Children Need You – A Look at Caring for Youngsters in Less Fortunate Circumstances
Rev. Robert Fleischmann, National Director, Christian Life Resources
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).
It pleases God when we look after orphans. However, the type of caring to meet the challenge of helping the orphaned can vary.
An orphan is stereotypically viewed as an infant who has lost both parents, either by desertion or death, and has been declared legally eligible for adoption. I propose that James was not that limited in his view of an orphan. In the United States, the orphan moniker carries with it a legal connotation. Parents of a child must either relinquish their parental rights or precede the child in death. Both require some sort of legal determination and status change of the child. Furthermore, adoption means adoptive parents assume the legal rights and responsibility for the child’s care and upbringing It is a process, governed by state and national (or international) laws, carrying with it a sense of finality once the process is complete. The Bible defines an orphan not by legal status but simply by need. Neither age definition nor legal status are discussed. The fact that James pairs orphans with widows allows for the broader understanding of a child lacking full care and support (see also Exodus 22:22 & Jeremiah 49:11). In other words, an orphan is a child in need of someone else’s intervention for care and upbringing.
Today the term, underprivileged children, is often used. A more accurate term considers children living in an abnormal family structure not less privileged but rather less fortunate. Yes, this could involve a child without parents. It could, however, be a child in a single-parent home, a child in foster care, or a child in a dysfunctional family. While the Bible clearly considers orphans as parentless, it is actually an illustration of the broader calling that is ours to care for those who cannot care for themselves. When it comes to children the opportunities abound. At Christian Life Resources we operate New Beginnings – A Home for Mothers in Wisconsin. Its purpose is to help single mothers and their children by giving them a new beginning on life. These children often have no fathers in their lives. The mothers are left alone to make ends meet, care for their children, get a job, and become the spiritual head of their home. When you support New Beginnings with your gift you are caring for these less-fortunate children and their mothers. On the local level consider visiting the social services department in your county or state. I will never forget the first time I walked into the Milwaukee Children’s Home and saw all of those older children (8-15 years old) without a stable place to call home. Perhaps you might consider becoming a foster parent. It can be challenging, especially for those taking in an older child. It can also serve as an opportunity to share with these children stability and priorities that point heavenward. If you cannot be a foster parent, consider other ways to help out less-fortunate children. Maybe you can become a private tutor to help them with homework. Perhaps you can be a surrogate sibling, taking a less-fortunate child with you on special outings and recreational events.
Make It Meaningful
While your heart may tug for the child left in a group home, buying the things they don’t otherwise have is not the answer. Many well-meaning people donate high-priced goods such as iPods, clothes, TVs, tickets, etc. to help those less fortunate. It is very kind to give these things, but it lacks what is truly needed. Consider a meaningful interaction that places you side-by-side with a child. Again, you don’t have to be an adoptive parent or foster parent. Simply serve as a role model, a caring and supportive authority figure, and an arrow pointing to the love of God with your example and witness.
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