Not On My Radar: The Orphan Crisis
In James 1:27, we are instructed to care for the orphan. Psalm 82:3 tells us to defend the cause of the fatherless. God’s Word is our clear call to come alongside the orphan. But how do we practically walk this out?
Called to Care
When we read passages that refer to the orphan, I think sometimes our minds automatically gravitate toward adoption and foster care. Yet if we don’t feel called to bring children into our home, we may tuck these verses into the recesses of our minds where they’ll sit, unentertained, without considering there may be other ways to “care.”
That was me until I read Larry Bergeron’s Journey to the Fatherless. As God broke my heart for the orphan, I told Him I would do whatever He asked to help combat this crisis, which now exceeds 140 million children, according to the Christian Alliance for Orphans (CAFO). God graciously responded to my prayer and changed my life’s trajectory.
I titled this blog “Not on My Radar” because none of the things God has called me to do in caring for the orphan are thoughts I had ever entertained, such as
- Bringing a fatherless teen into our family home;
- Providing respite for a family with six adopted special-needs children; or
- Speaking to Christians about the orphan crisis, challenging the Church to step up and care for God’s precious children.
As you read below some of the practical ways we can serve orphans, you may sense the Holy Spirit’s prompting to respond to opportunities you aren’t quite comfortable with. I pray that your heart will be open to what God desires, even if it’s not on your radar. His will may not be crystal clear today, but don’t be surprised when He begins to reveal it. Just obey.
All About the “One”
We can’t each impact the lives of 140 million children, but we can impact the one(s) the Lord is calling us to personally touch—directly or indirectly. God has sovereignly chosen each of us to help meet His children’s needs. It doesn’t matter how small or daunting our task may seem. What does matter is that we’re willing to obey, at any cost; because each time we do, a child is given hope.
Before continuing, please take a moment to invite the Holy Spirit to open your heart to what the Lord may ask of you.
Practical Ways to Care for Orphans:
- Adoption and foster care
- With more almost 700,000 children going through the U.S. foster care system in 2018 (see The AFCARS Report), the need for adoptive and foster parents is dire.
- Support orphan ministries The Alliance serves
- Orphans in the Alliance are served through Compassion and Mercy Associates (CAMA). Peruse CAMA for current projects.
- cmalliancekids 2019-2020 missions project is Silver Linings Missions Orphanage in Myanmar, Southeast Asia.
- Alliance Women’s 2018-2019 National Project includes several orphan initiatives; contact your local chapter to see how you can get involved.
- Support organizations that advocate for or help meet orphans’ basic needs*
- Donate your time, talent, or and/treasure to organizations that provide awareness and resources, rally the Church, and help meet orphans’ humanitarian and spiritual needs.
- Sponsor a child
Practical Ways to Support Adoptive and Foster Families:
- Provide respite. Orphan care can be emotionally and physically exhausting. Giving caregivers a few hours away from the home can be a priceless gift.
- Prepare a meal or set up a meal train.
- Provide transportation or car maintenance, run errands, or help around the home or yard.
- Since orphan care can take a financial toll, bless a family with a monetary gift.
- Send a note, email, text, or call the family to let them know they’re in your thoughts and prayers.
- Prepare care packages for children, who are often placed in homes with few personal effects.
- Ask families how you can specifically pray for them.
These are just a few of the many ways we can care for orphans. Whatever need God calls us to fill is an opportunity to bless a child and/or a family.
So, the question remains: What is God personally asking of each of us? We can’t let fear-of the unknown, of not thinking we have enough time or money, or that we aren’t capable-keep us from missing the blessing the Lord wants to give us and the children or families He is calling us to serve. The sweetest fruit will result as we step out in faith and obedience and trust Him.
God is Faithful
Our greatest tool is prayer.
- Pray for God’s intervention in the orphan crisis.
- Pray that He will break your heart for fatherless children.
- Pray that the Lord will bless and provide for the orphan and adoptive and foster families.
- Pray for God to show each of us our role in helping to combat the crisis and for Him to give us courage to step into those roles.
As we each do our part, God will be faithful to do His.
The Orphan Crisis and The Church: Taking Our Positions in the Field
Two years ago, as I was reading Larry Bergeron’s Journey to the Fatherless, the Lord opened my eyes and my heart to the plight of the orphan. I was wrecked! That day I told God I would do whatever He desired of me to help His children.
The Lord has since called me to raise awareness of the orphan crisis, plant seeds, and challenge His Church to pray about the position He desires us to play-individually and collectively—to help bring life and hope to His children.
At General Council 2017, U.S. C&MA President Dr. John Stumbo exhorted the Alliance family to consider overlooked people we might reach. As he spoke, the Lord shouted in my spirit—“The orphan!”
The Bible clearly conveys God’s heart for children and His instructions for us to care for them, yet there are 140 million orphans across the globe today (https://cafo.org/ovc/statistics/)! Given this disheartening figure, I am firmly convicted that reaching this people group must become a high priority for His Church. It’s time for us to take our positions in the field!
Each day, 30,000 children die from hunger and 4,500 perish from the effects of drinking unclean water. There are 20,000,000 African HIV orphans and 500,000 children in the U.S. foster case system (http://thechildrenarewaiting.org/). A small percentage of these kids will be embraced by the Church and welcomed into loving Christian homes. Many others will die all too young or age out of the foster care system and fall through the cracks—unless God’s people get in the game.
The Harvest Field
It is reported that approximately 85 percent of Christians give their lives to Christ between the ages of 4 and 14 (the 4/14 Window). The lion’s share of orphans are of this age group. These precious children, many of whom are drowning in a sea of hopelessness, are desperate to be rescued. Their hearts are ripe for the gospel and we, the Church, have the lifeline they need: Jesus!
Matthew 9:37–38 says, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” The 4/14 Window is the harvest field where the fatherless live.
The clock is running out for these children. Time is not on their side, but we need to be. Orphans need love, hope, healing, and forever families to invite them into our hearts, into our arms, and into our homes. Imagine the smile on our Heavenly Father’s face as His people rally to extend the love of Christ in personal and practical ways to His kids.
National Orphan Awareness Month
November is National Orphan Awareness Month and November 11 is Orphan Sunday, a day set aside annually to take a stand for the orphan. Though Orphan Sunday was observed in thousands of churches worldwide in 2017, undoubtedly, there are still countless Christians who are unaware of the magnitude of the orphan crisis—or that it even exists. That was me. Until two years ago, I was sitting comfortably on the sidelines, oblivious to the fact that God had a role for me to play in helping to spare these children.
Obviously, we aren’t all called to adoption or foster care, but the Scriptures are clear, “Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress . . .” (James 1:27, NLT). We are all called to care—there is a position for each of us on this team.
Your first play could be as simple as watching My Orphan Sunday Story on the Christian Alliance for Orphans Web site. Then, as time allows, explore the site. As you watch the videos and look through the resources, ask God to open your heart to what He wants you to see, hear—or do; then forward the link to your pastor and others in your circle of influence. If every church represented by readers of this blog view this video, it could significantly impact the number of fatherless children who will experience Christ’s loving embrace.
It’s Time to Unite and Rally, Team!
We, the Church-2.2 billion worldwide (almost 14 times the number of the world’s fatherless)-cannot continue standing by while God’s children suffer. We must unite and rally to help orphans become all they can be. We must help bridge the gap between despair and hope, between death and life.
I know . . . 140 million is a daunting figure, but this number represents individual children, each created in God’s image for a purpose. Their lives can be redeemed as we begin to intentionally pray for the Lord to open our eyes and guide us and then step up to the plate in faith and obedience.
Ask the Lord of the harvest to give you His heart for His kids. Ask Him to show you the role He’s reserved just for you in helping to combat this crisis, then get out there and own it!
Safe at Last!
The orphan crisis is certainly not a game, but metaphorically speaking, the victory can only be won as every fully-devoted disciple plays his or her God-ordained position in the harvest field. His Church, fully engaged, will be the “game-changer.”
In the spirit of baseball, when the Church steps up to the plate… Bam!
For the orphan’s sake and for God’s glory, we cannot sit this one out. What position are you being recruited for? Are you in?