“Bring Justice to the Fatherless….” Isaiah 1:17.
According to the Christian Alliance for Orphans, there are 17.8 million orphans in the world who have lost both parents. An additional two to eight million children live in institutions, and it is uncertain how many children are living on the streets, being exploited for labor, trafficked for the sex trade, or participating in armed groups. These countless children, known as social orphans, rarely see their parents or experience life in a family.
James 1:27 states that “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” So how are Christians able to practice religion that is “pure and undefiled” and to “bring justice to the fatherless”?
There are a number of ways that those in the church can support orphans and orphan ministries. Some families are called to adopt. A simple way others in the church can assist these families is to provide financial support, meals and respite care. One could also contribute resources to established orphan ministries, but there is a unique way that families can directly participate in orphan ministries.
Have you ever wanted to go on a family mission trip but were held back because of the cost or maybe the ability to get away for an extended period of time? What if you could go on a mission trip without even leaving your home? There is a mission field that might be right up your alley, and that is orphan hosting.
As you read this, there are hundreds of orphans from Eastern European countries that are being hosted in Christian homes throughout the United States. The youth that are being hosted may or may not end up being adopted. But, each of them will greatly benefit from the experience of being part of a Christian family, being loved and knowing that there is someone out there that genuinely cares for them. Whether or not they end up being adopted, they can still become a real part of our families.
Since summer hosting season is currently in mid-swing, one might ask: isn’t this a little late? The answer is yes and no. While it may be too late for the current hosting season, it is never too early to think about future hosting/mission opportunities. The time frame for matching orphans and host families for winter hosting begins shortly after the summer hosting is completed. Unfortunately, Orphan Sunday, which is the day that would be the most ideal to highlight hosting opportunities, is at the very end of this matching window. Thus, little time is left for people to thoughtfully and prayerfully consider whether this is something that God has called them to do. As with any mission, there will be challenges and there will be blessings. But, the church is in the best position to mobilize this ministry to orphans because it is a work that God has commanded His followers to do.
Short of the Father returning, the plight of orphans may seem insurmountable. But, a difference can be made one child at a time. For those orphans that wind up being adopted, Dan Cruver has noted that “the ultimate purpose of human adoption by Christians is not to give orphans parents, as important as that is. It is to place them in a Christian home where they might be positioned to receive the gospel, so that within the family, the world might witness a representation of God taking in and genuinely loving the helpless, the hopeless, and the despised.”
Tim Schoeppler, Elder