You’ve probably heard the story of the starfish on the beach. If so, bear with me. As the tale goes, an evening storm dumped thousands of starfish onto the sand. Just before dawn an old man headed out for his early morning walk along the shore. Surprised by the piles of beached starfish, he knew the only way to save them would be to toss them back into the ocean. He had to act fast. There was precious little time to save them before the hot sun took its place in the sky.
While tossing them one-by-one into the ocean, a young boy walking his dog happened to come along. For a long moment he studied the old man as he worked. Breaking the silence, he said, “Sir, can’t you see there’s way too many? You’ll never get them all back into the sea before the sun comes up and kills them. Not even close. So why are you bothering?”
Ignoring his questions, the old man kept working. The boy watched in stunned disbelief. “I don’t get it. What difference do you think you’re making?”
Not a word from the old man. Almost beside himself, the boy blurted out, “Didn’t you hear what I’m saying? It’s a hopeless cause. What you’re doing doesn’t matter!”
At that the old man paused. He looked the boy in the eye while plucking a starfish in his hand. With a snap of his wrist, he flung it into the ocean. “Son, I dare say it matters to that one . . . and that one . . . and every other one I manage to get to safety.”
I share that story for a reason.
If you’re anything like me, when you learn about an issue – such as abortion, runaway children, teen drug abuse, poverty, failing marriages, the temptation is to feel overwhelmed by the vastness of the problem. Take an issue that’s close to my heart: orphans. When I hear there are more than 135 thousand orphans here in America waiting for someone to adopt them, I know that number can be breathtaking.
On the surface, it is. Especially considering that these children languish for years, forgotten in the system. With nobody to call “mommy” or “daddy” they feel neglected. Invisible. Alone. They long for the day when someone will see them, want them, and embrace them. I know that feeling all too well, as that’s part of my story.
But you know what? There are more than 300,000 churches in America. If just one family in half of these churches were to open their arms to an orphaned boy or girl, we could wipe out the problem overnight. Imagine what that act of love would signal to a cynical world who, like the boy on the beach, didn’t think there was any hope in solving the problem?
Like the old man, I may not be called to save them all.
But I am invited to do my part.
I’ve put together a special video in which I share some of my personal experience as an orphan as well as the new Focus on the Family Orphan Care Initiative. I invite you to take a few minutes to watch the video. Afterward, why not ask God what part you might play to “look after orphans . . . in their distress.”