Monday, November 26, 2012

Orphan Care

{I started writing this post on Nov. 5th and am just now finishing . . . it's been a crazy month!}

November 4th was designated in churches all over the US (and hopefully the world) as Orphan Sunday.

A day set aside to dwell on what God's Word reveals about His love and concern for orphans and to highlight and educate the Church about the global orphan crisis.

I helped put together the Orphan Sunday emphasis at Edgewater so I'd love to share with you some of the verses and statistics we shared through a video with our faith family . . .

God’s heart for the orphan is unmistakable. 

“He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing.”  Deut. 10:18

“A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.  God sets the lonely in families . . .”  Psalm 68:5-6

“Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed.  Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.”  Asaph’s cry to God in Psalm 82:3-4

The numbers are staggering.

The UNICEF definition of an ORPHAN:  a child who has lost one parent (single orphan) or both parents (double orphan)

The total number of orphans worldwide – 153 million 

The number of orphans worldwide who have lost both parents – 17.8 million 

In most of the world, to lose your father means the loss of all provision, protection, and hope.

The number of orphans who have lost their father – 101 million 

The number of children who are orphaned by AIDS each day – 6,000 

The percent of HIV positive children in resource poor settings who will die – 50% by the age of 2 

The number of children in the US foster system – 500,000 

The number of children waiting in US foster care who are qualified for adoption – 104,000 

The number of young people who “age out” of the foster system each year without a family – 20,000 

The number of children in the foster system in New Orleans – 450 

The call is clear.

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”  James 1:27

Now here is where things can get a bit confusing, heated, and just flat out wrong.  When we see God's heart for orphans and we understand the call for the Church to care for orphans, there can be the tendency to put a simple equation together . . . Orphan Care = Adoption.  

The problem is that this equation isn't true and believing this way leaves out a massive number of orphans who still need our care.  Adoption is most definitely part of orphan care, but orphan care is not in any way limited to adoption.

Those who have or are adopting are usually passionate and excited to talk about adoption specifically, but this can sometimes come across as communicating that false equation. 

Adoption is amazing, needed, and certainly Gospel proclaiming, but it isn't the only way.  I'm sorry if any of you have ever gotten that message and felt guilty or judged or resolved that you can't be involved in caring for orphans unless you adopt.  You can!

With this confusion in mind, we also gave our faith family a handout with 10 ways to be involved in orphan care that I'd love to share with you as well (my friend, Brigette, made a beautiful handout, but I can't figure out how to get it on here. Grrrrr. So you just get a plain old list.).  We used a similar resource found at, but made it specific to the needs and opportunities at Edgewater. 

Ten Practical Ways to Engage in Orphan Care

  1. PRAY for Orphans.  Display a waiting child’s picture in your home or car to help remind you to pray ( or Use the 40 Days of Prayer for Orphans guide at
  2. SPEAK UP on their behalf.  Share God’s heart for the orphan and information about the global orphan crisis with family and friends.  Become a court appointed special advocate for a child in foster care (
  3. DONATE to Edgewater's adoption fund or to organizations that give grants to adoptive families (,
  4. VISIT orphans in their context.  Pray for the India mission trip in March 2013 as they serve at an orphanage. Be looking for future mission trips involving orphan care. Volunteer at a group home in NOLA (,,
  5. SERVE those who have adopted or are fostering.  You could write an encouraging note, babysit, mow their lawn, or bring them a meal.
  6. INTERCEDE for those in our faith family who already have or are in the process of adopting or providing foster care. (I listed all the Edgewater families, but won't throw all their names out on here!)
  7. GIVE sacrificially to allow our India mission team to purchase 5 water bu ffalos for the orphanage in order to provide much needed milk for the approximately 300 orphans there.
  8. SUPPORT orphans in practical ways.  Sponsor a child with a financial gi ft and encouraging letters (,,, Connect with a young adult who has aged out of the foster system.  Mentor a child in a local group home.
  9. PARTICIPATE in opportunities to care for orphans provided by our Orphan Care and Foster Care Life Groups. Th e Foster Care Life Group is kicking off a "3 Day Bag" project for children brought into the foster system and could use our help!
  10. PURSUE adopting or fostering. For more information on becoming a foster family or adopting a child through international, domestic, or foster care adoption, a resource list is available in the foyer. (We had a list of books, websites, agencies, and info for local foster care to give families a place to start as they pray for direction.)

I hope, as was our prayer for the Orphan Sunday emphasis, that you have clearly seen God's heart for orphans and the Church's call to be the hands and feet of Jesus to them.  

For some of you, I hope this list has taken away the guilt or judgment you've felt about not adopting and given you new ideas and a renewed desire to engage in orphan care in different ways as God leads.

And maybe for a few, I'm hoping that you are no longer able to ignore the call.  If you are a Christ follower, your life should be marked by what proclaims the heart of God . . . orphan care, then, cannot be denied or pushed off on others.  Don't ask God, "Should I care for orphans?" . . . that answer is YES!  Instead, dare to ask, "How should I care for orphans?" and watch God rock your world!

1 comment:

  1. Great post, Cole! I love how you have listed out so many practical ways to care for the orphan. It can be confusing and overwhelming when you think orphan care = adoption ONLY. It is so much more and everyone can play a part in caring for orphans even if they aren't called to adopt! Thanks for writing this! I SO wish I lived closer and could attend your sounds incredible!! You guys are doing an awesome job down there in NOLA!! :)