Susan VanSyckle

Who is called to adoption?

Susan VanSyckle
By Susan VanSyckle
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October 17, 2012 (Bound4Life.com) - Here’s my short answer: EVERYONE.

But not how you might think.

James 1:27 is pretty clear: Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

There are orphans all around us. I talk to families often who assume that the only need for orphan care is across the world. Although this is true and a desperate need, most people don’t know there are orphans across their street. I get calls often about babies born and if an adoptive family isn’t found in the next 24 hours, they will go into foster care.

We’re all called to care for the orphan, but that looks different for different people.

Are you single? You don’t have an easy out. 

Ask any child stuck in the foster care system or an orphanage if they would rather stay where they are or come home to a single parent who’s going to love them like crazy.  Read this young girl’s story and you’ll believe that God can use you in a powerful way to live the gospel out to children.

Think you can’t afford it?  Sorry, that’s not legit either. 

More often than not families who share this with me really mean they have better things to do with their money than rescue a child: the annual family vacation, or boat, or [fill in the blank].  Friends,  the gospel is clear in where our treasure should lie – in things of eternal value.  I can think of nothing more valuable than stepping into a child’s eternal destiny.

Although I would never counsel a family who is financially unstable to begin the process of adoption, there is the other side where families don’t feel like they have the resources it takes. I love this recent series of posts by an adoptive mom who points out that our Heavenly father isn’t a deadbeat dad.  The bottom line: if He has called you to adoption He will provide the funds and the abilities needed. Do we really believe this?

Is your sedan full?  Get a minivan (or better yet, the big white 15 passenger van). 

I have friends who have a big white van and have made it their mantra that there is always more room at their dining room table.  Now they tell other families to “scootch over” and make room at their tables and in their homes.

Are your hands already full?  God provides the grace.

Richy and Jess already had their hands full with full time ministry, three kids (the acceptable norm for the “average” American family) and one with special needs.  But they felt the clear call to live out their convictions for life in their living room.

Afraid you can’t handle the heartbreak and chaos?  There’s nothing on this earth more worth it.

My dear friends John and Tracie thought they were done with three kids. Then they adopted and it forever changed the trajectory of their family. They adopted domestically. Then they went to the Ukraine to adopt one and came home with two. And then they did it again. They have a crazy house but it’s full of love.

Not in the season to adopt?  Make it your season to serve.

That’s what Joanna and Tyler do. A few years married and just beginning their family, they’ve decided to serve in the midst of it. They are often found babysitting, cooking, cleaning, and running errands for those in their community who have adopted or are providing foster care. They are in the thick of it loving those around them well.

Is adoption or foster care not for you? Not possible. There is always something you can do even if you’re not called to bring kids into your home.  Each of these families literally couldn’t do what they’re doing without the tangible support from their community: providing child care so they get an occasional break, offering mentoring to their kids as “aunties” or big brothers, cooking meals, praying, offering financial assistance, and the list goes on and on.

Notice I don’t think everyone is called to adopt, but every one of us, if we are true Christ followers, are called to have some active part in adoption and caring for the orphan.

Each of these families have started their own adoption revolution.  There isn’t a person who meets them that can’t see the redemptive path they’re on and their hearts for the orphan.  And because of that they’re starting something right where they are and inspiring others to do the same.

Practical ways you can care for the orphan

- Pray for them – keep children who need homes at the forefront of your prayers
- Give to them – give out of the abundance that God has given you
- Support them – find a foster or adoptive family to love on
- Protect them – become a foster family or safe family
- Care for them – open your home and become a forever family

If you’ve ever been on the front lines of the life movement, you’ve heard firsthand what pro-choice advocates shout: “You don’t want the children either!”  Our initial reaction is, but of course we do!  But do we? Are our lives, homes, bank accounts, and free time too comfortable? Are we willing to give up our cozy lives to step into the movement and say we want the babies? We need to start making a statement that we want the children.

What will you do to look after the orphan in distress?

This post originally appeared here and is reprinted with permission.  Susan says , “I am an adoption consultant, unofficially but more importantly I’m a wife and a mama and a lover of Jesus.” Please visit Susan’s blog for more posts on LIFE and adoption.


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Thaddeus Baklinski Thaddeus Baklinski Follow Thaddeus

African researchers warn early sexual activity increases risk of cancers

Thaddeus Baklinski Thaddeus Baklinski Follow Thaddeus
By Thaddeus Baklinski

A report on rising cancer rates in Africa delivered at a conference in Namibia last week warned that oral contraceptives and engaging in sexual activity from a young age lead to an increased risk of breast and reproductive system cancers.

Researchers presented the "2014 Integrated Africa Cancer Fact Sheet & Summary Score Card" during the 8th Stop Cervical, Breast and Prostate Cancer in Africa (SCCA) conference, held in Windhoek, Namibia from July 20 to 22, noted that cancer is a growing health problem in many developing countries and that breast and cervical cancer are the most common forms affecting African women.

The report said that sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) play a major role in reproductive system cancers and that young girls who engage in sexual activity risk getting, among other STDs, the human papilloma virus (HPV), some strains of which are linked to cervical cancer.

The report said although HPV infections are common in healthy women, they are usually fought off by the body’s immune system, with no discernible symptoms or health consequences.

The Cancer Association of South Africa points out that of the scores of HPV types, 14 of the more than 40 sexually transmitted varieties are considered "high risk" for causing serious illness, while two, HPV-16 and HPV-18, are linked to cervical cancer.

“Long-term use of oral contraceptives is also associated with increased risk [of cancer], and women living with HIV-AIDS are at increased risk of cervical cancer,” the report said.

Dr. Thandeka Mazibuko, a South African oncologist, told the conference attendees that when an 18-year-old is diagnosed with cervical cancer, “this means sex is an important activity in her life and she indulged from a young age.”

Mazibuko said the standard treatment for cancer of the cervix is seven weeks of radiation therapy.

“After the treatment they cannot have sex with their husbands or partners. They cannot bear children because everything has been closed up. Some may still have the womb but radiation makes them infertile,” Mazibuko said, according to a report in The Namibian.

Statistics from the Cancer Association of Namibia show that cases of cervical cancer have risen from 129 in 2005 to 266 in 2012.

The SCCA Conference theme was, "Moving forward to end Cervical Cancer by 2030: Universal Access to Cervical Cancer Prevention."

In his keynote address, host and Namibian President Hifikepunye Lucas Pohamba urged African countries to help each other to expand and modernize health care delivery in the continent.

"Within the context of the post-2015 Development Agenda and sustainable development goals, the provision of adequate health care to African women and children must be re-emphasized," said the president, according to AllAfrica.

The Namibian leader urged mothers to breastfeed their children for at least six months as a measure to prevent breast cancer.


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Allow ‘lethal injection’ for poor to save on palliative care: Lithuanian health minister

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By Hilary White

Euthanasia is a solution for terminally ill poor people who cannot afford palliative care and who do not want to “see their families agonize” over their suffering, Lithuania’s health minister said last week.

In an interview on national television, Minister Rimantė Šalaševičiūtė added that the Belgian law on child euthanasia ought to be “taken into account” as well. 

Šalaševičiūtė told TV3 News that Lithuania, a country whose population is 77 percent Catholic, is not a welfare state and cannot guarantee quality palliative care for all those in need of it. The solution, therefore, would be “lethal injection.”

“It is time to think through euthanasia in these patients and allow them to make a decision: to live or die,” she said.

Direct euthanasia remains illegal in the Balkan state, but activists tried to bring it to the table in 2012. A motion to drop the planned bill was passed in the Parliament in March that year in a vote of 75 to 14. Since then the country has undergone a change in government in which the far-left Social Democrats have formed the largest voting bloc.

Šalaševičiūtė is a member of Parliament for the Social Democrats, the party originally established in the late 19th century – re-formed in the late 1980s – from Marxist principles and now affiliated with the international Party of European Socialists and Socialist International.

Fr. Andrius Narbekovas, a prominent priest, lecturer, physician, bioethicist, and member of the government’s bioethics committee, called the suggestion “satanic,” according to Delfi.lt. He issued a statement saying it is the purpose of the Ministry of Health to “protect the health and life, instead of looking for ways to take away life.”

“We understand that people who are sick are in need of funds. But a society that declares itself democratic, should very clearly understand that we have to take care of the sick, not kill them,” he said.


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Islamists in Mosul mark Christian homes with an Arabic "N" for Nazarene.
Gualberto Garcia Jones, J.D.

We must open wide our doors to Iraq’s Christians

Gualberto Garcia Jones, J.D.
By Gualberto Garcia Jones J.D.

On July 18, the largest Christian community in Iraq, the Chaldean Catholics of Mosul, were given a grotesque ultimatum: leave your ancestral home, convert to Islam, or die.

All but forgotten by the 1.2 billion Catholics of the world, these last Christians who still speak Jesus’ native tongue of Aramaic and live in the land of Abraham and Jonah are being wiped out before our very eyes.

As a way of issuing a thinly-veiled threat, reminiscent of the Nazi persecution of the Jews, the Arabic letter “N” (for Nazarean) has been painted on the outside of the homes of all known Christians in Mosul.

These threats, issued by the fanatical Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) known for its bloodthirsty rampage of executions, have been taken very seriously by the several hundred thousand Christians in Mosul who have left with little more than the clothes they were wearing. 

At least most of these Christians were able to flee and find temporary protection among the Kurds in their semi-autonomous region.  However the Kurds do not have the resources to defend or shelter the Chaldean Christians for much longer.

On Monday, during an interview on Fox News, Republican U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf, who recently joined with 54 other members of the House of Representatives in a letter to President Obama asking him to act to protect these communities, stated that while Iraqi President Maliki had sent military flights to Mosul to evacuate Shiite Muslims, the US has done nothing to protect the Chaldean Christians.  Rep. Wolf also stated emphatically that President Obama has done “almost nothing” about the genocide taking place.

The silence from the White House is deafening.  But the lack of leadership from the hierarchy of the Catholic Church in America has been shocking as well.

Nevertheless, the plight of these Iraqi Christians is beginning to be taken seriously.   This is due in large part to the heroic efforts of local Iraqi religious leaders like Chaldean Patriarch Sako, who has gone on a whirlwind tour of the world to alert us all of the plight of these Iraqi Christians.  In a statement demonstrating his character, he told the Christians of Iraq last week, “We are your shepherds, and with our full responsibility towards you we will stay with you to the end, will not leave you, whatever the sacrifices.”

Before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq was launched there were approximately 1.5 to 2 million Christians living in Iraq.  Today, there are believed to be less than 200,000.  The numbers speak for themselves.

Now that the world is beginning to be aware of the genocide in Northern Iraq, many of us ask ourselves: what can we do?  As citizens and as Christians blessed to live in nations with relative peace and security, what can we do?

The answer is quite simple and unexpected.  Demand that our government and church pull its head out of the sand and follow France. Yes, France.  

Yesterday, in a heroic gesture of Christian solidarity that would make Joan of Arc proud, the government of France opened wide its doors to the persecuted Iraqi Christians.  

”France is outraged by these abuses that it condemns with the utmost firmness," Laurent Fabius, France's foreign minister, and Bernard Cazeneuve, France's interior minister, said in a joint statement on Monday.

"The ultimatum given to these communities in Mosul by ISIS is the latest tragic example of the terrible threat that jihadist groups in Iraq, but also in Syria and elsewhere, pose to these populations that are historically an integral part of this region," they added. "We are ready, if they wish, to facilitate their asylum on our soil.  We are in constant contact with local and national authorities to ensure everything is done to protect them.”

The French statement drives home three crucial elements that every government, especially the United States, should communicate immediately:

  1. Recognize the genocide and name the perpetrators and victims.

  2. Officially condemn what is happening in the strongest terms.

  3. Offer a solution that includes cooperation with local authorities but which leads by making solid commitments such as offering asylum or other forms of protection.

With regard to the Church, we should look to the Chaldean Patriarch and the Iraqi bishops who shared their expectations explicitly in an open letter to “all people of conscience in Iraq and around the world” to take “practical actions to assure our people, not merely expressions of condemnation.”  Noticeably, the last section of the letter from the Iraqi bishops, before a final prayer to God, is an expression of thanks to the Kurdish government, which has welcomed them not just with “expressions” of goodwill but, like France, with a sacrificial hospitality.

On Friday, July 25, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops did issue a statement, but unfortunately it lacked much in terms of leadership or solutions.  We should encourage our bishops to do better than that, be bolder and stronger for our persecuted brothers and sisters, name names and offer concrete sacrificial aid. In a word, be more like the French.

In 1553, Rome welcomed the Chaldean church into the fold of the Catholic Church.  Nearly 500 years later, Catholic Americans must find ways to welcome these persecuted people into our country, into our churches, and into our own homes if need be.

I say, I am with you St. Joan of Arc.   I am with you, France.  I am with you, Chaldeans!

Gualberto Garcia Jones is the Executive Director of the International Human Rights Group, a non-profit organization based in Washington, DC, that seeks to advance the fundamental rights to life, the natural family, and religious liberty through international law and international relations. 


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