Pure and Genuine Religion

As members of the Body of Christ in Rome, Georgia we have an obligation to care for those who need care in our midst. James 1:27 – “Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.” I have sent the following article for publication in the Rome News Tribune and I share it here with you to invite you to help Rome First continue to be First in the Community by leading the way in caring for our neighbors across the street, across the community, and across the globe.

November is National Adoption Awareness Month. There is a crisis in our community for children in foster care and waiting for adoption. There is a crisis in our community, state and nation. A crisis of care! In Floyd County alone there are over 400 children who are waiting for a foster home or adoptive “forever homes.” I write this open letter to members of all the faith communities in Floyd County. As Pastor of Rome First Methodist and as a member of a Christian Faith Community in Rome, Georgia, I find this situation deplorable and an indictment of our Faith Communities. 

As a follower of Jesus Christ, I believe there are some issues of Faith that are non-negotiable. One of those non-negotiables for me is caring for those in our midst who have no voice or power. We are called to do the “right thing” when it comes to caring for children in our community and world! The Psalmist reminds us – “For the LORD God is our light and protector. He gives us grace and glory. No good thing will the LORD withhold from those who do what is right. O LORD Almighty, happy are those who trust in you.” PSALM 84:11-12 (NLT) 

For those who do what is right…? What is right? Does might make right? Or is right the voice that is heard to scream and protest the loudest? Is right what is popular today? Is right the latest fad or craze that changes with the fickle winds of human desires?

As members of faith communities, we are charged with making right choices to demonstrate our application of God’s directions for living in community. Making right choices is not easy especially in the light of public scrutiny that never dims or goes out, and amid the seemingly unending din of competing concerns of special interest groups who contend a narrow, myopic perspective demanding immediate action at peril of eminent collapse or varying degrees of states of emergency. 

So the decisions we make as followers of Christ are examined, debated, pontificated, editorialized, lauded, contested, picketed, protested, nitpicked, reviewed, praised, sensationalized, ballyhooed, misquoted, interpreted, misconstrued, venerated and sometimes misunderstood. 

As members of the Christian Faith Community, we represent the light of a sacred trust – a trust held individually and collectively. Do you remember the children’s song “This Little Light of Mine?” The song is about each of God’s children using the grace and ability that given to make a difference in the world God created. 

If you have ever been out in the Okefenokee Swamp, you know what dark is. Now imagine, you are in a small canoe, you are in the middle of the gator-filled Swamp, and you have only your light. In a canoe in the midst of the vast wilderness of the swamp you aren’t concerned about whether the person in the canoe next to you has the same denominational affiliation as you or not. You just want to get your canoes together and shine your lights alongside one another to keep the gators at bay and as far away from you as possible. 

If enough lights are focused in the same area of the darkness, the intensity of the light peels the darkness away and offers direction and safety. We are reminded that working together to do the right thing is like shining all our lights with a concentrated laser intensity that shines like a beacon for those who may still be in the darkness. We are called to shine our lights in the darkness of the world. One place where we can make a huge difference is in caring for the children in our state that are in need of foster care and Adoptive “Forever Homes.” 

What if every church and faith community in Floyd County made a commitment to “sponsor” one family in their congregation? If every church made a commitment to rally around that church’s foster or adoptive family, to provide for their needs in caring for their foster or adoptive children, the crisis would end. 

There are over 150 places of worship in Floyd County. Rome is the 19th largest city in the State. If every church would accept the challenge of helping a family in their congregation to care for one or more foster children by “adopting that family” the “crisis” would be over. We have the privilege to bring light where there is darkness – to offer hope where there is hopelessness – to build a path to a better tomorrow by making the right choices today – choices that represent groups that cannot lobby for their cause – like the children who need foster homes and adoptive families. Who will be the champion to lift their light? Will it be you?  

The Psalmist challenges us to do what is right. So many competing entities – How will you do what is right? 

My Daddy had a saying – It is not always easy to do the right thing, but it is always the right thing to do the right thing! It will not be easy to end the foster care crisis in Georgia, but there is a way! A solution to this crisis in Floyd County and in our state rests with the faith communities within our state. One of the greatest responsibilities we have is to care for children in our midst. We have a choice to make – the question is will we do the right thing?The right thing is not always the most expedient thing to do. Where will you shine your entrusted light? Will the laser like intensity of the combined light that our community holds cut through the darkness and shine like a beacon – a beacon of hope that lights the path to a brighter future for our children?

The children of Floyd County are counting on us. The children in our state are counting on us to do the right thing! I challenge all the communities of Faith to rise up and care for the children in our midst. I challenge the congregations of Floyd County to be first in stepping up to lead in ending the crisis of care for our children in the State of Georgia. 

I invite you to join me here at Rome First as we seek to shine our light to lead the way in caring for children in need around us and among us. See you here for worship as we study together and pray together seeking God’s guidance and direction as we seek to be faithful members of the Body of Christ through the mission and ministry of Rome First!


Robert ><>