What does orphan care look like?
Truth be told, it is typically not glamorous. When we are truly doing orphan care, we often enter into a world of suffering. In providing care for these children who have already experienced a tremendous amount of pain and loss, there are things that we all can do, like praying. There are other things that most of us can do, and some things, like adopting or fostering, that only a few of us do. We celebrate every child who has found a safe and permanent home through adoption, yet what about all of the other children left behind? I have heard that less than 1% of orphans in the world will be adopted. There are over 153,000,000 orphans in the world who will not have the opportunity for safety and permanency. The statistics of what happens to these children are sickening. There are overwhelming numbers of children who will become victims of human trafficking, who will live on the streets, who will become criminals, who will become prostitutes, or who will commit suicide. The statistics are horrifying; yet, when you hear information like this, what do you think? How do you react?
There are two extremes on the spectrum of how to respond to this overwhelming need:
Oftentimes people either separate themselves from the need or they become paralyzed. Separating ourselves from difficult information, ignoring the facts, or choosing indifference are coping mechanisms or protective strategies. It is relatively easy to separate yourself from what is not in your day-to-day life because it is difficult for us to understand what we have not directly seen or experienced. Additionally, our natural tendency is to avoid anything that is difficult. We must address this heart issue by remembering the commands of God, by remembering that God loves His children, by striving to make it personal, and through prayer.
Feeling paralyzed or overwhelmed by difficult information is also natural. Our mind has a hard time comprehending such dreadfulness, so it almost feels to us as if it cannot be real. I sometimes feel broken and helpless when it comes to significant tragedies of the world. I have a tendency to think “what difference could I make? . . . so I do nothing. But, when God brings something to our attention, He gives us a heart for it and gives us compassion, which is intended to drive us to do something.
As believers, neither separation nor paralysis should be the way we respond. Neither response is God-honoring because they don’t involve action. We all need to be moved to a place where we see, acknowledge, and respond to the need. It’s the love of Christ that compels us; we can all do something!
Orphan care can seem intangible at times, but practically speaking, it is simply about meeting the various needs of these children.
They all have spiritual, emotional, social, educational, and physical needs. I urge you to consider what giftings and resources you have that may be able to help meet a need of even just one of the millions of orphans all around the world. Meeting the needs of these children can be done in a number of ways including going on a trip to serve them personally, supporting a ministry like (un)adopted, advocating for these children, etc. It can look different for every individual. Yet, God commands that we all care for orphans . . . this means we must give of ourselves for the sake of these children.
God cares about children, and He invites us to care about them, too. He has gifted us with specific skills for each of us to use for His glory and to serve those who are in need. He would not tell us to do something and fail to give us a way to actually do it. It is our responsibility to pray and seek His guidance in our lives. If you have had the privilege of meeting the needs of a child in a very vulnerable state in any capacity, thank you. Yet, I would love for you to consider that God may still be calling you deeper.
How deep are you willing to go?
Whitney White, International Education Counselor
To register to participate in the R(un) for One 5K on August 22nd in Birmingham, Atlanta, Louisville, Raleigh, or to “Run Where You Are”, visit runforone5k.org! For more information on Lifeline’s Orphan care ministry visit www.unadopted.org.