Thursday, June 6, 2013

The Orphan Challenge

Three children squealed with delight when their mother said, "come on, let's go to the park!" Even better, once there, she asked if they wanted ice cream; a rare treat. She told them to play while she went across the street to purchase the cones.
They rode the merry-go-round and swung on the swings—the 10-year-old girl pushing her younger brother and sister. Mom sure seemed to be taking her time. When they tired of playground equipment, the big sister suggested a game of hide-and-seek. Surely by the time she counted to 100, her mother would be back. She wasn't. Now the girl started getting worried. Something must be wrong.

By the time dusk settled over the park, she knew. Their mother wasn't coming back. 

Abandoned, neglected, and abused children are everywhere--even in America. With the breakdown of the family, orphans have become a tremendous challenge all over the globe. According to UNICEF estimates there were more than 132 million in 2005. In a recent publication, Transform World stated that if all the orphans "from war-torn Sudan to poverty-stricken India, from transitioning Ukraine to affluent nations in Europe and North America" were brought together, "they would comprise the 7th largest nation in the world--a veritable 'Orphan Nation.'"

It's a complex problem with complex solutions. A form of trafficking is actually taking place through the gospel of adoption. Rather than unwittingly contributing to the problem, Christians need to take the lead in raising awareness of the issues involved and finding ways to care for these children in the best possible family situation.
God knows each orphaned child by name. He knit each one together in his mother's womb. The Lord is also "a father for the fatherless . . . and makes a home for the lonely" (Ps. 68:5, 6). 

The second greatest commandment is to love your neighbor as yourself. Every healthy individual wants a family. Each human being needs that type of support system. To give orphans the love we desire is not a suggestion; it's a command. These children are all around us. Are we willing to be a father (or mother) in Jesus name making sure that children receive the best possible care and support system?

When a child is secure in a family they are far less vulnerable to the tricks of traffickers. To deal with the travesty of modern-day slavery in America, we must love and care for orphans. The question is how can we best do that?

The 10-year old girl at the beginning of this story was placed in a family environment with a mom, dad, and other kids.But it only lasted until she was 18, and then she was on her own. But she still needed a family's support. That's why a church in Riverside becomes a family to foster kids aging out of the system. They provide for young adults by helping them find a job, get set up in an apartment, giving them people to talk to who care and can give them good advice. By embracing a young woman, the risk of her being trafficked diminishes considerably.

Can you think of other ways individuals, churches, Sunday School classes, or Bible study groups might care for orphans right in our own communities or for those young children who live in neighboring countries and have lost their parents to AIDS or natural disasters such as those in Haiti? Finding answers to the orphan challenge could keep a child from becoming a modern-day slave.

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