The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit. —Proverbs 18:21
Warning and Disclaimer:
This may seem like a personal rant, but I do not believe it is just a personal rant. It also is a conviction and call for the church to really step up and be the church/body of believers that God calls us to be. Please, PLEASE, read through the whole blog to understand that this blog is NOT about me!! If you do not want a direct and honest opinion, please stop reading!
I’ve learned that everyone has an opinion, and that usually it is given freely, generously, and often unsolicited. I have disclosed above that this blog post is my, Jesse Rivers’, opinion, and here I am giving it to you. What you do with it is your own prerogative. I offer it though, with a hope that it will serve as a call, to those who proclaim to follow and serve Jesus Christ, to a higher standard of living and intentional action.
Over the past five years, as I have ministered for and served with Abogar International Ministries, I have been the recipient of a large number of unsolicited opinions. Many times they have been painful to hear, but I have tried to receive them graciously and not respond emotionally… People deciding to remove financial support because Abogar does not have an official home for kids yet. People sharing their belief that Abogar has, is, or will fail in its ministry and purpose. People removing support because I am no longer living in or working directly at a specific children’s home. People sharing that it’s too bad that I didn’t join another established organization. People suggesting that the model and work of Abogar should be different. That I travel too much. That I don’t work enough. That we should be working only in the United States. That I need to adopt kids now. That Abogar should be an adoption agency. That I need to be married before doing what I do. That I need to be a better person before doing what I do. That my gifting and talents are different that what I am doing, and so I do not hear God clearly. That someone with money and esteem should be in my position instead of me.
Friends, out of love, I say to you that we should really be more introspective, and considerate of the words we use. The tongue has the power to create life or promote destruction. I have also been made aware of several rumors that people have spread about me, that have been very painful and untrue. No, I have never had children out of wedlock. No I am not getting rich off of Abogar. (Please check with Abogar’s treasurer if you don’t believe me, and she can share how many months I have sacrificed my salary because we have a very low donor base and I am insistent that we are not going into debt and that our funding is for the children.) No I am not on vacation all the time, nor are my travels because I WANT to be traveling. I even have received bad references from a previous place of ministry, a place where God is my witness that I served with my whole heart voluntarily.
BUT the thing that has hurt the most over these past five years was not anything mentioned above. The thing that has hurt the most is hearing these three words… ‘That’s too bad!” It is a false empathy or false sympathy, dismissive of the reality and tragedies of life that are avoidable. Right now, in a world of ~2.1 billion Christians, if less than 10% of them would help just one child who is orphaned, in foster care, or living in the streets, we could eliminate the need for a large focused ministry outreach that is trying to help these precious children currently. However, often I hear people say, “Well, that’s too bad!”
It’s NOT too bad! It’s inexcusable and unacceptable, and it is downright infuriating to hear such words! Just yesterday more than 30 people, many children, died here in Guatemala in a children’s home, because children set mattresses on fire to protest abuse and mistreatment (not isolated to one children’s home, orphanage, nor foster home) in an organized institution. I have been so hurt and infuriated by some Christians’ responses of, “Oh, that’s too bad.” No it is NOT. It is inexcusable! Standing in front of God one day in eternity, He will not accept the words, “Oh that’s too bad.” His reply will be, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ “That’s too bad!” will not cut it!
Albert Einstein defined insanity as… “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” When we make childcare an institutional or systemic approach, rather than personalized in units (homes, families) in which children can belong and be a part of, we continue doing the same thing over and over again with some expectation that things will end better or differently! As one of the few, statistically, that successfully came out of institutionalization, I speak from personal experience and personal concern that the church must be the place where we truly step up and reach out to these precious children! They shouldn’t have to die in protest of abuse and misuse!
I shouldn’t have to sacrifice my whole life to convince the church to be about the right changes and intentional actions that we must take to help these children, but if I have to I will!! NO, I am not talking about more children’s home, more orphanages, more foster care! The change must be to esteem, as God esteems, the very basic fibers and fundamental units of society… family and home! We must become champions for a different model than we have been using! It is possible! It will take lots of work! But it’s right and worth it!
This has been my fight and journey officially for five years now, but so much longer in my life as well! While our comfort, pleasure, plans, and way of life may need to be interrupted, disrupted, changed, and even transformed so that we will truly be about God’s heart for these children, I am much more willing to make that sacrifice than to hear God say to me, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ Our response must be a change to how we view, love, and interact with these precious children… that we would truly become advocates and champions for these children to have forever families and forever homes, away from institutions and detachment. I commit to being one of those advocates and champions for these children! Will you join me?!?!