SANCTITY OF LIFE: Make your church 'adoption-friendly'

Courtesy of NAMB
Sunday, Jan. 17, is Sanctity of Human Life Sunday in the Southern Baptist Convention.

ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP) -- When I pastored Highview Baptist Church in Louisville, Ky., my friend David Melber and his wife Tera started a "Considering Adoption" class for couples. It ran for five weeks and became so popular that we offered it twice each year. Not everyone who took the class ultimately decided to adopt but the class became an important part of raising awareness in our church about everything involved in the adoption process and how we could support those families who were pursuing it.

As believers we should be the biggest advocates for and participants in adoption. Not only does the Bible encourage us to look after orphans, it is filled with references to our being adopted children of God once we have made Christ the forgiver and Lord of our lives.

Three of our six children are adopted and my wife Lynette and I benefitted so much from a church and fellow believers who supported us along the way. There is a huge need for adoptive and foster parents today. What a great opportunity for your church to demonstrate the love of God to the world and provide for the physical and spiritual needs of children who desperately need to know they are loved and that they belong.

"I loved walking through our church nursery on Sunday mornings -- it felt like a pre-school version of the United Nations!"--Kevin Ezell
Here are some ways you can make your church adoption-friendly:

-- Talk about it from the platform. As pastor, make adoption a priority. Regularly remind your congregation that God refers to us as His adopted sons and daughters. Let them know that adoption and foster care are great ways to meet urgent needs in today's society. Give time for adoptive parents and older children to tell their stories.

-- Share resources and networks that help with adoption. There are several strong Christian agencies that work locally and internationally. Give these prominent attention in your church resource center, online or in your worship guide occasionally.

-- Provide assistance to families who are on the adoption journey. Our church was blessed by some donors who specifically gave financially to help parents with adoption costs. But even without much money churches can find ways to assist and encourage parents along the way.

-- Celebrate when an adoption takes place in your church. Every birth is special, but be sure you find specific ways to celebrate when a member of your church family adopts.

It was amazing to see what God did after we started taking a few simple steps to encourage an adoption culture. I loved walking through our church nursery on Sunday mornings -- it felt like a pre-school version of the United Nations! But even greater was seeing those children later accept Christ and walk with Him.

Lynette and I are so grateful that God placed each of our six children in our family. He gave us an opportunity to bless them but each has been an even greater blessing to us. Your church can play a big role in encouraging and creating adoption opportunities. Don't miss out on the chance to see God do amazing things through this ministry.

Kevin Ezell is president of the North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.
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