If God has given us the abilities that allow us to do what we do for 40 hours a week earning a paycheck, why would we not find a way to put those abilities to use for kingdom reasons too?

In my case, I’m making media for churches to use in their services and outreach programs. I’m making a movie about foster care that will be a tool for churches and individuals to use in helping form their own orphan care ministries.

Is making an announcement video for service really of great importance in the scope of eternity? I don’t know. I doubt it. What I do know is that it’s more important than any commercial work I’ve ever done. Look at that list of names at the top of this post again. I’m proud of my secular accomplishments, but think about it. All 18 years of that work is less important than any single announcement video I’ve done for a Flint Hill service.

Our daily life, including our time at work IS ministry. We have an opportunity if we so choose to be an example of Christ to our co-workers and everyone we meet throughout our days. But our service shouldn’t end when we punch the clock on Friday afternoon.

  • Let’s say you are really mechanically inclined. Why not offer to do something simple like change sister so-n-so’s oil every 3 months so it’s easier for her to continue taking meals to our shut-in’s?
  • The girls of Tis’ So Sweet are a great example. When they cook meals for the staff, or for another life group, or take food to the homeless, they are making an impact on eternity.
  • When Casey Bly donates a photoshoot to one of the mothers from Save-A-Life, she is making an impact on eternity.
  • When you volunteer to work at the Grace Place for a day, you are making an impact on eternity.
  • When you offer to come help clean or maintain the church facilities so the staff doesn’t have to hire anyone to do those jobs or let it carry them away from ministry tasks, you are making an impact on eternity.
  • When you volunteer your organizational or leadership skills to help the youth go on a trip or do an activity, you are making an impact on eternity.

You could make an exhaustive list from the biggest jobs to ones that seem like insignificant and small task and even those small tasks begin to add up to souls after a while.

Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand. ~ Proverbs 19:21

For a long time, I refocused the purpose of my life on my creative work. I photographed and dined with celebrities, had my work published and saw it hanging in stores all over the country. NONE of it made me truly happy, and NONE of it mattered in terms of eternity. The next straight forward 30 second announcement video I help make will. God gave me any gifts and abilities I have. I’d be foolish not to search high and low for ways to use them to His glory. My new day job doesn’t put me in the path of celebrity every day. It doesn’t take me to many exotic locations and my work is only really seen by architects and engineers now. Half of my job has nothing to do with creative work but I’m happier and more content than I have been for nearly two decades because I finally understand what “full time ministry” REALLY means.

Take stock of your own gifts, talents, and abilities. Figure out how your vocation could apply to helping the local church or it’s members. It doesn’t matter how small or how insignificant you think your contribution would be. If we all do the same it’s not only logical, it’s biblical, we will have that much more of an impact on eternity



Support Flint Hill Kids!

Flint Hill BC Silent Auction for Kids Camp

Mrs. Meghan and her helpers in the children’s ministry are preparing for our first silent auction event. The goal is to raise money for the big kids’ trip to Centrikid Camp this summer. Centrikid is a well established Gospel-centered ministry that has been a tremendous resource for Flint Hill families in discipling our kiddos. Our church leadership believes this is very important for each of our older children (grades 3-6) to attend, and doesn’t want anyone to be left out due to financial obligations.

Mrs. Meghan and parents will be taking 21 precious Flint Hill kids to camp at Shocco Springs this July…that’s just four months away! We need your help! Please help us serve the children of Flint Hill by participating in our very first Silent Auction! Our goal is to raise $2000, which would help make Centrikid a reality for those kiddos.

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Mrs. Meghan believes that Centrikid Camp is a vital part of helping our children grow in their relationship with Christ. There is much fun to be had at camp, but Mrs. Meghan’s favorite part by far is “seeing the kids worship together, raising their hands, and tears coming to their eyes as they realize the magnitude of God’s grace and their need for Him in their lives.”

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Let’s get these kids to camp, church! See Meghan Handley to donate items or volunteer, and come to the church on April 18 (9:00am-1:00pm) and April 19 (8:00am-4:00pm) to bid on all the wonderful items that have been included.