Today on the blog, I asked Tony Merida to share about the gospel, adoption, and speaking at LifeWay’s upcoming Kids Ministry Conference. Tony is the lead pastor of Imago Dei Church in Raleigh, NC. He and his wife, Kimberly, have five adopted children. Tony is also the coauthor of Orphanology: Awakening to Gospel-Centered Adoption and Orphan Care.
By Tony Merida
I’m looking forward to speaking at the LifeWay Kids Ministry Conference in a few months. My ministry actually began doing a LifeWay kids camp in 1998 called “Crosspoint.” It was an incredible joy to teach the Bible and coach baseball that summer to 4th-8th graders. It was also very hard work. That summer set me on a course of ministry that I think will forever be part of my ministry, that is, a concern to see children know the Gospel.
A lot has changed in my life since 1998. About three years ago, my wife and I set out to adopt two children from Ukraine. But we came home with four! After about a year, we decided that we could fit one more into the mini-van so we adopt a little boy from Ethiopia. Now my wife (also a former camp staffer at Crosspoint and Centrifuge) and I get to do kids camp everyday!
As I interact with children and youth, and share our adoption story, several things happen. I find kids that are adopted, and they are moved by the relationship between our adoption of kids and God’s adoption of us. I also meet kids who are in families with adopted siblings. They begin to see their siblings differently through a proper understanding of adoption. Of course, I also have follow up meetings with the adults who are considering adoption. Another mind-shift happens when I speak about the “functionally fatherless.” Many children may have one or both parents, but still need a loving family (and church) to practice the “spirit of adoption” and welcome them into their homes and lives.
By drilling down into the doctrine of adoption, I find that children have a better understanding of the gospel and have a better understanding of what it means to “be imitators of God, as beloved children.”
I find many who have never thought of our adoption in Christ seriously enough, and when they get it, and see the implications, it is life-transforming. That is exactly what has happened to me and my wife.
When our hearts are melted and moved by the gospel, we will experience sustained and radical change in our daily lives.
I look forward to talking about our adoption in Christ at this conference. I hope to see you there.
LifeWay is offering a buy one, get one promotion for conference registration. The promotion runs through tomorrow, August 22. No promo code is needed. Please register by calling Ridgecrest at 800-588-7222 to register in this time window to receive the offer. Information on breakouts and plenary sessions are available online at kidsministryconference.com