“You shall not mistreat any widow or fatherless child. If you do mistreat them, and they cry out to me, I will surely hear their cry, and my wrath will burn, and I will kill you with the sword, and your wives shall become widows and your children fatherless.” (Exodus 22:22-24)
“I was in my prime, when the friendship of God was upon my tent… I delivered the poor who cried for help, and the fatherless who had none to help him…I was a father to the needy, and I searched out the cause of him whom I did not know.” (Job 29:4, 12, 16)
“A righteous man knows the rights of the poor; a wicked man does not understand such knowledge.” (Proverbs 29:7)
If statistics are right from various organizations, there are over one-hundred fifty million orphans in the world today, about two percent of the world’s population, due to disease, wars, and natural causes. God loves children and desires that we love them, including those who have been left without parents or other family members. The Israelites, who were oppressed in Egypt, were not to oppress others, but to be disposed to help them. Solomon saw great oppression in his time and lamented that no one seemed to be supporting the oppressed. Job reminisced about his former life, before Satan attacked him and robbed him of his children, home, servants, crops, and health, when he blessed those in his life and community. Job’s righteous life is a model of obedience to God’s statutes set forth for Israel in the wilderness—to search out the cause and case of those who needed help and provide them assistance. Proverbs calls us to know the rights of the poor, ostensibly to help them. The most vulnerable poor in our society are undoubtedly those who are without parents or other family members to care for them.
There is an overwhelming need for orphan care in the majority world, but most governments are moving away from institutional care to family fostering. I was and continue to be involved with the Rafiki Foundation, which offers very high-quality care in an institutional setting, but inclusive of family values. A tremendous advantage to this care is the Christian worldview held by the staff and taught to all the children. Job did his best parenting when he felt God’s friendship; his relationship with the Lord was the basis for all of his other relationships. Job modeled God’s fatherhood by being a father to those who had none to care for them. He investigated their cases when there was no advantage to him, just as Rafiki and other childcare ministries do. All families should do the same, so I cannot argue with governments that stress care for orphans by families.
Since some of us don’t come into contact with orphans directly, there are many means by which we can “investigate” their needs and those who care for them, to support them with prayer and financial sponsorship. Some websites provide monetary and administrative information about the organizations that care for orphans, and I strongly suggest that you familiarize yourself with them. This is general information that all Christians can access when it is needed. Two of the best are The Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ecfa.org) and Charity Navigator (charitynavigator.org). Be aware, though that some of these services charge fees which charities do not want to pay, preferring to use their funds for direct services to children.
How do you show concern for orphans? Isn’t it time that you do?