"You know what’s wrong with you people?”
If this is the leading question, you can guarantee an interesting conversation is about to follow. The passenger in the seat next to me was not pleased I had asked about his relationship with Jesus. This question began his rejoinder about all things spiritual. I mentally began to calculate which direction this conversation might take, but I was wrong. In fact, I never saw his response coming.
“Y’all talk about ending abortion, but none of you people adopt the kids we already have waiting.”
Dropping that nuclear bomb on our conversation, he turned his body away, signaling that our discussion was over.
I sat back in my seat and began to ponder. He was right — at least up to a point. While the number of evangelicals engaged in the orphan care movement has grown, the overall number of adopted children in the United States has barely budged. In the best of years, families in the U.S. file legally to adopt between 100,000 to 125,000 children. That may sound like a resounding success, but more than half of those are familial adoptions, meaning they are the result of a child being adopted by a family member. Worse, adoption is only a small part of a greater orphan crisis globally as millions of children go without even a semblance of a family. Even with our greater awareness of the plight of children on a global scale, the number of churches taking an active role is painfully small.
This should crush our hearts.
From a biblical and gospel perspective, we stand condemned.
In the Old Testament, God clearly spells out that the community of faith has a responsibility to care for widows and orphans. In Exodus 22:22–23 we are told, “Do not oppress foreigners in any way. Remember, you yourselves were once foreigners in the land of Egypt. Do not exploit widows or orphans.”
For those who did not think this was an important part of God’s heart, the following warning was added in verses 23–24: “If you do exploit them and they cry out to Me, I will surely help them. My anger will blaze forth against you, and I will kill you with the sword. Your wives will become widows and your children will become fatherless.”
Harsh words. We can ascertain from this text that God the Father sees our role in meeting the basic needs of widows and orphans, and He grants them direct access to His throne. Any complaints do not go well for those unwilling to address the needs that are present. Lest we think this only applies to the Old Testament believer, James 1:27 repeats this theme for us as we are given a clarion call to care for the widow and the orphan.
If an extensive study is done of the Old Testament, the following basic themes emerge:
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John Mark Yeats