A Heart Like His: Every Christian’s Role in the Orphan Epidemic

Inspiring post informing Christians about their biblical responsibility toward orphans, and offering practical suggestions for orphan care.

“Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy.” (Psalm 82:3)

“Learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.” (Isaiah 1:17)

“The LORD watches over the alien and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.” (Psalm 146:9)

“A father of the fatherless and a judge for the widows, Is God in His holy habitation.” (Psalm 68:5)

“Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” (James 1:27)

If you truly want to get to know God’s heart more intimately, He splays it out openly in these verses and others just like them. So go back and reread them if you need to! Don’t worry, I’ll wait.
For many of us, if we’re being honest, these are passages that we would rip out of our Bibles if we could manage to do so without being irreverent.
Some of that is due to the discomfort that stems from being overwhelmed by such a huge problem. Many estimates suggest that there are roughly 200 million orphans in the world today. Can our brains even comprehend that number?
Does one person’s contribution really make a difference in the vast sea of parentless children? It hardly seems so. Even if I adopt a dozen orphans, that still means there are 200 million minus twelve. I’m no science pro, but I believe that would be called a negligible difference…which basically means that it’s not enough to matter.

And something about feeling helpless makes it easier to just bury our heads in the sand and pretend that we aren’t aware of such a huge problem. It feels nicer to stick our fingers in our ears and close our eyes and pretend that this enormous problem that I’m helpless to solve doesn’t exist.

On the other hand, I kind of think we’d like to remove the orphan passages from our Bibles because the more we learn about God’s heart on the matter, the more we feel like we might bear some responsibility for this issue. Claiming ignorance about what God wants just might alleviate the unease and guilt and perhaps even Holy Spirit conviction that tends to gnaw at our hearts over this subject.

Though they might make us uneasy, these passages and others like them reveal to us that God has a special place in His heart for orphans. And for Christ-followers who long to be molded into His image, that means we need to find room in our hearts for orphans, too. There is something inherently God-like about loving someone who has absolutely nothing to offer you in return. We simply cannot afford to ignore this vital issue.

In case you’re starting to wonder, I want you to know that I don’t believe foster parenting and/or adoption are God’s will for every Christ-follower. But I do believe this is a problem God wants to solve through His church. It shouldn’t have to be a social issue. Or a political issue. It’s a Christian issue. God wants His people to take care of those made in His image who are incapable of taking care of themselves. He wants us to show that we belong to Him by caring for those He cares about. He wants us to give as freely as we’ve received (Matthew 10:8).

Inspiring post informing Christians about their biblical responsibility toward orphans, and offering practical suggestions for orphan care.

So what should we do? How should Christ-followers participate in solving the orphan epidemic? Here are 5 things I believe every believer would be wise to consider and implement:
1. Allow yourself to care. This seems so obvious…I mean, none of us would say, “I don’t care about orphans.” But I’m afraid that all too often, our actions contradict our ideals. If we truly care about something, it will make a difference in some aspect of our relationship to that issue. If we continue ignoring the issue because it seems too big, we’re creating a hard shell around our hearts to protect ourselves from discomfort, instead of allowing our hearts to beat strong and hard for the fatherless, as our Heavenly Father’s does.

2. Educate yourself, and use your knowledge as an advocate. Learn about ministries serving orphans and/or foster children. Learn about orphans themselves. Find out about foster care in your community. In our current “information age,” the opportunities to learn about this topic are endless. Stop ignoring the problem; face it, and help spread awareness so others can face it, too. Perhaps you’re a channel through which God wants to draw other families in your circle of influence toward adoption.
3. Pray regularly. Use your education to fuel your prayers. Pray for the fatherless children in the world. Pray for God to call more adoptive and foster families, and for these families to obey. Pray for God’s provision for each child. Pray for those working with foster children and orphans. Pray for Him to draw children close to Himself, and that they will learn about salvation through His Son Jesus Christ, and receive Him for themselves. Pray for the physical and emotional healing many of these children need. Pray for those fostering and/or adopting these children.
4. Give generously. There are countless ways you can give to support orphans. Give financially to ministries that serve orphans. Give to families who are saving to fund an adoption. Give your children’s gently used clothing to foster and adoptive families. Give your time by babysitting for these families when needed. Give your culinary skills by preparing a meal for them. If you’re a mature believer, give your listening ear and wise counsel (and perhaps even a shoulder to cry on occasionally) to young foster and adoptive families.

5. Be open to adoption and foster parenting. I don’t want to hear your reasons why you can’t, and I really don’t think God does either. Trust me, I’ve tried that with Him, and He pointed out pretty quickly that my attempts to reason and justify and defend are really called “leaning on my own understanding.”

The truth is, if God wants you to do something, you can do it. Not only can you do it; you must do it! You must trust Him to equip you fully. You won’t feel prepared ahead of time — no one ever does. But that’s what faith is all about! He promises to give you enough grace for each day, and He teaches you what you need to know in the process.

We often spend a lot of time telling God why we can’t do something, when what we should be doing is telling Him we’ll do whatever He wants us to do, and begging Him to show us what that is.

So the question isn’t, “Could I adopt?” or “Do I want to be a foster parent?” or “Do I feel capable?” The question is: what does God want? And so the only reason that matters when it comes to a decision not to adopt or foster is that God doesn’t want you to. If you can’t make that statement definitively, I would suggest continuing in prayer over the matter, seeking God’s heart and His will for you, and continuing with the other four suggestions here in the meantime.

I hope you’re sensing my challenge to consider becoming a foster or adoptive parent. But I also hope you’re gaining a sense of inspiration and purpose, even if God isn’t calling you to adopt. Because there’s still much you can do to support the cause of the fatherless who are so close to God’s heart!

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Loving child of Almighty God, adoring wife, and homeschooling mother of three, I am active in teaching and music ministries in my local church. I am passionate about encountering my Savior and about encouraging other women to do the same. It would be an honor to have you visit me at A Divine Encounter!

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  1. says

    When I was growing up and as a teenager, I would never have seen myself so eager for motherhood. But a few years ago God took me through an experience that gave me a heart and a calling to a specific area of the foster care system. I’m in the “not ready yet” stage, but I can see God at work preparing my heart, my husband’s, and our home for that day when we’ll get to live out this biblical command. Thanks for writing. It’s always good to be reminded of this and to be reminded to the one thing we can all do. PRAY. 😀

    • says

      Hi, Shirley Ann! Thank you so much for reading and for sharing your heart. My husband and I were in a stage of waiting for quite some time between our foster care training and our first placement. We didn’t understand why at the time, but now we can see God’s hand and His implicitly perfect timing. (If you’re interested, you can read more about our season of being “on hold” at http://adivineencounter.com/where-are-all-the-stockings.) I agree that our prayers are so vital…we underestimate its power and undervalue its importance. We must trust that our prayers on behalf of the fatherless will avail much!

  2. says

    Thank you for this article, tears came to my eyes as I was going through it. I have a heart for adoptions. I am still single, so I am praying for the Lord to give me a husband who has a heart for it as well. I work with Mayan orphans and widows, so definitely I know there is so much more that each one of us as Christians can do about it.

    • says

      We are sisters in Christ, and sisters at heart — I had tears as I was writing. 🙂 We were recently studying I Corinthians 7 in Sunday school, and discussed the gift of singlehood God grants to some select believers. Your labor of love for our Lord is precious to Him, and you are able to serve in significant ways that are unique to a single life. I just took a few moments to pray for fruitfulness in your ministry, and for God’s continued leading and blessing in your life. Thank you so much for taking the time to leave this heartfelt word!

  3. says

    I have been feeling God tugging me in this direction for some time. I’d appreciate prayers that my husband will be receptive and will feel called in the same way.

    • says

      Hello, Kim! It’s wonderful to read of your sensitivity to God’s leading! I just took some time to pray for you and your husband, and I’ll continue to do so as the Lord brings you to mind. I asked Him to help you to patiently wait on His timing, and to encourage your heart as you wait. I also prayed for God to lead your husband to an understanding of His will, whatever that may be, and that your husband would have an obedient heart. Finally, I asked God to strengthen your marriage in the meantime, and to unite your hearts in love for Him and for each other. It’s a true honor to be asked to pray for you, and I hope to have more interactions in the future!

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