Caring For The Orphans
All may. None must. Some should.
That was the challenge Tim left us with on Sunday. Orphans aren’t the only ministry to which Christians are called, but a closer look at the scriptures reveals just how important they are to God. In the ESV translation the word orphan (or fatherless) is used 42 times in the Old Testament. In Exodus 22:22 God warns his people not to persecute or afflict the orphan. In Psalm 94:6 and Deuteronomy 27:19 he condemns the lack of righteous living among his people, including their neglect of orphans. Also, at harvest time workers were instructed to leave a portion of the crops in the field for those gleaning behind them (Deut. 24:20-21) and a part of a man’s tithe was to go to “the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow” (Deut. 26:12). My personal favorite Old Testament passage about orphans is Isaiah 1:17: “Learn to do good; seek justice, reprove the ruthless, defend the orphan, plead for the widow.” At the top of God’s list of grievances leading him to send Israel into exile is his people’s failure to care for the orphan. God’s love for orphans is written throughout the Old Testament, which leads us to wonder: How does he desire for us, the Church, to care for orphans today?
In the New Testament, James tells us that pure and undefiled religion is to visit orphans in their distress (James 1:27). How do we do this? It’s complicated because we live in a complex world. The children who join a new family do so weighed down with the trauma of their previous life. The U.S. foster system is also complicated and complex. But despite the challenges of imperfect systems, I believe that the Church should, like David, seek to love the Mephibosheths in our community.
God used an “orphan” named Moses to defeat the greatest Old Testament enemy and free his people, all of which started with Pharaoh’s daughter having pity on Moses and bringing him into her own household. What might God do in and through us if we took the initiative to care for orphans and foster children in our world and city?
Again, all may, none must, some should. There are numerous ways for each one of us to be involved. Some of us can adopt kids out of the foster system or abroad. Others can be a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) to a child in the foster system, or mentor a child through programs like Big Brothers Big Sisters and Side By Side Kids. Still others can make a donation to organizations like the Global Orphan Project. Finally, in February All Saints has an opportunity to minister directly to orphans abroad when we visit the orphanage we support in Haiti through our partnership with the Global Orphan Project.
Regardless of what our individual role is, the important thing to realize is that we as the Church have a role to play. And I believe that All Saints’ role, in particular, can be a significant one. We are an educated and affluent church in which the gospel is preached, the sacraments administered, and Christian community experienced. In other words we have much to offer the world’s children who are in need. There is a lot of momentum building right now in the Church worldwide towards caring for orphans and under privileged children. I pray that the Lord would place All Saints in the very middle of all that’s happening and even allow us to lead others in this mission. Please take some time to pray and consider what part you can play in caring for children in need. Also, please join us on November 20th at J.J. Pickle Elementary as our church serves Thanksgiving dinner to the children of Side by Side Kids and their families. Also, November 23rd is All Saints Day of Service, which will provide additional opportunities. Finally, consider going with us to Haiti in February to visit our orphanage there.