6 Ways To Help Orphans

Guatemala 2013 177

There is an audio version below.

If only 7 percent of the 2 billion Christians in the world would care for a single orphan in distress, there would effectively be no more orphans. If everybody would be willing to simply do something to care for one of these precious treasures, I think we would be amazed by just how much we could change the world.

Stephen Curtis Chapman

I’m reading through the Bible this year as part of my morning quiet time.  I don’t say this as a pronouncement of having it all together.  In fact, the contrary is probably true.  I need to spend regular time in God’s Word, because I am messed up and broken.  The Bible helps me find healing, hope, and encouragement for the daily ups and downs I face in my life.

I’m using the Daily Audio Bible Podcast with Brian Hardin as a guide to walk me along this journey this year.  Each day, Brian shares a passage from the Old Testament, a passage from the New Testament, a passage from the book of Psalm, and a couple of verses from the book of Proverbs.

I’ve read through the Bible a few times before.  I feel like I know it fairly well, but I am struck each morning by how much I really don’t know.  A theme that keeps coming back to me over and over again this year relates to the poor, the widows, and the orphans.  Throughout the Bible, God speaks about orphans, widows, and the poor.  He instructs us to look after the poor and the widows.  And He doesn’t just say it once or twice.  He says it again and again and again.

Here are a just a few of the passages that have struck me so far this year:

  • Do not take advantage of the widow or the fatherless.  Exodus 22:22
  • He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing.  Deuteronomy 10:18
  • Do not deprive the foreigner or the fatherless of justice, or take the cloak of the widow as a pledge.  Deuteronomy 24:17
  • I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.  John 14:18
  • 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
  • But you, God, see the trouble of the afflicted; you consider their grief and take it in hand. The victims commit themselves to you; you are the helper of the fatherless.  Psalm 10:14
  • A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.  Psalm 68:5
  • Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed.  Psalm 82:3

When things are repeated, it is for emphasis, so the multiple mentions throughout the Bible should serve as a reminder – a wake-up call – to the readers that God wants us to pay attention and to take action for the cause of orphans, widows, and the poor.

Yesterday morning, I had the privilege of being in worship at our church as the Jordan Howerton Band led our congregation in worship.  They were leading a song I have sung before, but the words hit me a little differently this time.  The song is Phil Wickham’s This Is Amazing Grace, and the second verse starts like this:

Who brings our chaos back into order
Who makes the orphan a son and daughter
The King of Glory, the King of Glory

Did you catch that?

God, the King of Glory, makes the orphan a son and daughter.

This simple phrase in the middle of this song spoke to me and reverberated against the words I’ve been reading in the Bible this year.  God cares for the orphans.  And if God cares for the “least of these” then so should you and I.

How does one help orphans?

This is a great question.  In America, it can be hard to initially identify with the cause of the orphans.  After all, we are wealthy.  We have it all together.

Before we can answer this question, it might be helpful to understand what it means to be an orphan.  In Guatemala, a child is considered an orphan if his or her father is no longer in the picture.  The dad may have died, but he may have simply skipped town leaving his wife a widow and his children orphans.

When you look at it this way, you may actually see that we have more orphans in our midst than we had initially thought.  The children being raised by a single parent here in the United States would actually be considered orphans in Guatemala.  They may not need an orphanage, but they need to know the presence of a loving father in their lives.

So how does one help the orphan?

Here are 6 ways for you to help orphans:

  1. PRAY.  Don’t underestimate the power of prayer for the cause of the orphan.  Pray God would protect and provide for the orphans of the world.  Pray your heart and mind would be opened to helping orphans.
  2. GIVE.  Orphans often are overlooked when it comes to basic necessities like food, clothing, and shelter.  There are many organizations that take monetary donations and turn them into practical provision for orphans.  Research organizations to determine where your money will be best spent for the cause of the orphan.  Our family donates to Compassion International and CMF InternationalGO! Ministries, who we serve with in Guatemala, is directly serving orphans and widows in the village of Xenacoj.  A donation to GO! Ministries would go far to help orphans.
  3. RESEARCH.  Take time to understand the cause of the orphan.  Don’t take my word for it.  Find out for yourself.  How many orphans are in the world?  What happens to the typical orphan?  What is being done to help orphans?  You have the ability to jump in and learn more about orphans.
  4. ADOPT.  This could mean physically bringing an orphaned child into your home, or it could be adopting a child through child sponsorship.  You can establish a long-term relationship with an orphan that will not only provide for physical needs but will also provide for spiritual needs.
  5. SPEAK UP.  What will you do with the knowledge you have?  Will you hold it inside or will you speak up and defend the cause of the orphan?  Orphans and widows often do not have a voice, but you do.  You can use it to make a difference.
  6. GO.  Get involved with orphans by serving at a boys and girls club in your area, by going to an orphanage, or by injecting yourself into the flow of a community where absent fathers are common.  I like building things in Guatemala.  It’s satisfying to build houses, stoves, and other things, but it’s even better to build relationships with the orphans and widows in Santo Domingo Xenacoj.

If you look at the breadth of this issue, it could be easy to become overwhelmed and discouraged.  By taking one step at a time, we can all help to make a difference for a cause that matters – a cause that matters to God – the cause of the fatherless.

How are you helping orphans?  What other ways can we add to the list above?