When Silence Isn’t An Option

As you know, this blog has been almost exclusively dedicated to our adoption and orphan advocacy.  It is The Thing that God has laid on our hearts, and what has consumed most of our waking (and sleeping) hours over the past couple of years, and it is the motivation for most of the posts on this site.  However, due to other events of the past years and months and weeks and days, we want to talk about something else today.

Those of you who know us personally or have been reading this blog since Day One might know that we did not chose adoption out of a medical need or inability to conceive a biological child.  Though those are 100% valid reasons for choosing adoption, it wasn’t our particular path.  We chose adoption because of a deep-rooted and consuming conviction that it is our Biblical responsibility to fight against the injustice of children going through their lives without families and homes.  It was the type of conviction that comes from looking up from a Bible and realizing that there is no alternative.   We are commanded to care for the orphans of the world.  And although there are many ways to go about accomplishing that, none of us are exempt from that command.  It was out of obedience to this that we were blessed beyond measure with the gift of our son.

But the true, deep-seated motivation for our adoption comes from a desire to stand up in the face of injustice.  It originates from a burning place inside that says, “I can’t solve this problem, but I can do something …”, from an unquenchable urge to be a part of the solution rather than merely occupying a seat on the sidelines.

It is something that, as Christ-followers, is a fundamental component to our faith.  Far from a passing desire to be a part of some fleeting social movement, we see God’s love for the oppressed woven into the entire narrative of the gospel, seeping out of every nook and cranny of His Word.  There is simply no other way to interrupt verse after verse that rejects apathy and demands action on behalf of those who are being treated by the world as anything less than the God-gift they are.  Our God is the God of the oppressed, and we simply do not feel comfortable calling ourselves Christians without making that our mission as well.

But oppression comes in many forms, and injustice takes many shapes …

… like children abandoned to languish in the streets or in a crowded orphanage.

… like a single mother feeling the stigma of institutionalized poverty.

… like teenage girls sold into sex slavery.

… like nine innocent people horrifically gunned down for the color of their skin one week ago.

Top row: Cynthia Hurd, Rev. Clementa Pinckney, Rev. Sharonda Coleman-Singleton middle row: Daniel Simmons, Rev. Depayne Middleton Doctor, Tywanza Sanders Bottom row: Myra Thompson, Ethel Lee Lance, Susie Jackson Click image to read more at image source.

Top row: Cynthia Hurd, Rev. Clementa Pinckney, Rev. Sharonda Coleman-Singleton
middle row: Daniel Simmons, Rev. Depayne Middleton Doctor, Tywanza Sanders
Bottom row: Myra Thompson, Ethel Lee Lance, Susie Jackson
(Click image to read more at image source.)

All week, I’ve felt the heavy weight of the unspeakable tragedy that rocked Charleston and the Black community.  I’ve felt confronted by many more questions than answers, unable to fathom how such a thing could be done, and why.  More than anything, I felt tired.  Tired of hearing about yet another senseless act of brutality derived from racism, a headline we have become much too familiar with recently.  Tired of the truth that this is the world my son will grow up in – a world where people are shamed, humiliated, profiled, judged, stereotyped, targeted, and even murdered due to the fact that their skin is darker than someone else’s.

I felt sick.  I felt angry.  I felt useless.  I felt the same fire against injustice that once had me signing on the dotted to claim a toddler from another world as my own.  I felt conversely outraged at the amount of churches and pastors and Christians who have remained silent on this topic, while at the same time kicking myself for my own lack of action.

God, forgive us.

This week I’ve been confronted with my own insecurities about this topic.  I’ve stayed silent out of feeling unqualified to speak on the issue of race, out of fear of saying the wrong thing the wrong way.  And the truth is, I’m not qualified, and I still worry I will say the wrong thing.

But I cannot continue to say nothing.

In the injustice of the orphan crisis, I knew how to take action, but I don’t know how to take action against the injustice of racism.  As I have prayed and asked God how I can be used, I felt overwhelmed with the conviction that just as in our path to adoption, inaction is not an option.  Silence is not an option.

So as we seek God in our home about how we can take a stand against the overwhelming injustice of racism in our country, we will first start by ending that silence:

Brothers and sisters of Charleston and the Black community as a whole, what happened to you last week was an act of racism and it was wrong.  What happens to you every day as you feel the oppression of institutionalized racism is wrong.  We don’t know what to do or how to help, but we know that staying silent on this subject is wrong.  We mourn with you.  We cry with you.  We pray with you and for you.  In this time of incredible sadness, we stand with you.  We join this fight with you, knowing that while we cannot solve this problem, we can do something.  We can be a voice.

As someone who struggles with anxiety, I have found incredible power in naming something as truth in the face of confusion and panic, of identifying a thought to bring it under control.  That is what we want to do today with this post.  We want to identify what happened and call it what it is – racism.  We want to take a meager step out of the confusion of not knowing where to start in the fight against this form of injustice, reaching out to grab on to what we can do – speak.

Our experience in the world of orphan injustice taught us that there are two very simple first steps.  1) Identify the injustice and speak it out loud.  Silence only allows oppression to flourish, while calling it out the darkness and into the light has a funny way of stripping it down its simple core: injustice.  2) Remove yourself from the sidelines and place yourself in the action.  Find ways – even if they feel small – to be a part of the solution.   Pray for direction and opportunities.  Educate yourself on the issues.  Be teachable.  Examine any of your own racist attitudes.  Call out racism for what it is and refuse to be a silent participant when you see it, whether it is blatant or subtle, like in casual jokes in the break room.  Study God’s Word for evidence of His fight for the oppressed (trust me, the search won’t take long), and emulate that with your own life.  Be a voice.

If you, like us, have been wrestling with these issues as the breaks between racially-inflamed news stories have become fewer and farther between, join us in praying for change.  Join us in asking God to use us as a part of the solution, rather than remaining a part of the problem or a passive observer.  If you don’t know where to begin, as we have felt, ask God to open your eyes to ways you can be used where you are to fight against this or other forms of injustice.  While we continue to seek God about how we can be used in the battle against racial injustice, He brought to our attention a different opportunity allowing us to serve those living in poverty in our own community – a different but equally important form of oppression.  You never know where He will take you when you stand up and ask to be used.

All we know is that just as we felt when we began to explore the convictions that led to the stories and miracles contained in this blog, doing nothing or staying silent is not an option.

 

“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

– The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

“From oppression and violence He redeems their life, and precious is their blood in His sight.”

-Psalm 72:14

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