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Friday, August 26, 2011

200 million

How much is 200 million?

200 million pennies would fill 9 school buses to overflowing. If you wanted to count to 200 million, and you were really ambitious and didn't take any breaks to eat, sleep, or go to the bathroom, it would take you just over 12 ½ years. But what does 200 million children look like?

Jesus’ heart was for children everywhere He went – blessing, defending, and loving them, and He calls us to do the same thing. When He called a little child to Him to stand among His disciples, He told them that they had to become like little children in order to enter the kingdom of Heaven, that whoever humbles himself like this child would be the greatest in the Kingdom…and the very next thing He said was "And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me.” (Matthew 18:5)

Just a few verses later He says, "Beware that you don't despise a single one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels are always in the presence of my heavenly Father." (v. 10) Throughout the Bible, God is defending children and calling his people to defend the orphan. Over and over. God cares about the vulnerable enough to repeat Himself.

So, what does 200 million children look like? They look like what the entire population of the United States was in 1969. They look like enough kids to fill over 3 ½ million schoolbuses – and to give you an idea of how much that is, if you lined those buses up from bumper to bumper they would stretch over 20 thousand miles, or the distance from Barrow, AK to Tampa, Florida...five times.
Here’s the issue - In just this year, about 200 million is the number of children who will be despised throughout the world – they will either be left as orphans without a family of their own to love and care for them, or they will die as a result of an abortion. 200 million little lives with their own giftings, callings, and futures - image-bearers of the King who created them lovingly with a purpose – Who, if He were standing with them, would pick them up and say, “you look like Me.” But will they ever realize their calling? Will they know their Savior if that future is squandered on the streets of a third world country while they try to fend for themselves? Or what if they don’t even make it that far – if their life is snuffed out before birth because they were conceived in a society that deemed them inconvenient and expendable? Maybe you heard recently that 40% of pregnancies in New York City end with abortion – and for black babies, that number jumps to 60%. That kind of math is easy to visualize – six out of ten babies. These are “the least of these” that Jesus spoke of.

But He has not left them without defense. He calls us to do what He did – love, bless, and defend them. There have been pockets of His people doing this all along, but it hasn’t been enough, because somehow the numbers of unloved, uncared for, and undervalued children – image bearers of the King – have reached numbers that we can’t easily visualize.
The calling is out of our comfort zone, but now is the time for everyone who calls themselves a follower of Jesus to step up and say, “NOT ON MY WATCH! We will stop this injustice.” Many of us are probably already doing something – but we are being called to more, to stretch our comfort zone. Maybe He is calling your attention to something new that you haven’t considered before. Maybe He’ll call you to adopt, or to help another family with the financial challenge of adopting. Maybe He’ll call you to missions or volunteering at a pregnancy center. Maybe you’ll want to be involved in the 24/7 prayer vigils for the 40 Days of Life campaign. Maybe you just know an apathetic voter who needs to be challenged. We allow God to move us in new ways, and suddenly an unfathomably huge situation has hope – because the situation is not too big for Him. 200 million children is a lot, but He wants to use His people to save them. Will we be a cruise ship, or a battleship?

Let your hands be strong! Don’t give up, don’t give in, and don’t be intimidated, because the task is ours!

Oh Lord, you have heard the desire of the humble; you will strengthen their heart, You will incline your ear to vindicate the orphan and the oppressed, that man who is of the earth may cause terror no more. Psalm 10:17-18

We can say, "Not on our watch! We will defend the orphan, we will get on our knees and pray, we will open our homes, we will stop this injustice."

Look with me: We are all standing in a deluge. It's pouring down. Two hundred million raindrops are falling all around us. God has given each of us a teaspoon – not one of us can save them all, but each of us can catch some. There are clusters of people standing out in the storm holding out their teaspoons in effort to catch some of these drops before they hit the ground. They adopt. They work at Crisis Pregnancy Centers all over the world. They change diapers at orphanages, do foster care, contact their politicians, educate others about the issue and refuse to let the apathetic or the opposition around them go unchallenged. They are raising world-changers, offering financial support, being bold about the issues, seeking God for the best solutions for each situation. Many of these 200 million raindrops can be caught and given a new hope. Some will fall to the ground, lost forever. But will you hold your teaspoon out higher? Will you say, Enough! The task is ours! We won’t be quiet until this thing is finished! We will step into the downpour and extend our arms.

We will welcome the children in His name. And He will move through us, and the lives of those image-bearers will never be the same.

(previously published at Copperlight Wood)


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