Psalm 68:5 says, “A father of the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in His holy habitation.” God is so glorious that He rides on the heavens, and presides over His vast creation. But He is also so compassionate that He remembers the poorest of the earth! As Charles Spurgeon said, “To this day and for ever, God is, and will be, the peculiar guardian of the defenseless. . .How zealously ought His church to cherish those who are here marked out as Jehovah’s especial charge. . .Blessed duty, it shall be our privilege to make this one of our life’s dearest objects.”
In 2006 my wife and I had the privilege of adopting two beautiful daughters internationally. Mikayla is now 11 and Mikenzie is now 9. They have brought so much joy to our home that it’s hard to imagine what our lives would be like without these precious Frank girls! Adoption is certainly a God-thing. Despite the challenges the adoption process provided, it was thrilling. Our adoption provided an overwhelming sense of the sovereignty of God; He chose these two girls from the other side of the world and placed them into our family.
Each time I step into an orphanage in Vietnam and see the children there, I can’t help but think that God is touched by the plight of these helpless ones. Today there are nearly 150 million orphans worldwide. The Bible calls these the fatherless. They are the ones who have nothing to offer society—no wealth, no talents, not even an identity—the forgotten ones. But not forgotten to the one who rides on the heavens!
The Bible has much to say about the fatherless. First of all, let’s consider God’s eye for the fatherless. God surely sees the plight of the orphans around the world. Being omniscient, doesn’t God see everything? Of course He does. From mundane things like a sparrow falling to the ground (Matthew 10:29) to not so mundane things like the persecution of Christians, found in the verse just prior; God sees it all. But some things grab God’s attention in a special way. Truly our Heavenly Father knows all about the body of Christ that is suffering persecution around the world today. God will one day right the wrongs of this world, until then we need to trust in Him that He is at work, even though from an earthly perspective it may not seem so. Let us not mistake His silence at times for obliviousness.
The fatherless also get God’s attention in a special way. When it comes to the orphans of the world, I believe God sees each of the 150 million, and especially observes how they are being treated. God’s Word tells us in Psalm 146:9, “The Lord watches over the sojourners, He upholds the widow and the fatherless.” In Exodus 22:22-24, God instructs His people, “You shall not afflict any widow or fatherless child. If you afflict them in any way, and they cry at all to Me, I will surely hear their cry, and My wrath will become hot…” And Hosea 14:3 says, “In You the orphan finds mercy.” God sees the orphan. God understands their plight These helpless ones have His attention. Isn’t that like our Lord?
Secondly, God’s heart for the fatherless is a heart of compassion! God not only sees, God cares. Whenever God sees misery, His eyes affect His heart! In Deuteronomy 24, God instructed the Israelites to leave some of the harvest in the fields so that the destitute of their society, including orphans, could be well fed. And in Deuteronomy 10:18-19 it reads, “He administers justice for the fatherless and widow, and loves the stranger, giving him food and clothing. Therefore love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” In effect God was saying, “I have graced you by bringing you out of slavery – now grace others!” He is telling the Jews to not just be recipients of His grace, but to be channels of His grace.
Any student of Scripture knows how much the Bible talks about God’s heart for the fatherless. He is passionate that the disenfranchised of our world are cared for. He is passionate that the forgotten of society are remembered. When this happens, His grace is magnified.
Lastly, let’s be reminded that we are God’s hands and feet for the fatherless. God sees the orphan, God cares for the orphan, and God calls believers to administer love and provision to the orphan. As followers of Christ, you and I are His hands and feet on this earth. What a privilege and responsibility! In fact, James 1:27 tells us very clearly what true Christianity is: to care for the fatherless and widows in their affliction. Not only is God’s eye on the orphan, His eye is also on us! How are we treating the fatherless? Are we doing all we can do to be “imitators of God” in this cold and fallen world?
I believe the Church today is being mobilized like never before toward orphan care. Since our adoption several years ago, my wife and I have been encouraged by seeing other couples step out in faith to adopt. We have seen couples commit to foster care. We have watched churches, like our own in Indiana, step up in a big way to pray and give toward orphan care. Only when we all do our part can we observe the overwhelming statistic of 150 million orphans fade into the background. When we become involved all we really see is the single statistic that matters more than any other: it takes a single caring individual to make the difference for an orphan in time and eternity.
Gospelink believes the orphan holds a special place in the heart of God. Our orphan sponsorship program provides an avenue whereby Christians in America can personally engage in consistent, loving orphan care. Gospelink is assisting preachers in Africa who are caring for orphans in their community. These men and their wives are stretched to the limit financially as they sacrifice to provide for the needs of the fatherless in their own villages. They need the help that many believers in the United States can provide!
For $30/month sponsors in the U.S. can “adopt” an orphan through prayer and financial support. Sponsorship funds are used to provide the orphan food, clothing, education, and medical expenses. This is a unique ministry, in that the orphans who have been considered for assistance have been living permanently in the preacher’s home for at least six months. Additionally all those qualifying for support must be double orphans having lost both their father and their mother.
In addition to helping preachers care for orphans, Gospelink runs the Harvest Hope Home as an orphanage in Malawi adjacent to the Agricultural Training Center. Each orphan is placed in a cottage with a loving and godly family where their spiritual and physical needs are met on a daily basis. Here each orphan needs three sponsorships of $30/month.
Similar to Gospelink’s preacher sponsorship program, every orphan sponsor receives a profile of the child they are sponsoring, as well as quarterly reports from the child and the family caring for them. This program provides a practical way to be the hands and feet of Jesus to some of the most needy and destitute little ones on the planet.
As we care for orphans, we demonstrate the same grace that has been shown to us. A person who receives God’s grace through the Gospel must have a sense of obligation to joyfully manifest that grace in the lives of others. As Spurgeon said, may orphan care not only be our “blessed duty,” but may it also be one of life’s greatest privileges!