Vast Need: Unified Response

By Dennis Rainey

I’ve been thinking recently of the magnitude of the task before us:  If you define an orphan as one who has lost either mother or father, there are more than one hundred and thirty million orphans in the developing world.  I’ve been trying to grasp what that looks like and what is needed to truly address a humanitarian crisis of historic portions.  Picture the following top 9 cities in the world in terms of population:

1.Tokyo, Japan – 28,025,000
2. Mexico City, Mexico – 18,131,000
3. Mumbai, India – 18,042,000
4. Sáo Paulo, Brazil – 17, 711,000
5. New York City, USA – 16,626,000
6. Shanghai, China – 14,173,000
7. Lagos, Nigeria – 13,488,000
8. Los Angeles, USA – 13,129,000
9. Calcutta, India – 12,900,000

Now think about these cities, ALL being filled to the brim with orphans.  High rise apartments, neighborhoods and urban centers filled with throngs of hungry, abandoned, abused and neglected orphans;  children whose parents died of AIDS and children who are  themselves infected with AIDS.   Little ones everywhere,  ALL with no moms and dads to love, clothe, feed, protect, and train them.   Even if we count only “double orphans” – those who have lost both parents – there are roughly 15 million in our world today.  What was unthinkable and  unimaginable is taking place now.

The thought of the unspeakable evils being perpetrated against these vulnerable little girls and little boys motivates us to give voice to those who have no voice.  The image of a room with a dozen cribs, filled with babies compels us to urge the community of faith to sacrificial action.  The magnitude of the need must galvanize an army of adults to address the needs of these who are nameless and homeless.  Now.  We must work together as never before.

I’ve been in ministry now for almost four decades and it has been my experience that it takes a crisis, something extremely significant for the Christian community to truly work together.  This moment has come.  God is calling us to see some of what He sees.  To hear some of what He hears.  And to feel some of what He feels as millions of orphans languish.  He wants us to be His feet and His hands and His arms of love bringing hope where there is none.

The need is so immense that there is absolutely no way we can address the collective issues if we do not link arms and find a way to collaboratively use one another’s strengths.  Jesus prayed that we’d be unified in His high priestly prayer in John 17.  Perhaps His prayer and the enormity of the task before us will unite us to address the needs of orphans.

I’m reminded of a story featured over a half century ago in the Saturday Evening Post.  A small child had wondered into a cornfield and was missing.  The corn was only a little taller than the child and for over 24 hours rescuers sought in vain to find the youngster.  But the field was too vast.  Finally a worker had the idea of all the workers joining hands as they walked down the rows and searched the field.  What had proven futile as they searched as individuals worked, but it was too late.  The child had perished.

Today the cry of the orphan calls us to courageously link arms with one another—as individuals, organizations and churches—to work together as never before.   I’m expectant that this can happen, because I believe God has raised up the Christian Alliance for Orphans to help wake us to the need and leverage one another’s strengths…before it’s too late.

Dr. Dennis Rainey is President and Co-Founder of FamilyLife. Hope for Orphans ( A founding ministry of the Christian Alliance for Orphans) is a ministry of FamilyLife.  To learn more go to and