Hard Questions: In this blog series, Show Hope staff members do their best to help shed light on some of the hardest questions we are asked here at Show Hope. We will strive to foster a healthy dialogue, but we acknowledge that we do not have all the answers! If you have a hard question you’d like us to tackle, please let us know in the comments below.
Many years ago, I was at an international adoption event when someone raised the question, “What about the kids right here in the U.S.?”
I have come across two major approaches to this question, and I believe both have very valid points. The first I’ll summarize as the “Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and the ends of the earth” philosophy, or the “Jerusalem” philosophy for short. In Acts 1:8, Jesus tells his disciples that they will be his witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth. Many times pastors have explained that we must first love those near to us, then prioritize loving those in our region, and finally don’t forget those who live far away.
The second approach I’ll call the “all nations” approach, derived from the Great Commission in Matthew 28:19. Here, Jesus says, “Go and make disciples of all nations…” There is no indication here that one location should be prioritized over another. Many have argued that the implication is that one should “go out” and not stay where you are.
Each of these two approaches will uniquely impact the way we engage areas such as evangelism, church-planting, mercy ministries, relief and development efforts, politics, advocacy, and of course, the care of orphans. And, each of these two approaches will also share a good bit in common.
1) Both value the location that the other champions. Neither would argue that the people or locality championed by the other side is an invalid place to reach, but both would argue the priority should be on something different (local vs. distant).
2) Both value “reaching” in general. The camps aren’t arguing over what should be done, but rather where the “doing” should be focused.
3) Both eventually get where the other is going. At the end of the day, the result is the two camps overlap completely in terms of what they seek to accomplish. The question is not what’s the end result, rather the question is where to start.
I find that the most beautiful part of this struggle is when those who differ in their approach find a way to join together in unity. Gary Haugen, the head of the International Justice Mission, had a great explanation about the best way to engage people who aren’t as passionate for a specific cause as you are. He encouraged people to remember what it was like for you before you were captivated by a cause. Remember how gently God led you into awareness of this issue. Remember how those proclaiming guilt, shame, or condemnation on the unaware never really stirred you. Remember the words of Paul to the church in Corinth, if you don’t have love, you are a banging gong or a clanging cymbal. If you want people to hear you, it is imperative to speak from a place of love, not self-righteousness or criticism.
I think the best way to answer the question, “Shouldn’t we care for kids in the U.S. first?” is to reframe the question. We are all one body, but we serve many parts. If we were all the eye, where would the sense of smell be? If we were all the ear, where would the sense of sight be? The question is, “Which part of the body has God called you to be?” Even the disciples lived out two of God’s final commands differently. Some, like Peter, focused on the nearby areas, “blooming where they were planted,” and others, like Thomas, apparently went to the ends of the earth (India, in Thomas’s case). Instead of working to convince others to be like us in our calling, we can celebrate our differences while also encouraging others to play their own part to the best of their ability.
So what is the answer to the question, “Should we care for kids in America first?” I believe the answer can be, “Maybe. We all have different roles to play, and kids in America certainly need care. What do you believe God has for you?”
Show Hope is grateful for the opportunity to care for orphans right here in America and around the world. From financial grants that help bring children home to families to life-giving medical care for orphans in China, we are proud to be a part of the movement to care for orphans. Join us!