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
  • 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
  • Advocate


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.

Gail Smith

Gail Smith and her husband of 43 years, Daniel, live in N. Petersburgh, NY. They have two children and three grandchildren. The Smiths have been active members of Hoosick Falls Community Alliance Church for over 25 years. There Gail has served in a variety of capacities both inside and outside the church, including Celebrate Recovery Leader and founder of Voice of a Vet, a local veterans’ task force. Smith has travelled overseas on three short-term mission trips and currently serves as HFCAC’s Missions Coordinator. Besides advocating for the orphan, her passions include prayer, worshipping, and leading people to the hope they can find in Jesus. Gail is a freelance writer for A Child’s Hope International. She has authored two books and also served on the Board of Directors of Delta Lake Bible Conference Center, The C&MA’s Northeastern District camp in Rome, NY.

Two Responses to “Not On My Radar: The Orphan Crisis”

  1. I really appreciate your comments and challenge. You are spot on. Three of my grandchildren are adopted so your blog struck a chord with me. I’d like to suggest an additional way churches can be involved in the adoption ministry: that is to come alongside families who have adopted children from third world nations or those children who have experienced severe trauma. The trauma these kids experienced affected the development of their brains leading to a condition called RAD’s or Reactive Attachment Disorder. Adoptive families’ lives can be turned upside down by this disorder. They a unique safety net of support and encouragement to help them navigate these turbulent waters.

    • Duane,
      Thank you for your comment.
      I am sooo sorry I did not see this before now. The family I do respite for has six childten from 3rd world countries. Two of them have RAD, so I know how “turbulent”/exhausting this can be. That is why I challenge “the Church” wherever I speak to consider providing respite.
      Adoptive and foster families are not called to care for the children God has entrusted to them alone. The Church needs to be aware of the need and begin praying about how Hewants them to support these families, then just do it.

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