Generation Cedar

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Can we fully believe that children with special needs are used by God, perhaps in the profoundest of ways, to show us our deep needs and to present us with opportunities to serve “the least of these” and therefore Christ Himself?  In a culture assuring us of our right to demand comfort and ease, we destroy ourselves as a people when we destroy these precious “imperfect” lives that keep us fully human.  And the joke’s on the “perfect” us.  Strong bodies, sound minds–yet so often spiritually depraved as a result of our bodily prosperity.  As R.C. Sproul, Jr. said of his disabled daughter, “She is my spiritual better”.

Following up from Part 1 of Children With Disabilities, I thought the subject undone without a practical look at how the body of Christ should…no, MUST respond to these children and their families.

Adoption

I have been challenged to take an honest look at the subject of adoption.  Most of us maintain that it is a “calling”, but sometimes I wonder how conveniently we use that word to relieve ourselves of any pressure or responsibility we might feel if we considered what is asked of all believers.  Of course it’s not a reality for everyone. It doesn’t seem so for us at this very moment.  But have we been open to the possibility?  Have we trusted that God, if He wills, can provide in that area just like we trust Him to provide for those He gives us through the womb?  Perhaps some were meant to adopt and others were meant to fund those adoptions.  These are merely conversations we’re having that I think we all need to have.

Bearing Burdens

Secondly, I feel certain that helping families with special needs children is a command, inclusive in the command to share all of one another’s burdens.  Frankly, the body of Christ at large seems fairly lousy at sharing one another’s burdens and the state has happily taken over that job.  Will we give an account?  I think so.

I’m an amateur at this conversation.  Most of this post is just a random musing as I have not given this subject enough thought in the past.  This would be a great time for those of you in the trenches to jump in and share what you perceive to be the most important way fellow believers can help in these situations.

Pro-Life Hypocrites

A concluding thought comes to mind about children–disabled or not–and what I believe the birth control culture within the church has done to make us “pro-life hypocrites”.

The same woman who gasped in horror at the young couple when she found out they were expecting their third child never offered a meal or a hand to relieve them.  Does she really have a right, then, to flout her staunch opposition to abortion?  If all the women in her church espouse this conflicting view, this young couple would be forced into an ethical corner were they to find out the Lord has blessed them with another child.

And what has this woman done to relieve the lives of the couple with a disabled child?  Offered her best advice on birth control methods?

I submit that it’s time we draw a line in the sand of our own hearts.  Are we truly pro-life?  If so, it’s time to act like it.

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39 Responses

  1. I have been like many others and questioned why my child must have disabilities and not be able to enjoy simple things.. Then it hit me one day. He doesnt have disabilities. He has Gods Grace. God gave this special child to me not to punish me and He didnt give me this child as a way of being mean. My child is like the blind man that Jesus healed. God did not make him blind to be mean. God made him blind to show His Glory and His miraculous ways. Once I realized this about my child I had a much greater appreciation for all of his trials and struggles.

    So with that said.. I dont think people have intentions of being unhelpful to those with special children. I think they simply arent sure what to do or how to help. Its scarey to be faced with the unknown and deal with issues that we never would have dreamed of, but at the same time they are learning experiences for all involved. We learn about Gods love for us as we show a similar love to our children and the people we serve.

    To show our love and that we are eager to help others we need to first focus on their needs as a family and tryto provide for those.. Do they need assistance with child care? Meal preperations? Sometimes just allowing the mother 10 or 20 minutes of extra time to care for her children (special needs children often have lots of demands). Showing patience for those demands is a huge plus. Even a small word of encouragement or a “Ive been there” can help. Also, Sometimes its hard to ask for help but if you just jump in and do something it is greatly appreciated!

    But one of the biggest things for me that really shows that people “care” instead of just feeling sorry for me and pretending to care is when they focus on and praise the developments and milestones that are being met instead of negatively asking why they are so delayed or asking when they will catch up. When somebody focuses on the negative things it makesme thing they only see my son as a disability and not as a person.

    Wow sorry that was long

  2. There are lots of good things to think (and act!)on in this post. This particular paragraph struck me though.

    “The same woman who gasped in horror at the young mother when she found out she was expecting her third child never offered a meal or a hand to relieve her. Does she really have a right, then, to flout her staunch opposition to abortion? If all the women in her church espouse this conflicting view, this young mother would be forced into an ethical corner were she to find out the Lord has blessed her with another child.”

    I have thought about this before too and it reminds me of Jesus calling the Pharisees hypocrites:

    “For they preach, but they do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them wih a finger” (Matthew 23:3-4)

    If we are going to be pro-life we have to be all the time and it starts in our hearts. People’s true hearts towards children seem to be revealed during a pregnancy announcement (after you already have a few) or if the mother is having a trial that is somehow involving a child.

  3. I got to see the “pro-life hypocrites” up close and personal last fall. A college age girl in our church became pregnant. She decided to have and keep the baby without the support of her boyfriend. Now, she could have easily had an abortion and saved herself the shame that was heaped on her, but she didn’t.

    A group of us mommies at the church, organized a baby shower for her. I cannot tell you how many “ladies” in the church refused to attend or send a gift because they didn’t want to “support that kind of behavior”! I must say, I was disgusted! This young lady was struggling to make the best of the situation. Her family was supporting her and they were members of our church. We were just showing her God’s love by providing a few things for the baby that she needed. One woman said it would “encourage” other girls to have babies outside of marriage by “rewarding” them by giving them a shower!

    How can we call ourselves pro-life but behave and say such things? If we really believe ALL life is precious it should not matter who or when or how that life was concieved. This young lady knew she had made a mistake and she had to live with the consequences of that. She sees her daughter as a gift but the fact that she is raising her alone as the consequence.

    Do we really believe abortion is wrong – EVERY time? Why don’t we support those who choose to say no to abortion?

    1. I was in a similar boat when I had my children. It was only because of them and after I had all of them out of wedlock that I turned to the Lord and my relationship with Him grew. I cannot thank them enough for that.

      1. I too was pregnant for the first time before I was married. It was what brought me back to the church (after walking away for many years). Our church was great in welcoming me and caring for me. We still attend the same church (9 years and 4 children later). There are many families in our church who did things “backwards” being pregnant before marriage. Some may say our church has a problem with s*x before marriage. But all of these families came after they were already pregnant. What they found was a church family full of God’s grace and forgiveness, and a place that encouraged spiritual growth. In fact Sunday’s message was about growing up spritually and getting off the “milk” and onto the “meat”.
        Just wanted to say that not all churches are dropping the ball, some are doing a good job. (Always room for improvement:)

  4. I really can’t stand it when people say that adoption is a calling. We are all called to care for orphans, but that’s not what they mean.
    When we were adopting, a man we didn’t know drove up to our house in a beat up pick-up truck and handed us a check for $1,000. Did he have a “calling” to help with adoptions or did he just obey God’s Word to care for orphans and widows?

  5. In our fellowship, there are a couple of families who have disabled children. One family does not have any known needs but the other is a divorced mother whose youngest (about 16) has Down’s syndrome.

    She recently expressed a need and asked for prayer and donations for a yard sale she wanted to have to try to help meet the financial aspect. To my knowledge, nothing more was announced publicly.

    Approximately a month later, the lady was circulating a congregationally directed thank you note, as she now has the immediate need met. I know that the proceeds from donated yard sale items would not have covered it and can say from personal experience that the Lord moves to action those who are willing to listen.

    There is a difference between viewing “church” as the place where different groups of people meet to learn and sing together and become inspired to “do good deeds” on Sunday morning….and “Church” as the Body of Christ that is united in the bond of His love as a single Family.

    Hopefully, it’s okay to toss out a link to a recently reworked version of my post on God’s Family Portrait (I think you have a copy of the original here somewhere).

    http://onmysoapbox2.wordpress.com/2010/06/27/the-masters-family-portrait/

    I believe that when we more clearly see the picture of what we are to be about, the action of obedience comes much more naturally.

  6. I have three questions. And a comment.

    How come when a women decides not to kill her baby, some people feel other people have to support them, buy gifts etc. ?I know people don’t like the word kill ,but that is what it is. If I kill my toddler no one would call it abortion.

    Two, where in the Bible are we commanded to “adopt” ? Care for orphans yes, but instead of having children? Churches in our area do this.

    What happened to personal responsibility for one’s own children and house?

    “There are many families in our church who did things “backwards” being pregnant before marriage. Some may say our church has a problem with s*x before marriage. ”

    Sex before marriage is not “a problem” it is sin, the sin of fornication.

    Churches tend to white wash this sin as a character defect that you know just happens.

    Having had nine children I’ve yet to have the activity that precedes children ,happen without fore thought and knowledge that certain things lead to the afore mentioned activity.Actions have consequences.

    1. Mary,

      Permit me to please offer my perspective on this.

      You said “Two, where in the Bible are we commanded to “adopt” ? Care for orphans yes, but instead of having children? Churches in our area do this.”

      I believe God puts things in our hearts to do his will. Different things. For some people it is going to a strange country, living among the people, learning their language and ministering to them. I come from a South Asian country, I was born into a Christian family (fourth/fifth generation) in a country where less than 10% are christians. The people who converted my ancestors were British Missionaries. A couple without children to carry on the family name. I was told they had one or two children and they died. Have heard this story over and over again. How my ancestors became christians.
      At that time, my native country was colonized by the British. As in we did not have independence from them. Most people from my native country hated them. But yet, there was this couple. My native language is hard (it has 200+ distinct alphabets). They learned that. They lived among the people, not in a mansion or even a stone house, but in a hut. Were racked by Malaria. And yet they ministered to people who were suspicious of them. Their children died. They did not have a goal of well, we shall save 100 souls like modern day people seem to do which translates to well, we shall baptise 100 souls in my opinion and then do not care whether they follow Christ or not or if they go back to their old religions. They were faithful about sharing the word of God. They walked miles because there were no roads. They started schools, under trees. They administered first aid. And slowly their actions were more powerful than any message they preached. My ancestors became Christians because of them. And became missionaries in turn. Today this faithful couple may not have any descendants on earth, but you bet every single one of my family and many others could be counted as their ‘children’. Because of their faithful work, so many people preach the word of the Lord. And they were not affiiated to any church, did not have any support. And I think they ‘adopted’ a whole new country, culture, people and yes children in the schools they started. They did it for the Lord. And I think I am not mistaken in saying their reward in heaven was big.

      You said:
      What happened to personal responsibility for one’s own children and house?
      I come from a country where majority of the people struggle for food. We do not have a social welfare system. I was blessed to come to America. Nothing I did or said or my family did or said makes us worthy of the life we lead. I have struggled with that my whole adult life. When we go back every year and I see people who look like me and more heart breaking children who look like my children begging on the streets, eating food from garbage cans while we sit in an air conditioned car, it makes us want to adopt every single one of them. We cannot afford that. I feel so helpless. So we do everything we can to help them.
      Print cannot convey our feelings. But please trust me when I say I do not feel any condescension towards you when I say this. Open your eyes please. Poverty is here, even in America. We may not be living lavish lives, but nothing you or I did makes us worthy of living the life we have or havind the things we do. And no I am not talking about Mega mansions, land, electronic goods etc. I am talking about basic food and shelter and clothing. The promise of the next meal.
      Which so many people do not have. How can we talk personal responsibility to those people ? Please show some grace, the same grace the Lord shows unworthy people like us. And so sorry if I offend you.

  7. Mary,

    Good questions. I would offer a few ideas:

    I don’t think the Bible commands us to adopt. I think “caring for orphans” takes on a myriad of shapes. My parents cared for children through the foster system while we were growing up. Now they care for older boys that are “straggling”. Some people provide money for those who wish to adopt. Some just provide friendship and support. I have been challenged to think more deeply about adoption and what it means and who it is for, etc. My friend has challenged me heavily on this point, but we haven’t reached firm conclusions.

    Personal responsibility has been largely forsaken. The problem is that there are innocent children left in the wake. And if the church doesn’t do the hard stuff and pick up the pieces, sin breeds more sin and we end up with an epidemic of abortion and a “nanny government”.

    If the church could be “fully-orbited” I think we would see the only real “revival” possible. That is, teach the truth–personal responsibility, sin is sin, all the things you mentioned, and then, still be there to pick up the fatherless and orphans.

    That’s my off-the-cuff musing 😉

    1. “Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.” Psalms 127:3

      This covers a lot of questions for me with regard to adoption and a heart for children…God doesn’t say: Rachael, YOUR natural non-disabled, conceived in wedlock two parent family children exclusively are your heritage, YOUR fruit exclusively is the reward. It would take a good bit of misunderstanding and frankly some conceit on my part to adopt (ahem) that attitude.

      I think it conveys a large message regarding the magnitude of the blessing of children – they all are reward, to us all, despite our wickedness. How we treat them and include them is paramount in the Christian life.

    2. My family has been on a God led journey this last year to discover his heart regarding adoption and I do believe that the command to care for the fatherless and widow will look very different for everyone. However, once I began to see the gospel implications of adoption (i.e. adoption is how ALL of us get into YHWH’s family. [Remember he has only 1 begotten Son, the rest of us are in the family by His sovereign grace]) I struggle seeing much room for us to chose not to open our hearts, homes, wallets and families to “the least of these”. (Not a hard and fast rule, of course, but I cannot find a verse that allows our family’s conscience to be anything but proactive in orphan and elder care)

      A great book on the subject that challenged us greatly is “Adopted for Life” by Dr. Russell Moore. (You can find it here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1581349114?ie=UTF8&tag=apauinthecouo-20&link_code=as3&camp=211189&creative=373489&creativeASIN=1581349114 )

      I would strongly encourage any believer to read and wrestle with Dr. Moore’s compelling call for us to return to biblical thinking on this matter.

  8. This might go better with the previous post on the subject, but I really wanted to share this poem by Edna Massimilla:

    A meeting was held quite far from earth!
    It’s time again for another birth.
    Said the angels to the Lord above,
    “This special child will need much love.

    “His progress may be very slow
    Accomplishment he may not show
    And he’ll require extra care
    From all the folks he meets down there.

    “He may not run or laugh or play;
    His thoughts may seem quite far away.
    In many ways he won’t adapt
    And he’ll be known as handicapped.

    “So let’s be careful where he’s sent
    We want his life to be content.
    Please, Lord, find the parents who
    Will do a special job for You!

    “They will not realize right away
    The leading role they’re asked to play.
    But with this child sent from above
    Comes stronger Faith & richer Love!

    “And soon they’ll know the privilege given
    In caring for their gift from Heaven.
    Their precious charge so meek & mild
    Is Heaven’s very special child!”
    –by Edna Massimilla

  9. Kelly,

    I am having trouble finding verses that talk about adoption/caring for orphans.[KJ] So I looked up widows and fatherless.The only verses I found on the subject are these:

    1Ti 5:3 ¶ Honour widows that are widows indeed.

    1Ti 5:11 But the younger widows refuse: for when they have begun to wax wanton against Christ, they will marry;

    1Ti 5:16 If any man or woman that believeth have widows, let them relieve them, and let not the church be charged; that it may relieve them that are widows indeed.

    Jas 1:27 Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.

    Are there some verses I missing ? Key words that I ‘m not thinking to use ? I would appreciate some help to study this subject.

    Mary

    1. Mary, I think the following verses apply, even though they don’t name orphans:

      “And he [Jesus] answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.

      And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.

      But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour?”
      (Luke 10:27-29)

      In answer to this lawyer’s question, Jesus told the parable of the good Samaritan, ending with: “Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves?

      And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.” (vs. 36 & 37)

      I think it’s very meaningful that Jesus used a Samaritan as the one who showed God’s love in this parable, because the Jews, to whom He was speaking, despised the Samaritans.

    2. Mary,

      First, I had forgotten to comment on something else you said:

      “Care for orphans yes, but instead of having children?”

      I hope it wasn’t inferred that this is what I’m suggesting. I’ve heard people say this, but I do not agree that the Lord would ever want us to close our womb for what we perceive to be a more “noble” reason. This follows the same thinking as rejecting children so we can “better minister”, etc.

      You asked about Scripture…I believe a culmination of Scripture combined with good deductive reasoning forms a pretty strong argument for some form of caring for orphans (not necessarily adoption). I’ve referred in these posts to the verses where Jesus speaks “of the least of these”. We aren’t sure who those are exactly, but it would seem that parentless children would be first in line.

      There are many mentions of “defending the oppressed”, and “orphans” denotes “comfortless, bereaved” as well.

      “Pure religion” is such a strong statement that we should sit up and take notice, asking what it means to “visit the fatherless and the widow”.

      Definitely worthy of study.

      1. “I hope it wasn’t inferred that this is what I’m suggesting. I’ve heard people say this, but I do not agree that the Lord would ever want us to close our womb for what we perceive to be a more “noble” reason. This follows the same thinking as rejecting children so we can “better minister”, etc.”

        Don’t want to start a controversy but this is something I struggle with so much. Where I come from most middle class families, even Christian do birth control. And most priests who I have looked to for interpretation certainly do not advocate a large family. The first time I heard of Quiverful was the Andrea Yates story (the woman in Texas who killed her children). Definitely not a positive way to hear that term. I was so shocked I set upon finding more about it. And that led me to blogs such as yours.

        In my culture parents pay for education, marriage etc. So that it mant ways defines the way verses are interpreted I suppose. Definitely something to think about for me. And pray about.

        1. Sylvia- I don’t know where you “come from”, or who these priests are, but that statement of their views left me chilled. Please check all statements from people, even clergy, against God’s word. Any teacher after God’s heart would want you to.
          And just because “most middle class families” do, does not mean it’s right.
          And, finally, perhaps the statement that we cannot afford to have more children should make us look at what we value and are spending our money on. The Bible calls children blessings, people call money a blessing. I’d rather have His blessing and guidance in my life than what the world tells me I should live for.

          1. I come from a South Asian Country Jenny. A country of a billion people. The size of the middle class is almost the size of the population of United States. The rest live below the poverty line and struggle for food, clothing and shelter. Basic things like one sqaure meal a day. Land is virtually non-existent except farmland. We are not a culture of doing things with hands. We have houses built of bricks, even indoor walls are bricks. Most regualr people cannot do that. But we are a culture of education. There is fierce competition for jobs, even though the rate of growth is quite good now, we cannot still find jobs for everyone. If you want to have a basic job, nothing fancy, college is mandatory. We do not live alone after we graduate. We live with our families. Often times several generations live under one roof. My paternal grandparents lived with us. Education is expensive. When I grew up and even now, education loans were not there. Parents paid for everything. Education and even marriages. Though many people would love to have more children, the middle class reality is that it is just not possible. The cost of living prohibits that.
            Simple example, my parents both worked, they had to, for making ends meet, giving us an education etc. Government schools are horrendous. We had to go to private school which was expensive. We do not have home schooling there. Most countries in the world especially developing countries do not have that. My grandparents who lived with us helped raise my brother and I. We did not have a car. I came to America for higher education, six months later I was able to by a car. Yes, a beat up honda. Did not have a/c. But I did have a car.
            Which my parents who worked for years could not afford. When I first started earning, you bet I bought them a good car.
            As for poor people, I know of someone who was very poor and decided to have abortion as a means of birth control. So she could give her children a better life. How can we ask such a person to have a lot of children when she cannot even feed those she has ?

            What I am saying may sound as excuses for a lot of people and not following God’s ways. But I believe we use our own life experiences and where we are to interpret scripture. This is what I have seen.

            This verse is something that I have struggled with.

            Psalm 127:3
            “Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.”

            I did get my womb’s reward from the Lord. For which I thank the Lord everyday. The Lord has also put a tremendous burden in the hearts of our family and by that I mean extended family to spread the gospel.

            My husband and I limited my family so we can support so many family members who are working among poor people, many who are non-christian and spreading the gospel. We have a tremendous burden for that. I believe God put it there. The members of my family do not have foreign aid, no church supports them. Both my husband and I work. And so many people in my family whom God took to many countries and made prosperous. We believe in it so much. Because the spiritual needs of my native country are so great. Foreign aid is getting harder to come by. Foreigners do not have access to many parts of the country. That is the reality.

            In Genesis 17: 16 God says to Abraham

            “And I will bless her, and give thee a son also of her: yea, I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of people shall be of her.”

            Being the mother of nations is not just through children of my womb for me. Would I want to be a mother of nations, like the Bible says have children that cannot be counted like sands of the sea ? Yes, but it is not only the children of my womb for me. It is children who are reached through the gospel which God uses our efforts. It is children whom we sponsor. We do not go through aid agencies. We go directly to the source. It is children whom we may someday adopt.I have prayed so much about this. And I do believe our quiver is full.

          2. Sylvia – reading my response, it sounds accusatory, but truly, it was not meant to be. I was trying to say, in love, that it is always better to trust God’s word than man’s. I know how ridiculous trusting God with your reproductive life can sound, whether you are from a “stuff” obsessed culture, or one in which your basic needs may not even be met. But, God is God everywhere, and if you truly trust Him, affordability of one of His children becomes a non issue. I believe He is perfect, and doesn’t make mistakes, and therefore would not make a person for no reason,or without a plan, and denying Him the use of our bodies to accomplish His will is selfish at best, and sin, regardless of how we may try to tailor the Word to our own life experiences. And I truly believe, when we are faithful, He can trust us with all we need to do what He wants done. If He has given us healthy bodies made to bear His children, but we won’t, how can He trust us to properly use money? We cannot possibly understand trust with one area, if we are unwilling to trust in all areas. Above all, He loves us, and wants us to follow Him, not our rational mind. We can see so little, but He knows all!

          3. Jenny, I agree, it is always better to trust God’s word than man’s. But who interprets that ? We all do that based on culture. To say otherwise is not my experience. The same Psalm 127:3 as in ‘Children are a gift from the Lord’ when applied to Mother Teresa for instance, who decided not to get married and did not have the blessing of the children of her womb. But I have personally seen how much of a blessing her life and ministry was.
            My ancestors were converted by British missionaries whose children died in my native country. They contended with hostile attitudes, a foreign culture, country, food, language etc. They could have run back home to England and had so many other children. But they did not. They chose to remain in my native country and try to spread the word of God. And today my family and so many others are proof of that faithful couple’s life’s work.
            Many American christians will not support women preaching to my knowledge because of scripture interpretation. But in my native country women do. And play an important part in the ministry. Why ? Because among some non-christians, only women are allowed to be in a same room with women. Not strange men. In that case a woman has to preach the word of God to entire rooms of women. We adapt according to culture. Guns for instance is very common among American Christians. Most countries shudder at that. It is again cultural.
            God sent the ravens to feed Elijah and dropped Manna from heaven for the Israelites. Today, he gives us burdens I believe. Each of us according to where we are born and how we live.
            We have prayed so much about our course in life. One country’s needs are not the same as other. I come from a country where less than 10% is christian, I know several native languages, I always believed it was my calling to preach the word of God because women in my family have done so, married and being moms. But God brought me to America, on a student visa for higher education. And gave me a job which makes money. Quite a lot. So too my husband. I am not bragging. But with that money we can live a lavish lifestyle, limit our family so our children can have an Ivy league education. We do not. We limited our family yes, but to spread the gospel. Spreading the gospel takes money. And yes, God has given us wisdom to manage that. Wisdom to choose where it goes. $1 does not buy a whole lot in America, but where I come from, it sure goes a long way. My husband and my role is to support people who spread the gospel in my native country. So that they do not depend on foreign aid. We cannot and should not depend on foreign missionaries to spread the word in the land we were born. There are more than 900 million souls waiting to hear the word of God in my native country. I cannot wait for the next generation or my children to grow up. I will raise them up to be soldiers for God, but how God uses them is up to him.
            Please understand, I am not saying birth control is right or the only way. But these are questions we as children were brought up to ask and our parent’s experience. Our parents went to jail ministry, hospital ministry. Youth were sent to villages. To minister and spread the gospel. Should you minister only to your family which includes husband and children only ? or does family include parents, siblings ? what about cousins ? Who is your neighbor ? your church family, christians, non-christians ? Should you minister only to christians ? What is your responsibility towards orphans, widows, the poor, handicapped ? Is it only prayer ? Adoption ? What is your responsibility towards spreading the gospel ? Is it prayer ? Support ? The church needs money for the things it does what will you do ? These are questions I struggled/struggle with ? Plus what is my responsibility towards American christians ? The number of christians is going down. Do I testify ? What about charity ? Should we focus our attention only in our native country ? The answers for these are deeply personal and according to what God calls us to do in my understanding.
            Not everyone is called to bear children. Some walk the path like Mother Teresa. Some have burdens for ministry. American Christianity has so many divisions and doctrines each claiming the ‘truth’. They identify more as baptist, lutheran, methodist,quiverful, pentecost as far as I have seen. They are lumped together as evangelical christians. Well, where are the evangelical christians who are evangelizing or spreading the word of God ? In America. So many people quote verses back and forth. But ask them for a practical approach and I get only verses. Does our responsibility as parents end up with raising godly women and men who will raise children ? Do we not care about poverty, hunger and most of all spreading God’s word ?
            Please don’t say if we truly trust God affordability of children becomes possible. That sounds like the prosperity gospel. That our actions define what we get. Not God’s grace. I can say with authority, I have seen christians poor christians, who are faithful and better christians than I am who struggle to put food on the table. Who live in squalor. Please look at countries in Asia, Africa, South America and Mexico. The lady who had an abortion so she could feed her children is a christian, a faithful christian. Nothing my family said or did made us deserve the life we had. It is only God’s grace. Please accept my apologies if I have offended you in any way.

          4. No, I don’t believe in the prosperity gospel, but, likewise, you cannot be assured of having enough money to support missions, etc., because you have chosen to “limit” your family. And the suggestion that you can ONLY stay home and witness to your own children if you have more than 2 or 3 or even 4 is ridiculous and, yes, offensive. The missionaries in your country did not have to go home to have children. If God wanted, and they were obedient, they could have born more in your country. I’m saying, if we align our will with God’s, we will obviously have enough for what He wants. And money is obviously NOT always a blessing from God (see pop stars, etc), so having a lot does not prove you are doing His will, however people try to atone for their choices with finances. We must be careful in what we choose to “limit” in our family, because one day we will see what we missed by “limiting” God in our lives. Of course we should overcome cultural customs to spread His word, and He calls women to minister to women, that is Scriptual. I am just so hurt by people that use the excuse of screening His word through various cultures (i.e. fitting it to themselves) to defend their comfort. Yes, children might make some things seem more difficult, but not impossible, and He often shows just how great He is through impossibilities. How believable is a person that has taken a week of vacation time off work to bring you a day’s salary, compared to a family of eleven children that have saved and worked to bring you groceries and to build a school or church at much sacrifice to themselves (see the Duggars), when you have physical and spiritual needs. Choices need to be acknowledged as such, and we need to remember that we will be held accountable for all our choices.

    3. Here are some verses that help me..

      My favorite ever Matt 25: 35-40
      Matt 25: 35,36
      For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.

      Matt 25:40
      “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’

      The Old Testament has several verses about helping the poor.

      Even in the story of Boaz and Ruth, they left something for the poor in the fields to glean after the harvest.

      And of course Proverbs.

      Proverbs 22:9
      A generous man will himself be blessed, for he shares his food with the poor.

      Proverbs 28:27
      He who gives to the poor will lack nothing, but he who closes his eyes to them receives many curses.

      And even in Proverbs 31 which is the favorite of many people on the virtues of a woman.

      Proverbs 31:20
      She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.

  10. Kelly,
    Thank you for the comments. I will look this up .

    Also, I didn’t think you meant adopt instead of having children. Your position is very clear.

    Where we live , there are people who adopt versus having children or have the boy and the girl then adopt.It recieves more positive attention then large families of home-grown children.

    Mary

  11. I have a daughter with special needs. It is very, very hard. She looks normal, but wears a pull up, needs constant supervision to not hurt herself or others, cannot read or write words, and has sensory, social and emotional issues. It is hard to sugarcoat and say that every day she lightens my house and shows me God’s love for me. Most days are exhausting and frustrating. I have to constantly remind myself of God’s promises and love, because often I only feel lonely and misunderstood. I have 5 other children, and I must willfully trust that He is in control. Yes, couples who “quit” having children to adopt one more are celebrated, and when I am pregnant I am asked “Are we happy about this one…Is this the last?” Trusting God is often painful, but He told us it would be. And, of course, there are so many times my heart feels as though it will burst with happiness and pride that I get to be a part of these little peoples’ lives.
    To be completely blunt, help would be awesome! I feel like I am walking around in a bubble, separate from all the families with healthy children. I can’t join all the social gatherings they have, my daughter can’t just run off and play with their kids. I can’t be open, they don’t understand what this is like. I can’t just say, when they talk about the future, “I’m so scared – Brynna will probably never leave my home. My job will never end. I’ll never see her drive, get married, have babies of her own…” I don’t let myself think of the future. It just hurts too much, and brings me down. I have a friend at church who just had a baby with Downs, and I am avoiding her, because I don’t want to start sharing and accidentally bring up something she hasn’t yet considered, and bring her sadness. When I found out about the baby, I grieved – not for the baby or the family, because I know the baby is a gift and a blessing, but simply for all the moments I knew my friend would have that would cause her pain in the next years.
    I LOVE my life and my family, and I have such a good God, but if anyone truly has a heart to help families with special needs kids, perhaps the best gift is your time. Arrange for a sitter (perhaps someone grown with experience might be neccessary), and take mom to coffee, or let mom and dad have a date night. Let mom cry, and be honest, and know you won’t hold her openness against her. I know more than one mom, even without special children, who has cried in the bathroom, not knowing if she should “burden” someone else. I know God hears,and cares, but sometimes a physical shoulder means the world. Thank you for letting me get this all out, it’s been one of those days!

    1. I want to commend you and thank you for your honesty. Having a child with special needs can be very difficult, and there are many concerns about the future that keeps the parents up at night. My son is entering his teens but is at the level of a 2-4 year old in all physical areas and has many sensory issues as well. I praise God that he is of almost normal intelligence as that makes it so much easier. But the physical burden is tremendous. I find as he gets older we go through periods where it gets almost easy and then, boom, it gets really hard. Like a roller coaster. He is a tremendous blessing to me and I do not regret having him at all. But it is hard and sometimes we feel guilty for saying it. God bless you!

  12. Kelly thank you for posting on this subject. It has been on my mind lately… I am not sure what God would have us, as a family, do… yet… but I am sure the Lord will help us figure it all out.

  13. I have a friend who has adopted four young children now that her own children are grown. She and her husband are in their fifties and have found they don’t have the energy they used to.

    Another friend has adopted children with special needs, some extreme, and now her husband has cancer.

    I’m struggling with a large family and no help of any kind – none are adopted or special needs but I’m completely overwhelmed.

    So those in the church who see children as a blessing – instead of going to the garden club, taking a community college class, or playing cribbage at the senior center – could they come alongside those of us who are weary with the burdens of caring for children? Maybe young people who are not yet married could put aside the single’s group endless round of fun, fun, fun and help parents who are struggling.

    An older couple we know has taken seriously John Piper’s admonition to not “retire” but to use their older years for God’s glory. Instead of collecting seashells, they make their home and themselves available to the many, many needs of their church family. I wish they lived next door!

    1. Melanie,

      Yes, you make important points–a book could be written on our entertainment/entitlement mentality that has neglected so many needs of the body of Christ.

      It’s no wonder mothers are overwhelmed–they are just as much a part of the body of Christ, meant to be encouraged and supported like any other member. We are proud of our donations, support and prayers to foreign missions, and then we shame the mother “in the trenches” trying to raise disciples. “Another one? Haven’t you figured it out yet?” Imagine saying to the missionary with *that look*, “Another convert?” Do we really think about what we are saying? I think if we really saw “bringing up children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” as the ministry that it is, we would treat motherhood so much differently and extend our hand of assistance gladly.

  14. Actually, now that I think of it, one gal in our church does go to the Garden Club and has become a Master Gardener. She has had invaluable advice for those of us who try to have gardens or low-maintenance yards.

    Another lady has gone to sewing conventions/workshops around the country (I drool to think about it!!) She taught a sewing class free of charge to interested young ladies (most of them were from large families whose mothers don’t have time to teach them to sew.) One of the projects was making blankets and bibs for the local pregnancy center.

    So I do think people can pursue their interests and hobbies – but they can also find ways to use them to serve the Kingdom and even to help the widows and orphans (and those who adopt orphans).

  15. Brilliant, Janine – modeling Christ indeed requires our seeing each child as an individual, not because of any disability but in spite of it, and ministering to each in his uniqueness. You’re right.

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  18. As a mom currently “in the trenches” raising a special-needs child, I’d like to weigh in with ways I think fellow believers can bless parents of these special children.

    Good suggestions have already been made in the comment thread, particularly by Khourt and Jenny S (comments #1 and 11). I won’t repeat what they said, but I would like to add one thing that has really blessed me: prayer. Pray for these families, and tell them you are doing so! It is such a blessing to know that!

    Here are some specific ways to pray:

    1. Pray for the child(ren) with special needs. Ask the parents if there are any specific needs of the child that you can pray for. Don’t push if they’re not comfortable sharing specifics, but do show compassion and express your willingness to lift the child up in prayer.

    2. Pray for the parents, especially for their marriage. There are unique challenges husbands and wives face in these situations, and the divorce rate is tragically high among parents raising special-needs kids. It is very easy to become so focused on the child’s needs, therapies, etc. that the marriage crumbles from lack of attention. Disagreements, also, in how to “train up a child in the way he should go” when what works with the other children doesn’t work with the special child can put a strain on the marital relationship if the parents aren’t on the same page with each other.

    3. Pray for the child’s siblings. Having children in the home with special challenges impacts the entire family, including siblings. Things can get very intense in the home, at times, and the siblings may feel lost in the shuffle as the parents try to establish equilibrium in the home environment.

    Having said all that, though, I will say that although it is true that there can be many challenges in these situations, in the eight years I’ve been a mom of a special-needs child, I have seen many MORE blessings than difficulties come of it, for my husband and I and our family. Pray for God to grant those blessings to the families you know in these circumstances. The Lord loves to answer prayer and show His almighty power through every circumstance and in every family. He is faithful!

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