My mother died when I was nine. My dad died when I was twelve. With both parents gone, I became an orphan back in elementary school. Which is why I relate so closely to the deep longing orphans have for a family where they can belong; for a place to call home.
No wonder my heart goes out to the 143 million orphans worldwide who hunger for the chance to call someone “Mom” and “Dad” and to feel safe in their care.
I know from first hand experience what if feels like to drift through life without the anchor of a parent’s unconditional love. I’m far too familiar with the unsettled feeling that comes from having no permanent address. When I’m asked why Focus on the Family is involved in orphan care, the answer is easy. The Bible is straightforward about our need to take care of the widow and the orphan. That’s why we’ve created an alliance with FamilyLife and Shaohannah’s Hope called Cry of the Orphan.
During the week of November 12-16, Focus on the Family and these organizations will be raising awareness about the incredible opportunity to change the life of an orphan forever. I realize it’s natural to feel overwhelmed by the size and scope of the problem. After all, the number of orphans around the world who need a home is staggering. See if this perspective helps. In our corner of the globe there are 135,000 kids who go to sleep at night dreaming of the day when they might be adopted. They crave a home where a mother and father would tuck them into bed . . . where hugs, laughter, and acceptance abound.
135,000 kids right here in America. That’s a big number. At the same time, there are more than 300,000 churches in this country. Think about it–that’s less than one child per church.
One of the best ways God’s people can demonstrate the love of Christ is by adopting these children. Talk about sending an authentic display of unconditional love to a culture which seems to be skeptical about the church. As you acquaint yourself with the Cry of the Orphan, you’ll probably come across this often quoted verse from the Bible: “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” James 1:27.
At first glance, the second part of that verse might not make sense. What does keeping oneself from being “polluted” by the world got to do with caring for widows and orphans? I think part of the answer lies in the fact that our American culture seems preoccupied with serving oneself rather than in practicing self-sacrifice. There’s a very real temptation to entertain ourselves endlessly with sports, movies, hobbies, and an assortment of materialistic eye-candy.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting that those things are inherently wrong. But if the pursuit of them takes us away from loving and caring for those who are hurting, that’s when we’ve allowed the world to pollute our core values. Adoption isn’t for every couple, but I invite you to spend some time this week discovering if God might be tugging at your heart to adopt a child who doesn’t have a family or a place to call home. In addition to learning more about adoption and foster parenting at CryoftheOrphan.com, consider reading Castaway Kid.