Orphanology Awakening to Gospel-Centered Adoption and Foster Care

Orphanology Awakening to Gospel-Centered Adoption and Foster Care By Tony Merida and Rick Morton Orphanology: Awakening to Gospel-Centered Adoption and Foster Care By Tony Merida and Rick Morton New Hope Publishers, 2011, ISBN-10: 1-59669-302-9, 192 pages, $14.99 In “Orphanology: Awakening to Gospel-Centered Adoption and Orphan Care,” Tony Merida and Rick Morton ask a difficult question, “Will we settle for a safe, comfortable religion or will we use the resources for the good of the world and the glory of Christ?” Orphanology is a challenge. It is a challenge to take seriously the words of James 1:27: “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world (ESV).” Readers may wonder how James might say that this is “pure and undefiled religion.” The answer is simple. Orphan care is at the heart of the gospel. The horizontal adoption visible in orphan care, points toward the vertical adoption that all in Christ have experienced. The challenge is clear and obvious. Merida and Morton highlight this challenge by examining this and other passages of scripture, by explaining the facts of the state of orphans throughout the world, and including many touching stories of adoption and orphan care. UNICEF estimates between 143 and 210 million orphans in the world, yet that number does not reflect them all. Many children are institutionalized, homeless or caught up in human trafficking; uncounted by UNICEF. These children are also orphans and they are in desperate need of Christ and His church. The challenge being clearly stated, Orphanology moves on to practical methods that any Christian or church can implement in order to address this need. This is the real strength of the book. Merida and Morton offer insight as to how a church can begin: 1. Orphanage funding — Churches can partner with existing orphanages around the world. in order to support them and their mission to care for orphans. 2. Foster care ministries — Churches can encourage members to become foster parents, support and encourage those who do, and welcome the foster children with open arms. 3. Adoption ministries — Churches can rally to support those in their congregations that are adopting. Adoption is a long, difficult and expensive process and a church can offer encouragment and financial support. 4. Transitional ministries — Many children are too old to be “in the system” and too young to be on their own. Churches can help these teenage orphans as they transition to life in the adult world. 5. Orphan hosting — By hosting a group of orphans for a short stay in the U.S., churches have an opportunity to show love, share Christ, and encourage ongoing adoption and orphan care. Further, there is an entire chapter covering how church leaders can cast the vision for such ministries and implement them. All said, there is no reason why a church cannot care for orphans. Is everyone called to adopt? No. Is everyone called to be a foster parent? No. Yet, Christians are called care for orphans. Merida and Morton have done an excellent job relaying this call and giving practical steps toward answering it. The real question is, what will YOU do? — Reviewed by Aaron Davis

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