My Personal Favorite Responses to Summit

We’ve received much feedback since Summit.  It’s been rich and heart-lifting.  Even the criticisms have been truly constructive.

But most meaningful of all for me are the notes from individuals who’ve at times been especially critical of their fellow Christians’ approach to orphan care and adoption…often with good reason.  As with any budding movement, this one is often overflows with both wisdom and naiveté, balance and excess, effective enthusiasm and misguided zeal.

What I heard from a good number of individuals who’ve been most aware of these blind spots, however, is that they felt truly encouraged by Summit.  They saw a clear desire among those teaching and participating to dig deep into tough issues…to self-critique…to correct excesses…to continually learn and refine even as we boldly act.

That is my prayer for this movement, too.  And it brings me joy to hear thoughtful critics express a sincere sense that the movement is not just growing larger, but truly maturing also.

Certainly, this pursuit of “wisdom-guided love” is a life-long journey.  And no doubt all of us will slip into certain excesses and blind spots at times.  That’s why we must always make a relentless practice of listening and learning.  But the fact that this movement is doing that is truly encouraging…and I pray this maturing will only continue to deepen.

Here’s an excerpt from one thoughtful and refreshingly blunt first-time attendee who champions family preservation efforts in Haiti:

To be honest, when I came to Summit, I thought I would see a lot of wonton encouragement to the church to just blast out into the wide fields of the fatherless to go dump sloppy agape on all those poor orphans….a carnival of spiritualized feel-good slacktivism and incautious bulldozer approaches at launching orphan care.


…I was so happy to see all these efforts and many more to bring compassionate justice and an urge for clever discernment into the conversation. I was happy to see the inclusion of “family preservation” as an attendee mission description.  I am really pleased to see this wisdom in the movement. 

One particular blog post summed up so well what I think many of us have felt as we’ve sought to grow.  Even as we grapple with the many difficult questions that always will come with orphan care, we can yield to the human tendency to look down on those who don’t see things exactly as we do…or haven’t reached our “higher” level of knowledge.

Kim Van Brunt wrote of her first experience of Summit this year, “It’s taken a couple of years, but I’m finally starting to see that it’s not as simple as I’m right and you’re wrong. In fact, I’m seeing that I’m chief among offenders. I see so clearly now how I need other opinions and varied perspectives to be able to zoom out and take in the big picture. It’s hard to write this, but I need to confess: I thought I knew better than you. Will you forgive me?”  (See Kim’s compelling post, “Reflections on Summit 9.”)

That is wisdom-guided love.   May we all embrace this heart—in listening…in hospitality…and in choosing to still act amidst the complexity.