SBC messengers enthusiastically support Moore’s resolution on adoption

Communications Staff — June 25, 2009

Messengers at the 2009 annual meeting of The Southern Baptist Convention in Louisville on Wednesday overwhelmingly passed a resolution proposed by Russell D. Moore promoting adoption and orphan care.

The resolution encouraged every Southern Baptist family to pray about whether God wants them to adopt or provide foster care for a child or children. It also called on Southern Baptist and other evangelical churches to devote a Sunday each year to emphasize “our adoption in Christ and our common burden for the orphans of the world.”

Moore, who serves as senior vice president for academic administration and dean of the School of Theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, knows well of which he proposed; Moore and his wife Maria adopted two sons from a Russian orphanage a few years ago.

Moore hopes the resolution will provoke deep thinking that leads to action among Southern Baptists regarding the Gospel significance of adoption and orphan care; all who are saved by God’s grace were once orphans who were adopted into the Kingdom of Christ.

The number of adoptions among evangelicals has steadily increased in recent years, yet the need is profound: in the United States alone, more than 500,000 children were in foster care system in 2005, the last year for which federal statistics were available. About 115,000 were waiting for adoption.

“Something is afoot among Christian families and churches of virtually every kind,” Moore said. “God is calling the people of Christ to see the face of Jesus in the faces of orphans in North America and around the world. Southern Baptists have affirmed our belief in the authority of Scripture, and the Bible tells us pure religion is defined by care for the fatherless.

“We’ve been defined by our commitment to evangelism, and there is no greater field as `white unto harvest’ right now as children in orphanages, group homes, and the foster care system, children who don’t know a parent’s love and who don’t know the name of Jesus. When Satan wars against children, we should be the ones who have compassion on them, even as Jesus did and does.

Moore authored a deeply personal and compellingly theological book on adoption that was published in May by Crossway books, “Adopted for Life: The Priority of Adoption for Christian Families & Churches.” In it, Moore argues that the church should view the adoption of orphans as a crucial part of its mission precisely because God has adopted helpless sinners to be His sons.

“The resolution by itself isn’t going to spark an orphan care movement among Southern Baptists,” he said. “Neither is my book, and neither are a thousand manifestoes. Only the Holy Spirit can do that as local churches start to embrace a vision for orphan care.

“The resolution though was meant to prompt some questions. If one messenger in the Convention hall is moved to simply pray, ‘Lord, how would you have me minister to orphans?’ then the resolution is a success, in my view. If one pastor is prompted to ponder how he could preach on adoption, or lead a foster care ministry among his folks, then the work is starting.

During the introduction of the resolution, Moore appeared on stage with Timothy and Benjamin, the sons he and his wife adopted seven years ago. More than 8,000 messengers met the resolution and its unanimous passage with lengthy, enthusiastic applause.

“I was overwhelmed with emotion on the platform to see my sons, two little ex-orphans, looking out on a sea of yellow ballots as thousands of Southern Baptists affirmed that we want to be the people who love fatherless children,” he said.

“I realized that, in an alternative story, my boys would still be in an orphanage, not knowing even the name of Christ Jesus. But here they are, at the Southern Baptist Convention, calling by their very presence the world’s largest Protestant denomination to recognize there are hundreds of thousands of children as helpless and alone as they once were.

“My prayer is that twenty years from now there are thousands of Southern Baptist pastors, missionaries, and church leaders who started their lives as orphans, now preaching the gospel of God their Father.”

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