James 1:27 reads, “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.”
Unpack this verse and we have the apostle James looking at three points: orphans, widows, and personal purity. Two points have to do with other people, and one has children in mind.
These days, widows in many cultures are getting the help they need with a social services net providing monthly support. Homes for the aged also give assistance where families need help. That doesn’t mean that widows’ needs have disappeared, rather that the church has done a good job in meeting their needs.
Orphans have received much help too, so much so that such residences have greatly thinned out over the past half-century. Today, youngsters in need of help have foster care with adoption an option for some.
Elsewhere in the world orphanages are standing in the gap, providing the only means of protection for vulnerable young children. In many places, orphanages are severely challenged financially, presenting an opportunity for Christians to make a difference. Here’s how you come alongside orphans in their own distress.
1. Pray. Ask God to direct you to an orphanage. They’re not terribly hard to find and many Christian ministries support them. Your church may support missions who work in an orphanage. Ask around and also ask God to lead you to the right people.
2. Make a financial commitment. Orphanages gladly take one-time gifts — your money will not be refused. What is most helpful is regular and consistent giving, such as a monthly donation. If you can give $5 or $10 a month, you’ve found a great place to start. In poor countries, that’s a good deal of money. For everyone else, commitments of $25, $50 or more a month can be sustaining.
3. Find out the needs. In America, when we hear about a plight overseas, we often will respond quickly and generously. We may also respond without thinking, shipping winter clothes to the Philippines, a tropical nation where coats are not worn. Or, we may send shoes to an orphanage in South Sudan that has more than it can possibly use. Many orphanages have websites and it is on these sites where needs are often made known. The need may be something you can’t provide such as a goat for giving milk — you can, however, contribute money for a goat to be purchased locally.
4. Sponsor a child. Some orphanages love to connect supporters directly with a child. Not so much for you to adopt one — although that may be an option — but that you would support and encourage the child. Essentially, you would make a commitment to donate money monthly and to write to the child. Encourage him or her just as Jesus would encourage them. You’ll make a big difference there too.
5. Contribute airline miles. Orphaned children overseas may be fortunate to find local families including distant relatives to take them in. Many, however, have no families and are eligible for adoption. This leaves open the possibility for families in the United States, Canada, Australia and elsewhere to adopt them. It also means that such families will undertake a tremendous financial burden, one that includes making one or more trips abroad. By donating airline miles, you can help defray the cost for one family. Even if you have only a small amount to donate, your gift when collected with others can make a difference.
6. Educate others. Helping orphans also means telling others about what you do. You already know about the needs and are doing your part to make a difference. Still, there is much work to be done and the body of Christ can do much more when the sum of the body’s parts work together. Consider holding an informational brunch or dinner at your home. Speak with your pastor about the needs. Tell everyone you meet about the difference a particular orphanage makes in the lives of children abroad.
Orphans: Other Ways to Help
As you inderstand, financial support is critical for orphanages. Some also welcome volunteers to serve for a few weeks, a month or even a year or longer. Consider going and serving directly, if possible. Keeping orphans on your mind is putting on the mind of Christ — align your thoughts with His and you may be surprised where the Spirit takes you.
Peter Bowman is a professional blogger that provides tips and information on franchise opportunities you should invest in. He writes for Franchise Expo, the place to find the best franchise opportunities available.