A Community Looking Like James 1:27…and James 1:22

Few things stirs gratefulness in my heart as much as stories of times when Christians really look like Jesus.  Ted Fletcher shared one with me recently. 

The truth is, the most powerful argument against Christianity is often Christians:  when we live petty and self-absorbed lives that deny the existence of the God we claim.

The most powerful argument for Christianity is also Christians:  when our hearts and actions align with the Father, and salt and light spill all over the place. 

This is especially true when it’s embodied in the actions of a Christian community.  Individually we are just dismembered body parts.  Together, we are the Body of Christ, capable of being the presence of Jesus in a way no one individual ever could.

That truth is especially visible when a church lives out care for the fatherless together–not just as individuals or isolated families, but as a community.

I met Ted Fletcher and his wife Cynthia in San Luis Obispo, CA a few weeks ago.  Along with an amazing team of other volunteers, they’d helped organize an unforgettable orphan care conference I had the privilege of speaking at. 

Ted and Cynthia look way too young to have six kids.   Their life is full-up with life—caregiving, ministry, work, school, hospitality.  Ted has been some pretty rough back pain issues recently as well.  Yet they both glowed with a grace and peace and gratefulness one rarely sees. 

I asked Ted if he’d be willing to write out what he told me so I could share it with you.  Here it is:

On June 26th 2008, my wife Cynthia and I finalized the adoption of our daughter Lexi who had turned two just a week earlier. Little did we know at that time how much our family would change. Days before Lexi’s birthday we welcomed a six week old foster baby into our home. In a matter of months we had gone from a family of four, to five and then six. We sat in the court house listening to the judge welcome Lexi into our home while Baby Sadie lay in her car seat sleeping at our feet.

Our three bedroom home and our pickup truck were full! As the next few weeks went by we learned that Sadie had two older sisters who were also in foster care. Many times between July of 2008 and November of 2008 we were asked if we would consider taking in Sadie’s older sisters. We always responded the same way, “We would love to, but we don’t have a big enough car or a big enough house.” After we would hang up the phone my wife and I would turn to prayer.

We told the Lord many times in those prayers that if he wanted these girls in our home that he was going to have to make a way. In November of 2008 we got a call from a Social worker who asked, “If we can get an exception to your license since the bedrooms are so big, would you move the girls in and consider adding on?” We said yes, but we didn’t have the money to add on or buy a bigger car. We trusted that God had opened the door and he would provide.

The next Sunday at Church I was asked to share about our growing family and our heart for foster care. After the service one family told us they had a Suburban that they have been trying to sell and we could have it for almost nothing! I turned to leave and another Man named Tom approached me, “I love what you are doing. My wife and I can’t take any kids in, but I can frame walls. I want to build your addition for you.”

Within days we had a bigger car and by Christmas our girls had moved in and we were now a family of 8! It took a while to get everything going on the addition, but Tom, and Willy and others from church, along with my Employer and my brother in law built our addition for us. There were costs involved, but anything that could be done by a tradesman from our church was done for us at no charge. All of these men and a few women wrapped themselves around our family and welcomed our children home.

Many people use James 1:27 as their go to Orphan care verse, but these people to me were the men and women who took James 1:22 to heart. They didn’t just hear the word, they were doers. They helped the Orphan by being servants, and they helped the needy by giving them a room. They were the hands of Jehovah Jirah. They didn’t just welcome our girls into a new room, or into our home, they welcomed them home to the family room of Christ that we hang out at called Paso Robles Bible Church.