How many orphans under the age of 25 were present during your church's Mother's Day celebration?
Today I sat in a church service celebrating Dominican Mother's Day, surrounded by 10 children and young adults whose mothers have passed away (4 of whom lost their mothers within the past year) and another 15 who do not live with their mothers for reasons including abandonment, abuse, mental illness, and extreme poverty. In addition to those 25, there are 4 other girls who stayed home today because going to church on Mother's Day is too painful for them since the loss of their mothers.
I watched as these children and young people wiped tears from their eyes as we sang songs about moms. I watched them lower their eyes when mothers were named and honored from the pulpit. I watched them put their arms around each other in silence and give an understanding nod.
You might ask - Isn't that torture? Shouldn't the church be more sensitive? Shouldn't more acknowledgment be given to those children on Sundays like today? Don't they deserve more than a line in a prayer asking for comfort and peace?
I'm going to tell you something.
You're asking the wrong questions.
Look back at the first question at the top of this blog entry - How many orphans under the age of 25 were present during your church's Mother's Day celebration?
If your answer was 0, or if you had to struggle to think of one or two orphans (by death, abandonment, or abuse), then I respectfully and humbly suggest that your church has bigger questions to be asking than those which invoke judgment on a congregation that is following Christ's command to love and care for orphans.
We are imperfect people trying to fulfill a perfect God's purposes in the world. That means that we imperfectly try to care for orphans. We imperfectly try to be sensitive and end up saying the wrong things. We imperfectly try to provide orphans with families, house-parents, and church families that will never fully take the place of their biological families. But the key word there is "try." God's call to care for orphans is not optional. He even goes as far as to call it "pure and faultless religion," - the call to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. (James 1:27) The world says that orphans aren't our responsibility. The world says that it's the government's job to look out for orphaned, abused, and abandoned children. We fault government agencies and child protective services for imperfectly doing the job that God calls His own people to do. We pass off the responsibility because it's easy to look the other way. But I refuse to be polluted by the world's beliefs about God's unmistakable call to the Church. I refuse to accept the lie that orphan care is not for everyone. If you have received adoption into the family of Christ as I have, your response to God's gracious gift should be the extension of that gift to those who are in great need here on earth. We are called to be imitators of God, so if God did it, I'm pretty sure I'm supposed to do it, too.
So sponsor an orphaned child. Become a foster parent. Investigate adoption as an option for your family. Use the financial resources God has blessed you with to enable others to adopt. Refuse to be complacent. Ask God to send orphans your way and show you how He wants you to be involved in their lives.