Orphanology: Awakening to Gospel-Centered Adoption and Orphan CareTony Merida and Rick MortonNew Hope Publishers
, 2011, 192 pp., $14.99
An increasing number of the upcoming generation is tuning out to a church that seems out of tune with contemporary social justice issues. In the gospels, millenials see Christ ministering to those marginalized by society; yet in their churches, they see Christians spending large amounts of energy on themselves and those such as themselves. They resonate with James 1:27
, agreeing that "pure and faultless" religion is that which addresses the needs of orphans and widows. In Orphanology: Awakening to Gospel-Centered Adoption and Orphan Care
, Tony Merida and Rick Morton have provided youth workers with a comprehensive source of steps for leading youth groups into connecting with this growing desire for real-life Christian mercy.
Merida and Morton write from experience. Between them, they have eight adopted children in their families. The results of this hard-earned expertise are obvious in Orphanology
. In chapter after chapter, readers are given practical and transparent advice about how to get involved (not necessarily through adoption!) in the plight of today's 200 million orphans.
Youth workers will find many of Orphanology
's chapters immensely practical; this is far from being a book solely for prospective adoptive parents. I can see groups of young people taking ownership of raising awareness for the crisis in orphan and foster care, developing a fund to assist potential adoptions, hosting orphans for a summer or starting some other type of orphan-care ministry explained in the book.
My favorite thing about this book is its grounding in the gospel. Radical love for the fatherless grows from several biblical convictions that young people can get excited about: that God is concerned for all people made in His image; that God has a special concern for the fatherless; that God commands us to share His concern for the fatherless.
In a later chapter, Merida and Morton discuss a vision of local churches someday being filled with the aroma of Christ's love for the fatherless. As I read and imagined what it would look like for churches to be obvious about caring for the needs of orphans, I could see how such churches centered in the gospel would greatly appeal to our youth. This kind of radical obedience to God is other-worldly, and youth will appreciate that.
As a companion to Orphanology
, Merida and Morton have a 6-session Bible study on the LifeBibleStudy online platform. The study offers options for high school students and adults.