It’s pretty simple really: If you love Jesus and strive to be like him, you should be be doing something to help children in need. As Tony Merida says in his book Ordinary: How to Turn the World Upside Down :
If God is a father to the fatherless, and I am to reflect him in every way, then doesn’t that mean I should be caring for the fatherless too? If “true religion” involves caring for orphans in their affliction, then what kind of religion am I practicing if it doesn’t involve some measure of orphan care?
Yikes, that’s good. I wouldn’t blame you if you stopped reading right now. He says in 2 sentences what I’m going to spend a whole page talking about.
The verse that Merida references is James 1:27, one of the most popular verses in the orphan care community. “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” Again, pretty simple. The terms pure and faultless don’t leave much room for interpretation. There are many more examples of God’s passion for the needy and his command that his people care for those who need it most.
- Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow. – Isaiah 1:17
- “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.” – Mark 9:37
- May he defend the cause of the poor of the people, give deliverance to the children of the needy, and crush the oppressor! – Psalm 72:4
- A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families, he leads out the prisoners with singing – Psalm 68:5-6
- The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ – Matthew 25:40
- When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them. – Mark 10:14-16
So it’s clear that Jesus loves children and insists that they be made a priority. That’s the why of orphan care, now the how. How do we take those verses and apply them to the orphans and fatherless within our own sphere of influence? It can be as simple as a change of mindset. Love them like Jesus does. Show them the grace, mercy, and patience that Jesus shows you on a daily basis.
Since May is National Foster Care Month, and we are very connected to and passionate about foster care and adoption, that is what I’ll focus on. You’ve probably heard the statistics – 415,000 kids in foster care, 108,000 of them waiting to be adopted. A child enters foster care every 2 minutes (Other stats here). Sounds like a lot, it seems overwhelming. Just looking at those numbers might scare you away from trying because you feel like you couldn’t make a significant change. Another statistic you may not know, (and I just had to look up here.) There are anywhere between 320-350,000 churches in the United States. If each church surrounded 1-2 children or families the problem would be solved! Not really. It would most certainly change thousands of lives and help to ease the great burden felt by government organizations. But it won’t eliminate the need for foster care. It won’t ensure that all kids will be able to stay with their families.
I say all that to say there is something you can do. Numbers sound scary and huge, but you just need to focus on what’s in front of you and who (Jesus) is behind you giving you strength and encouragement. Find a need in your area. Contact your local child welfare office and ask them where they could use help. Contact a foster family in your area and ask how you can support them. Find something you’re already awesome at and figure out how to use that skill to change a child’s life. It’s going to be different for everybody, but there’s something for all of us to contribute. More on that later.
If you didn’t already know, I like to end most of my posts with a song. If you’re really good, you’ll remember that my last post was ended by a Jon Guerra song. This one is too. Quick plug for his album Little Songs. It’s so good. I’ve been listening to it non stop for weeks. The chorus of I Will Follow says:
I believe everything that you say you are
I believe that I have seen your unchanging heart
in the good things and in the hardest part
I believe and I will follow you
I believe and I will follow you