Practical Ways To Care For Orphans In Your Own Neighborhood
When caring for the orphan seems limited to those “legitimized” by the government including international institutions, local programs, and those “approved to adopt” by various state and country entities, what is the unaffiliated Christian supposed to do?
In our article, 3 Reasons Why Christians Aren’t Caring For The Orphan, we talked about the problems hindering orphan care. The primary problem is that the Church is relegating its responsibility to others. Another problem is that individual Christians and families feel ill-equipped to care for orphans.
As we call the Church to recognize their duty to care for orphans, we also want to equip and encourage Christians striving to practice pure and undefiled religion.
Who are the fatherless?
As we mentioned last time, the fatherless include:
- the unwanted child in her mother’s womb
- children no longer under the protection of their fathers who are in the hands of human traffickers
- children of single mothers
- parentless children
Ways to care for orphans
Some obvious ways to care for the fatherless then would be:
- abolish abortion
- oppose and end human trafficking
- care for single mothers
We hope to discuss these in future articles and podcast episodes, but for now, let’s talk about parentless children and children without families. These children exist in every neighborhood in America and around the world. Many of them can be found in foster care systems.
First steps to care for the fatherless in your neighborhood
Before we tackle foster care, let’s talk about first steps. These could apply to your local community of believers, the Christian family, and single Christians too.
1. Assess the need & who’s involved
First of all, you or your local body needs to assess the situation of orphans right in your own community. And then find out who is doing something about it. (We’ll talk more about how to do this later on and what to do if needs aren’t being met.)
Hopefully, you’ll find Christians among the ones meeting those needs. Make yourself available to get together with them. Ask them what they’re doing, how they’re doing it.
If you’re speaking with parents or caregivers who are taking the orphans into their homes for foster care or adoption, you may need to approach the conversation carefully. Learn the art of listening between the lines. Many of these Christians have met with discouragement and opposition (even from other Christians) and may not be willing to share their needs up front.
They’ve probably received comments like:
“That’s how much you make?! How do you feed all these kids?”
“Are you sure you should be taking in more?”
“Remember you have limitations. Just because there’s an orphan doesn’t mean you have to care for them.”
“You have so much on your plate. Why get yourself all worked up about another mother’s problem?”
“How old will you be when they’re in college?!”
Keep in mind the people making these comments aren’t in the business of caring for orphans themselves. Comments like “just because there’s an orphan doesn’t mean you have to care for them” aren’t helpful when a couple knows that to NOT take the child means that child will end up in an ungodly situation.
For ourselves, if we hadn’t taken the twins, they would be in the Islamic welfare system, only able to be adopted by Muslims. Being accountable to God, it wasn’t a choice, it was our responsibility. And so long as Christians keep passing the burden to someone else, we will continue to see orphans in our midst.
2. Ask good questions
Okay, back to your conversation. You may need to ask some very pointed questions, but let them know your intent. You’re not going to scrutinize them for what they’re doing. You’re committed to caring for orphans too … sacrificially. Just using that word will break down a lot of barriers.
As they open up to you, listen for unspoken needs. Are they looking for ways to take care of more orphans but feeling limited? Can you help them expand what they are doing or spread their vision to others?
Another great question to ask is: are they (the caregivers) being taken care of? Perhaps the best way you can care for the orphan is to care for those already doing the work. We’re going to spend some time answering this question because many parents and caregivers won’t have had time to think about it.
3. Take the initiative
You may need to take the initiative in these areas:
Here’s how you can use each to help orphans and their caregivers.
Orphans have many needs and parents/caregivers aren’t always equipped for those challenges. But maybe someone in your congregation is a counselor or has experience with abuse. A parent or caregiver might welcome that extra help coming from a solid Biblical perspective. They may feel they need counseling themselves. Or you can recommend books and other resources that they may not know about.
Helping hands can be paid for, but it is such an encouragement to a parent or caregiver when others volunteer their time and efforts. Ask yourself if you can cook, clean, or in some other way meet the physical needs of the orphans being cared for. Also, look for ways to help the orphans directly. Do they need to be taught a skill? Use your time to show these orphans the care of another Christian.
Many caregivers get worn out, discouraged, and tempted to feel alone in their battle. If you’re a sympathetic listener or a prayer warrior, a parent or caregiver might appreciate someone they can confide in. Someone who won’t say, “I told you so” but remind them of God’s promises and why what they’re doing is so important. Perhaps you can befriend the orphans personally and listen to their heart and their struggles.
Lastly, orphans and their caregivers need mouths that will speak on their behalf. Raise awareness for the orphans. Not only through one-time events (sometimes these just increase the feelings of loneliness afterward) but through consistent efforts to make others aware that caring for orphans is a duty.
Just getting started
We hope this has encouraged you to start somewhere. But it’s probably left you with a lot of questions too. One of the primary things we want to address next time is what meeting the needs of orphans looks like. It’s not limited to adoption or helping those caring for orphans.
Helen is a happy wife and mother of twins. As she passes along her love of learning to her students and children, she hopes God’s Word will radiate through them. She prays for a generation that will stand up for the oppressed, protect the vulnerable, and care for the widow and fatherless.