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Orphanology: Awakening to Gospel-Centered Adoption and Orphan Care Paperback – March 10, 2011
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Tony Merida and Rick Morton have gotten to the heart of the question as to why it is the calling of the Church to engage in the plight of the fatherless. Their thoroughly Biblical and pragmatic answers to that question are a long awaited wake up call to the American Church. --Matt Carter, lead pastor, The Austin Stone Community Church
Orphanology presents a gospel-centered theological and practical approach to an often-neglected sphere of ministry. Morton and Merida call Christians to reflect God's image as redeemer, defender, provider, and father, and take up the cause for those who have no voice. It is engaging, thorough, accessible, and a convicting joy to read. --Ed Stetzer, coauthor of Transformational Church
Rarely have I been stunned by a book. I was stunned by this one. It is drenched in Biblical Christianity. I genuinely think it should come with a warning. Consider this your warning. God may seriously upset your future plans as you interact with these pages. I imagine that you have asked Him often to lead you. He may use this book to lead you in a way you never imagined. But as Tony and Rick can testify, it may lead you to some of the greatest blessings on this earth. --Steve Farrar, author of Point Man
“Tony Merida and Rick Morton have gotten to the heart of the question as to why it is the calling of the Church to engage in the plight of the fatherless. Their thoroughly Biblical and pragmatic answers to that question are a long awaited wake up call to the American Church.” ―Matt Carter, lead pastor, The Austin Stone Community Church “Orphanology presents a gospel-centered theological and practical approach to an often-neglected sphere of ministry. Morton and Merida call Christians to reflect God’s image as redeemer, defender, provider, and father, and take up the cause for those who have no voice. It is engaging, thorough, accessible, and a convicting joy to read.” ―Ed Stetzer, coauthor of Transformational Church, www.edstetzer.com “Rarely have I been stunned by a book. I was stunned by this one. It is drenched in Biblical Christianity. I genuinely think it should come with a warning. Consider this your warning. God may seriously upset your future plans as you interact with these pages. I imagine that you have asked Him often to lead you. He may use this book to lead you in a way you never imagined. But as Tony and Rick can testify, it may lead you to some of the greatest blessings on this earth.” ―Steve Farrar, author of Point Man “I wept as I read the great truths in Orphanology. Not just because it reminded me of forgotten details in the adoption story of our son Rudy, or because it compelled me to a greater place of action for the nearly 150 million orphans in our world, but more than anything, because it ignited worship and thanksgiving for a God that would adopt ME! orphan me. abandoned me. fatherless me. undeserving me…… thank you Tony and Rick for this powerful book” ―David Nasser, pastor, author of Called to Die “For decades now, the evangelical church has rightly stood firmly against abortion and infanticide. But today, it is reawakening to God’s call to care for the orphans and fatherless. Orphanology will be one of the leading books in this movement. Tony and Rick write from a heart that both stays true to biblical theology and desires to reach out to the least of these. This is a must-read for pastors and church leaders, the other half to the fight for life.” ―Dan Darling, author of iFaith “There are precious few issues that can tug at the heartstrings to the extent that orphans in need are able to. In spite of that, however, the American Evangelical church has been almost silent on the issue for far too long. Relegating the issue to others, or disregarding it altogether, seems to have become the mantra of the church. This in spite of some strong biblical evidence which underlines its importance in Kingdom work. It is against this backdrop that Tony Merida and Rick Morton have authored this brilliant book outlining a compelling, emotional and most importantly, biblical argument for orphan care among faithful followers of Christ Jesus. I cannot imagine that one could read this and remain neutral or disengaged in respect to orphans and the church. The church owes Merida and Morton a debt of gratitude for his faithful exegesis and loving insistence on this point. It is, no doubt, a must read!” ―Micah Fries, pastor, Fredrick Blvd. Baptist Church, St. Joseph, Missouri “Caring for the fatherless is a powerful display of the gospel of God’s grace shown to us in Jesus Christ. Orphanology is an excellent resource for the adoption and orphan care movement, as it grounds our activism in the good news of God’s choice to adopt us into his family. As you read the personal stories recorded in these pages, you’ll be moved to tears… and then to action.” ―Trevin Wax, author of Holy Subversion “Growing up in a protected, insulated home environment, I was sheltered from the harsh realities and incredible need of abandoned children around the world. Growing up in a traditional evangelical church, I was also sheltered from the biblical call to embrace them with the same kind of adopting love our heavenly Father has for His children. Orphanology isn’t just adoption advocacy, though that is important; moreover, it is an awakening to the biblical mandate to care for the fatherless in ways that display how God has come to us as adopting Abba through the gospel of Jesus Christ. Tony Merida and Rick Morton have served us well with compelling exposition of Scripture wedded to compassionate exhortation in taking seriously the stewardship of orphans before us in this generation. It is my prayer that this book will be a catalyst to engage families and churches to demonstrate the heart of our Father through sacrificial commitment for the sake of orphans around the world and across the street!” ―Timmy Brister, pastor, Grace Baptist Church, Cape Coral, Florida “What an insightful read for every person who has been adopted into God’s family! Merida and Morton have captured the wonder of the marvelous beauty of adoption.” ―Kimberly Sowell, author of Soul Shaping “From personal experience and God’s inerrant Word, Tony Merida and Rick Morton ring clearly the church’s call to care for those who have no home and no hope. Orphanology challenges believers to be instrumental in rescuing the weak and fatherless, thus fulfilling the Great Commission! As an adoptive father and Pastor, I believe this book has the potential to transform the Body of Christ’s approach to orphan care and ministry.” ―Kevin Ezell, president, North American Mission Board “I love Tony Merida’s heart! He has a heart for God, His Word, the Church, and the orphan. He and Rick Morton bring all four areas together in Orphanology. This is another great resource every church should have that cares about the orphan crisis. This book will not only give you good theology about caring for orphans but it will also give much needed practical help.” ―Johnny Carr, National Director of Church Partnerships, Bethany Christian Services “If you have thought of adoption as a purely personal decision and nothing more, be prepared to have your assumptions challenged and then shattered. Orphanology shows us how much God cares about orphans and why we should too. Read this book and then ask this simple question, ‘Lord, what do you want me to do?’ God’s answer may surprise you and change your life forever.” ―Dr. Ray Pritchard, president, Keep Believing Ministries, author of The Healing Power of Forgiveness, Stealth Attack, and An Anchor for Your Soul “Orphanology is a clarion call for everyone who calls themselves a believer. It articulately weds together the proclamation of the gospel and the caring for orphans…spurring us to envision God-sized ideas for bringing solutions to this crisis. Do good. Read this book.” ―Andy Lehman, Vice President, Lifesong for Orphans / Board Member, Christian Alliance for Orphans “Reader beware! The book you are holding in your hands has the potential to reveal a gospel-denigrating blind spot that has emerged among evangelicals in our generation. Too many have unwittingly fostered a spirit of apathy toward an issue that our Heavenly Father is overwhelmingly passionate about. The Father’s heart for the gospel message proclaimed must not be minimized . . . nor should his heart for the gospel message lived out. In this book the authors provide both a solid biblical theology for adoption and orphan care as well as many practical insights as to how to nurture a Christ-honoring “adoption culture” toward that end in your church. As I read, I could not help but see my own past complacency regarding this global issue for what it really is – selfishness. The gospel kills selfishness and cultivates Christ’s own compassion and love for the fatherless. And because Orphanology bleeds both gospel word and deed , my wife and I are finding that God’s heart for the fatherless is being formed in us leading us to begin praying toward and actively pursuing adoption.” ―George G. Robinson, D.Miss., Assistant Professor of Missions and Evangelism, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary “I want to encourage you to not read this book, unless you are ready to be gripped with the fact that the North American church, myself included, must quit play-acting as religious and moral and actually follow through on “pure religion” by giving love to the fatherless. There is no better way to demonstrate the love of the heavenly Father than to do what He has done to us – adopt. If even a fraction of the vast population of those who call themselves Christians would practice a little ‘Orphanology,’ then the world would notice our being salt and light and more than ever glorify our Father in heaven.” ―Jason Dukes, author of Live Sent “The Apostle James said that true religion was in part taking care of orphans. Jesus said that the second greatest commandment was to love our neighbor. A commandment which he expressed with the parable of the Good Samaritan, a story of someone taking care of a victim left for dead in a ditch. In recent history, the Christian church has been a champion for the family unit and have been going into all of the nations to serve others. Merida and Morton’s book is as inspirational as it is informative. It shows us in real world terms how we can live out true religion of the Apostle James, care for our neighbor per Jesus’ command, and continue to be a global champion for God’s purposes for the family. This book will lead to transformation of children who will be adopted, loved and cared for, but also to the transformation of anyone who reads and takes its content seriously.” ―Mark L. Russell, Ph.D., author of The Missional Entrepreneur “God loves orphans, and one of the most encouraging trends among contemporary evangelicals is the growing emphasis upon adoption and orphan care. Many who have been spiritually adopted by their heavenly Father are now physically adopting or providing foster care to the world’s orphans, reflecting the very heart of God. Tony Merida and Rick Morton have contributed a wonderful addition to the growing literature devoted to gospel-driven orphan care. Orphanology combines a sound biblical-theological rationale for orphan care with godly and practical advice for both families and local churches. I hope this book will be widely read by pastors and other church leaders, couples considering adoption (may their tribe increase!), and any Christian who wants to be a part of what God is doing to lead His church to love all the little children of the world whom Jesus loves.” ―Nathan Finn, Assistant Professor of Church History and Baptist Studies, SEBTS “I am grateful to God for the conversation taking place in the church right now about the centrality of the Gospel in all of life. One place where this is clearly seen is in the areas of adoption and orphan care. Those who have been adopted into God’s family as brothers of King Jesus are called to be those who image their Father by caring for the orphan. Tony Merida and Rick Morton have done the church a huge favor with this book because they have clearly shown that Adoption and Orphan care are Gospel issues and have given us intensely practical ways to move our churches to action. This book has especially impacted me because my mom grew up in an orphanage. For a decade she waited in vain for a father to come for her. This book will help churches everywhere say with their Lord Jesus to millions like my mom around the world ‘I will not leave you as orphans; I will come for you!’” ―Jonathan Akin, Lead Pastor, Valley Station Campus of Highview Baptist Church, Louisville, Kentucky “As someone who has been hiring professors and recruiting students for fourteen years, I know a change in families is clearly underway. Christian families are getting larger, and the number of families adopting one or more children is increasing dramatically. Driving this change is a deep passion to care for the millions of children across our nation and world in desperate need for someone to love them and care for them. Read at your own risk! You are about to discover adoption is more crucial, more feasible, and more of a blessing than you ever imagined. Tony Merida and Rick Morton are going to take you straight into the heart of a movement exploding among the rising generation of Christian leaders and followers. You will not read their words. You will encounter the passion of their hearts and find your notions of family and children turned upside down. This is not a book that will touch you. It is a book that will change you, and you will be glad that it did. Pregnancy is not the only way to become an expectant parent. Tony Merida and Rick Morton are going to draw you into the heart of a mighty movement of God and release a river of love you did not know you had.” ―Chuck Kelley, president, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary “Orphan care and adoption are expressions of practical Christianity because they are expressions of the heart and love of God. Tony Merida and Rick Morton bring that message home loud and clear. This book is simple and straightforward. It is also convincing and convicting. God has reached out to us in Christ and adopted us into Him family. What a blessing for us to do for others what He has done for us! I am thrilled at the renewed interest in orphan care and adoption that is sweeping through the evangelical church. This book reflects this movement. This book will stoke the fires of it too! We bless you Lord for moving so powerfully among your adopted sons and daughters.” ―Daniel L. Akin, president, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary “Rick and Tony have written an important book for the church today. While adoption has increased in popularity over the years, many do not fully understand its biblical and missional aspects. If the church can grasp this, lives will be transformed like no other point in history.” ―Mark Matlock, president, WisdomWorks Ministries
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As of 2013, the church has a greater awareness for the vast number of orphans that exist but it sometimes ends at awareness. Read this book and ask yourself; can I serve in one of these ministries? Should I move forward with adoption? Don't wait, act now! Listen to Merida and Morton. Say, "today is the day that I put in that application for adoption or foster care, that I go on that mission trip, that I meet with a friends in church and start that hosting ministry, that I help fund an anti-trafficking organization.
The only revision I might suggest is identifying themselves when speaking in the first person. I wasn't sure which author spoke at certain points.
Thank you Tony Merida and Rick Morton for this book and serving the orphan.
Ghana Christian Alliance for Orphans
This book is also a great read if you are not planning to adopt but are really searching for another way to help orphaned and needy children. It talk about ways to create programs and camps as well as ways to sponsor children. This book is encouraging and convicting and will really challenge you to make a difference for a child.
Orphanology is a quick and easy read. Made much easier if you are able to follow Christian lingo. It would be a little harder to comprehend if you have never been to a church and heard some of the terms. The book stays interesting by using many real life examples of people who have adopted, fostered and worked in orphan camps.
All around good book. I would recommend if you are interested in the topic.
The memory has stayed with us. When I think about Caleb's life in an orphanage or I consider what our lives would be like without him, or his without us, the memory of those two excited orphans reminds me: there are more.
And there are more. Many more. Millions and millions more.
In Orphanology: Awakening to Gospel-Centered Adoption and Orphan Care, Tony Merida and Rick Morton ask a difficult question, "Will we settle for a safe, comfortable religion or will we use the resources for the good of the world and the glory of Christ?" Orphanology is a challenge. It is a challenge to take seriously the words of James 1:27:
"Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world (ESV)"
Readers may wonder how James might say that this is "pure and undefiled religion." The answer is simple. Orphan care is at the heart of the gospel. The horizontal adoption visible in orphan care, points toward the vertical adoption that all in Christ have experienced.
The challenge is clear and obvious. Merida and Morton highlight this challenge by examining this and other passages of scripture, by explaining the facts of the state of orphans throughout the world, and including many touching stories of adoption and orphan care. UNICEF estimates between 143 and 210 million orphans in the world, yet that number does not reflect them all. Many children are institutionalized, homeless, or caught up in human trafficking; uncounted by UNICEF. These children are also orphans and they are in desperate need of Christ and His church.
The challenge being clearly stated, Orphanology moves on to very practical methods that any Christian or church can implement in order to address this need. This is the real strength of the book. Merida and Morton offer insight as to how a church can begin:
1) Orphanage funding
Churches can partner with existing orphanages around the world. in order to support them and their mission to care for orphans.
2) Foster care ministries
Churches can encourage members to become foster parents, support and encourage those who do, and welcome the foster children with open arms.
3) Adoption ministries
Churches can rally to support those in their congregations that are adopting. Adoption is a long, difficult, and expensive process and a church can offer encouragment and financial support.
4) Transitional ministries
Many children are too old to be "in the system" and too young to be on their own. Churches can help these teenage orphans as they transition to life in the adult world.
5) Orphan hosting
By hosting a group of orphans for a short stay in the U.S., churches have an opportunity to show love, share Christ, and encourage ongoing adoption and orphan care.
Further, there is an entire chapter covering how church leaders can cast the vision for such ministries and implement them.
All said, there is no reason why a church cannot care for orphans. Is everyone called to adopt? No. Is everyone called to be a foster parent? No. Yet, Christians are called care for orphans. Merida and Morton have done an excellent job relaying this call and giving practical steps toward answering it. The real question is, what will YOU do?
UNICEF's research has repeatedly shown that 4 out of 5 children in orphanages have at least one living parent and that the cost of re-settlement, including support when needed and follow up is much cheaper than the cost of institutional care. We all know about the harmful effects of institutional life, and Orphanology summarizes those well. Surely a chunk of our money and energy should be invested in developing social work, re-unification, and kinship care empowerment programs in the many places in the world where that is possible. Some within the Christian orphan care are already doing this well, but I wish these activities had been highlighted in Orphanology.
I appreciate the role of int'l adoption in the American Christian orphan care movement, but I am stunned by the silence on the important topic of adoption ethics, the extensive cases across the globe of well-intentioned adoptive parents and adoption agencies getting tangled up in webs of child trafficking. I don't expect a book like Orphanology to take on the role of adoption police - naming names or anything - but would expect a book like this to have a section on questions to ask/steps to take the all too common ethical pitfalls of international (and domestic) adoption.