Andrew Hopper, lead pastor of Mercy Hill Church in Greensboro, believes that adoption/foster care is gospel driven.
“Our vision at Mercy Hill is for families and individuals to provide gospel-driven care for vulnerable children through four lanes: adoption, foster care, support for foster care families, and advocacy for children as a guardian ad litem.”
Hopper was a recent guest of Dr. Michael C. Blackwell’s podcast “It’s a family matter” and shared how Mercy Hill Church is partnering with Baptist Children’s Homes to reach their goal to have 200 adoptive and foster care families in their church by 2025.
Andrew and his wife Anna have an adopted special needs child and three birth children. His commitment to adoption and fostering comes from his and Anna’s belief that “the Bible leads the charge.” They felt “drawn” by what Scripture called them to do. He said it was why he is boldly leading Mercy Hill to reach their goal.
“Our church began to think about what it looks like to be a people who promote building families the way God builds His: through adoption,” Hopper says. “God began to wreck our heart as a church for this ministry in a new way. Today, there are more than 50 families in our church who have adopted.”
Hopper preached a series of sermons to launch the adoption/foster care emphasis entitled “Chosen” (Hopper’s sermons are available at www.every-child.org/pastors) to give Mercy Hill members the “theology of adoption.”
“When people get it, something sparks.” Hopper attests. “You can’t be a Christian without fully understanding adoption. It started there, and then God began birthing a vision to see these 200 families raised up from the sidelines to the front line.”
Andrew asserts that foster care goes hand in hand in ministry. “Christians build families through adoptions but are part of restoring families through foster care. The first goal of Christian fostering is to see God move and bring salvation to a family—to see them spiritually and emotionally brought back together.”
Whether fostering or planning to adopt, the family needs the church’s support. Hopper says there needs to be those who are “rope holders.” The term is borrowed from the unique relationship between William Cary and Andrew Fuller. Cary told Fuller that if he would “hold the rope,” he would go to the foreign mission field. For 20 years, Fuller raised prayer support and money for Cary’s ministry. “We borrow the term. What our families are willing to do through adoption and foster care compels others to help. We must be willing to ‘hold the rope’ for them.”
Five years ago, Anna and Andrew adopted their daughter Faith Ann. The couple was called by the adoption agency and told they were a match for a birth mom. They listened as they learned the baby would have special needs and had a 99 percent chance of having down syndrome.
“They told us to take a couple of days and then let them know our decision,” Hopper recounts.
“I called my dad and explained what was happening. I told him they’ve asked us to pray about it. He said, ‘Man, what’s there to pray about?’”
Hopper believes Faith Ann impacts others around her, especially church members and his three other children.
“Both our children and church witness what God does through this beautiful child,” Hopper says. “We’re trusting God—we put ourselves into this and push back fear. And God is busy putting back into our family through Faith Ann. My kids see what it looks like to bring the most vulnerable into our home and are learning about the gospel in a different way.”
The 40-year-old Florida native who gave his heart to Jesus as a boy in the parking lot of the Middleburg Winn-Dixie grocery store believes the answer is the church. “I’ve done the numbers. It would be great for one or two churches, or BCH, to take care of all the hurting children in the state, but it is going to take more. Doing this together, we truly could see the day when there are more families who are licensed in the more than 4,000 North Carolina Baptist churches to adopt and foster than there are kids waiting for a home.” It is a gospel-driven vision.
Note: Your church and families in your congregation can be a part of ensuring boys and girls in the NC foster care system can have the caring, Christian homes they deserve through the EVERY CHILD Foster & Adopt Ministry -- a partnership between Baptist Children's Homes and NC Baptists. To learn more, visit every-child.org.
Written by Jim Edminson, Editor of Charity & Children