For so many reasons, summer is a season of transitions. In addition to the usual changes, this June contains a few aA few months back, I had the chance to go to Brazil to teach a course at the seminary with which we partner; I also went to the Chain of Love international board meetings. Chain of Love is an orphan ministry that was begun by NAB missionaries but has been handed over entirely to Brazilian nationals. I have the privilege of sitting on this board because of my position at the NAB and our long-standing relationship with Chain of Love.
I first visited Chain of Love nearly twenty years ago on a short-term mission trip with Faith Baptist Church, the church I was pastoring in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The ministry of Chain of Love has changed over the years. It is still structured with parents living in homes with six to ten orphans, along with the biological children of the host parents. But the stories of the orphans that come today are even more tragic than they were when the ministry started over twenty years ago. In addition to the stories of neglect, physical abuse, and sexual abuse, the children today are coming with a variety of more severe learning and social disabilities. In many instances, it is the state that places the children at Chain of Love because the civil authorities recognize the love and care provided in the name of Jesus.
In 258 AD, Valerian, the emperor of Rome, carried out a brutal persecution of the Church. He demanded that Lawrence, the archdeacon of Rome, round up all the treasures of the Church and hand it over to Valerian. Lawrence quickly sold any of the items of the church and gave all the wealth away to the widows, the lame, and the poor. On the third day, Lawrence came before Valerian with a great deal of pomp and circumstance and, pointing behind to where a crowd of poor, crippled, and disenfranchised people were streaming into the palace, he declared, “These are the true treasures of the Church.” For his insolence, Lawrence was sentenced to death by being “cooked” in a large frying pan over the fire, and church tradition tells us that at one point Lawrence lifted his head and declared to his executioner something to the effect of, “You can turn me over now, I’m done on that side.”
Whether or not Lawrence actually said these words or something like it, we don’t know for sure. In many circles, however, he is known for that quote rather than his powerful recognition that the poor, the crippled, the disenfranchised, the orphan “are the true treasures of the Church.” For those of you who partner with the NAB as we partner with Chain of Love, thank you! Thank you for helping Chain of Love care for the true treasures of the Church. Thank you for spending a few pieces of metal and few pieces of paper that will someday disappear to invest in the true treasures of Christ and his Church.
If you would like to support the ministry of Chain of Love, please click one of the links below or reach out to Kerry L. Bender at email@example.com.