Orphans and the Church

By Jim Daly

I was an orphan.

The world, at least as I knew it, fell apart for me when I was in the fourth-grade.  My mother died of cancer and my stepfather walked out on us only minutes after the funeral.   I know the pain, the loneliness and the despair of life without love.  I’m intimately familiar with how helpless and hopeless a young person can feel — anchorless and directionless, a lost soul adrift at sea.  What a deep and dark hole can develop in your heart when you have no home to go home to.

And so this is why I’m so passionate about the Body of Christ working together to find forever homes for orphans and collectively, to do everything we can, to help as many children as we can, anyway we can.

But even more importantly, the reason we should care about it is because God cares deeply about His children and especially about orphans.   It’s a subject matter obviously very close to His heart.  Did you know that the topic is mentioned 47 times in the Scriptures?  By caring about what God cares about, we’re joining in His wondrous work here on earth.  What a privilege and glorious opportunity this side of eternity.

That’s why we’re putting such emphasis at Focus on the Family on raising people’s awareness about this dire need.  By some estimates, there are well over one-hundred million orphaned children around the globe.  That’s an overwhelming statistic, so enormous, in fact, that it won’t register with most people.  So we’re working to personalize the need and highlight, state by state, just how many children are waiting to be adopted.  In many places, the list is several hundred names long.  That’s still quite a few, but when it’s made more quantifiable, it also becomes more tangible.  And personal.

What if the Church began to embrace and pursue the goal of reducing these waiting lists?  What if a single church made it their mission to very deliberately promote the idea of encouraging their members to pray about the possibility of adopting a child?  Several have done just that – and in parts of Texas and Colorado and Florida, hundreds of children are now permanently placed with newly adoptive families.  Alongside the families that have made the decision to adopt or provide foster care are countless more supporting them in everything from running errands to babysitting.  What a joy to see this all unfold!

Have you ever wondered how the first century church, easily the most persecuted era in Christendom, was still able to thrive and grow by leaps and bounds?  I believe it’s because the Lord found them faithful and obedient and simply chose to bless them.  They were known for their loving service to the destitute, particularly orphans.  Imagine if today’s believers were to tackle this task of caring for orphans with the same fervor.  Do you not think the great God of the universe would do the same with us as he did with them?

Jim Daly is President of Focus on the Family.  He cares deeply about Focus’ I Care About Orphans initiative to help families and churches engage the needs of foster youth and other orphans.