A Burden for the Weak, Fatherless, and Vulnerable

A few years ago, my husband, Eric, and I were walking out of Whole Foods in California, when two young women holding clipboards approached us.

"We represent Greenpeace," one of them told me. "And we have an important issue that we're letting people know about today. There are fifty humpback whales in danger right now off the coast of Japan. We are fighting for legislation that will protect them."

The second girl held out her clipboard. "If you give a donation, it will help toward the 18 million dollars we are trying to raise to build a safe haven for the whales."

Hours later, when we drove past Whole Foods again, the two women were still standing outside, pleading with people to stand up and fight on behalf of the defenseless ocean creatures.

I couldn't get past the irony of the situation. Only a few months earlier, Eric and I had studied the plight of orphans and vulnerable children around the world. We learned that there were somewhere between 140 and 160 million orphans—children alone and without advocates; children dying of starvation and disease without anyone to rescue them. The number was so staggering that we couldn't imagine how to put a dent in it. We'd learned that there are approximately 27 million human slaves in the world today, a large number being young girls sold into forced prostitution. We'd heard the tragic stories of the child soldiers in Uganda and the desperate plight of the street children in South America.

In light of such heartbreaking realities, passionately laboring to save fifty whales off the coast of Japan seemed relatively pointless.

Out of My Comfort Zone

I found myself wondering what would happen if I started fighting for vulnerable children with as much devotion as the Greenpeace girls put into fighting to save those humpback whales. How passionately was I willing to fight for the causes that were on God's heart? Was I willing to get out of my comfort zone and pour out my life for the weak, not just in ways that were convenient and easy but in ways that required personal sacrifice? Was I willing to not just shake my head at the suffering around the world but to take up their cause as my own?

As young Christians, both Eric and I had gained a special heart for the vulnerable. But somewhere in the busyness of our lives, we'd let that burden fall by the wayside; we'd lost our passion to defend, fight, comfort, and rescue the weak. We were in full-time ministry and serving God, yet we realized we were missing a key part of the gospel—becoming Christ's hands and feet to the poor and needy and actively fighting for the weak.

It's all too easy to become passive toward the plight of the orphan, the slave, the impoverished, and the lost. Amid the busyness of our lives and our own personal pursuits and pleasures, few of us are willing to fight for the cause of the vulnerable with even half as much passion and dedication as those young women showed on behalf of the fifty whales.

The Bible describes a similar attitude in the people of Sodom, before God destroyed their city:

"This was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy" (Ezek. 16:49).

When we become focused only on ourselves and indifferent to the cry of the poor and needy, it is a serious thing in the sight of God. It is sobering to realize that on judgment day He will say to some of us, "I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me" (Matt. 25:41–43).

A Missionary Mindset

Hudson Taylor once made a convicting statement that certainly applies to American Christians today: "It will not do to say that you have no special call to go to [the mission field]. With the command of the Lord Jesus to go and preach the gospel to every creature, you need rather to ascertain whether you have a special call to stay at home."

While God may not ask all of us to serve as missionaries in a foreign country, all of us are called to adopt a "missionary mindset" no matter where God has placed us. I encourage you to ask God to show you where and how to start being His hands and feet to the weak. Though the need around the world is staggering, He often wants to cultivate sacrificial love within us by starting with one.

When Eric and I first began to feel the call of God to reach the orphans of the world, the idea was daunting. We didn't know where to begin. And then we heard about a baby girl from South Korea who had been abandoned because she had deformities on her feet and no fingers on her hands. And we knew this was the one God wanted us to start with. Today, this little girl is our daughter, Harper Grace.

Two years later, He led us to adopt a little boy domestically and build a relationship with his birth mother through open adoption. Last year we brought two toddlers home from Haiti. Each time the experience has been daunting and stretching. And yet I have never felt God's sustaining, enabling grace more keenly than when I have chosen to love sacrificially and stand for the weak.

God might not call you to adopt as He has us. There are countless ways He may lead you to embrace a lifestyle of sacrificial love. The first step is willingness. The second is prayer. If you surrender your life, your time, and your resources to His purposes, you can be sure that He will open your eyes to the ways in which He desires you to become His hands and feet. Here is a quick list of some of the people for whom God's heart is especially burdened:

  • The persecuted church
  • The fatherless and widows
  • The impoverished
  • Prisoners and slaves
  • The sick and the elderly
  • Refugees and foreigners
  • The unborn
  • The unsaved

Ask God to show you which of these areas He wants you to invest your time and energies into. It may be a combination of more than one. Ask Him to burden you with His heart and His love for these precious lives. And ask Him to open your eyes to the needs right around you . . . and around the world.

Beyond What's Easy

Some of us may be called to minister to the homeless, others to adopt, others to fight for the unborn, others to start orphanages overseas, others to encourage the persecuted—and hundreds of other possibilities. Allow God to stretch you beyond what is comfortable and easy. We as Christian women usually have full lives and often we don't believe we have much time or energy available to serve those in need. But we must remember that what God calls us to do, He equips us to do.

All of us are called to adopt a "missionary mindset" no matter where God has placed us.

If you study the lives of Christians who have made the most impact for God's kingdom, you will notice that it was rarely, if ever, convenient for them to do what they did. Their mighty acts for God required enormous personal sacrifice and a willingness to venture far beyond the realm of the easy and comfortable. If today's Christians are too busy, who will take up the torch of gospel-centered rescue work in this generation?

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About the Author

Leslie Ludy

Leslie Ludy

Leslie Ludy is a bestselling author and speaker with a passion for helping women become set-apart for Christ. She and her husband Eric have published more than twenty books with well over a million copies in print and translations in over a dozen languages, including When God Writes Your Love Story, Authentic Beauty, and Set Apart Femininity. Her newest book, The Set-Apart Woman, was released in 2015. Eric and Leslie live in Windsor, Colorado with their six precious kiddos. 

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