An article in today’s Wall Street Journal claims, “Christians Are Pro-Life After Birth, Too.” Its subtitle backs up the bold statement this way: “If you want to see for yourself, attend the Christian Alliance for Orphans summit.”
Writer Naomi Schaefer Riley, herself Jewish, penned the piece after attending the CAFO2019 Summit last month. It begins:
Legislation restricting abortion in Georgia, Alabama and other states has helped bring a decades long conflict back to the center of American politics. Some worn-out arguments have come along with it. One is that the pro-life movement cares too much about limiting abortion instead of improving the lives of babies born into difficult situations.
This critique is increasingly out of date. Many evangelical Christians believe that caring for children without loving parents is an integral part of the pro-life movement, and over the past 15 years an impressive network of organizations has grown to do just that.
This was clear at last month’s Christian Alliance for Orphans, or CAFO, summit at the Southeastern Christian Church in Kentucky. Hundreds of faith-based organizations attended—their missions ranging from the recruitment and training of foster parents to providing assistance for kids aging out of foster care…
The article describes “an entrepreneurial feeling” pervading CAFO2019. It spotlights the diversity and creativity of programs and models being explored and shared: from wrap-around supports for adoptive and foster families…to counseling, training and housing for biological mothers of kids in foster care…to advocacy and care for children with special needs.
It also highlights the fact that myriad churches, individuals and diverse organizations – from Bethany Christian Services and Focus on the Family to Replanted Ministry, Patty’s Hope, Reece’s Rainbow, and Care Portal/Global Orphan Project – are working together with a spirit of shared mission and vision.
In 2004 38 people attended the first CAFO in Little Rock, Ark. Jedd Medefind, the current president, says that attendees “realized they were working in isolation or even competition with each other and started to think they could do far more together…”
Some work directly with foster families, while other “bridge organizations” recruit and train church leaders to bring this work to their congregations. Pastors give sermons on foster care and adoption. Then an outside organization helps train volunteers. Another insight that the leaders gathered at CAFO regularly offer: Not every family can take a child into its home, but there are many ways to support foster care and adoption short of that.
Of course, any effort will have its share of critique, and the article concludes with one of the most common: that foster care, adoption and service to struggling families is just a way to win converts.“Christians Are Pro-Life After Birth, Too: If you want to see for yourself, attend the Christian Alliance for Orphans summit.” –Wall Street Journal
Almost none of these groups get public funding, and skeptics question the real motivations behind their work. When I tell friends in the Northeast about these organizations—which are more common in the South and West—they often ask me whether the groups work in foster care simply to gain converts.
I posed this question to Mr. Medefind, who couldn’t help but laugh a little. “If you just want to proselytize, you can go to the park and pass out tracts. Adopting or fostering or becoming involved in the life of a struggling family is far more costly than cheap proselytizing.” He says the families and organizations represented at CAFO don’t do what they do out of duty or guilt. “Being loved is the most transformative power on earth. The Christian gospel said our God welcomes us amidst our great need. We seek to reflect that same heart.”
Read the full article at the Wall Street Journal, “Christians Are Pro-Life After Birth, Too: If you want to see for yourself, attend the Christian Alliance for Orphans summit.”