The Best Offense: Defending Orphans for the Sake of the Kingdom

Recently, I heard an interview with the director of a new movie called American Honey.

The movie is about those kids who knock on your door and try to get you to buy magazines. These “mag crews,” as they are called, are mostly made up of kids who’ve been orphaned or who’ve run away. The “vulnerable” as the movie’s director calls them.

The interviewer played a short but haunting clip from the movie. In the scene, the crew’s manager is talking to a homeless teenage girl she’s just found.

She asks, “Got anybody who is gonna miss you?”

“Not really.”

“Okay good, you’re hired.”

Turns out, the “mag crew” industry is rife with abuse, drug addiction, endangerment, and ultimately indentured servitude. In an article in The Atlantic, one official said that selling magazines door to door “is ranked number one in the worst children’s jobs in the United States…. But right now we just don’t know how to stop it.” [1]

So, how do you stop it? How do you beat those people and systems that prey on vulnerable kids? How do you beat evil? How do you win?

Our default answer to those questions is simple: offense. Offense wins. We think that if we just leveraged enough offensive, top-down power, we could legislate these mag crews into oblivion and (ta-da!) save vulnerable kids.

Only … we’ve tried that. It hasn’t worked.

Psalm 10 is really eye opening here. Evil works “like a lion” (10:9 TNIV). “The wicked hunt down the weak, catching them in the schemes they devise” (10:2). “Their mouths are full of lies and threats” (10:7). “They lie in wait to catch the helpless … and drag them off” (10:9).

If you are picturing something you’ve seen on the National Geographic channel, you’ve got the right idea. Evil is like a pack of lions, watching a herd of grazing animals from the cover of the tall grass. They patiently watch, until that moment when a yearling is separated from the herd for just a minute, and then they pounce. They spot vulnerability, and they unleash an offensive attack that is overwhelming.

(“Got anybody who is gonna miss you? Good, you are hired.”)

In other words, evil is better at offense than we are.

So what is God’s game plan?


Psalm 10:12-18 lays out God’s plan for defeating evil, and it’s pretty simple: “defending the fatherless [orphan] and the oppressed” (10:18).

Tell me if you think I’m reading this psalm correctly. Based on what I can tell, this is the argument:

  1. Evil feeds its hungerby preying on those who can’t defend themselves. Like the movie director, we’ll call these “the vulnerable.”
  2. The most vulnerable, according to this psalm (and that movie), are kids—particularly orphaned kids.
  3. If someone could defend these orphaned kids, then evil would …


Yea, that’s what I am wondering too.

And that’s what we are wondering at our church. To use a corny sports metaphor, we are wondering if defense really does win championships. To use non-corny, non-sports language, we are wondering if defending orphans might actually do something for the Kingdom of God.

When we wonder about these kinds of things, we typically invest in them.

So here’s our promise: If you go to Highland and decide to adopt or foster a child, we will help you pay for it.

We have official names for this ministry (Highland’s Heart Adoption Fund and Packed in Love), and people who oversee it. But basically it boils down to this: We are so intrigued by the possibility of a good defense that we will pay for it.

We want to defend kids well for the sake of the Kingdom of God.

If you want to see some videos about adoption grant recipients, watch this video:

For more information about how your church can start an adoption or foster care fund, please contact me at [email protected]

[1] Darlena Cunha, “Trapped into Selling Magazines Door-to-Door,” The Atlantic. 20 April 2015.


Eric and his wife Lindsey have been at Highland Church in Memphis since 2012. You are likely to find them walking the local Greenline with their sons Noble, Foster, and dachshund Tucker. Eric cares deeply about preaching and social justice. He has a BA in Biblical Text and a Master of Divinity from Abilene Christian University. Eric is a board member for HopeWorks, an organization that provides hope and job training to the chronically unemployed and formerly incarcerated in Memphis.

Post Info:
Author:  Publish Date: December 15, 2016

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


The CHARIS website hosts conversations of and about Churches of Christ. In partnership with the ACU Library and the Siburt Institute for Church Ministry at Abilene Christian University (Abilene, TX), the website is supported and led by the Center for Heritage and Renewal in Spirituality (CHARIS) at ACU. The Center’s mission is to renew Christian spirituality through engagement of Christian heritage, at Abilene Christian University and beyond. The views expressed on the CHARIS website are those of the various authors, and do not necessarily represent the views of Abilene Christian University or CHARIS at ACU. Questions or comments about the CHARIS website can be directed to charis @

2017-18 CHARIS Editorial Board:
Dr. Carisse Berryhill
Dr. Jason Fikes
Karissa Herchenroeder
Mac Ice
Chai Green
Tammy Marcelain
Molly Scherer
Dr. John Weaver

Contact Us

CHARIS CHARIS on Facebook CHARIS on Twitter

Follow this blog

Get every new post delivered right to your inbox.

Email address