Today is Orphan Sunday.
Orphan Sunday is set aside internationally to recognize the plight of orphans in our world. It is a Sunday set aside by some churches around the world to focus on Orphans and the care that we can offer them.
Yet, at times, it seems to go unnoticed by the church at large and by us as individuals and families.
It is not usually a Sunday that brings in new visitors, like Christmas and Easter. It is not a Sunday that brings a new spirit of excitment to the congregation, like the Sunday after New Years, or Superbowl Sunday. And beacuse of this is seems to be a forgotten day at times.
Unfortunately, so are the children that the day represents.
Children who have been designated Orphans have lost or been given up by at least one parent. These children have not been claimed by other family members and have been forgotten by all but the Orphanage they belong to. These lonely orphanages are over-filled, and understaffed causing the forgotten children to be further neglected.
Bringing this often forgotten day to the forefront will help churches and Christians remember the plight of these often forgotten children; and hopefully respond with loving action and prayer.
Remembering Orphans is the beginning of Orphan care.
Speaking out for Orphans
As churches who recognize Orphan Sunday remember and strategize for Orphan care, the world outside goes on with life as if there are no problem. These children need people who will stand up and speak where their stories do not reach. They need people who are willing to invest their time in learning the stories, and investing their lives in telling them.
Speaking for Orphans takes no specialized training and no spending of money. All it take is time, effort and a little boldness. It takes being willing to engage our friends in hard conversations, to invite people we know to learn more about orphans. It may take some creativity in order to present and inspire people to action.
We all can speak for Orphans in the places that and in the midst of people with whom we have influence.
Orphan care has many expressions. Whether we are talking Adoption, Visiting Orphans or giving our money to advance the work of others; true Orphan care must consider a hierarchy of importance objectives.
Keeping Families together – There are many ways that children become orphans, and there are many ways to help them, but there may be no more import and impactful ministry than to families in order to prevent the cycle of orphans in communities. Many children become orphans because of poverty and the health of their parents. Working to help alleviate poverty and health concerns will help make sure that children won't lose their parents as often. This can happen through community development hoping to improve the health and food production within communities. Also, on an individual scale, this can happen by coming along side at-risk families. If church orphan care could focus more on prevention we would hopefully see better statistics. We would also see that when tragedies happen communities and families will be more equipped to help the surviving children.
Extended Family Care – In some cases orphaned or abandoned children may have extended family who are able or willing to care for them. This can be the best case scenario for a child who has lost a parent or been abandoned. Much effort in ministry should be made to find these family members if possible. This also touches on the topic of falsified orphans, or children who have been trafficed, kidnapped or adopted under false pretenses. Great effort should be given to make sure this does not happen and that families are reunited if it has. As the Church, it is important to make sure that any organization we support has a well developed plan to seek out family members for orphans before adopting them out. Individually, we can pray that many orphaned children will find family members willing to care and support them.
Adoption – When children cannot remain or are unwanted by their biological family, adoption is a beautiful and appropriate way to care for orphans. Though it is in one sense a last resort, in another sense it is a wonderful expression of love, compassion and commitment. When an orphan is offered a loving home, with loving parents, the results can be a mutual blessing for both the child and adopting family for generations to come. As a church we can help facilitate adoption through prayer, giving and relationships. Individually we can all help by encouraging adoptive parents.Don't Stop after Orphan Sunday!
Orphan Care is Messy but Important
Every story of an orphaned child is riddled with pain and tragedy. The biological parents and family of the child experienced pain, the child has experienced pain and huge loss, and even in adoption, there is potential for pain. Orphan care is not something to be considered lightly; it is a glorious duty of the church to be called to care for children and families who have experienced such pain. As we remember Orphan Sunday and engage in orphan care, our hearts will split and our stomach may turn, but the work is too important to neglect.
Here at Bring it Home we have compiled a list of helpful resources for churches and individuals excited about Orphan Care. Check it out Here