When Larry Bergeron asked if I’d write the introduction to his book, Journey to the Fatherless I knew immediately I’d say “yes.” I hadn’t yet read the book, but I knew Larry. His years of faithful labor for orphans, his servants’ heart that seems not to care who gets the credit as long as the job gets done, the blend of strength and gentleness in the way he leads — all make him the kind of man I want to learn from.
Perhaps what had impressed me most is the way I’ve seen Larry work to grow the orphan care movement through the Alliance with little concern for whether his organization gets ample “visibility” or “payback” as a result of the efforts. His focus is not only his own little kingdom, but on the Kingdom. (The organization Larry leads, A Child’s Hope International, marshaled the armies of volunteers that prepared and shipped the thousands of food packets for “The Orphan’s Table” for Orphan Sunday 2011 – all at no cost to the Alliance.)
To Larry’s joy—and mine, too—Larry’s book has finally arrived. From the beautiful cover to the rich and practical substance, it’s yet another first rate contribution from Larry to the growing orphan care movement. I suspect it will be put to great use over the years ahead—from pastors preparing for sermons to small group discussions to guidance for leaders of church orphan care ministries. (It’s also worth noting there’s an accompanying Discussion Guide for small groups. And, all proceeds will go to support the care of orphans.)
You can learn more about Journey to the Fatherless and order a copy on Amazon or, even better, HERE. I’d encourage you to just get the book without further ado. But if you want a sneak peak at the Introduction, here it is:
Journey to the Fatherless: INTRODUCTION
On one level, a journey to the fatherless is much like any journey. It begins with one small step, then another. The outcomes, when they come, are mostly the by-product of long obedience in the same direction. No triumphant soundtrack plays in the background, and the most significant victories often go unnoticed. The experiences along the way are sometimes painful; sometimes just pedestrian.
But ultimately, this venture proves to be a pathway like no other, leading to a depth and purpose you just can’t find at a golf course or day spa.
I see over and over again a simple truth revealed by adoptive families, foster parents, and those sacrificially supporting and serving the fatherless worldwide: love for orphans transforms. A single caring individual can change the life of a child forever. But it’s not only the orphan that is changed. We also are altered. Loving the orphan draws us from a slouching, self-focused religion to a vigorous, growing faith. An entire church community can be elevated by seeing this played out in its midst. From there, it spills to a watching world that can observe, perhaps for the first time, the Gospel story made visible.
Be warned. The cost of any expedition worth making can be high.
I’ve encountered many once-vibrant idealists, from the U.N. to Christian ministry, who’ve yielded to disillusionment and cynicism. For the need of our world’s orphans stretches wide as the Sahara desert. Its statistics alone can leave us numb. Meanwhile, the hurt and brokenness we encounter along the way are dizzying in their depth and complexity. If motivated only by duty, guilt or idealism, we are unlikely to persevere.
There is but one source that can sustain us through this desert with hope and grace intact. It is love. Not love born merely from pity, but love rising in a wonder-filled response to a far greater Love: the depth and width, length and breath of God’s self-giving heart. This, and this alone, will carry us through the heat and sand and scorching wind of our world’s great hurt.
We see this love not only in that God has called us to “defend the cause of the fatherless,” but that He has defended us. Not only that he directs us to “visit orphans in their distress,” but that he has visited us in ours. Not only that He invites us to set the lonely in families, but that He set us in His.
Indeed, we love because He first loved us.
Supplied by this fountainhead, we can go the distance. Even when the healing of an adopted child becomes a great struggle. Even when the foster youth we’ve mentored is drawn back into the tragic cycle of her upbringing. Even when every child rescued from the streets seems to be replaced by two more. For we know that God’s relentless love continues after us, too. And we see in whatever costs we bear but a humble reflection of the cost God bore to journey to us.
As we persevere, we discover the most wonderful truth of all. Ultimately, a journey to the fatherless is a journey to the heart of God.
Larry Bergeron knows this from experience. It sparkles in his eyes and glows in his daily work. And through his words, he helps us prepare for this journey—a venture of unparallel difficulty and beauty that will not leave us or the world unchanged.
If that is your desire, venture on…