“I can say without any reservation that the happiest, most content people I know are those who have taken seriously our Lord’s command to minister to the least of these.” -Page 47 of Dirty Faith

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David Nowell is the president of Hope Unlimited for Children, a Christian nonprofit that ministers to sex-trafficked children, street orphans, and child prisoners. It is from this background that he writes this book, from a heart of compassion toward those who are “the least of these,” children who have been abandoned, mistreated, and who need a Rescuer.

So what are we doing to get our hands dirty with those Jesus called “the least of these?”

Do I sit in my suburban house, enjoying the fireplace and my chai latte, forgetting that anyone out there is cold, hungry, dirty, and yearning for love?

Yep. I do. More often than I want to admit.

Do our churches spend more time looking inward, ministering only to ourselves, or do we have an outward focus? How much of our church budget is spent on facilities, salaries, and programs…and how much is spent on evangelism?

I’ll be honest. I should have posted this review a long time ago. It took me a long time to get into this book. Maybe it was because the need is simply overwhelming. Or because I’m not one of those people he references who are marginally committed to Christianity and the church. I am all in. I’m not anywhere near perfect, but I’m completely committed.

Once I got past all of that, it is a well-written book, challenging the status quo of the American church and our individual lives and asking hard questions. There are plenty of heart-rending true stories – stories of kids prostituted by their relatives, or selling themselves because it’s the only way they know how to survive, or kids in prison who have committed heinous acts but want another chance at life…And all of these are loved by God and we are called to love them, too.

He talks about caring for the orphans:
“Caring for the orphan is not just something we are commanded to do; it is the essence of our identity. We accept because we are accepted. We love without reference to merit because we receive unmerited love. We adopt because we are adopted. Hear this again and again: As we stand before God, there is no qualitative difference between us and the most desperate child of the street.”

It makes me think of my friend Dana. After completing her nursing degree and working in a hospital, she spent years in South Africa, working with orphans there. She fell in love with one in particular and adopted her. When God called her back to the US, her ministry to orphans did not stop. She spends her days as a mama to medically fragile foster kiddos, another one of whom she adopted.

She became a part of our (relatively small) church family when she returned permanently to the States. And she has singlehandedly changed the culture of our church body. Adoption isn’t “different” anymore. To date, four families in the church have adopted foster children that she has cared for. Another family has adopted overseas. And another is in the process of adopting an older child. I will be shocked if God does not provide more families to adopt in the future.

Nowell doesn’t insist that everyone has to go out and get a foster care license or adopt a child. He doesn’t say everyone has to go visit people in jail. But he does insist that we DO SOMETHING.

So what are you going to do? What am I going to do?

Disclosure: I was provided a free copy of this book by Bethany House Publishers for the purpose of review. All opinions are mine, and I was not compensated monetarily for the review.