I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit. John 15:5
Sunday, April 24, 2011
Be Fruitful and Multiply
"As for you, be fruitful and increase in number; multiply on the earth and increase upon it." Genesis 9:7
This is a verse that many of us are familiar with and often think about when we are “family planning”. But have you ever thought about this verse as far as the Church is concerned? As the body of Christ, are we obeying this command to be fruitful and multiply by church planting?
Scott and I have always had a heart for church planting and were very blessed to be in a church planting church (Holy Trinity Presbyterian Church in Tampa, Florida) during the first years of our spiritual growth.
After being there four years, though, God called us to Atlanta and we ended up in a very large, very well established church. We had some wonderful experiences in this church, but have always felt a bit uneasy in the fact that they did not church plant.
I remember going out with Shelly one evening for girl’s night out and really pouring my heart out to her about feeing the call to leave our big church and help a plant, but we just didn’t know where to go. “Not us!” she said. “We are so happy at church and couldn’t even think about leaving!” Ha! Famous last words!
About a month later, two wonderful youth pastors felt the call to leave this church home of ours and plant a church (after about two years of praying about it). And guess who was one of the first families to follow? That’s right – Shelly and Dan! In fact, they were now trying to convince US to jump on board with them (as if we needed much convincing!)
So, last spring a group of folks joined together to form Village Church Vinings. And, praise God, this is the real deal! Our two pastors really strive to create a Biblically based church. Their simple mission statement is "Gospel. Community. Mission." And they truly live that. They preach the Gospel that Christ died for each of us and our sins. They encourage us to live in Biblical community - praying for one another, breaking bread together, carrying each other's burdens, rejoicing with one another. And their heart is for missions - not just global, but taking the Gospel to our unchurched neighbor or family member.
Ever since Curt and Jonathan (our pastors) started praying for this opportunity, they prayed that God would give this church a spirit of adoption. And they pray for it weekly. There are 3 (soon to be 4) families that have adopted in our church. Isn't that cool? Especially since it's such a small church!
Today, my precious family had the blessing to stand before our congregation and our pastors and "announce" our adoption. This wasn't so we could show off or boast. It was simply to let our brothers and sisters in Christ know what is going on so they can pray for us and support us in various ways. Because that is what the Body of Christ is called to do!
One of our pastors, Curt, asked us a few of questions and I wanted to share our responses:
-Why are you adopting?
There are really two answers to this question.
The practical answer is because there is a great need. Did you know there are an estimated 163 million orphans in the world? Uganda itself has an estimated 2.5 million orphans. And only 62 children were adopted out of Uganda last year to the United States.
The heart answer is because we, ourselves, have been adopted and we are responding in obedience to the Gospel. John 1:12-13 says, "Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God." Galatians 4:4-6 also states, "But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons." Finally, Ephesians 1:5-6 says, "In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will - to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves."
-What are your biggest fears/anxieties? We are human and we have to admit that we do have fears and anxieties. Right now, our littlest is still sleeping in the closet. Where are we supposed to put more children?! And, as any mama knows, kids are expensive! And loud! And rambunctious! And then there is school - how in the world are we going to afford tuition?? But, as my precious six year old said in the car the other afternoon, "I'm just so excited about adopting!!!" We are called not to worry, but to cast all of our anxieties upon the Lord. He is sovereign. He has all the details worked out.
-What can we do as a church to support you? First, pray. As cliche as it sounds, it is what we need. There is a very real Enemy who doesn't want children to be loved and in families. We need to pray against him. And we need prayer for encouragement, wisdom and to be in God's perfect will during this time. We need prayer for the judges in Uganda, the social workers, for our children here in the states and our children in Uganda. As my sweet husband put it, "When ever God puts us on your hearts, even if you are driving around in your car, please pray for us." There are other very tangible ways also. Adoptions are very expensive. We are going to be doing some fun things to fundraise - there will be more on that to come!
-What would you say to a family who is early in the process of considering adoption?
Our pastor, Curt, actually answered this one and I love how he said it. He said something along the lines of, "God has called the Harty Family to adopt. But that doesn't mean he has called you to adopt. Maybe he has called you to foster. Or to come along side and really invest in a family that is adopting or for other children that need support. Remember, there is freedom in Christ. So don't feel the pressure that this is something you HAVE to do." I'd like to add something, though. God has called each of us to do SOMETHING. He has not blessed us so richly and abundantly so that we can spoil ourselves and our children. He has commanded us to look after the widow and the orphan, the poor and the oppressed, those in prison and the hungry.
I'd also like to add that if God has given you the slightest inkling to adopt, I would highly encourage you to pursue that and obey. We always tell our children that there is blessing in obedience, but those outside God's blessing are unsafe.
Lastly, surround yourself with like-minded people who have a heart for adoption. In today's technological age, you can connect with people all around the world! I have met some of the sweetest, dearest people in the adoption community. through the blogosphere. They have encouraged me so very much! There is also a wonderful adoption community here in Atlanta. Once a quarter, we gather and fellowship. Just a few weeks ago, we went to the African Family Fellowship night with about 70 other people. It was a blast!!
Phew! I've written more than I intended. I pray your family had a blessed Resurrection Sunday. My heart is so full of God's love!
We are a family of 6 who desire go grow and bear much fruit for the sake of Jesus. I am a stay at home mom who struggles every day to bear fruit and show the love of Jesus to my husband and our four children (all girls, twin 6 1/2 year olds, a 3 year old and a sweet 18 month old baby.)