We are called to imitate the character of God
On November 1, 1977, during the Hubert H. Humphrey Building dedication in Washington D.C., U.S. Senator and former Vice President Humphrey stated the treatment of the weakest members of society reflects on those who govern: “The moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; those who are in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy and the handicapped.”
The treatment of the most vulnerable defines the moral character of us all, but it reflects even greater on all of us who claim the name of Christ.
In ancient Rome, pagan citizens had a profane way of taking care of unwanted children. When a child was born with an infirmity, was not the right gender, and generally unwanted, one was free to take the newborn outside the city walls and abandon the child.
At this same time in history, God called courageous Christian believers to go outside the walls and search for the unwanted infants. They embraced them, wrapped them in warm blankets, and cared for them. Many raised the children as their own. This commitment to sacrificially take care of the hurt, the infirmed, and the abandoned has defined God’s people throughout history.
As I speak in churches and talk with the many who faithfully support Baptist Children’s Homes, I witness this sacrificial love for children. It is a love from God–– awakened in the hearts of His people.
Reading James 1:27 (ESV), we are reminded: “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.” Isaiah proclaims to his audience: “Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.” And Psalmist adds: “A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.”
He does not forget those who are hurting and often overlooked––a truth woven throughout the pages of Scripture. This is who God is and He invites us to imitate His character. It is a clear and resounding call from God throughout the ages.
God gave His Son as the way for us to be adopted into His family––joint heirs with Christ. We were abandoned, orphans. But now adopted, we are able to call, “ABBA, Father.” It is no surprise that we are compelled to reach out and rescue others. It is in our spiritual DNA and reflects God’s great love for us.
The gospel message is a story about redemption and grace, but it’s also a story about messiness and sacrifice. Paul recognizes and embraces the simultaneous joy and pain when he writes Philippians 3:10: “I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.”
We all love to dwell on the power of the resurrection, but we must not forget that it is also an act of worship to participate in His sufferings.
At BCH, we see this lived out daily working with children that have been abused and neglected. And while it is a privilege, it is also painful because we see both their beauty and their scars of the betrayal suffered.
In 2017, BCH set a goal of recruiting 30 foster care families as part of our foster family care ministry. Today, we are approaching 100 families reaching into all areas of the state. The goal is to provide everything needed to give each family the best chance of being successful––from extensive training and support to making the best match for each child and foster family.
Hand in hand with partnering churches who recruit from membership and provide vital support for their church’s foster families, BCH is expanding the number of families who have decided to be a safe refuge for hurting children. If you feel called to explore the possibilities of this exciting ministry, I urge you to contact Danetta Christmas at 336-474-1238.
Today, I’m so thankful that I’m able to work with a host of committed servants who daily embrace both healing and hurt. And I am grateful that you are a part of the ever-growing band of believers that imitate the character of the Father.
Article written by Keith Henry, BCH Chief Operating Officer