by David Wooten
“Pure and undefiled religion before our God and Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” James 1:27
There are more than 163 million orphans in the world today. Even in the United States there are almost half a million orphans in the foster care system. Most of these have been abused, neglected or abandoned. These are the ones the Bible speaks of when it mentions the “fatherless.” The Scriptures are clear that the task of caring for these little ones belongs to His people. Christians can not only show the compassion of Christ in caring for orphans, but also display a picture of the gospel.
The question for any believer is not whether to be involved in the ministry of orphan care, but how. Below are ten suggestions to get you thinking about how you might participate in a ministry that can change the lives of children and families.
Pray for orphans and children in foster care who will go to bed tonight wondering if there is any place they belong. Ask God to meet their needs and provide a forever family for them. Pray for prospective adoptive families who are waiting for children and children who are waiting for families. Seek how the Lord would have you be involved in the work of orphan care. Pray that your church would effectively engage in the global orphan crisis. Thank God for the work of His Spirit in calling out His children to visit orphans in their distress.
There is much to learn about the needs, resources, and issues concerning adoption and orphan care. Study God’s Word to see what the Bible says about the fatherless. Learn about children in your local foster care system and what needs they have. Discover the plight of orphans in distant lands. Recognize your responsibility to care in practical ways for vulnerable orphaned children locally and globally.
God has opened His heart to the fatherless and wants us to open our hearts as well. Create a climate in your home among your family and cultivate a culture in your church that receives the little and the least. Give them a sense that they are welcomed, loved and that they belong.
The life of a foster or adoptive family can have its challenges. Show appreciation for what they are doing in providing a loving family to these children. Your encouraging words may be just the thing they need to persevere through a difficult time. You can support these families by providing respite care to give them a night out, some time away, help running errands, or bring over meals. Be creative and have fun finding ways to be a wrap-around family supporting them in caring for orphans.
The cost of private or international adoption and the price of ministering to the fatherless can be high. Your financial support can go a long way to help orphans as you give to ministries and organizations who serve the needs of these children. Many of these ministries depend on the faithful, sacrificial gifts of folks like you. Helping cover the high cost of adoption can help make adoption affordable and accessible for a family that otherwise might not be able to adopt.
God commands us to “visit orphans in their affliction.” This word “visit” means “to show care and provision for.” You can do this by participating in a mission trip through your church to an orphanage showing compassion to these children and helping them to understand the special place they have in God’s heart. Become a regular visitor to a local orphanage or group home where children in foster care live.
Give your time to an organization or family who cares for orphans or is involved in adoption. You might mentor or tutor a young person in foster care. You might volunteer at an adoption agency by helping with a special event, assisting in their fundraising efforts or using your talents in a way that benefits their ministry. You might help one of the 20,000 teens aging out of the foster care system this year by including them into your family’s activities. Become a Guardian ad Litem for a child giving a voice to the neglected and abused.
8. ADOPT OR FOSTER
While not everyone is called to foster or adopt, some are. Perhaps God is calling you to open your home to a child who needs a family. You may adopt from foster care or an orphan from overseas. Through adoption your family will display the gospel in a unique and dynamic way. Adopting a child from America’s foster care system carries little or no cost at all. Many would step up to adopt if they only knew that.
Launch a ministry in your church that will impact the global orphan crisis. With the permission and direction of your church’s leaders, you can be a catalyst that can meet the needs of children and families in your church, community and around the world. Your ministry might address foster care, adoption or orphans. Doubtless there are others in your congregation who will want to join you in reaching out through this ministry.
There are many ways in which the current foster care system needs to be revised to be more family friendly. You can be an advocate to speak out for the best interests of children who have been neglected, abused or abandoned. By learning what the current issues are, you will be better able to speak out on their behalf. Let your voice be heard when you can influence legislation or policy change that will benefit children and families and help improve the foster care system.
The Bible says that “true and undefiled religion in the eyes of God the Father is to care for orphans and widows in their distress” There is no clearer picture of the gospel that that of adoption. God took us when we were slaves to sin and brought us into His forever family to become His children. When you become involved in the ministry of adoption and orphan care, you are displaying the glorious gospel for the world to see. Regardless of how you are involved, by engaging in caring for orphans in their distress, you are practicing true and undefiled religion. Yours can be an investment that can impact many lives and will last a lifetime and beyond.
David Wooten is Director of Operations and Development at Embraced by Grace Inc. Adoption Agency