Chinese Christians Preparing for ‘New Normal’

A recent post from our friends Andrew Kaiser & The Gospel Coalition International concerning the Chinese church:

Amazing things are happening in the Chinese church. In many ways believers are at a watershed moment, ready to take their place in the global Christian community. At the same time, political trends within and without suggest many Christians in China could be facing a new wave of persecution.

Over the past six months, conversations over thenew normal” have become increasingly common at gatherings of local and expatriate China ministry workers. Talks end with someone observing that “winter is coming.” For expatriates, this sentiment produces frantic activity: organizational leaders discuss China registration workarounds, financial vehicles for moving money in and out of China, and different paths to securing residency visas. Accounts of official public security department visits and the intricacies of legal ownership of assets are discussed intensely, as many prepare for the possibility of a second “reluctant exodus”—a repeat of the 1950s closing of China’s doors to the foreign missionary world.

Ready for the Storm

For many local believers, however, this environment yields a different response. While younger believers—particularly those who’ve spent most of their lives as Christians within the orbit of expatriate Christian workers—may share the anxiety that preoccupies many of their foreign brothers and sisters, older believers emphasize the “normal” in this “new normal.” Recalling God’s remarkable grace to his people in China during the years of revolution, many say they’re ready for whatever cold winds current party leadership blow their way. Amid suffering in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, Chinese Christians were privileged to see God work in miraculous ways, as they were driven to live by faith alone, wholly dependent on him. While none relishes the thought of returning to those dark days, the testimony to God’s sovereign care over the Chinese church gives believers confidence to face whatever hardships may come.

The remarkable growth (in numbers and maturity) of the Chinese church, following the expulsion of the foreign mission community, is one of the greatest lessons of 20th-century church history. Admired though not fully understood by the global Christian community, this history is a key component of the Chinese church’s identity. While North American Christians devote increasing effort to making ourselves “safe,” not only from physical harm but also from any association with ideas or behaviors that make us uncomfortable, the Chinese church looks to its past and sees persecution as part of God’s plan. So whatever trouble the increasing political constriction brings—no matter how aggressively the state acts to block kingdom growth—the Chinese church has inherited a sense of assurance that God will never leave or forsake them. Indeed, he will sail with them into the storm.

Affliction Is Normal

While familiarity with the Chinese experience of suffering corrects some of the more overblown North American fears of domestic “persecution,” the real lesson here is theological. How easily we forget that Jesus didn’t just predict we would face tribulations; he promised it (John 16:33). And Paul’s ministry was fraught with persecution—something he saw as integral to his witness.

We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. (2 Cor. 4:8–10)

As the apostle knew from experience, God’s grace shines brightest when we’re powerless (2 Cor. 12:9). While no Christian should seek suffering, the hardships that flood into our lives are all accounted for by a good and sovereign God. None surprises him. In light of eternity, even the darkest times can be employed for the good of those God has called (Rom. 8:28).

The Chinese church knows this comfort. It’s a lesson that history has etched “in their bones.” And so, confronted with the real possibility of another winter, they are not likely to lose heart. Though the outer self may waste away, the inner self will be renewed day by day. For these light momentary afflictions will prepare for them an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison (2 Cor. 4:16­–17).

By Nelson Chapman
_______________________________________________

Nelson is the English Pastor of Songtan Central Baptist Church. He is married to Michelle, and they both delight in their children. He has a heart for teaching the Word of God in the local church, and proclaiming the Gospel to all people groups. Nelson enjoys reading, traveling, sports, and spending time with family and friends.

Posted in Evangelism/Missions | Leave a comment

Handle With Care: Orphan Care & Foster Care Conference

handlewcareconference16_3_origThis Saturday (Nov. 12), SCBC is taking a group into Seoul for the Handle With Care: Orphan Care & Foster Care Conference. We will leave the SCBC parking lot at 8:30am. The conference is from 10am-4pm. Childcare is NOT provided at the conference. Lunch is on your own. It is being hosted by Crossway Mission Church & will be held in Gangnam at POSCO P&S Tower. Speakers will be from Hope For Orphans, MPAK, Holt, etc. Cost is 40,000krw/person. Conference organizers are requiring reservations, so please contact Pastor Chapman.

Here’s more info. that can be found at CMC’s website (crosswaymission.com):

Join us for the FIRST EVER Orphan Care and Foster Care Conference in Korea (Handle with Care) on Saturday Nov 12 from 10am to 4pm at Posco P&S Tower.

This will be an opportunity to hear from leaders in the field of orphan care & foster care, testimonies of adopted children, updates on adoption laws and opportunities for expats and how your churches can get more involved. We will have speakers from MPAK, Hope for Orphans, Holt Children’s Services, and more.

Speakers: Steve Morrison (MPAK), Brian Minnix (Hope for Orphans), Pastor Jong Rak Lee (Baby Box), Pastor Eddie Byun (Crossway Mission Church), DJ You (Holt Children’s Services), and more.

Schedule:
10:00-11:00 The Orphan Crisis for Korea (Steve Morrison)

1100-1200 The Challenges in Korea for Orphan Care (Pastor Jong Rak Lee)

1200-1300 Lunch

13:00-1400 The Church’s Response to the Orphan Crisis (Brian Minnix)

14:00-1500 An Update on Expats and Special Laws for Adoption and Foster Care (Holt)

1500-1600 Beyond Adoption: Foster Care, NK, Volunteering, and Mentoring (Eddie Byun)

1600-1630 Q&A & Closing Prayer

Cost:
KRW 40,000 per person for the one-day conference. GO TO THEIR WEBSITE TO REGISTER AND PAY. Or simply register and pay at the door.

Location:
Posco P&S Tower
Event Hall, 3F
Teheran-ro 134
Gangman-gu
Seoul

http://www.poscopns.com/pns_english/company/location.htm

By Subway:
Exit 1, Gangnam Station (5 min walk)
Exit 3, Yeoksam Station (3 min walk)

By Bus:
146, 341, 360, 740 (Stop at Yeoksam Station POSCO P&S TOWER Bus Stop)

screen-shot-2016-10-04-at-10-00-03-pm-1_orig

By Nelson Chapman
_______________________________________________

Nelson is the English Pastor of Songtan Central Baptist Church. He is married to Michelle, and they both delight in their children. He has a heart for teaching the Word of God in the local church, and proclaiming the Gospel to all people groups. Nelson enjoys reading, traveling, sports, and spending time with family and friends.

Posted in Christian Living, Culture, Family, Orphan Care | Leave a comment

Possible U.S. Department of State Rule Changes For Int’l Adoptions

adoption-imgThe U.S. government is proposing to change rules for int’l adoptions, which has many in the adoption agency field concerned. This will impact smaller, faith-based agencies hardest, and obviously affect children still waiting to be brought into a home. Let’s be in prayer for the wisdom of our policy makers & for good laws to promote orphan care & adoption. You can look into these possible changes at this link (just click on it) or read down below (Jayme Metzgar, The Federalist):

David Holman was three years old when he met his mom and dad. Born in South Korea, his single mother gave him up, and he’d been living in a foster home. He was available for adoption but considered “hard to place” due to his age and medical condition.

Meanwhile, Colorado residents Joe and Denise Holman were busy raising their full household: five biological children and a newly adopted Korean baby. Still, when their agency asked them to consider adding David to their family, Joe and Denise didn’t hesitate.

“At that time, South Korean families did not adopt children who were not related to them,” Denise says. “There wasn’t even a word for it, we were told.” International adoption was open only to families from two countries: Australia and the United States. “Almost all children being adopted from South Korea were infants less than six months old. There were not many options for David.”

The American agency, understanding the urgency of David’s need, offered to waive their part of the adoption fee. “It was all a miracle,” Denise says. She and Joe traveled to Korea in January 2000 to take David home. Although the family wondered whether his age and background would create bonding problems, “he attached to all of us hard and fast,” Denise says. While David struggled with some early learning disabilities, he never developed the medical issues doctors had initially feared. By middle school, he had taken off both academically and socially.

Inter-Country Adoption Has Fallen To New Lows
When the Holmans adopted David, America was experiencing a boom in international adoption: 18,856 foreign-born children were adopted that year. But in 2004, that number peaked at 22,989, and it’s been falling ever since.

Over the past 12 years, inter-country adoption in America has dropped off by a staggering 75 percent, with last year’s total of 5,647 the lowest since 1981. Other major receiving countries have experienced the same sharp decline—driven not a by global decrease in orphans, but by the changing politics of adoption.

Now, those same politics threaten to slash adoptions still further. Under U.S. law, the central authority over international adoption is the Department of State (DOS). Last month, with all eyes focused on the drama of the presidential election, DOS quietly released new proposed rules governing international adoption. If they go into effect as written, some advocates say Americans’ ability to adopt internationally will decline even further—or possibly face an existential threat.

How the Feds Could Prevent International Adoption
For many in the adoption community, the new regulations came as an unexpected blow. Although there’s long been a strained relationship between adoption agencies and the State Department, it had seemed things were improving. Last year, DOS hosted a conference for 100 adoption service providers, “to learn more about the needs of the adoption community, and to discuss [our] new intercountry adoption strategy,” a DOS report reads.

Chuck Johnson, president of the National Council for Adoption, was present at that conference. “We were delighted to hear that they were considering country-specific solutions. Until now, the U.S. has demonstrated a complete unwillingness to consider any kind of unique situations,” he says. “But now we see the regulations, and they’ve offered no country-specific solutions. They’ve just imposed more standards on agencies.” Another conference attendee, the head of an adoption agency, put it more bluntly: “We feel completely blindsided.”

So what exactly do the new regulations entail? Lawyers have combed through its 106 pages and identified four major areas of concern:

1. They Create An Extra Layer of Accreditation.
Currently, all agencies providing inter-country adoption must go through a rigorous accreditation process, certifying their compliance with the international Hague Adoption Convention. The State Department now wants to add another layer of accreditation for working in certain countries—something it calls Country-Specific Accreditation (CSA). The Department will identify certain countries in which agencies will need to receive CSA in addition to their Hague accreditation.

The problem is that DOS has provided no clear, written framework for how it will grant CSA—nor have they listed the countries for which CSA will be required. In effect, the bureaucrats at State have written themselves a blank check for unbridled control in whichever countries they choose. Agencies are left guessing. What will the requirements be? Will DOS limit the number of accredited agencies per country?

“It’s ripe for bias, ripe for favoritism,” Johnson says. “Small agencies worry that there will be a bias toward larger agencies. It’s also quite possible that there will be a bias in favor of secular agencies over faith-based ones.” Failure to receive CSA in key countries could result in agencies being forced to close—and will certainly result in fewer children being placed with adopting families.

2. They Drastically Increase Legal Liability.
Page 29 of the proposed rules contains this seemingly innocuous definition: “The term ‘providing,’ with respect to an adoption service, includes facilitating the provision of the service.”

But agencies tell me this one sentence may be the deadliest measure for inter-country adoption. If interpreted strictly, it will require every foreign individual who touches an adoption to be insured under an agency’s liability insurance—drivers, translators, and even state orphanage workers over whom an agency has no control. According to a joint letter signed by dozens of agencies, not only would this cause adoption costs to soar, but such insurance plans may not even be available for purchase, or may be illegal in certain countries.

“This is the thing that will absolutely kill us,” one program director said simply. “We cannot comply, and they will shut us down.”

3. They Micromanage Fees.
In an effort to protect families from financial exploitation—certainly a worthwhile goal—the State Department is turning to bans and price-fixing, rather than encouraging transparency so families can make informed decisions. In what the joint letter calls “an unprecedented overreach,” DOS has granted itself the authority to cap prices for adoption services, according to what it deems “reasonable.”

While the adoption advocates who spoke to me agreed there should be full disclosure in pricing, they expressed concern that bureaucrats may draw arbitrary or ill-informed lines that cause quality of care to suffer. “In what other field does the government regulate the salaries of private organizations?” Johnson asks.

Worse still, the proposed rules forbid families from paying for a child’s in-country care once a match has taken place. This is a common practice, allowing parents to give their child quality nutrition, medicine, and childcare while they wait for the adoption to be finalized. Banning child support outright—rather than simply requiring transparency—does nothing but harm the very party everyone should be most anxious to protect: the child.

4. They Create Unworkable Education Requirements.
Finally, the State Department has altered its education requirements for adopting families. While current regulations require families to receive 10 hours of training, Johnson says most Hague-accredited agencies already far exceed that. “Most organizations saw that as a low-bar standard,” he told me. Unfortunately, rather than simply beefing up hours or requiring certain topics to be covered, DOS will now require families to complete foster parent training in their state of residence. The Department expects states to offer this service free of charge to families pursuing private adoptions—an assumption many see as completely unrealistic.

“How is it the state’s responsibility to provide training for private adoptions?” asks Lucy Armistead, head of the Kentucky-based agency All Blessings International. “It’s going to take resources away from training meant for state kids. I have problems with that just as a taxpayer. Plus, we know it just won’t happen.”

Even if this requirement weren’t impractical, it’s wrong to assume that training tailored for the foster system will be directly applicable to international adoption. “This is requiring a form of training that is probably worse than what parents would get through the agencies,” Johnson says.

The bottom line: should these rules be adopted as written, advocates foresee far-reaching consequences. First, agencies will begin to close—most likely starting with small, faith-based agencies. Some speculate the current number of 198 American agencies could dwindle to as few as a dozen. Geographical gaps will form, as families in rural or low-population states can’t find an agency to serve them. Adoption costs will soar, and the already-long adoption timeline will lengthen.

Most importantly, millions of waiting children overseas will have fewer chances for a family of their own. “This is a boot on the neck of international adoption,” Johnson says. “At the end of the day, this isn’t about agencies. It’s about children.”

This Is A ‘Profoundly Problematic Institution’
So if these policies will harm children, why is the government promulgating them? What could possibly motivate the State Department to stand between waiting children and the families they need?

Taken at face value, these measures are simply intended to prevent corrupt practices. The State Department’s Chief of the Adoption Division, Trish Maskew, was formerly the head of a non-profit dedicated to promoting “ethical and transparent adoptions.” In reading her scholarly articles and Congressional testimony, however, it’s clear that Ms. Maskew sees inter-country adoption as more corrupt than ethical, going so far as to describe it as a “profoundly problematic institution.” Unsurprisingly, her office tends to treat agencies and parents with suspicion.

No one disputes that irregularities and fraud have indeed occurred in intercountry adoption, especially during the 1990s before the Hague Convention. The very worst cases involved isolated instances of kidnapping and baby-buying, with birth parents pressured or tricked into relinquishing their children. There is no denying the heart-rending tragedy of cases like these.

Orphans and abandoned children are far too easily forgotten and ignored: hidden away in institutions, systems, and slums.
It’s also undeniable that adoption disruptions have occurred, such as the much-publicized case of an American mother who put her seven-year-old son unaccompanied on a plane back to Russia. Such instances, while few and far between, have given inter-country adoption a black eye. In some countries, these dreadful stories have given politicians an excuse to shut adoption down altogether—thus answering one tragedy with another.

But even as we acknowledge adoption’s potential pitfalls, it would be a terrible mistake to lose sight of its importance as a solution for millions of needy children. Orphans and abandoned children are far too easily forgotten and ignored: hidden away in institutions, systems, and slums. They are convenient lambs to sacrifice on the altar of nationalist pride in the developing world, or colonialist guilt in the West. Who will notice or care? After all, kids growing up damaged and unloved don’t make for sensational headlines.

In a tragic irony, anti-adoption policies may actually be fostering the very evils they seek to avoid. As the Christian Alliance for Orphans reports, children in orphanages and foster care are extremely vulnerable to human trafficking—far more so than children in permanent families. It’s quite possible that in our overabundance of caution regarding adoption, we make more children vulnerable to actual human trafficking.

Family vs. Nationality: Which Is More Important?
Along with minimizing the true plight of orphans, adoption detractors often downplay the fact that most adoptions are ethical and successful. Johnson, who also sits on the board of the Council on Accreditation, notes that out of over 5,000 adoptions last year, there were just 10 complaints filed to COA—six of which were frivolous enough to be dismissed without investigation. While he supports rigorous ethical standards and would welcome some reforms, Johnson believes DOS officials have “an archaic view” of adoption practice that doesn’t take into account the many post-Hague improvements.

Certain incidents illustrate DOS’s underlying belief about adoption. When it came to light that an American adoption agency operating in Ethiopia was committing fraud (later leading to criminal charges), the State Department, in cooperation with the U.S. Customs and Immigration Service (USCIS), sent a team to probe every Ethiopian adoption from that time period—4,000 consecutive adoptions. After an exhaustive investigation, not a single case was found to be fraudulent, with a handful recommended for further review.

Strangely, not only did the State Department fail to release the full report on its positive findings in Ethiopia (prompting irate Congressional letters and a FOIA request), but its embassy in Ethiopia also started putting children’s case files in a drawer, rather than processing them as required by law. Half a year went by, and waiting families began complaining to their members of Congress. Another team from USCIS was dispatched to the embassy in Addis Ababa to review the “drawer cases”—again finding no instances of fraud—and finally processing the adoptions. One can only speculate as to why DOS was so reluctant to publish the good news about Ethiopia’s adoption program, or to act upon it.

It is simplistic to think that poverty is the sole factor in child abandonment.
Indeed, the behavior of DOS in Ethiopia—among other examples—suggests that more is afoot than simply an overzealous concern for ethics. In some quarters, there is hostility toward inter-country adoption itself as a harmful act of Western colonialism. This is the view of one author Maskew quotes in a scholarly article on adoption: “A conception of poor, third-world countries as subordinate nations fits very comfortably with the practice of international adoption. … It permits a discourse that allows Westerners to take the high ground and portray their international adoptions as simple acts of humanitarianism and altruism.” These critics often suggest that Western money would be better spent alleviating poverty, so families (those that exist) could keep their own children.

Biological bonds are indeed important, and family reunification should certainly be sought wherever possible. But it is simplistic to think that poverty is the sole factor in child abandonment. For nearly 20 years, I have been involved with abandoned children in Romania, working in a ministry that facilitates both family reunification and domestic adoption. We’ve seen women who have abandoned so many babies to the state, they can’t even remember how many children they have. We’ve seen families shamelessly willing to sell and exploit their own children. It’s become tragically clear that for some parents, no amount of money would be enough to create a safe home environment. Their children don’t deserve a hopeless fate merely because of their race, culture, or ethnicity.

For some adoption critics, questions of race and nationality are so important that they trump a child’s fundamental human need for a family. They see children first as members of a race or ethnic group, rather than as individuals with universal human rights. This view—which prefers foster care in a child’s native country to inter-country adoption—is generally advanced by UNICEF and supported by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Hague Convention, on the other hand, places the priority on permanency. Child welfare advocates like Harvard Law professor Elizabeth Bartholet go even further, arguing that children have a fundamental human right to a permanent family, and that countries denying international adoption while keeping children in state care are guilty of violating human rights.

Will Congress Take Its Power Back?
Thankfully, most Americans understand how important family is in the life of a child. A 2013 survey by the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption found that 65 percent described their view of international adoption as “favorable,” “very favorable,” or “extremely favorable.” As the representative branch of government, Congress reflects this pro-adoption view. The Congressional Coalition on Adoption is the largest bipartisan, bicameral caucus in D.C., with 173 members evenly representing both major parties. Members of Congress have often stepped in as champions of children and families stuck in the bureaucratic adoption process.

Given all this, it’s curious that an anti-adoption agenda—so far out of the mainstream—would be allowed to quietly creep in through the rule-making power of bureaucrats. It’s small wonder the State Department chose to roll out these regulations now, while the country is distracted by the election.

“If adoptive families had any idea of what was going on, I think they would be outraged,” Armistead told me. “We’re so busy just doing paperwork for adoptions that frankly we barely have time to fight this.”

‘If adoptive families had any idea of what was going on, I think they would be outraged.’
To help in the fight, adoption advocates have put together a website with information and resources, including a petition that has garnered nearly 19,000 signatures. The hope is that Congress will work to reclaim its lawmaking power, so any debate on the future of adoption can take place with the input of Americans. They also hope people whose lives have been impacted by adoption will leave a comment on the regulation itself. The comment period ends November 22.

Luckily for David Holman, he got his chance at a forever family. He’s now 20 years old and living in his own apartment, shared with his brother, Josh. He has a job as a team leader at a Super Target and is saving money to attend college, hoping for a degree in business management. Asked about growing up in his family, his voice grows warm. “I absolutely loved it. We have such good chemistry. I always knew I was adopted, but I never felt like it—I never felt different than anyone else. My family is a blessing to me, but my mom always says I’m even more of a blessing to them.”

Asked about his views on international adoption, he grows serious. “It’s a big deal. It should never be taken lightly. This is a human life—a child that needs someone so desperately.” Then he pauses. “I’ve always said—and I have other adopted friends who say the same—that when I get older, I want to adopt a child myself. Because I know how it feels. Since I had the chance to be adopted, I would like to give that chance to somebody else.”

Let’s all hope he gets that chance.

By Nelson Chapman
_______________________________________________

Nelson is the English Pastor of Songtan Central Baptist Church. He is married to Michelle, and they both delight in their children. He has a heart for teaching the Word of God in the local church, and proclaiming the Gospel to all people groups. Nelson enjoys reading, traveling, sports, and spending time with family and friends.

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The Insanity of God


The Insanity of God is a documentary about the true story of the Ripken missionaries as they experience life with the persecuted church and the power of the living Christ, Who shepherds His church. The documentary is being distributed by LifeWay Films, in association with the International Mission Board (IMB). It will have an August opening in select theaters in the USA. You can check out the best-selling book that the film is based on here.

By Nelson Chapman
_______________________________________________

Nelson is the English Pastor of Songtan Central Baptist Church. He is married to Michelle, and they both delight in their children. He has a heart for teaching the Word of God in the local church, and proclaiming the Gospel to all people groups. Nelson enjoys reading, traveling, sports, and spending time with family and friends.

Posted in Evangelism/Missions, Jesus Christ | 1 Comment

Through The Eyes Of Spurgeon

By Nelson Chapman
_______________________________________________

Nelson is the English Pastor of Songtan Central Baptist Church. He is married to Michelle, and they both delight in their children. He has a heart for teaching the Word of God in the local church, and proclaiming the Gospel to all people groups. Nelson enjoys reading, traveling, sports, and spending time with family and friends.

Posted in Bible, Christian Living, Culture, Evangelism/Missions | Leave a comment

Why International Adoptions by Americans Have Hit a 35-Year Low

01e8d05b9f3302046e0d1f1ea9c8f086This recent article was published by Christianity Today on how international adoptions have dropped to a 35-year low. It is not for the lack of desire on the part of many families though! Let’s be in prayer for the Lord to open the doors that seem to have been shut for many so that loving families can thrive & the Gospel can be proclaimed in this special way. Check out the article here (with all their pics, charts, and links), or simply read below.

In 2004, Americans adopted 22,884 children from foreign countries—an all-time high.

Twelve years later, that number has dropped to 5,648 children—the lowest level in 35 years, according to recently released statistics from the US State Department on fiscal year 2015 (Oct. 1, 2014 to Sept. 30, 2015).

The sharp decline isn’t limited to the United States; global adoptions to the top 24 receiving countries dropped by 75 percent during the same 12 years.

Foreign adoptions have been in short supply while demand has surged among American evangelicals, prompted by Russell Moore and other leaders.

Last year, Americans adopted the most children from China, Ethiopia, South Korea, Ukraine, and Uganda. Most of these adoptive US parents lived in Texas, California, New York, Florida, and Georgia.

While reasons for the steady decline are multiple and complex, 80 percent of the drop in American adoptions can be traced back to three countries: China, Russia, and Guatemala, according to the State Department.

The Russian government banned Americans from adopting Russian children in 2012, leaving in limbo thousands of children and dropping the number of Russian adoptions from a high of 5,682 in 2004 to zero last year.

Guatemala suspended foreign adoptions to all countries while it works to clean up a system full of fraud and corruption. The 3,251 adoptions of Guatemalan children in 2004 dropped to 13 in 2015.

In the same vein, Uganda voted last month and the Democratic Republic of Congo moved in 2013 to make it harder for children to be adopted out of those countries in an attempt to close loopholes that enable child trafficking. (However, some advocates say the requirement that foreign adoptive parents stay one year in the country before their adoption is complete is “not realistic.”)

Foreign adoptions from China have dropped for an entirely different reason. In the past 10 years, “the Chinese government increased its efforts to promote the domestic adoption of children in need of a permanent home,” the State Department reported. “As a result, some 20,000 to 30,000 children are now placed domestically in China each year.”

Perhaps aided by the relaxation of China’s controversial one-child policy, Chinese children waiting for adoption are no longer primarily healthy baby girls (95% of adoptable children in 2005), but are now children that are traditionally harder to place: those who are older, part of sibling groups, or who have special needs. More than 90 percent of Chinese children waiting to be adopted today have special needs, according to the State Department.

That trend isn’t limited to China.

“Although not tracked by Federal data, strong anecdotal evidence and internal data from adoption agencies show that a far larger percentage of these children than ever before have special needs, are older than children adopted in the past, and/or are part of sibling groups,” wrote Jedd Medefind, president of the Christian Alliance for Orphans.

While it’s good that countries are working to safeguard children, “[i]t needs to be said unequivocally that constrictions in intercountry adoption bear tragic consequences for tens of thousands of children who today could be growing up in loving families were it not for these restrictions,” he wrote.

In fiscal year 2015, adoptions by Americans dropped the most from Ethiopia, Haiti, and Ukraine. The decline from these three counties alone outweighed the gain from other countries.

In Ethiopia—where CT examined a crackdown that curtailed adoptions by 90 percent—much work is being done to deinstitutionalize orphanages and reunify families. Adoptions to the United States dropped from 771 in 2014 to 335 in 2015.

In Haiti, where orphanages are overflowing but not with orphans, new government processes limited adoptions to 143 in 2015, down from 464 the previous fiscal year.

Ukraine’s 40 percent drop in out-of-country adoptions is partially because the eastern part of the country—where many adopted children come from—is currently held by pro-Russian separatists, the State Department said. (Russia has also blocked adoptions from Crimea.) Ukraine also saw a 60 percent rise in domestic adoptions from 2006 to 2013, Ruslan Maliuta, international facilitator of World Without Orphans, told CT.

“I don’t expect international adoptions will ever be over 20,000 again, for a lot of reasons,” Mike Douris, president of Orphan Outreach, told CT. “They’ll always be a part of orphan care, but not the major thrust. I think domestic adoption and foster care in these countries is going to emerge and be a big growth over the foreseeable future.”

Despite its proximity, Mexico is still in the top five countries that take the longest to process adoptions. The average number of days it takes to complete an adoption across the southern border dropped from 741 in 2012 to 692 in 2015. The only countries that take longer are Georgia (766 days), the Dominican Republic (807 days), Belize (812 days), and Mongolia (1,067 days).

Albania is the most expensive country to adopt from: the median adoption fees are more than $30,000. Romania ($25,355), Dominican Republic ($25,300), Armenia ($24,375), and Lithuania ($22,135) round out the top five. The least expensive countries to adopt from are Ireland ($250), the Netherlands ($4,500), and Serbia ($5,000).

Less than 100 American children (93) were adopted into foreign countries in 2015. Most went to Canada (39) and the Netherlands (37), and most came from Florida (65), followed by New Jersey (12), New York (4), and California (4).

The states that adopted the most children last year were Texas (392), California (391), New York (269), Florida (250), and Georgia (240). The states that adopted the fewest children: Rhode Island (8) and Delaware (9).

CT’s past reporting on adoption and orphans includes how adoption has surged in popularity among evangelicals, how the high-profile Haiti adoption scandal might impact such efforts, and debate over the ethics of international adoption.

CT has also noted the trend toward open adoptions, how adoption horror stories are not the whole story, and three views on how churches can best support parents who adopt from overseas.

By Nelson Chapman
_______________________________________________
Nelson is the English Pastor of Songtan Central Baptist Church. He is married to Michelle, and they both delight in their children. He has a heart for teaching the Word of God in the local church, and proclaiming the Gospel to all people groups. Nelson enjoys reading, traveling, sports, and spending time with family and friends.

Posted in Christian Living, Culture, Family, Orphan Care | Leave a comment

Free Holy Week Devotional From Desiring God

Holy-week Desiring God is offering a free download of their booklet entitled Your Sorrow Will Turn To Joy. This booklet contains morning & evening meditations for each day of Holy Week (Palm Sunday-Resurrection Sunday) from contributors such as John Piper, Andreas Kostenberger, David Mathis, Tony Reinke, Justin Taylor, and more. You can download it in PDF, Kindle, or EPUB (Nook & Apple compatible) formats. This is a Scripturally rich resource to work through personally or even with your whole family as you focus upon Christ during the Passion Week. Here is the link to go check it out: http://www.desiringgod.org/books/your-sorrow-will-turn-to-joy

By Nelson Chapman
_______________________________________________
Nelson is the English Pastor of Songtan Central Baptist Church. He is married to Michelle, and they both delight in their children. He has a heart for teaching the Word of God in the local church, and proclaiming the Gospel to all people groups. Nelson enjoys reading, traveling, sports, and spending time with family and friends.

Posted in Bible, Christian Living, Family, Jesus Christ | Leave a comment

North Korean Christianity As Bomb Tests & Loudspeakers Blast Back & Forth

northkorea-620x417 The Voice of the Martyrs conducted a radio interview with Dr. Eric Foley this past week about Christian persecution in North Korea and outreach to this hard to reach nation. He gives very interesting insights into life for Christians in that country while the media is full of news of a possible H-bomb test and escalated tensions on the Korean peninsula. The interview was posted in two parts and both are down below. Let’s be praying for our brothers and sisters in that country, for political peace, wise leaders, and for the Kingdom’s advance.

Pt. 1

Pt. 2

By Nelson Chapman
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Nelson is the English Pastor of Songtan Central Baptist Church. He is married to Michelle, and they both delight in their children. Nelson enjoys reading, traveling, sports, and spending time with family and friends.

Posted in Christian Living, Culture, Evangelism/Missions, Jesus Christ, Korea, World News | 1 Comment

Free E-Book: “Adoption” By Russell Moore

baby50 Crossway is currently offering a free e-book from Russell Moore entitled, “Adoption.” You can download the book by clicking here. It comes available in a PDF, Kindle, or iBook format. Here is what Crossway’s website has posted:

 

Adoption.
Abortion.

What a difference two letters can make . . .

In Adoption: What Joseph of Nazareth Can Teach Us about This Countercultural Choice, Russell Moore—president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission—calls Christians to seriously consider adoption for their own families and thus take a stand for children, born and unborn.

In our world of on-demand abortion, unreported abruse, and widespread neglect, adoption reflects the love that Joseph of Nazareth—the adoptive father of Jesus—had for his son. More importantly, adoption illustrates the extravagent love of God, who has adopted Christians into his family through the sacrifice of his Son, Jesus Christ.

Today through Tuesday, August 18, we’re giving away the digital edition of this important resource in the hope that it helps Christians make the case for adoption—especially when abortion is seen as the only other alternative. It’s our prayer that churches and other Christian ministries find the book useful as they minister to families in their communities through the power of the gospel.

After you download the book, check out these other books on adoption:

 

Adopted for Life (Russell Moore)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reclaiming Adoption (Cruver, Piper, Smith, Phillips, & Kovacs)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Orphanology: Awakening to Gospel-centered Adoption and Orphan Care (Tony Merida & Rick Morton)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Successful Adoption: A Guide for Christian Families (Natalie Nichols Gillespie)

 

 

 

 

 

From Ashes to Africa (Josh & Amy Bottomly)

 

 

 

 

By Nelson Chapman
_______________________________________________
Nelson is the English Pastor of Songtan Central Baptist Church. He is married to Michelle, and they both delight in their children. Nelson enjoys reading, traveling, sports, and spending time with family and friends.

Posted in Christian Living, Culture, Family, Orphan Care | Leave a comment

Clarifying Christian Conviction: Nominals Becoming Nones

cross-out-of-focus-2014 The following article comes from Ed Stetzer (Executive Director of Lifeway Research) and appeared in the USA Today. His thoughts on the recent Pew Research Center survey are extremely helpful. While various media outlets have interpreted the survey’s findings as a decline of Christianity in America, he sees it as further proof of the clarification of true Christian conviction. As he says, the sky is not falling. If anything, the survey’s findings should awaken the Church to the shift from cultural Christianity’s dominance in America and how we need to engage culture (anywhere) with convictional Christianity (aka: the Gospel of Jesus Christ). You can read his article here or down below in its entirety:

Fakers who don’t go to church are just giving up the pretense.

A new Pew Research Center survey found the Christian share of the American population declined almost 8 percentage points from 2007 to 2014. Drawing from this point, many continued their breathless claims that the Christian sky is falling.

Rather than predict the impending doom of the church in America, this latest study affirms what many researchers have said before. Christianity isn’t collapsing; it’s being clarified. Churches aren’t emptying; rather, those who were Christian in name only are now categorically identifying their lack of Christian conviction and engagement.

Gallup recently found that weekly religious attendance as a percentage of the U.S. population is about where it was in the 1940s — hardly a statistical collapse.

Simply put, the strains of a funeral dirge aren’t being played at the graveside of American Christianity because there is no body for burial.

Evangelicalism is growing

Yes, you read that correctly. Evangelical Christianity is growing in America. From 2007 to 2014 the number of evangelicals in America rose from 59.8 million to 62.2 million, according to Pew.

While it should be noted that evangelicals’ share of the overall U.S. population dropped by 9 percentage points over the last seven years based on denominational affiliation, the percentage of U.S. adults who self-identify as evangelical or born-again rose from 34 to 35% over the same period of time. Don’t miss that: More than one-third of Americans call themselves evangelical.

And despite what many are saying, evangelicals are attending church more than ever. The latest (2014) General Social Survey found that in the last two years of the study a greater percentage of evangelicals are attending church than in any other time of the last 40 years. Currently, 55 percent of evangelicals attend church at least nearly every week.

This is part of the growing “evangelicalization” of American Christianity in which the church in the U.S. is increasingly taking on the attributes of evangelicalism. According to Pew, half of all Christians self-identify as an evangelical or born again.

So why is Christianity shrinking?

If evangelical Christianity is growing, or at the very least remaining steady, why is Christianity as a whole shrinking and why are those who claim no religious affiliation increasing at such a rapid rate? In short, nominals — people whose religious affiliation is in name only — are becoming nones — people who check “none of the above” box on a survey.

Those who value their faith enough to wake up on Sunday morning and head to their local church are mostly still going. What I have described as “convictional Christianity” will continue. Those who say their faith is very important to their lives are not suddenly jettisoning those beliefs to become atheists.

According to Pew, unaffiliated Americans grew from 16 to nearly 23% in the last seven years. That increase largely came from the ranks of Catholics and Mainline Protestants, religious traditions with high numbers of nominals. Among adults who claim no religious affiliation, 28% were raised Catholics, while 21% grew up Mainline.

Many of these who have been labeling themselves as Christians are starting to feel free to be honest about their religious affiliation, or lack thereof. Jewish, Muslim or Hindu are no longer the only religious survey options passed over for many Americans. Christianity has joined the list.

So, the number of people who are practicing a vibrant faith is not fading away, quite the contrary. Christianity and the church are not dying, but they are being more clearly defined. Both the recent Pew and GSS data affirm this clarification should only continue.

Nominal Christians are becoming the nones and convictional Christians remain committed. It is fair to say we are now experiencing a collapse, but it’s not of Christianity. Instead, the free fall we find is within nominalism.

That’s the real story of this data and one that needs to be told. The nominals are becoming the nones.

By Nelson Chapman
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Nelson is the English Pastor of Songtan Central Baptist Church. He is married to Michelle, and they both delight in their children. Nelson enjoys reading, traveling, sports, and spending time with family and friends.

Posted in Christian Living, Culture, Evangelism/Missions | 1 Comment