God’s Heart and Ours.
God is vested, deeply and personally, in the plight of orphaned and vulnerable children—and in all who are destitute and defenseless (Deuteronomy 10:18; Psalm 10:14; Psalm 68:5-6, Isaiah 58:5-12). God calls His people to reflect His special love for these children in both word and deed (Isaiah 1:17; James 1:27; Matthew 25:40).
To act upon God’s call to care for orphans is not merely a matter of duty, guilt or idealism. It is first a response to the good news, the Gospel: that God, our loving Father, sought us, adopted us, and invites us to live as His sons and daughters (John 1:12, Galatians 4:6, Ephesians 1:5; I John 3:1). We love because He first loved us. (1 John 4:19)
Good intentions alone are insufficient. All care for children must be guided by both knowledge and wisdom (Proverbs 19:2; Philippians 1:9-11). In our broken world, no solution will be without flaws. Yet our aim must always be to offer the excellent care we’d desire to give Jesus himself – informed by Scripture and the best available research, knowledge and proven practice.
Commitment to the Whole Child.
To meet only spiritual or only physical needs is incomplete (1 John 3:17; James 2:16; Mark 8:36). Christian love seeks to address both, just as Jesus always did. Nothing is of greater value than to know Jesus Christ and one’s identity as a child of God (Philippians 3:8). Yet even a cup of water given to a thirsty child is of eternal worth (Matthew 10:42).
Priority of Family.
Both Scripture and social science affirm that the best environment for children is a safe, permanent family. When this is not possible, the goal for each child should be – as a general rule – to move as far as possible along the “spectrum of care” toward permanent family. Care for children should always be as safe, nurturing and as close to family as is feasible for the given situation.
Children having a surviving parent, or other relatives willing to care for them, should be helped to remain with family whenever safely possible. Likewise, when families have been separated, reunification is of first priority whenever safely possible. Efforts made to keep struggling families together are a vital part of the Bible’s call to care for orphans and widows in distress.
Care within a family is our unequivocal ideal for children. Yet, we also honor the devoted care and protection provided by many quality residential facilities. We further recognize the essential role therapeutic group settings can play in the healing of children with extensive needs. We urge new programs to prioritize family-based care. We also encourage existing residential programs to move as close as possible to the ideal of family, and to promote family-based solutions whenever possible.
Central Role of the Local Church.
The local church in every nation possesses both the Christian mandate and many other resources needed to care for the world’s orphans in a nurturing, relationship-rich environment. Every initiative to care for orphans should prioritize and honor the role of the local church, carefully pairing what foreign resources may be necessary with local believers willing to open their hearts and homes to orphans in their community.
The Power of Unity.
Scripture overflows with calls for unity in the Body of Christ (Psalm 133; 1 Corinthians 12:12; Ephesians 4:3, Colossians 3:11-15; Philippians 4:1-3). Such unity yields special strength (Ecclesiastes 4:9), welcomes the presence of Christ (Matthew 18:20), and confirms that Jesus was sent by God (John 17:20-23). Disagreements are inevitable and sometimes even necessary. Yet amidst all that strains unity, we commit to honoring each other above ourselves (Romans 12:10) – and labor in unison to see every orphan experience God’s unfailing love.