Orphan Care: A Sermon Recap
The problem faced by orphans and disadvantaged children is great. Consider these statistics.
- Over 120,000 orphans. Another 400,000 children live without permanent families. (HHS; AFCARS)
- Common for children in foster care to age out, leaving them with little financial or emotional support. 27,000 children age out of the system every year. (AFCARS)
- Almost 25% of youth aging out did not have a high school diploma or GED. (University of Chicago)
- Estimated that 153 million children worldwide, ranging from infants to teenagers, have lost one or both parents. (UNICEF)
- 1 billion children suffer from at least one form of severe deprivation of basic needs such as water, food, and sanitation (SOS)
- 67 million children do not go to school. (UNESCO)
- 22 million children are refugees or internally displaced in home country; forced to flee their homes due to violence or natural disaster. (UNHCR)
- God’s warning against injustice toward the fatherless.
Isaiah 10:1-2 — “Woe to those enacting crooked statutes and writing oppressive laws to keep the poor from getting a fair trial and to deprive the afflicted among my people of justice so that widows can be their splint and they can plunder the fatherless.”
God doesn’t just consider an inconvenience to care for orphans. He offers a dire warning against taking advantage of them. A world that is filled with children forced into labor, sweat shops, and enduring abuse is deserving of a divine curse. The “woe” offered by God is not to be taken lightly. He issues a divine decree for calamity and curse from the throne of heaven against those who take advantage of the fatherless. Orphans are not to be used by man but they are the people through which God is demonstrating His grace in this broken world.
- God gives a clear call to the church about orphans.
James 1:27 – “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.”
The word “religion” has a bad reputation. It is now the en vogue statement to say: “I’m not religious. I’m spiritual.” It is normally a rebellion against real or perceived abuses by the institutions of religion. God has a much better definition for religion; it is not institutional but relational. In Psalms, we are told that God is the “helper of the fatherless” (10:14) and the “father of the fatherless” (68:5). We are not to treat the orphan like a cute kid that dances a jig, sings a song, and is just waiting on Daddy Warbucks to arrive. There are no Annie characters waiting around. Orphans are those children deprived of parental care for their spiritual, emotional, and physical well-being. The church—portrayed consistently as a family in the Bible—can and must heed God’s call to care for the orphans of this world.
- Care for the helpless is connected to the giving nature of God’s people.
Deuteronomy 14:29 – “Then the Levite, who has no portion or inheritance among you, the foreigner, the fatherless, and the widow within your gates may come, eat, and be satisfied. And the Lord your God will bless you in all the work of your hands that you do.”
Deuteronomy 14 deals with the tithing practice of God’s people. It is a clear reminder that as we give to the work of God, it is not for the purpose of hoarding our resources. No church should operate as a self-consumed center to entertain the saints. Rather we give toward the ministries of our churches so that the congregation can collectively care for those in need. A generous church better reflects our generous God.
- Care of orphans on the earth reflects the eternal adoption we have received.
The temporary plight of orphans on the earth points to our eternal need for the caring Heavenly Father. Taking in an orphan, further reflects the reality of the adoption we receive from God into His family. We read of His care for us consistently in the Bible. In John 14:18, Jesus said that he would not leave us as orphans but send the Holy Spirit to the believers. Paul wrote in Galatians 4:6-7, “And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba, Father!’ So you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.” Then, in Ephesians 1:5, Paul wrote, “He predestined us to be adopted through Jesus Christ for Himself, according to His favor and will.” It was the very will of God that not just brings us by the skin of our teeth into His kingdom but all the way into His family as adopted children. As we care for orphans, we do what is right in the eyes of God and put on display an image of what He does for us.
- Take action
As all of this deeply matters to God, we must take action. Here are five things that we can do.
- Be fully pro-life. Our concern for children must not be summed up with posts on Facebook, picketing on sidewalks, voting for our favorite candidate. We should create a culture of care for the unborn and sustaining ministry to children in desperate need.
- Defend them from harm. Believers have influence in the community and should step in to advocate for just circumstances for children. By virtue of our citizenship and financial advantage in the world, we can do much more on the international stage as well.
- Feed them, clothe them, & share resources with them. As we do to the least (weakest) of these, we have done it unto Christ.
- Serve as a foster parent
We are an outpost of hope in a world of despair.
Worldwide stats ( http://www.sos-usa.org/our-impact/childrens-statistics#sthash.i4WeHiXN.dpuf )