God has blessed me with a big family. They’re mine and I love taking care of them, making sure they have everything they need. Caring for them can be all-consuming at times, and it’s easy to get lost in my own little world. I do my best to make sure me and mine are happy and cared for. I work hard to look after my people and go to bed thankful that we are all warm, safe, well-fed, and healthy.
But I often wonder about the children who have no one to take care of them. What about those children that go to sleep hungry, whose cries go unanswered? What of the little girl who doesn’t know the provision and protection of a father? When I think of the young man living on the streets and stealing food to bring home to his younger siblings, my heart breaks, as it should.
But how do the needs of these children fit into my little, comfortable world? Is it my responsibility to help orphans? What can I do about it?
It’s tempting to retreat back into our familiar life, filled with our people and our things and not think about the sufferings of vulnerable children. Maybe we shed some tears, post some thoughts online, or donate a few dollars. It’s far too easy to move on from that initial stirring in our hearts to be consumed once again with our own people.
What would it take for us to move beyond fleeting emotions into fruit-bearing actions? How should we respond to the plight of the vulnerable?
Hear the Word
We look to Scripture for the answer to this question. God’s Word commands us to seek justice. Isaiah 1:17 says, “Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow's cause.” God’s Word tells us to use our voice for those who don’t have one (Prov. 31:8). We cannot be content with injustice.
Justice-seeking should be a default mode for Christians. As image bearers of the God of justice (Isa. 30:18), we should be seeking reconciliation for that which sin has broken.
God’s Word is clear on our role in caring for orphans. Our access to Scripture is unprecedented and unlimited. We have printed Bibles, podcasts, commentaries, Bible apps, teachers, pastors, and books. What we do not have is room for excuses. Our enemy tries to convince us that someone else can care for orphans, that it’s not our responsibility. But he’s a liar. We know what the Bible says, but just knowing is not enough.
Do the Word
We must be doers of the Word (James 1:22). But what must we do? We do justice. Micah 6:8 says, “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”
Doing justice for the vulnerable is evidence of our knowing God (Jer. 22:15–16). As Jesus says in John 14:15, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” Obeying God’s good command to seek justice is also evidence of our love for Him.
We often throw around the phrase that we’re the “hands and feet” of Jesus. But are we living it? We need less talk and more actionable obedience. Jesus warns in Matthew 7:21, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”
So how do we do the pure religion that is caring for orphans (James 1:27)? Speak up for those who can’t speak for themselves. Give to support the work of local orphan care leaders around the world. Engage the global orphan crisis through fostering and adoption. Forego the trip to Disney World, and take your family to visit an orphanage in another country. Provide meals and respite for families you know who are caring for orphans. To preserve families, invest in sustainability projects that provide income for poor families. Pray for orphaned and vulnerable children. These suggestions only scratch the surface of ways your family can be involved.
See the Vulnerable
It’s easy to ignore what you can’t see. Out of sight, out of mind. We need to pray for eyes to see what our Father sees. He sees what we don’t. He sees the fatherless child, lonely, hungry, and unloved. In his book Radical, David Platt says,
We learned that orphans are easier to ignore before you know their names. They are easier to ignore before you see their faces. It is easier to pretend they’re not real before you hold them in your arms. But once you do, everything changes.
Maybe we don’t want to look too closely at the vulnerable because we don’t really want things to change. We like the safety and familiarity of our little world. We believe the lie that ignorance is bliss. But for millions of orphaned and vulnerable children around the world, our ignorance is not bliss, it’s harmful.
Two years ago, I went to Africa to visit orphans for the first time. As excited as I was about going, I also was afraid because I knew that my little world would become different because of exposure to the global orphan crisis.
I was right. God changed everything. He changed it for my good and His glory. He changed me, my heart, and my affections. He gave me a love for these vulnerable people by simply letting me see them. I had spent so much time only looking at my own little world, but He made my world bigger. He gave me more people to look at. Now I know vulnerable children, and I want to care for them.
Let the Vulnerable See Christ in You
As we open our eyes to see the vulnerable, we will notice that they are looking at us, too. They want to see someone who cares for and values them. Let them see Christ who lives in you (Gal. 2:20). Let them see the Father who will never leave them, who upholds them (Ps. 146:9). Let them feel our arms around them in love. Let them hear words of truth from our voices. Let them smell the aroma of Christ on us (2 Cor. 2:15).
As image bearers, our lives must reflect Christ. In her book Holiness: The Heart God Purifies, Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth says, “What others most need is to see in you a reflection of what God is like.” We should look like our Father by doing what He does. If we’re going to show orphans what God is like, we must respond to them as He does.
See God Glorified
Jesus says in John 15:8, “By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.” Are you bringing God glory by bearing fruit regarding the vulnerable?
God has given us new hearts, and our new hearts come with new affections. Caring for orphans is instinctual for God’s children. It’s what we do. As we bear much fruit, we bring our Father glory.
By God’s grace, I am caring for orphans by supporting local orphan care leaders around the world. I advocate on their behalf. My family is in the process of international adoption in Uganda. We visit orphans in Kenya and Uganda. We pray for them. We financially support them. We bring God glory by caring for the vulnerable. This is what it looks like for my family. What does it look like for yours?
When our little worlds are shaken by injustice, we don’t retreat into the safe and familiar. We open our eyes to a bigger world and engage. We aren’t content to briefly feel bad about the awfulness of a situation. We love those who experience injustice and take up their cause. We don’t believe that caring for orphans is someone else’s responsibility. In joy, we obey God and care for the vulnerable. We do what our Father is doing. We do justice.