Every spring and summer I like to pretend that I have a green thumb.  I plant a somewhat elaborate vegetable garden.  And then the reality sets in.  When half of my plants die off, I realize that my thumb isn’t green at all.  I’m not sure what color it is, but it’s definitely not green!  But I’m thankful that our God is the perfect Gardener, for he has grafted all believers, including me, into His life giving and sustaining root.

Romans 11:17-18 says, “you, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root of the olive tree, 18 do not be arrogant toward the branches. If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you.”  This passage is referring to God grafting in the Gentiles to his family, to be a part of his nourishing root.

What exactly is grafting?  Maximum Yield, a gardening website gives this definition: “Grafting is the process of joining two plants together (an upper portion and a lower portion) to grow as one.”  Two different plants are joined together to grow as one and to be supported by the same root system.

That’s what God did for us.  We, the wild olive shoots, were grafted into a strong and flourishing olive tree.  In other words, God attached us to Himself, to be nourished and supported by his life-giving root.  It is this picture of love and flourishing that inspires many to graft parentless children into their family through foster care and adoption.

These children may not share the same DNA as their adoptive or foster family, but they are grafted in and grow as one strong tree together, sharing the same root structure.  Grafting is what Bishop Aaron Blake and his wife did for 6 teenage boys in Texas.  You can watch amazing story of one of his sons who talks about the significance of being grafted here.

Diego is one of six teenage boys who were sent to live with the Blakes through the foster care system.  As soon as each teenage boy entered the Blake’s home he was told that he was an engrafted part of that family.  This was a new concept for the boys who had all spent considerable time in foster care and had been sent away by other families for misbehavior.  Being told they were engrafted by the Blake’s didn’t change their behavior overnight.  It was experiencing the reality of their “engraftedness” that did.  One day Diego and his brothers literally burned the Blake’s house down.  Yet Bishop Blake didn’t send them away because he had purposefully grafted them into his family.  They were growing together, sharing the same root structure.  And nothing could change their status as engrafted sons.

This is a beautiful picture of what God did for us.  Galatians 4 talks about God sending his Son to redeem us so that we could be adopted and become his children.  It was an intentional action on the part of the Father to love.  As we commemorate Orphan Sunday, this Sunday, November 12th, it’s good to be reminded of how God has engrafted us into his family.  Bishop Blake is one of many families who have engrafted children into their family.  This Sunday, you’ll hear the story of how one family, the Dinklers, engrafted an orphaned child into their family.  Perhaps God is calling your family to do the same.  As you consider your own “engraftedness” will you consider if perhaps God is calling you to be his gardener and engraft a child into your family?  It doesn’t even require a green thumb….though patience will absolutely be required!

Karen Jacobsen is our Director of Children and Refuge 686 Ministry.