Because God cares for orphans, He calls His people to care for orphans. Isaiah 1:17, “Learn to do good; Seek justice, Reprove the ruthless; Defend the orphan, Plead for the widow.” James 1:27 “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.”
Why are His people to care for Orphans? One reason is that caring for orphans is proclaiming the gospel—both to a child and to the world. To the world, it is a dramatic reenactment of the story of our own adoption. “But you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out Abba Father! The Spirit Himself testifies together with our spirit that we are God’s children” (Romans 8:15-16). To the child, we have the opportunity to speak into his or her life for the rest of our lives. As we bring them into our home, we practice the injunction of Deut 6 to teach God’s Word diligently to our children. We fulfill the Great Commission to make disciples of all the nations. We participate in the worship of God that He has decreed from eternity past will consist of people from every tribe and tongue and people and nation (Rev. 5:9).
I’ll never forget my first day in seminary. The professor, Dr. Mark Young, told us we were going to be looking at the parable of the Good Samaritan. As I opened my Bible to Luke 10:25, I turned to what I thought was a very familiar story. However, as he went through the story and applied it to missions, God worked through Dr. Young in a special way that day and my life was forever changed as I saw my responsibility to love the lost in a whole new way.
The parable is a response to a lawyer’s question about what one must do to inherit eternal life. In the parable, a man who is traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho falls prey to robbers. They strip him and beat him. Disfigured and without clothes, he becomes unidentifiable and the question of the parable is who’s neighbor is this mystery man? A priest and a Levite both refuse to offer aid but a Samaritan comes upon the man and, moved by compassion, assists him.
That day in class, Dr. Young drew three truths from this parable: First, love of God and love of neighbor are essential characteristics of one who has inherited eternal life and is rightly related with God. Second, one who has inherited eternal life must have an unlimited concept of neighbor…love of neighbor has no qualifications. Third, compassion compels us to action. If you consider yourself a neighbor to all, you will be moved to some type of action when you are confronted with needs.
Is there a need to care for orphans?!?! In October of 2006, Unicef issued a report in which it estimated that there are over 130 million orphans worldwide. By 2010, that number will increase to almost 150 million. That is a staggering number…and an overwhelming opportunity! There are approximately 50 million evangelical Christians in the United States alone. God is working in the hearts of His people and helping them envision how He can use them to meet the needs of these little ones and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ. By a God-given compassion, our hearts are compelled to meet the needs of these precious souls.The question, then, for Whitney and I as we thought about this final truth was not if we would be involved in orphan ministry but rather how.