Small Steps Big Dreams
(November 13th is “Orphan Sunday.” During the entire month of November County Line will highlight their Orphan Care ministry partners and best practices on the Mission Advancement blog and worship services.)
153 million… that’s a large number. The longer you stare at it, the more daunting it becomes, especially when it represents children.
153 million… in a single file line, these children could circle the 11,000-mile perimeter of the USA eight times. Or, circle the earth four times.
153 million children would fill the Notre Dame Football Stadium 1900 times.
153 million children would fill the 50 largest cities in the USA… beginning with #1 New York City to #50 Wichita, Kansas… + …the countries of Haiti, Ireland, Nicaragua, Norway, Denmark, Costa Rica, Greece, and France.
153 million… represents the number of orphaned children in the world today. 153 million children who are growing up without a mom and a dad. Can you begin to imagine what life would be like absent of your parents or family? To have all of your security, identity, and purpose erased from your life. Imagine with me what would it be like to grow up in an institution raised by workers doing their job. For many of these children, every day is a fight for survival over basic things such as food, clothes, love, and security.
This month we will be talking, a lot, about Orphan Care. We live in a fallen, sinful world where children become orphaned for multiple reasons. Poverty, war, and disease make up the most common factors that create the circumstances for children to become parentless. As a consequence of these factors, children are often sold or sent to orphanages, or end up living on the streets.
Historically, orphanages have been the answer to the orphan crisis. However, it takes a lot of money to provide quality care for children. Over the last 2-3 decades, adoption has become the answer to the orphan crisis but, not all orphan children are adoptable. So what is the answer? Unfortunately, there is not one answer that will solve this issue. Just as there are multiple causes for creating orphans, there are multiple solutions. However, we can provide a framework in which we can begin solving this issue.
First, we must possess the idea that “families” not “institutions” are the answer to orphan care. God created and designed us to be part of a family. As I mentioned above, it is through families that we gain security, identity, and purpose in life. Through this lens, I want to look at three ways to solve the orphan crisis.
When we look at the factors that cause orphans (poverty, war, and disease), prevention may seem like an uphill battle. However, many organizations exist to help families stay together. A few of the more popular ones are World Vision and Compassion International. Another well-known ministry is called Safe Families for Children. I will be talking about them in another post
If prevention cannot happen, or it is too late, family reunification is the second desired outcome. If the child cannot go back to their parents, then it is important that those in authority place them with extended family. Of course, there situations that are not good, or healthy, to be reunited with their family. The book, “In Defense of the Fatherless,” states that 4 out of 5 children living in orphanages have at least one surviving parent and much more have extended family.
When these first two options are not viable, then we should look at expanding families through adoption or foster care. As I mentioned above, not all children are adoptable, so we need other options. Whether that is foster care, or setting up family-style homes, that provide house parents (yes, a mom and dad) for several children.
Certainly, there are no easy solutions to orphan care. No one child has the same story or circumstances. However, when we identify “family” as the end-goal, we can begin to take small, or large, steps to solving the orphan crisis.
Here are some sources to get you thinking about Orphan Care:
About the Author:
Nathan serves as the Mission Advancement Pastor at County Line Church of God in Auburn, IN. Nathan’s life purpose is Creating Clarity for churches and leaders. His passions are being the best husband and father for his family, helping the global church fulfill the Great Commission, directing leaders to health, and being a voice for vulnerable children. Nathan has been married to his wife, Stacy, for over 20 years and are enjoying life with their 5 children, 2 dogs, and a rabbit.