pure and undefiled religion

Pure and undefiled religion before our God and Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained by the world.
James 1.27 (HCSB)

The Bible, both the Old and New Testaments, places great emphasis on the issue of caring for those who cannot care for themselves. As James points out, two of the most obvious groups (though by no means the most visible groups, at least in America) making up this larger category are widows and orphans. The latter group weighs especially heavily on my heart as an adoptive parent. That there are millions of orphans around the world who desperately need families to love and care for them is tragic, especially in light of the abundance of resources available in the United States.

Question: If caring for orphans is given such great importance in Scripture, how come it is not more of a priority in our churches or our lives?

Many, many churches are caught up in the desire to grow. Building programs, multiple worship services, and even multiple “campuses” consume precious time and resources of many congregations. I am by no means suggesting that growth is itself a bad thing, unless it becomes the main thing or even a main thing. Countless churches around the United States spend millions of dollars toward this “ministry” or that, but how many churches have you EVER heard of that had any sort of orphan or adoption ministry? I’d venture to say that few, if any of us, have ever been in such a congregation.

Fortunately, due to the efforts of a small number of adoption and orphan ministry groups, I think this tide is slowly changing. Social media and instant communication methods, though distracting at times, have allowed physically separate people to unite behind a single cause. Adoption is beginning to receive emphasis at some of the more influential churches in American Evangelical circles; however, there is much work yet to do.

The number of orphans around the world in need of help is staggering.

The orphan population in Ethiopia, for example, is roughly the size of the entire populations of Los Angeles and Chicago combined! While I agree that adoption isn’t for everyone–it is possible for each of us to help, in some small way. For example:

  • have a yard sale and use the proceeds to give soap to children in 3rd world countries and prevent diarrheal diseases and pneumonia
  • skip going out to lunch once this week and give the gift of clean water ($1 provides one person with clean water for one year)
  • go without your high-priced, fancy coffee this week and donate the savings to ABBA Fund, a ministry providing interest-free loans to adoptive parents

If none of those ideas sounds good to you, drop me an email or leave me a comment. I’ll be glad to start up a dialogue with you, and perhaps we can come up with ideas that nobody has considered yet.


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