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Monday, November 22, 2010

A time of prayer and fasting for the orphans

During the past two weeks I have been participating in a fast for 40 days.  While I am not completely fasting on food what I am doing is fasting from all junk food and all food between meals with some select days without food.  I have also been reading a tremendous book titled The Power of Prayer and Fasting by Ronnie Floyd.  I would encourage anyone who reads this blog to purchase this book and consider doing their own fast.  It will change their life if they follow the prayer and fasting guidelines in the book.

But this led me to a thought.  What if everyone in the adoption/orphan community took a single day to 40 days to pray and fast for the orphans.  I believe God might pour out incredible blessings and insight to all in the adoption/orphan care community.  Has this been done in the past?  I am not certain.  Yet, I ask anyone who reads this blog to let me know if they believe a national day of prayer and fasting for the orphan is an idea that should be persued.

Blessings

Monday, October 25, 2010

Are colleges and seminaries discussing the issue of orphans

Recently, I received the following email from a professor of pastoral ministry at one of the top seminaries.  I asked the professor this question.  Is the issue of orphans or the orphan crisis discussed at length in one of your courses?  Here is his reply
The short answer to your questions is, “no.”  There are no courses or major part of courses that are dedicated to the issue of the global crisis of orphans.  It will be a topic in certain courses that address the issues of social justice, but I would not say that it is a main topic.  There is much to be done in this area in churches, Christian colleges, and seminaries.
I will hasten to say that a great number of our students are aware of and sensitive to the world-wide dilemma.  Many students have traveled extensively and been exposed to the issue and are (at least rudimentarily) weighting adoption as an option.  However, many are also frustrated by the administrative hurdles/road blocks of various nations as well as the cost for foreign adoptions.  More accurate and accessible information would be most welcome.
There is so much to be impacted here, yet I would like to make the following observations:
·         There is very little being discussed on the issue of orphans and the orphan crises at the major seminaries.  From my discussion with professors, what this professor has written is highly typical.  The issue of orphans might be touched on during a discussion, yet nothing discussed in great detail.
·         Students do care about the issue of orphans when they have been exposed to them and the issue.  Many students have traveled extensively and seen the orphan crises first hand.
·         Graduating seminary students do need assistance with the costs of adoption.  Many who have graduated might be very open to adopting a child, yet the costs of adoption along with the costs of seminary make this a near impossibility.  Yet, if the denominations could assist graduating students in adopting children, then their churches would see the impact on their pastor’s family.
It is my opinion that the church will never truly solve the orphan crises without major assistance from the seminaries.  There are so many wonderful organizations and alliances trying to help the orphans and expose the orphan crises to the world, yet I question how much time they are spending on college and seminary campuses.  The church will not solve the orphan crises unless the next generation of pastors truly understands it.    Let’s hope and pray that this is an area were we will see major changes in the next year.

Friday, October 8, 2010

A really good pillow fight last night.

Last night I was in our bedroom with my two girls when a really good pillow fight broke out.  I am not certain who started it, but I know it was a good one.  I will admit the pillows were flying, the bed was bouncing and I have not heard my two girls laugh that hard in a long time.  I think there was some secret aggression being taken out on their father since they both decided to gang up on me.  I should state my girls are 9 and 6 years old and both adopted from China.  Thus, I would like to make a few quick points.

First, it made no difference to me whether the girls were biologial children and as they were striking me with another pillow. I do not think they thought much about the fact they were adopted from China either.  We were simply father and daughters having fun.
Second, it made me sadly think of the 145 Million orphans out there.  There are wounderful agencies who help feed, clothe, and offer some schooling to the children.  Yet, sadly most of these children will never know what it is like to be held by a mother or father and have a fun pillow fight with their dad. 
Third, I am more convinced that children basically act the same all over and the only difference is skin color and physical surroundings.  These orphans cry out for the same thing our kids do.  They need to have basic needs met, but they really want to be held by parents who love them.  And of course an occasional pillow fight.

Let's pray that more and more families will decide to take these orphans into their homes,

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Thoughts from a rookie writer - blog by Daniel Bennett

Please check out this blog by Pastor Daniel Bennett.  He has very recently written his first book on orphan ministry that will release next year.  You can read the blog on his site - http://danielbennett.blogspot.com/

Monday, October 4, 2010

Additional thoughts on book publishing

This week I would like to write on some don’ts in sending in a book proposal.  This is not meant  to discourage you from your book idea or dream of getting your thoughts on paper, but to simply think though how intricate this process can be.  Please know I am only scratching the surface here to give you some thoughts on proposal submissions.   Here are several thoughts for you to consider.
First, when working on your proposal to an editor, do not expect them to give you time and energy to assist you in writing it.
Second, do not assume there are no other books on the market.  There are great tools out there to help you research the market.   You would not wish to appear ignorant of other books that are on the market that you failed to mention.
Third, do not assume that you are a really good writer.  You might have some very good ideas that should be in written form, yet a co-writer or ghost writer might be needed to assist you.  That is o.k.  Most potential writers have a day job in which they utilize their God given talents and writing is more likely a secondary talent.
Fourth, do not overlook the publisher’s website to see what the editorial guidelines are for manuscript submission.  It is critically important that you submit your manuscript exactly to the specification of the publishers.  And when submitting do not send it “to whom it may concern” but find out who is the proper editor at the publishing firm.
Fifth, do not overlook your own market research.  If this is a book on adopted children then know how many children in the United States are adopted, know how many are scheduled to be adopted in the next year, and know the major adoption conferences, etc.  Thus, be able to articulate the market and give the publisher the impression you know it well.
Finally, do not overlook the true importance and value of a well-written proposal.  The proposal is the only chance you have a making a truly good first impression and you might not get a second chance.  There are some fine services that can help you craft a proposal and they are well worth the money and effort.
As I stated in the opening paragraph I have no desire to discourage you.  Yet, the main point I would like to make with these  two blog articles is for you to to know the publishers, know how to submit a manuscript to them, know the size of your market, and then be able to articulate why you are the best person to write your book.

Friday, October 1, 2010

How is a seizure like being adopted?

Many of you know that on August the 7th I crashed out of bed with a seizure.  The good news is the MRI was fine, but I am still awaiting the EEG for final results.  In this post I want to mention how this experience has given me a tiny glimpse of my children and what it is like to be adopted, yet by no means do I wished to fully equate this seizer with being adopted.   I do believe this situation will help me understand my girls and other adopted children better.

First, my life changed immediately out of no fault of my own.  I did nothing physically or mentally to cause the seizure and there was nothing I could have done to prevent it  Likewise there is nothing the adopted child has done to physically or mentally cause their situation and there really is little they could have done to prevent it..

Second, I recall kicking and screaming for them to let me go as they grabbed me and put me on the stretcher.  My wife also said I screamed that I did not want to die.  I am certain that even when adopted children   might be living in undesirable places many kick and scream when they are forced out of their situations.  Like me, they often have little understanding what is really happening and that others have their best interest at heart and are truly trying to help them.

Third, I personally feel limited and very different right now.  For example I cannot drive a car for six months.  Many understand this and wish to assist me, yet, there is still this highly awkward feeling being different than other people.  Likewise, my children and other adopted children feel different because they have different biological parents and may have different skin colors.  I think we need to truly acknowledge and understand this feeling of awkwardness and let them experience it and express it.

Finally, I am very grateful when I had my seizer there were loved ones there who contacted medical help which led me to getting the proper medial treatment.  I am assuming the EEG will be fine, there will be a good diagnosis, and I will drive in six months.  Then, this will be a memory.  Yet, I hope to never truly forget this experience and how it can help me understand my girls and all adopted children so much better.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Do's in sending publishers your book proposal

Greetings,
Many of you will be attending the Together for Adoption Conference this weekend and I hope you might be inspired to consider doing some writing. Adoption and orphan ministry  is an area that needs books and many attending this conference have capability of writing quality and helpful books that the adoption and orphan community could benefit.  Yet, many do not know how to contact publishers with their book idea or do not do it very well.  Thus, their thoughts will not be published.  In this blog I will write some “do’s in contacting publishers and in a follow-up I will have some don’ts.

First, send them your very best work and not something you started and wanted to “throw by” an editor to get their thoughts.  Second, give them a compelling reason why you are the very best person to write this book. This is not bragging and please do not stretch the truth.  Yet, publishers need to know why you are extremely qualified if not the most qualified person to write your book.  Third, go to the publisher’s website and read their proposal guidelines.  This will tell you how the publisher prefers the proposal, what to put in the proposal and what to keep out.  Fourth, give the publishers several weeks before contacting them on the status.  Fifth, it is o.k. to submit your proposal to more than one publisher.  This is called multiple submissions. Yet, do let the publishers know that other publishers are also reviewing your proposal out of courteousy.  Finally, do your research on what books are in the marketplace that has a similar theme or topic.  If there are several out there, then you will truly need to think through what makes your book truly unique. If there are no books on a similar topic, then you will have to consider if there is either an untapped market or no real market at all.  The best word I use to sum up this blog is research.  It is vitally important you have thoroughly researched why you are the most qualified, why the publishers will want to publish your book,, how to submit a first-rate proposal to the publisher, and what like-minded books are in the market.

In my next email I will have some thoughts on what not to do when sending your proposals.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Please do not think adopted children are consolation prizes

Do you remember the game show where the contestants were able to choose between a couple of doors and they hoped to pick the door where they received the main prize or best prize?  If they did not, then they would receive the consolation prize and everyone did the collective groan because this was always a prize of much lesser value.  Recently I was privileged to be quoted in a forthcoming book on church orphan ministry where I talked on this.  I believe far too many believe that biological children are the main prize and what would be best for us.  Second would be biological children through In Vitro procedures and then the last place or the true consolation prize would be adopted children.  Thus, couples might have adopted children after not being able to have biological children or after first having their “real” children.  My fear is that far too many in and outside the church believes this and sadly many adopted children also feel the tag of being a consolation prize.

I thank God on a daily basis that my wife and I never had biological children.  If we had, then I am not convinced we would have ever adopted Hannah and Samantha our two children from China.  My two girls are truly God’s best for me and the girls God chose for my life.  For that I am honored and privileged.

I do hope my friends attending the Together for Adoption Conference learn all they can, have great fellowship, purchase lots of books, and come back with a renewed commitment to helping the orphans of the world.  But please do not ever think the orphan children you are working with are consolation prizes.  They are God’s children and God has no consolation prizes in His family.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

A call to publishers to consider the orphan and adoption community

This post is my encouragement to publishers to strongly consider publishing addional resources in the areas of orphan ministry and adoption.   I am certain on a daily basis you have those who come to your editorial team or send proposals with the latest and greatest book idea that they know all readers want and their book or their client’s book will be high on the best sellers list.  God has blessed me to work in publishing for close to twenty years; however, one of the true blessings God has given me is my two adopted girls from China.  This has opened the doors for me to attend two orphan ministry and adoption conferences.  The first is the National Orphan Summit which by the Christian Alliance for Orphans www.christian-alliance-for-orphans.org and the second is the Together for Adoption Conference www.togetherforadoption.org which happens to be occurring this weekend in Austin, TX.  These conferences are very similar to your national ETS and SBL meetings in which there are keynote speakers, breakout sessions, many displays, and lots of social interaction.
Yet what has struck me about this group is with the exception of the very fine book by Russell Moore titled Adopted for Life there has been very little published by the leading Evangelical publishers.  Yet, those who attend these conferences (heads of agencies, pastors, and adoptive parents) are truly key gatekeepers who would more than likely know the potential author because they sat the author’s session.  Plus, the end result of writing, reading, and implementing these books is one of God’s children who have no home finding a blessed home with a family who will love and care for him or her. 
In upcoming blogs I would like to share specific book ideas that I believe would do well for you.   I would like to share with those in the orphan/adoption community how to properly contact the acquisitions editors concerning their book idea.  In the meantime I would encourage you to check out some of the live video streaming of the upcoming conference www.togetherforadoption.org.
In Him

Friday, September 24, 2010

September 22 - A very special day

Friends,

September 22 of this month was a very special anniversary date.  It was five years ago on Wednesday that my wife and I flew home from China with Samantha Grace Li-Chin Kragt.  It was at the Grand Rapids International Airport where Samantha met for the very first time her four year old sister Hannah Joy Xue Kragt.  There is something very special about adoption.  It is a truly special  when one open's his or her hearts and says to the Lord he or she is willing to take any child God  sends to them.  Then, when God sends them the child they know is their God ordained child it is a wonderful event.  Of course that is like God's adopting us as His children.  How I am glad that God choose to take us in to him.