“God decided in advance to adopt us into His own family by bringing us to Himself through Jesus Christ. This is what He wanted to do, and it gave Him great pleasure. So we praise God for the glorious grace He has poured out on us who belong to His dear Son. He is so rich in kindness and grace that He purchased our freedom with the blood of His Son and forgave our sins” (Ephesians 1:5-7).
God has truly been so good to us, hasn’t He? What a state we would be in without Him! We were slaves to sin, lost in darkness, depraved and orphaned, with absolutely no hope of saving ourselves. But then He rescued us, brought us into the light, into life, and into His family. Why? Because He loved us – without us necessarily loving Him back or even understanding love, He loved us. And He has done this just as He promised. He gave His word that He would not leave us as orphans, but that He would come to us (John 14:18). And if we are children of God, then we have experienced and benefitted from this firsthand – we are no longer fatherless; we have been given a new life! Praise God!
Adoption is the Heart of God
The reason that God choose to adopt us out of darkness and into His eternal family is because adoption is the very heart of God. He is the God of redemption, new life, setting free the prisoners of poverty and oppression, and placing the lonely into families (Psalm 68:6). He did it through His Son’s sacrifice on the cross, He does it whenever a child receives the Good News, and He is still doing it through His children every day. The Lord our God is the Father to the fatherless and there is no better way to practically reveal the Gospel than through adoption. It is not glamorous and it will be arduous and emotional, but it is the heart of God.
We Have Been Commanded to Care for Orphans
Love, compassion and feeding the hungry, among other things, are also the heart of God. When the Lord has shown us His heart by example, that is more than enough reason to follow in His footsteps. Thus, we must also follow His example of adoption and caring for orphans. But if His example is not enough, God commands His children several times throughout Scripture, in the Old Testament and the New Testament, to care for orphans. Isaiah 1:17 says, “Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows.” Likewise, James 1:27 states, “Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.” Both of these verses, among several others, do not simply praise or suggest caring for orphans. God commands us to care for orphans, just as much as He commands us to love our brother or to make disciples. It is His heart and so it must be our hearts. James even equates caring for orphans with genuine religion—it is part of the essence of Christianity. To do otherwise would be to devalue the extravagant gift that God has given us and to disregard His teachings. Are we wondering what the will of God is for our life? Caring for orphans is certainly part of it. Oh, how the Father cares for orphans and longs for them to find hope in His children’s arms, in our arms, in His arms.
There is a Great Need
We must answer the call to care for orphans because our Father has commanded us to and because there is such a great need in the world. Resources estimate that there are between 140 and 150 million orphans in the world. The U.S. Government and UNICEF calculated that there are 153 million children worldwide that qualify as orphans after losing one or both of their parents. Unfortunately, in many situations, losing a father figure, especially, can create an environment that is too vulnerable for a child.
There is even a great need in the United States of America, one of the most wealthy, affluent countries in the world. The United States is home to about a half a million orphans, which include children living in group homes, in foster care, or on the streets. Even in our very own backyard of South Florida, seven children are removed from their families and homes because of abuse every single day (
4kidsofsfl.org). There are millions of beautiful children in South Florida, the United States, and around the world that need help and hope.
We are the Answer
With such overwhelming statistics, it is easy to become discouraged. What can one person do? Well, when empowered by God, that one person can make a world of a difference to a child. And when that one person is joined by brothers and sisters in the same purpose, then God can use the church to change the world. That is the answer; we are the solution. As Gary Haugen, President and CEO of International Justice Mission, puts it, “There is no plan B.” God has given us the overwhelming honor of being His hands and feet and glorifying Him by revealing His character and love to the world.
Already, there are soldiers on the battlefield, brothers and sisters whose hearts have been pierced by the great need and have answered the command to care for orphans. One young couple, James and Rachel, have chosen to adopt an orphan from Honduras and are currently raising money and awareness for the cause. The couple explained that they decided to adopt for two simple, straightforward reasons: there is a need and God adopted us. Rachel expressed her thought process, saying, “I struggle with questions like: Why was I born in America? Why did I have parents who loved me and cared for me? Why do I have so much when others around the world have so little? I can’t help but wonder if maybe I am in this position of influence for….such a time as this.” How true it is that God has blessed us, not just to be blessed, but to bless others.
But adoption is not the only way to carry out God’s command to care for orphans. There are several other ways for God’s children to get involved and be part of the solution. The Christian Alliance for Orphans states that “millions of orphaned children have a surviving parent and are part of a one-parent family that needs help to remain together and to thrive.” James explained this by saying, “One of the biggest things that people can do to support orphan care is to help prevent it.” With our help, resources, time and care, families would be able to take care of their children and prevent an orphan situation from developing in the first place. Organizations like World Vision and Compassion International have taken up the cause of caring for poverty-stricken and oppressed children around the world, helping their families properly care of their children when they would not have had this opportunity otherwise. Prevention is a less expensive and perhaps more immediately tangible way of caring for orphans, but it is crucial.
Check out these other organizations that are making a big difference in the global orphan crisis:
4KIDS of South Florida
There may be 140-150 million orphans in the world, but there are also over 2 billion people who profess Christianity in the world. With this math, if only one out of every 14 Christians cared for an orphan, there would not be a global orphan crisis! We all must work together and answer the call. Adoption may not be commanded in the Bible, but caring for orphans is, so we must find a way to care for orphans and then do it!
1 John 4:19 says, “We love because He first loved us” (NIV). We show compassion because He first showed compassion on us. We adopt because He first adopted us. We care for orphans because He first cared for us.