Sunday, February 7, 2010

convicting mercy

we took communion today.

as our pastor read from Scripture, i was convicted of the Lord's mercy. by that i mean i saw how merciful He has been to me, how He redeemed me and i was put to shame by the desire to hold others' sins against them.

namely, those "missionaries" from idaho who thought a good idea was to go to haiti and take children that did not belong to them. apparently just coming to america solves all problems. nothing to be said about living in Christ-centered homes no matter where you are on earth. no matter the conditions.

having spent two years working hard to fight lies and misconceptions about international adoption, the actions of these "well-meaning" people was a huge blow. i was angry. actually, i was more than that.

i was condemning.

and today Christ showed me my sin. it's not for me to judge. it's not for me to condemn them. yes, they were wrong. but (and i hope this is true) they thought they were doing something good. "misguided" doesn't even come close to touching how wrong they were. but they will have to live with their horrible decision for the rest of their lives.

i understand the consequences of sin. moreover, i know a thing or two about really public sin. one of my sins hangs out like summer laundry for the world to see. i have repented and i have been forgiven. GRAS A DYE!
(grace of God!)
even so, the world still sees my sin. even so i endure ramifications of my sin all the time. and my sin was never broadcast on international television.
the Lord quietly, gently, kindly brought this to mind today as i sat in the back row praying. yes, those people from idaho sinned. but so have i. and i have been forgiven, washed clean. if they repent to Jesus Christ for their sin, they too will be forgiven.

who am i to condemn?


Kiley said...

I don't mean to bring up a fight or anything - but what sin did those people commit???

angela said...

um, they kidnapped children.

Anonymous said...

I am just wondering where you have read information about these people. I am wondering if mainstream media is purposing to paint them in a bad light. DO we really know the truth? Have you read a reliable source of what really happened?

Kiley said...

they did not go to "kidnap" anyone... the media - like anonymous said - is there to paint a very bad picture... sure there was some wrong - as in the leader of the team did not have all the paper work (weather she knew she didnt or not)... the families of these kids were talked to and they said they gave them their children. I don't think anyone know's what really happened - only them..... we need to be praying for them. for the 18 year old who is probably scared to death. for their families here.. Angela, i know your heart is sweet. I know you love that country, but we need to take it all with a grain of salt right now and wait till we have the truth before we point fingers at anyone.

angela said...

maybe you didn't read my blog. maybe you didn't see that i said i was convicted that i was condemning them. maybe that's what happened.

i have been forwarded many articles because people want to hear my take on this issue. i have read a lot of articles and watched some footage. i realize that media "spins" news. i also said in this post that i know these people felt that their intentions were good.

HOWEVER, having lived in haiti for two years, having worked daily on international adoptions, having consoled birth parents who have heard horror stories that their children are used as slaves in the united states, and having sat in government offices for days on end to advocate for these children, i can say with confidence that if you are at all familiar with adoption in haiti you KNOW you cannot do anything without the proper paperwork IN TRIPLICATE.
however well-meaning these people were, what they did was not the right thing. but again, if you really read my post you'd see that i am repenting of condemning them and hoping they've confessed to the Lord Who i know is gracious to forgive.

Anonymous said...

You have repented of condemning them, but you are still labeling what they did as sin? True, they did not follow the proper procedures of a particular country, but I'm not sure that necessarily translates to sin in every case. Perhaps it was, I think the point being made was that we are not in a place to make that decision? Regardless, they appear to be Christians and could use the support of the body of Christ. That does not mean they wont have to pay for any mistakes they have made but I do think we should refrain from using labels like "sin" when we just can't be sure given the circumstances. Anyway, glad your anger towards them has been removed. I'll be praying for them.

angela said...

well, i disagree. "sin" is not a label - it's a fact. stating that someone has sinned is not the same as condemning them. this is a problem in america today that many evangelicals are facing: they can't state their biblically-based convictions without being called out as "judges" or much worse. we know that Christ told us to follow the laws of the land.

i have known many well-intentioned, patient families who have been in the adoption process for over three years who would have loved to taken their children home with them on any number of visits and finished the paperwork stateside. however, that is not the legal way to adopt. the laws of the land, whatever the land, were put in place to attempt to protect the people of the land.
breaking these laws is not only a sin, it hurts all the other people who are trying to adopt WITHIN the law.

there are people sitting at the US embassy each and every day attempting to get their adopted (or being-adopted) children home. don't you think they would like the opportunity to seize their children and run? but they don't because it's wrong.

i am sorry that these people from idaho have to bear public shame for their sins. i know that feeling well. i thought i made that clear in my post. this post was not to condemn - it was to apologize. but my sin of previously condemning them, does not negate their behavior as sin.

Anonymous said...

What about the sin of pride? The thinking that we know better than our Haitian brothers and sisters just because we're American?

I'm not saying these people did it or didn't do what they are on trial for. I think Angela makes a good point. We need to let God deal with our own sin and pray for God's will to be done.


Kathy Eden said...

Thank you Angela for sharing this! I was at the exact same place.

Brendie Heter said...

What they did was absolutely sinful. Claiming ignorance doesn't make it any less wrong. Believers have been COMMANDED to obey authorities and they were under the authority of the country of Haiti. Clearly violating dozens of laws in Haiti.

The Haitian adoption process and legal system is so screwed up. But THIS is what happens when you try and skirt it. Because of their actions, hundreds of legal adoptions across the country have been stopped. I personally spent hours and hours calling, emailing, setting up meetings to try and help a Haitian orphanage get through customs LEGALLY. As Angela said, it would have been seemingly easier to try and sneak across the border and hope for the best.

And of COURSE the media is tainting the story but the problem is...the they admitted taking children out of Haiti with out proper paperwork. This is a FACT, illegal and worth condemning as a sin. The leader, Silbsy is quoted in a video that they HAD the paperwork in order. THEN saying a few days later, "I did not really understand that (paperwork) would really need to be required."

This is what we call, backpedaling. Reports are out (and have been VERIFIED) Dominican officials were very clear on what paperwork would be needed to cross the border. Those very specific details were blatantly ignored. Not only arrogant and unwise but sinful.

It...was....wrong. We can still pray for them and the body of Christ should "support" them. No one is saying we should do otherwise.

megan haug said...

i very much agree with you angela, on all points. thank you for this post. i, too, have been very condemning and very angry at these people. i'm trying to get 5 kids, who were already in the legal adoption process, home to their families. i can't. things have become so much more difficult since this incident. yes, it's hard to know EXACTLY what happened and how it all went down, but as Brendie pointed out, some of it is just plain FACT. but. yes, they messed up. big time. and they are reaping the consequences. and if they have repented- then Christ has already forgiven them. and who am i to continue holding it against them? anyway. great post. thanks.

megan haug said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Headmistress, zookeeper said...

Angela, I appreciate this post.

Kiley, I read the same articles that said the families of those kids gave them to the missionaries- but I also noticed that the same families said they were promised they would be able to visit and see their children again. Somehow, I don't think that's a promise that was going to be kept.
Sounds like a sin to me.

Anonymous said...

Since sins are committed by individuals, and since we have sufficient information to assign sin, perhaps for the sake of clarity we could ascribe each particular sin to the appropriate individuals. Please feel free to fill in the blanks below.

These are the 8 known Americans currently being detained, 2 remain unnamed.
Laura Silsby, 40 Guilty of the sins of ________
Paul Thompson, 43 Guilty of the sins of ________
Silas Thompson, 19 Guilty of the sins of ________
Steve McMullen, 56 Guilty of the sins of ________
Carla Thompson, 53 Guilty of the sins of ________
Nicole Lark Ford, 18 Guilty of the sins of ________
Jim Allen, 47 Guilty of the sins of ________
Drew Culborth, 34 Guilty of the sins of ________

Headmistress, zookeeper said...

Anonymous, It is possible, of course, that some of the members of this group were completely deceived into thinking the paperwork was in order and the children were truly orphans who could, legally, morally, and ethically be removed from the country, or whose parents had given them up freely and without any moral coercion or promises that could not be kept. If this is the case, then the sins of those who so deceived them are that much heavier, of course.

We do appear to have sufficient information to know that at least somebody in this group told parents they would see their children again, and then tried to remove them from the country without the proper paperwork, telling officials the children were orphaned. We do not need to know which one of these people did that to know that it was wrong and whoever did that needs forgiveness.

It seems we know very specifically that Laura Silsby first said that she had the paperwork in order, and then said that she didn't, she just thought it wasn't necessary. That contradiction is from her own mouth, not from a reporter's spin, right? Or is the person who said she saw video wrong about that?

If we wish to discuss judgmentalism and members of the body of Christ being unsupportive of those who need support, I have to say I am absolutely shocked and dismayed that somebody who won't even leave a name, not even a pseudonymn, or any way for Angela to have a private conversation, chooses this beautiful post, of all places, a post that moved me to tears, a post where a young mother bares her soul, brings her own personal shame and heart ache to the discussion and speaks so movingly of personal redemption, as a platform for accusations and hostility. That anybody could use THIS post to jump down her throat is a sad, sad thing, and it seems to me what you are doing to Angela personally is pretty much what accuse her of doing, only worse.

Angela, it was a beautiful post. I do not know you other than from reading your blog over the last few weeks as I have tried to get a grasp on Haiti and what is happening there, and I know you have supportive friends and family, so probably my sticking my oar in is unnecessary. But I want you to know that it seems to me your post was so eloquent and moving, so expressive of redemption and forgiveness that Satan just had to try to tarnish it and cause you pain.

I hope that you are able to overlook this pain. This post meant a lot to me and touched me deeply.

gabe said...

I have read through the discussion here and there are aspects of each post that I agree with, however, I do think it is important not to tarnish the spiritual reputation of the individuals in this group of missionaries. I understand that this situation has caused frustration for many, it is very saddening. There may have been wrong doing by some of the individuals involved, perhaps sin on the part of some. But I don't think we can say what and by who with any authority.

My wife and I happen to live in the town that many members of this group are from. We don't know anyone from the group but we have friends who go to the church they are from. And so we have had the opportunity to hear about the hurt caused by speculation and judgment of these people. No one seems to know what really happened yet, except that mistakes were made. Discussing possible sins committed by these people in a public forum only seems to spreads the hurt of the situation.

Anyway, that's my 2 cents, I hope Jesus can be glorified both here and there by His servants...
Gabe Heter

megan haug said...

the thing of it is-- Angela's original post and the discussion in these comments aren't even along the same points!

Anonymous, you continue to surprise me. We are ALL guilty of sin!! That's the point. That is why Angela has repenting of condemning these people. Because her name is on your "guilty" list, too. Go ahead and add my name.

Megan Haug, 24 Guilty of breaking all ten commandments and more!

Call it whatever you want. Wrong doing (sin). A mistake (sin). The point is that we've ALL done made "mistakes" and done "wrong" things. It seems some of you are gasping that these mistakes and wrong-doings have been referred to as sins. We could get into that argument, but I don't think that is necessary right now. Whatever you want to refer to it as, Angela was simply repenting, as I needed to do as well, for judging and condemning this group.

megan haug said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Elias said...

speaking simply of your post:

praise God for His grace! He can forgive any sin! i am so glad you have repented and turned from your sin, sistre. i am amazed at a God who can forgive people who ignored Romans 13:1-2 "Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves."

i ignore Scripture often. yet He is willing to forgive me when I come to Him.

praise Him for His great grace!

i love you, sistre. i am glad i am your brother.