Each year we exchange Epiphany gifts. It used to include a gift-wrapping competition, but that was the dumb part (my thoughts only, Kristin likes it). We always give each other books which we would try to disguise as different things. Now we just hand each other the box as it comes in the mail and you get bonus points if it arrives on-time.
This year Kristin gave me the latest edition of Operation World. Note: Kristin says if you order from this site, it will take 3 weeks to arrive by FedEx! She speaks from experience (but the bonus point thing is just made up anyway). Besides being the best available prayer tool I know of concerning the spread of the Gospel throughout every nation, tribe, and tongue, it's also a refresher on geography, world history, economics and government from a Christ-is-King-of-All perspective. It's now part of our family worship liturgy.
Some of the articles I gave Kristin were duds, but some were homers. The best was Rachel Ball's thesis on adoption titled "Defenders of the Defenseless" (thanks so much Valerie for putting me in touch with her). I wish Ms. Ball's work would be published so it could be available to a wider audience. Here's an excerpt from her preface,
My family has been involved in foster care and adoption for nearly my entire life. After adopting four of my siblings and having over twenty-five foster children pass through my home, we have learned much about the system and have been able to see the family backgrounds that are so typical to these children...
A look at the history of adoption provided the affirmation I had been dreading - Christians, who had at one time been the leaders in the care of needy children, had now settled into a comfortable oblivion. The children who needed care were no longer supported by Christian families; rather, they had become children of the state. Because of this, adoption today has become a governmental and industrial ministry. However, with a look at the biblical teachings on our spiritual adoption and the direct commands for Christians to care for the orphans and fatherless, it has become clear just where the Christians ought to stand.
Thank you Ms. Ball (and your parents) for showing us what it means to love the defenseless.