May 3, 2012
Sevens Interview: Kristen Marble + Adoption
Why I’m Interviewing Kristen Marble?
Two very simple rudimentary reasons. One, I've had the joy of serving as one of her professors at George Fox Evangelical Seminary, in particular, a year-long course on the history of the church. Through two fun semesters, we've dutifully gone through the light and darkness of the history of Christianity. Two, Kristen is brilliant, thoughtful, and a like-minded Jesus-follower. Through a number of exchanges, I've engaged Kristen, her thinking, but perhaps for this interview, most importantly, her home life.
Kristen Marble has been married to her best friend John for over 17 years. Together, with their ten kids and two cats, live in Glendive, Montana, in a 105-year-old former Scandinavian Lutheran church. Their six girls and four boys include three birth kids (ages 6, 9, and 11) and seven internationally adopted from Haiti, Ukraine, and Russia (ages 6, 10, 12, 12, 14, 16, and 19).
Yes, ten kids!
Kristen was raised Moscow, Idaho, and is proud to be a University of Idaho alum with undergrad and graduate degrees in Chemistry, German, and Higher Education Administration. Having lived, studied, and traveled in Europe, she now loves to travel with her family. You'll often find them on the open-road in their Sprinter van heading somewhere interesting. Even the newest members of their family, home only two years, have already been to 21 states and 3 Canadian provinces.
Depending on the time of day, you might find her homeschooling her kids, experimenting with a new recipe, preparing a sermon for the house church she pastors, studying for her MDiv at George Fox, or on a lucky day, stealing a few minutes to read a good book. She is a writer and speaker, and has recently been published by Burnside Writers Collective and Christians for Biblical Equality.
If she could sum up her life, passion for justice and ministry calling with just one word, it would definitely be hope.
Ultimately, I wanted to interview Kristen about her experience adopting and being a mother to ten children. I suspect some of her insights may have a profound impact on the way we understand God as the adopter of our broken lives.
I've decided to break this interview up into a couple segments. Enjoy the journey.
The Interview: Adoption, the Bible, and Justice (Part I):
Q1: From your experience, how is adoption connected to salvation in the Bible?
A1: The very work and gift of God through the Holy Spirit is our adoption as beloved daughters and sons of him whom we now call, “Abba, Father” (Rom. 8:15). Through our huiothesia, we are given all the rights and privileges of a “birth” child, fully lavished in love, and embraced with a new identity as ones who have legally become members of God’s divine family (1 John 3:1-2). It is God who, with great pleasure, has chosen us to be adopted (Eph. 1:4-5). Adoption is clearly a beautiful, biblical image of hope and salvation—and one I can now more fully appreciate having adopted children myself. God’s sacrifice of adoption welcomes us in, redeems our hopeless future, and invites us to go and do likewise.
Q2: How do you see the church of Jesus carrying on this ministry today?
A2: Nine years ago, after much reflection, research and prayer, eager to respond to God’s direction in our lives as a family and as followers of Christ, John and I met with our (former) church pastor. We shared our understanding of the connection between salvation and adoption, God’s heart and the church’s responsibility for the orphan, and our personal calling to adopt an older sibling group from Ukraine.
“That’s a real nice thing to do,” he said, “but it doesn’t have anything to do with the church or Christianity.”
And the conversation ended.
We didn’t agree. We couldn’t agree. We weren’t biblical experts, but James 1:27 is pretty clear. God’s core value of justice is very clear. The expectation for God’s people to be involved in the work of justice is undeniable. In the years since that frustrating meeting, I have seen an amazing growth of awareness and involvement by church and parachurch ministries in adoption, foster care, and global orphan initiatives. Churches are feeding, clothing, educating, and even parenting orphans—children from their own cities and children from around the globe. But much more can be done. Much more needs to be done.
Too many still deny, either outrightly or quietly by ignoring the issue that orphan care and the church should have anything to do with each other. Others, frustrated by what seems to be overwhelming numbers, shrug and ask, “What’s the point?” The point is that God calls us to it. And change can happen. Here’s a simple reality: In rough numbers, there are 110,000 U.S. foster children available for adoption and 300,000 churches. Do the math—it would only take one family from every three churches in the US to “empty” the foster care system!
After reading these first two questions again, I am struck by two things.
First, the legal implications of adoption in the Bible. It strikes me as so powerfully prophetic in our culture to think about a God that not only loves us but literally owns us; taking every element of darkness in our lives upon himself. Beautiful!
Second, the uncomfortability I feel reading the response "that's a real nice thing to do." Not because a pastor would say that. But because I would say that.
My practice of justice is almost always one of convenience. The willingness I can conjur up to do justice can often be subsumed under how little effort it takes. I don't write this, honestly, to be callous about myself. Rather, I think we all might humbly acknowledge an attitude that is similar.
Justice can never be convenient.
Nor is it meant to be. It is God breaking into our status quo with the economy of heaven. This is painful. As you read this, how does your heart respond to the biblical idea of taking upon ourselves the role of being adopters? Is it hard to hear? Does is scare you? What's your response?
We'll be back next week with part two of this interview.
To read more Sevens interviews or read about why they exist, go here.
You can connect further with Kristen at the following: