THE 6 C’S of CHANGE (Part 2) Finding Courage in a Modern Day Crisis

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Esther was a Jew who grew up as an exile in Persia hundreds of years before Christ.

King Xerxes was the powerful King at the time who ruled over 127 provinces.

Queen Vashti was the beautiful wife of Xerxes who refused to show off her beauty in front of King Xerxes party guests which set in motion the rise of Esther.

Mordecai was Esther’s older cousin.

Haman held a royal title with the Amalekites, who were long standing enemies of the Jews.

These are the characters of an epic story that brings us from a wicked, evil plot to a risky, life-saving commitment.

At the end of a 7 day binge party, with the King’s judgment impaired by alcohol, Xerxes makes an arrogant and voyeuristic order to have Queen Vashti, his extravagantly beautiful wife, to parade provocatively in front of all of his guests.

Sadly, the Persia of Xerxes’ day was much like what too much of our world is today. Women were used, abused and exploited with very little rights.

She refuses to do it, which infuriates and embarrasses the King and she is banished from his presence, demoted and no longer queen.

The King begins to look for a new queen.

Those who become candidates to become the new queen have to go through twelve months of beauty treatments before being seen by the king.

Esther becomes one of the candidates.

And because of her beauty Esther is chosen by King Xerxes to become queen.

Meanwhile Mordecai, Esther’s older cousin, saves the King by alerting him of an assassination attempt on his life. This heroic deed is recorded in the record books, which becomes an important part of this story.

At the same time, Haman is given a high position in the kingdom by the King and becomes annoyed when Mordecai refuses to kneel down to him. Haman’s anger leads him to plot the execution of all the Jews of the kingdom.

Here’s the CRISIS: The extermination of the Jews.

To try to stop the execution of all the Jews, Mordecai calls on his younger cousin, Queen Esther to intercede to the King.

There are two problems to that request.
One, the King does not know that Esther is a Jew.
Two, she could be killed because it was illegal, upon penalty of death, for anyone, even her, to appear before the king uninvited.

As a Jew, Esther is convicted to do something, but there is much risk to actually following through.

And here we have this very familiar, human tension: We have CONVICTION, but will it turn into a COMMITMENT to act?

In the words of Thomas Carlyle, “Conviction is worthless unless it is converted into commitment.”

Esther is queen and she knows the right thing to do. But life is good, life is comfortable and here in lies the tension.
Have you ever known the right thing to do, but you are comfortable, and to do the right thing might inconvenience you?

Mordecai is concerned about this tension between conviction and commitment and he sees Esther’s reluctance to approach the King so as an older cousin he challenges her with some stern, challenging words.
“If you keep quiet at a time like this, God will deliver the Jews from some other source, but you and your relatives will die; what’s more, who can say but that God has brought you into the palace for just such a time as this?”

With these words, Esther makes the COMMITMENT to appeal to the King.

And the COST is she could be demoted as queen
The CONSEQUENCES could be she could be killed.

Before she approaches the king, she asks Mordecai to organize a time of prayer and fasting for her. She is well aware that she needs God’s favor if she is to succeed.

She needs another C word: COURAGE

To do anything significant and worthy we must allow courage to win over fear.
In the words of Martin Luther King Jr., “We must build dikes of courage to hold back the flood of fear.”

The great 20th century theologian Karl Barth is famous for saying, “Courage is fear that has said its prayers.”


Meanwhile, Haman’s hatred for Mordecai is growing so he has a special gallows built beside his house on which to hang Mordecai.

At the same time, King Xerxes cannot sleep and asks for the record books to be read aloud to him. (I could think of better bed time reading material.)
But while the record book was being read out loud the deeds of Mordecai in saving the king in the past are read.

In an ironic and almost humorous twist of fate, the King asks Haman what should be done to a man who the King wants to honor and Haman, in his arrogance, thinks the king is referring to him and advises a lavish display of wealth and praise to be bestowed on the man publicly.
The King orders Haman to do this for Mordecai. Imagine the shock and humiliation Haman must have felt,

COURAGE: Esther finally goes to the King and reveals that she is a Jew and Haman has plotted to kill them all.

CHANGE: The kings responds by not killing Esther, but honors her request and save the Jews and Haman ends up getting hanged on the gallows he had built for Mordecai. (That is the definition of irony!)

God brought Esther into the palace for such a crisis as this so that the Jews would be saved, but she had to go through the 6 C’s of CHANGE, where a conviction had to move to a commitment where she had to count the cost and be willing to face the consequences.

It’s an amazing story of a crisis that led to a miraculous change:

But there is another CRISIS I would like to talk about. It’s a modern day crisis that you and I are in the middle of.


There are 163 million orphans in the world and counting

Every 14 seconds a child is orphaned by AIDS

There are over 400,000 children in the U.S. foster system

There are over 100,000 children in U.S. foster system waiting to be adopted

An estimated 80% of children who are sex trafficked come from the U.S. foster system.

When children “age-out” of orphanages around the world they often become homeless or become part of the slave trade or sex trade.

My nephew and niece, Jacob and Kelly Ricketts adopted two beautiful boys, who were 1 and 2 years old at the time and the boys had already been in 8 different foster homes.

The plight of abandoned and orphaned children in our world globally and locally is the CRISIS of our day.

CONVICTION: From the teachings of the prophets to the teachings of Jesus and those who followed him, the scriptures have been very clear that we should live with a deep conviction to be a defender of the orphan.

“Father to the fatherless, defender of widows—this is God, whose dwelling is holy. God places the lonely in families.” Psalm 68:5-6

“Defend the cause of orphans…” Isaiah 1:17

“…speak for those who cannot speak for themselves.” Proverbs 31:8

“Pure, unstained religion, according to God our Father, is to take care of orphans and widows when they suffer and to remain uncorrupted by this world.” James 1:27

“Rescue those who are unjustly sentenced to death; don’t stand back and let them die. Don’t try to disclaim responsibility by saying you didn’t know about it. For God, who knows all hearts, knows yours, and he knows you knew! And he will reward everyone according to his deeds.” Proverbs 24:12

And here we are again at the tension between CONVICTION and COMMITMENT.

COMMITMENT: God is asking those of faith to move from conviction, knowing the right thing to do, to commitment, actually doing the right thing.
God is asking us to get involved in another C word, and that is to CARE!

Change the future of a vulnerable child.
Accept an orphan or vulnerable child into your family.
Reinforce orphans and the families who have accepted them.
Energize others to care for orphans.

Change the future of a vulnerable child globally by sponsoring a child through Compassion International, by supporting a home that rescues girls from the horrors of sex trafficking or invest in an orphanage where abandoned children are given love and support.

Change the future of a vulnerable child locally by being a mentor through Big Brothers, Big Sisters, or volunteer at a local Boy’s and Girl’s Club or sign up to be a student leader at your local church.

Accept an orphan into your family globally by adopting the most vulnerable and at risk children.

Accept an orphan into your family locally by adopting or fostering a child or becoming a SAFE family.

Reinforce orphans and the families who have accepted them by taking mission trips to orphanages and supporting adoptive, foster and SAFE families. Become a CASA. (Court Appointed Special Advocate)

Energize others to care for orphans by sharing with others what you have learned, being a voice and an advocate to get those around you involved.

What will this commitment cost us?


But I don’t know what could be a better investment of these things?

Jesus said, “Don’t invest your time, talents and treasures in temporary things that are fragile and vulnerable to going away.”
Jesus gave great investing advice when he said, “Invest in things that will outlast this world. Invest in heavenly treasures where the dividends continue to pay throughout eternity.”

ORPHANS are those eternal treasures he was talking about.

If those of us who call ourselves followers of Christ lead the way humbly, we can change this crisis.
Imagine if every person of faith made a COMMITMENT in this CRISIS to CARE?
Hundreds of millions of volunteers using their time, talents and treasures would be mobilized.

If 1 out of every 3 churches in America would find 1 family to adopt 1 kid there would be no orphans in America.

History has shown that people of faith have tended to be late to arrive to the major crises of the world, but it’s not too late.

There is a Chinese Proverb that says, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The next best time is now.”

If the 138 million Americans who call themselves serious, committed followers of Jesus would engage locally and globally in this CRISIS, we will begin to see some miraculous CONSEQUENCES:

The consequences in the words of the prophet from the 58th chapter of Isaiah will be, “Those of us of faith will be known as those who can fix anything and we will be known as restorer of old ruins and re-builders and renovators who are making our communities livable again.”

Jesus said that when we have that kind of reputation, then God will be glorified.

And the orphans and most vulnerable will be the leaders of CHANGE:

Dr. Scott C. Todd gives us some prophet words when he writes,
“No major spiritual, social or economic change of any significance can happen in this world without the permission of children.
We tend to think of children in terms of needs and vulnerabilities. They need guidance, education, nourishment, and protection from the evil threats of this world. Absolutely true. But we also need to recognize the catalytic power in children for change. They are God’s agents and opinion-shapers. We need to engage, invest, sacrifice and re-focus and recognize the power of children to change the world.”

It will take COURAGE and CARE.

You may be wondering why I shared with you the Esther CRISIS before I shared with you the orphan CRISIS.
Well, one reason is because it’s a powerful study of COURAGE, but the main reason was because Esther was an ORPHAN and her older cousin, Mordecai adopted and invested in her.

I wanted you to see the power of an orphan.
An orphan saved an entire nation, but it took someone believing in her.

History is full of orphans who have made this world a better place.
Moses, who left a comfortable, safe life and led Israel out of slavery, was an orphan
Esther, who had the guts to stand up to a king and risk death to save a nation, was an orphan
Saint Nicholas, the patron saint and protector of children, was an orphan
Founding U.S. father, Alexander Hamilton and two U.S. presidents, Andrew Jackson and Herbert Hoover, were orphans.
Nelson Mandela was an orphan.
Eleanor Roosevelt was an orphan.
J.R.R. Tolkien, author of Lord of the Rings and the key to leading C.S. Lewis to become a follower of Jesus which led to so many important Christian writings, was an orphan
Musicians, Louis Armstrong, Ray Charles, Johann Sebastian Bach, Ella Fitzgerald, Faith Hill, Tina Turner, were orphans.
George Washington Carver, scientist, inventor, was an orphan, and if he really invented peanut butter, then I owe him an eternal debt.
For all of you addicted to your cell phones, Steve Jobs was an orphan.

The power of an orphan! The power of a child!

God leads by example on this because spiritually, we were all orphaned, and God adopted us.
“His unchanging plan has always been to adopt us into his own family by sending Jesus Christ to die for us. And he did this because he wanted to!” Ephesians 1:5
And when we defend and adopt, we are being exactly like God.

He doesn’t want us to defend the orphan out of guilt, but out of love, because like God, we want to.
This is not about obligation but about opportunity.
This is not a burden but a blessing.

Don’t be overwhelmed by the numbers and statistics. Just take a step forward and do what you can.

“I am only one. But still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something: Yet, just because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something I can.” Helen Keller

MAY WE HAVE THE COURAGE OF ESTHER TO DO SOMETHING TRULY GREAT! May Esther 4:14 be paraphrased for our generation.

“If we keep quiet at a time like this, God will deliver defenseless orphans from some other source, but our spirits will shrivel and God’s credibility will die; yet who can say that God has not brought us, our global knowledge, our compassionate hearts and our blessed resources into this generation to defend the orphan and change the world for such a time as this?”


Precious and Powerful in His sight

This poem is dedicated to children all around the world that have been forgotten.

Children who have no voice.

Children who have been victims of injustice, war, disease, abuse, lust and greed.

Children who God asks us to defend.

I wrote this poem based on David’s writing of the 68th Psalm where he says, God is a “Father to the fatherless, defender of widows—this is God, whose dwelling is holy. God places the lonely in families.”

I wrote this poem with the children of India, Africa, Mexico and our own inner cities in mind. You will see a piece of each of them in the poem.


My mama’s sick, my daddy’s gone
My bellies empty, I’m all alone
I can’t grow food, the ground is poison
Religion says, it’s the path I have chosen

My papa lives in a new steel home
It’s a solitary place, no room to roam
His hug feels good, I need to cleave
I have to go, and he can’t leave

The man with car, driving up the street
He gives me things, always bitter sweet
I will find love, even if it hurts
Pain has become, the way I feel, the way I divert

He says he loves me, I want to believe
He beats me sick, my skin starts to bleed
My actions compromise, he’s gonna make me rich
I need a new definition, love shouldn’t feel like this

I sweat with fever, mosquito’s rage
Can’t get a net, it’s a two week wage
Rain forgotten, water brown
It’s all I drink, intestines pound

Church round the corner says they have good news
But only open an hour a week, I am confused
They say that Jesus loves me, I better get in
I tell them, I need to experience God, with bones and skin

Gunshots past my window, sunset brings a brand new show
I survive another corner, I survive another go
I’m told there is a God, I’m told he’s a father
I’ve been burned before, I’m not gonna bother

New job in the city, there’s a new hope pending
I’ve been lied to once again, now I’m a slave never ending
My parents think I’m safe, I’m making a living
I’m used everyday, more animal than human being

I have no value, I have no worth
Accidents happen, including my birth
I have no future, I have no sight
But I will survive today, I’m ready to fight

I need a dad, I need a mom
I need a house, I need a home
I’m one of millions, yet all alone
I’m looking for a place where love is shown

I’ve heard of children, with gold in their hand
I want to go there, this forgotten land
Where a bitter pill will make me better
Please someone notice, I’m praying for a letter

I want to go where children aren’t fatherless
Where my bellies full and the streets are harmless

I want to go where love doesn’t hurt and mosquitos don’t kill
Where churches are trading and Grace is the deal

I want to go where I’m safe, no longer looking behind me
Where I can find God, my heavenly father, who places the lonely in families

Let us pray and take action today.
For more information on how to defend the cause of orphans please look to these amazing organizations:

Also, follow me on twitter @kenburkey and share my blog with someone where we can continue to raise awareness, so we will be known as the generation that was a father to the fatherless and placed the lonely in families.

You Have To Go Out, But You Don’t Have To Come Back

On Nantucket Island, there is a little museum devoted to a volunteer organization formed centuries ago.

In those days, travel by sea was extremely dangerous. Because of the storms in the Atlantic along the rocky coast of Massachusetts, many lives would be lost within a mile or so of land.

So a group of volunteers went into the life-saving business. They banded together to form what was called the Humane Society.

These people built little huts all along the shore. They had people watching the sea all the time. Whenever a ship went down, the word would go out, and these people would devote everything to save every life they could.

They did not put themselves at risk for money or fame, but only because they prized human life.

In fact they adopted a motto that said: “You have to go out, but you don’t have to come back.” Not a great recruiting slogan is it?

These were people who would risk everything—even their lives—to save people they had never met.

But over time, things changed.

After a while, the U.S. Coast Guard began to take over the task of rescue. Eventually, the idea that carried the day was, “Let the professionals do it. They’re better trained. They get paid for it.”

Volunteers stopped searching the coastlines for ships in danger. They stopped sending teams out to rescue drowning people.

Yet, a strange thing happened: They couldn’t bring themselves to disband. The life-saving society still exists today. The members meet every once in a while to have dinners. They are just not in the life-saving business anymore.

Two thousand years ago, a band of rag-tag followers of Jesus began to meet regularly to pray and strategize how they could rescue a ship-wrecked world.

It was a calling they took seriously.
Their motto was, “You have to go out, but you don’t have to come back.”

The writer of Acts wrote as they embraced this slogan that “…they(the church) added to their number daily.”

Followers of Jesus were known as people who would adopt abandoned children, serve the poor, fight and die for justice, and stay in plague-filled cities to care for the sick, while others fled to safe places.

Rulers and governments were intrigued, confused and threatened by the willingness to give their life for others.

The early church left a permanent mark in the secular history books of the day.

What will history write about today’s church?
It was willing to go out, but it did not having to come back?
Or, it was judgmental, exclusive, irrelevant, fearful, turned it over to professionals, no longer in the life saving business but kept having meetings?

Peter Drucker says “It’s the human propensity to start with a clear vision and to get it muddied up along the way. It’s just kind of what happens to human beings in organizations.”

How badly the church is missed in our culture.
Yet there seems to be a church on every corner.
How can the church be missed when it is all around us?

The prophet Isaiah said that when the church is busy with meetings it becomes powerless.

The churches power comes from caring for the poor, feeding the hungry, fighting injustice, and protecting widows and orphans.

The impact of the church is not predicated on frequency of meetings and the eloquent nature of its rhetoric.
Its impact is not determined by a nice, accessible location.

The impact of the church has to do with its willingness to lay its life down for a ship-wrecked world.

When the church begins to re-live the motto, “You have to go out, but you don’t have to come back”, it will become relevant once again.

Let me share with you the Green Valley Life-Saving “Dream”.

The Green Valley dream is a dream where those who are hurting, hopeless, discouraged, frustrated or confused can find love, acceptance, guidance, hope, encouragement and forgiveness.

It is a dream of sharing the good news of Jesus Christ in our community and beyond to the world.

It is a dream of thousands of people growing together in spiritual maturity through learning together, serving together, loving together, laughing together and giving together.

It is a dream where our love for one another would attract people to Christ.

It is a dream where people will look at Green Valley and say “Wow, church is a good thing!”

It is a dream where every person uses their time, talents, passions and resources for God’s purposes so that we honor God, by giving him our all, by giving him our best.

It is a dream where we continually reach back to invest in a new generation of children and youth who are our future leaders. It is where we look beneath the surface of their lives and see God’s gifts and potential in them.

It is a dream where we will serve the poor, take care of the sick, and love those who have walked down the wrong paths of life because that is where you actually meet Christ.

It is a dream that we will keep simple. LOVE GOD, LOVE PEOPLE. And we will allow no other issues to get in our way.

It is a dream where we will constantly put ourselves in situations where we can’t do it ourselves, so that we will have to trust God and see him do amazing things.

It is a dream to never play it safe, but actually believe that God came to seek and save the lost. And actually believe that God told us that we must lose our lives in order to save them.


It is a dream where He says, “Make yourself fully available to me. Fully available in your worship, talents, passions and resources. Fully available to love one another, forgive one another and serve one another. Make yourself fully, wholly, unconditionally, unreservedly, unashamedly available to me and I will blow your socks off with the miracles that I want to do.”

God says today, “Dreams do come true!”