Reported By Gillian Sheridan firstname.lastname@example.org
It was January 4, 2009, Pastor David Dykes challenges his congregation at Green Acres Baptist Church in Tyler to adopt or foster 100 children. It's a move not taken by many pastors. He says, "I don't think of it as being bold. I think of it as doing the right thing."
The right thing, says Pastor Dykes, according to scripture. "The bible says in James 1:27, that pure religion is taking care of the widows and orphans in their time of need and most churches I know do a pretty good job of taking care of their widows but for some reason the churches just fail to step forward and intentionally take care of orphans."
So why aren't more churches involved in adoption ministries? "I think most of us in the church really weren't sure where the orphans were because we don't have as many orphanages as we used to have so we wrongly assumed that that meant there were no orphans," explains Pastor Dykes.
In fact, there are 143 million children worldwide in need of a family. Of that number, 500,000 are in foster care in the United States, almost 27,000 in care in Texas and just over 2,100 in foster children in East Texas.
"I would challenge other pastors and churches to begin an adoption ministry just like we have here at Green Acres and I think Hope For 100 could be a model that other churches could easily adopt," says Pastor Dykes.
On January 11, 2009, Pastor Dykes invited Dr. Jerome Milton, from Pleasant Hill Missionary Baptist Church in Tyler, to share his adoption testimony. Dr. milton was abandoned at just 10 months old, spending much of his childhood abused in foster homes and orphanages in California.
"It is an amazing story of how his life could have gone in the wrong direction but because of adoption, God has changed him into a man that is widely respected and used of God in a mighty way," says Pastor Dykes.
This Hope For 100 campaign has also touched Pastor Dykes personally. "Yes, we've talked about it and we are praying about it and not only my wife and myself, but also other extended family members are praying about it."
Pastor Dykes knows the challenge to his congregation won't be easy, but he's confident Green Acres Baptist Church will reach their goal. "It's hard to look at a child who needs a mom or a dad and still be hard-hearted or cold-hearted because anytime you see a child that is reaching out for a parent it has to touch your heart because it touches the heart of God and so what touches God's heart, should always touch our heart."
Green Acres Baptist Church in Tyler has already received calls from other churches in the United States wanting to start a similar adoption ministry. To help churches and couples get started, Green Acres is holding a conference January 31st called, "If You Were Mine." It will give extensive information on adoption and foster care and help couples decide what is best for them.