November 13 is Orphan Sunday. It is a day to reflect on the international crisis of 153 Million Orphans worldwide, which would be the 9th largest nation on the planet by population. But it is also a day to assess our commitment to the world’s orphans for the next season. Here are some things to consider:
Stewardship means understanding that all we have belongs to God and that He has assigned us responsibility as caretakers of His wealth. Stewardship is the management of God-given resources in this life for which we will give account in the next.
“Awareness and activation are often triggered by discovering the great difference between one’s lifestyle and someone else’s.” This is the perspective Paul advocated in 1 Timothy 6:17-19:
“Command those rich in this world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way, they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.
Sacrifice is giving away something that costs us. Generosity gives out of abundance, but sacrifice gives when it hurts. In Luke 19, Zaccheus demonstrates generosity, but two chapters later, the widow who gave her last two cents demonstrates sacrifice. Sacrifice requires the engagement of one’s self – soul, body, and spirit. It requires one to take a stand, put oneself on the line, and sacrifice precious self beyond our comfort zone. It requires more than just good intentions or fuzzy feelings. It is time for our words and deeds to become congruent – time to sacrifice oneself, not just your words. It is time to stop [just] feeling and start doing.
Solidarity is taking action to identify ourselves with those in need. That is hard when we come from abundance in the USA. However, solidarity develops a “we consciousness” that transcends one’s “I-ness.” The writer of Hebrews sums it up this way: “Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.” (Hebrews 13:3). Here, the writer of Hebrews encourages us to choose intentional identification (i.e., solidarity, sympathy) with those less fortunate than ourselves. We step into the world of the orphan and the caregivers. We can then become at home with the world of involvement, and working together contributes to a larger whole. We sympathize with those who have been abused, abandoned, and exploited by imagining what we would feel if we were in their place: It is by changing places in “fact” (imagination) with the sufferer that we come either to conceive or to be affected by what they feel. Sympathy is fellow feeling (solidarity), which includes sharing the other’s joy and sorrow. “Sympathy helps us enlarge our lives and transcend the limitations of our own experience.” The Christian whose life is only surrounded by a middle-class congregation will lose touch with the feelings of the orphan. It becomes difficult, if not impossible, to be moral under such circumstances.
Check Out Your Priorities
The initial step in coming alongside the Nation of Orphans is understanding your priorities. The believer must be committed to honestly and completely examining their priorities. Assessing where we spend our time, ability, money, and other resources is vital.
Expand Your Horizons
Stretching beyond what one would think they can do. Consider making more of your resources, time, ability, and treasure by developing plans that provide reasonable limits and boundaries for your life and family. What can you do to make a difference?
Take Inventory of What One Has
Take inventory of what one has to give. A simple principle undergirds this strategy item. One cannot give what one does not have. God has placed unique desires, personal histories, and dreams in each of us. We should invest our gifts according to these leadings. God has placed us in a relationship with people doing ministry, people we know, love, and believe in. Ask the Father where we fit into His plan for these ministries.
Prayerfully Research the Possibilities
What can one do for the orphan within your community and church? There are many hurting children without proper parenting or mentoring. The most valuable thing I can give this group is my time. The Heart of Florida Youth Ranch has programs for volunteers and mentors. Give of your time and treasure. And find out what is going on in the world.
Become a world-conscious Christian. Consider the 153 million orphans noted above. Consider that 99% of these will never be adopted. That 60% of boys may turn to crime and 70% of girls to prostitution. These are overwhelming statistics, yet with these staggering facts in mind, we come to I John 3:17: “Whoever has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, and closes his heart against him – how does the love of God abide in him?” How do world-conscious Christians live in a world with such startling inequities? We give!!
Make a Substantial and Sustainable Commitment
The commitment called for must be both substantial (sacrificial) and sustainable. Give the child in your neighborhood, give to the Heart of Florida Youth Ranch, and give to Haven of Hope International.
Remember, Follow-up and Evaluate
Remember to keep in contact with the individuals and ministries you support and follow up your commitments with prayer and encouragement. Evaluating the strategy will keep the plan relevant in a real-time world. Emergencies may arise from any of the ministries supported that need immediate relief. Constantly seeking creative ways to strengthen partnerships in local, regional, and international ministries should be explored. Arranging others to participate in prayer, advocacy, fundraising, setting up a missions dinner in your home, and mission trips might be some of the activities considered. The evaluation will never be on dollars spent or hours worked over against secular models of success. The assessment should only be made against our lives being changed.