“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” James 1:27
Happy November!! Goodness, I love this time of year. The food, the fellowship, the serving, the anticipation of Christmas, the food…. November has become one of my favorite months of the year. And one of the reasons, besides the food, is that it’s a month where the church comes together to advocate and raise awareness for vulnerable children. The second Sunday of November is international Orphan Sunday and Stand Sunday. According to Lifesong.org, “An initiative began by Christian Alliance for Orphans (CAFO), Orphan Sunday occurs each year as an opportunity for local churches and communities to rally together in response to God’s call to care for the orphaned and vulnerable.”
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.”
As you all know, our family has a passion for vulnerable children. The Lord called us into the world of adoption two years ago and we became more and more aware of the responsibility of the church to care for the fatherless and be a voice for those without one. Because of verses like James 1:27 and because the Lord has adopted us and made us His sons and daughters, we are commanded to go and do likewise. Not all families will have the call of adoption placed on their hearts, but, as Believers, we all are required to respond to the Scripture’s mandate to care for orphans and vulnerable children. A saying we use often in our family is, “You don’t have to ‘feel called’ to do what the Lord has already commanded you to do in Scripture. You’ve simply to be obedient.” We want to share God’s heart for orphans with our brothers and sisters in Christ. November 8, 2020 is Orphan + Stand Sunday and a great opportunity to raise awareness for the fatherless and discuss ways our churches can get involved in God’s command to care for the vulnerable. If your church is hosting an Orphan + Stand Sunday, I want to encourage you to attend and listen. If your church isn’t hosting an event, attend one in your area or consider how you could organize one next year. There are so many resources available and organizations, like CAFO and Lifeline, provide all the tools and support needed to host an event. Lastly, I want to challenge you to search the Scriptures and as you do, to pray a bold prayer that you will obey whatever the Lord lays on your heart through His Word. If the Lord is calling you to adopt or foster, please reach out to other foster and adoptive families. They hold a wealth of wisdom and can pray for you and support you as you enter into that decision. It’s not something you can do alone. If you’re eager to get started in caring for vulnerable children and you just don’t know where to start, I’ve provided a list of ways to get involved, below. More than anything, please pray. Holy Spirit will show you what to do, you’ve only to be obedient. Here’s how you can get involved:
Pray for the Vulnerable
• Pray for children currently in foster care waiting to be reunited with their parents
• Pray for children who are waiting to be adopted, both in foster care and around the world. Follow this link to child profiles in the U.S. and choose a specific child to pray for until they are adopted.
• Pray for social workers in your community and for foster and adoptive families. Pray the Lord will place the call on families to foster and adopt.
• Rally others to pray with you
Provide Wrap-Around Support
• Identify foster parents, adoptive parents, and social workers in your church or community. Look for creative ways to support and encourage them.
• Provide a meal for a foster or adoptive family (this is especially helpful when a new child arrives in a foster home)
• Help out with household chores, such as lawn care, laundry, cleaning, etc.
• Offer to assist with transportation (this is especially valuable to a foster family that has children of varying ages and activities)
• Offer to babysit for a foster or adoptive family
• Organize a Parents Night Out at your church for foster and adoptive families in your community
• Provide donuts, muffins, snacks, etc. for your local child welfare agency staff
• Reach out to local agencies to find ways to support children in foster care through mentorship, advocacy, tutoring, providing resources, etc.
• Advocate for children waiting to be adopted. Follow @lifelinechild on social media for updates.
• Clean, restock, or decorate a visitation room at your local child welfare agency
• Become a volunteer CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) or GAL (Guardian Ad Litem) in your community
Support Women in Unexpected Pregnancies
• Support your local Pregnancy Resource Center by providing needed resources
• Volunteer at your local Pregnancy Resource Center
• Host a Baby Shower for your local Pregnancy Resource Center
Make a Financial Donation
• Begin an adoption fund in your church
• Make a donation to a family in the adoption process
• Host a yard sale or fundraiser for a family in the adoption process
(list courtesy of Lifeline Children Services)
Brothers and Sisters, let us do the hard work. Stepping into the world of orphan care, of trauma and pain and brokenness is not easy. It will take everything you have (and everything you don’t have) to pursue these children and love them and bring them into your home. It will require a death to yourself that these children, these images of God, may flourish and have a chance at a beautiful life. But that’s precisely what Jesus did for us. And if we don’t do it, who will? Be the Light, church! Be the Light! Until every child has a home…