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Thursday, 4 May 2017

We have killed him you and I - foster care, homelessness and putting things right

I woke today thinking about May being the national foster care month.

As most of you know, our family is marching toward the end goal of adopting from the foster care system.  And while we would love to take in every child that doesn't have a family capable or ready to look after them we can certainly recognize this as an impossibility.  Still, our adopting one or two feels like so little when we hear numbers like nearly 500,000 children in America were in the foster care system at one time in 2016.

500,000!?!

Where do numbers like this come from and is our job really just to deal with the increasing number of children who have been abused, neglected or abandoned or is there something more?
 
Should we focus on making their lives in foster care better or the transition from home to home easier?  Organizations like Together we rise, CASA, Downtown Ministries and Big Brother Big Sister help there

Should we foster or adopt them?  Agencies like DFCS, Bethany Child Services, All God's Children, Lifeline or Covenant Care can assist.

What about supporting the families doing the fostering?  Chosen for Life and Promise686 have tried to address this in our area.

But even with all of this, doesn't there have to be something more?  Who is driving to the core of why this crisis exists to begin with?

I have been privileged to work with the homeless population for more than eight years in Chicago, Wales and here in Athens and every week I hear stories and struggle to truly help the clients that come in. They are there in great part to have their daily needs met and while giving food, clothing, showers and shelter is a good thing - what I've realized over the years is that like me, most need a complete overhaul down deep within them.  They've lost hope, given up and they struggle to think or plan clearly. They don't follow advice about anything beyond today, they refuse to keep appointments or commitments. They are addicted to anything that will numb their existence and make life a bit easier to cope with and unfortunately too many have been through so much they have lost touch with reality completely.  It can be very discouraging and frustrating.

What amazes me though is sometimes when I feel this way I open my devotional or my bible and God has something specific to say to me about that very thing.

Today in my Apologetics 101 devotional I read:

"For more than fiteen years, British physician and psychiatrist Theodore Dalrymple cared for the poorest of the poor in London's slums.  He observed in the process that the government's attempts to show compassion to the poor actually worsened their situations. Drunkenness, promiscuity, gluttony and abuse were common, along with all the health consequences you might expect from such lifestyles.  As Dalrymple tried to heal people's wounds, he asked, "Why do you live like this?" Stunningly, he concluded that these vulnerable individuals had simple embraced-- and practiced- the ideas about gender, sexual liberation, and meaning that were taught in theories at top universities and in the media. In his book Life at the Bottom, Dalrymple turns his acerbic wit on twentieth-century intellectuals who "sought to free our sexual relations of all social, contractual,  or moral obligations and meaning whatsoever, so that henceforth only raw sexual desire itself would count in our decision making." Dalrymple shows that the results of adopting these ideas "both literally and wholesale" are horrifying.  "If anyone wants to see what sexual relations are like, freed of contractual and social obligations, let him look at the chaos of the personal lives of the members of the underclass...  Here are abortions procured by abdominal kung fu; children who have children, in numbers unknown before the advent of chemical contraception and sex education; women abandoned by the father of their child
 a month before or a month after delivery; insensate jealousy, the reverse of the coin of general promiscuity, that results in the most hideous oppression and violence, serial stepfatherhood that leads to sexual and physical abuse of children on a mass scale, and every kind of loosening of the distinction between the sexual permissible and the impermissible."  


Around the world, culture after culture including our own has abandoned God and decided they know a better way.  Nietzsche in his book, "The Gay Science" writes the often quoted phrase of, "We have killed him - you and I" (1).  Not that he believed there was a God that we actually killed but that by killing the idea of God the majority would come in great part to a society of meaninglessness and despair.  Today we live relativistic lives where what is good for you is good for you and what is good for me is good for me. Say anything else and you are guilty of the worst crimes. The moral authority that determines what is right and wrong has been silenced and what has resulted are statistics like these -  500,000+ children waiting for their parents to love, care and take responsibility for them again. 

So as Christians, as members of the human race, what are we to do?  Stop volunteering, stop giving, stop speaking out?  Are we to stop trying to house and feed and encourage and love on these children that have been neglected?  Are we to abandon this world as hopeless, Godless and not worth our trouble?  Are we to hide away behind our books, jobs, TV's or phones trying to make everyone believe that at least in our homes everything is beautiful and fulfilling and life giving?  

No, I don't think so.  

I think first and foremost we get on our faces before the King of Kings and we plead and intercede for this world around us.  We need to pray for our children, our husbands and our families - for protection, for kindness and for love to reign supreme.  We need to pray for our churches that the masks would come off so that people could be real with each other about just how broken and in need of a Savior we truly are. We need to pray for those who aren't broken about their sins that God would bring them to a place of repentance and healing and we need to pray for our communities that real change would come from an outpouring of the Holy Spirit.  Finally we need to do everything we can to be the hands and feet of Jesus to a world that desperately needs Him up until the day He calls us home.

If you will pray and read your bible, God will show you what this means for you but as C.S. Lewis reminds us,  our job is not to shy away. Lewis says, "Christianity is a fighting religion. It thinks God made the world—that space and time, heat and cold, and all the colours and tastes, and all the animals and vegetables, are things that God ‘made up out of His head’ as a man makes up a story. But it also thinks that a great many things have gone wrong with the world that God made and that God insists, and insists very loudly, on our putting them right again."(2)

May we boldly proclaim the great news.  He is not dead, you have not killed him.  He is alive and He brings hope and peace and joy in the midst of sorrow to all who seek Him.

(1) Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science (New York: Vintage, 1974), 181-182.
(2) C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (1952; Harper Collins: 2001) 36-38.

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