“What difference can I make in a world with so many children living as orphans?” you may be asking. But what if you thought of orphan care as making a difference in the life of one child?
November is a big month for drawing attention to the need to care for orphans. November is Adoption Awareness month in Canada, and November 8 is internationally recognized by churches as a day to celebrate orphan care. It is, therefore, an appropriate time to write a blog post focused on how, as Christians, we can live out God’s instructions in the Bible to care for a child who is without a family. We chose to use the term “child” because when we think of trying to care for the millions of orphans in the world, our eyes tend to glaze over. We feel defeated before we even contemplate how to begin to be involved in what seems like an insurmountable task.
As we do to “one of least,” we do to Jesus
A few days before Jesus was crucified, he privately sat with his disciples on the Mount of Olives and explained how the faith of his followers will be evidenced in how they cared for him when he was hungry, thirsty, a stranger in need of a welcome, naked in need of clothes, sick or imprisoned and in need of visitors. Jesus tells us that at the final judgment, his followers will ask, “when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ Jesus answers, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you did it to me.’” (Matt. 25:37-40).
Who is “one of the least?” And how can we abide in Jesus’ command to care for them? Not many of us are in the position where we can open the doors to our home and provide a bed for a night, or a month or a year.
No, not all of us are called to open up our homes, but we are all called to open up our hearts.
Some practical suggestions
What may this look like for you? How can you invest in and care for the “least of these” today, in your life?
Could you formally or informally mentor a child or adolescent?
- Offer your time and wisdom to a youth who may be living in a difficult home environment. For example, consider volunteering as a Big Brother or Big Sister.
- Men, intentionally shepherd boys in single-mother households and women, intentionally shepherd girls in single-father households. For example, attend their sporting events or find a regular activity that is fun to do together.
Could you give of your finances and/or your time to gospel-focused organizations that care for children who would otherwise be living on the street?
- Consider sponsoring a child monthly, or serving on a mission trip where the focus includes orphan care. For example, partner with the Westside-affiliated Child of Mine organization that supports two orphanages in India.
- Get involved with organizations that proactively work to keep families together, preventing children from becoming orphans. For example, contribute financially to organizations that provide HIV/AIDS medicine to people in developing countries, or partner with an organization focused on equipping poverty-stricken mothers with jobs such as the Lulu Tree.
- Actively support, or consider becoming professionally involved in, organizations that are confronting head-on the industries that prey on vulnerable children.
- UNICEF reports that child trafficking brings in a profit of $12 billion a year. Consider becoming involved in ministries that rescue enslaved children, such as the International Justice Mission.
Could you provide a safe place for a child to live in the capacity as a foster-parent?
- Is there a single parent you know who is struggling to care for their child? You could offer restrictive-respite care and care for their child one or two days/nights a month.
- Would you be willing to come alongside a foster-family and become certified to care for their children during the day or overnight, allowing the parents some reprieve and rest? You could offer relief-foster care.
- Do you long to show a child that they are loved, and wanted, and cherished, and worthy of a safe place to sleep, warm meals, tender nurture and care, special enough to have their very own birthday celebrations and photo album? Consider becoming certified as a foster-parent.
And, lastly, is there space in your heart for a child to call you Mommy, or Daddy? Is God asking you to consider adoption? Providing a child with a forever family? There are 1,000 “one of the least of these” in our province right now wondering if there is “one person” out there who may want them.
Orphan care is evangelism
There are numerous ways to care for God’s children. However it gets lived out in your life, be encouraged that you are living out the gospel, and witnessing Christ to a world that does not value “the least of these.”
As Jesus says in Matthew 6:21, “for where your treasure is, there your heart will also be.” What we give our time to, our finances to, and our prayers to declares to us and to the world what we value. Orphan care is not something that as Christians we are to tack onto our to-do list, rather it is a means through which we declare our faith to the world. We declare that we are willing to enter often painful and inconvenient circumstances out of our love for Jesus and our hunger to know him more, and out of our longing for others to come to know him as their loving Creator, their Good Shepherd, and their Saviour.
To quote Pastor Norm from a recent sermon, “Do you want to know God that much?” Will you invite him to give you his eyes, his heart, for one of the least of these?
This Sunday at the Connect Centre, we will be selling a limited number of the following books that are full of helpful ideas and resources in regards to embracing God’s call to care for the orphan:
Orphan Justice: How to Care For Orphans Beyond Adopting by Johnny Carr with Laura Captari
Adopted for Life: The Priority of Adoption for Christian Families and Churches by Russell Moore
Adoption: What Joseph of Nazareth Can Teach Us About This Countercultural Choice by Russell Moore
On November 8 we will also be at a table in the lobby after each gathering, and would love to talk to you about anything related to orphan care.
Aaron Rose is on staff at Westside Church, where he oversees media and design and is the deacon of ministry development. Kveta Rose is the author of Kirabo: A Journey of Faith, Love and Adoption. They have three young children.