The Church's Responsibility to Orphans and Vulnerable Children
“...we need orphan-focused churches. Choosing to stand by and do nothing where we see injustice, suffering, and evil is wrong. It is sin. We must take active steps to care for orphans. To do anything less is blatant disobedience.”
Living as the Body of Christ is a much higher calling then we are often led to believe, and being the hands and feet is a call to action, plain and simple. If we were to wait until we encountered injustice to do something about it, lots of us might find ourselves without many opportunities to act. Yet if we begin looking for it, we find that the world is full of all kinds of injustice, suffering, and evil.
In the face of such brokenness we in the Church are called to respond as citizens of heaven, doing justice and loving mercy because these are things we see our Father do. While there are many causes for which we can stand and fight, it is undeniable that the cause of orphans and vulnerable children is very near to our Father’s heart.
Realities of Orphan Care
Recently we hosted an educational event called “Realities of Orphan Care” with our friends from Iglesia Reforma and Alianza Cristiana para los Huérfanos, a church and an organization that have both made it their mission to educate and equip churches in Guatemala to respond to the needs of vulnerable children and families.
We invited local pastors, local government entities (specifically those dealing with children and families), social workers, university students, and many others to come and learn more with us, and almost 130 people showed up. It was an incredibly emotional event, but at the end of the day people left with a clearer sense of what it means to take action and why action is necessary.
The community of Huehuetenango is not going to stand for injustice, and that is a powerful thing. Local people are, after all, the greatest catalysts and mobilizers of change and transformation in their own communities.
While we still find ourselves in the education phase, the interest and desire we have begun to see in the local church is very encouraging.
Recently, we have begun to host date nights for couples from local churches, where part of the evening is devoted to educating attendees on the specific needs of the country and community, what Story is doing to address them, and how they can be a part of that work via foster care and adoption. We’ve been pleasantly surprised by the amount of interest, and soon we hope we can begin the work of equipping these passionate families to be able to open their doors to vulnerable children in the not-so distant future.
While this tangibly direct action is wonderful, we as the Church can never forget the power, significance, and role of prayer in all the work that we do for the Kingdom of God. While it may seem indirect, we can always use more intercessors in our work, pleading for children, families, churches, and government and NGO workers.
Financial support is necessary. People on the ground working with children and families are necessary. Pastors and families opening their doors are necessary. And prayer is always, always necessary.
As we’ve said before - we can and must do better. As the Church, we have the special duty and privilege of being called to serve orphans and widows. What does that look like for you and your church? What does that look like in your community?
We hope you’ll take some time to engage with and pray about these questions - these kids and families are counting on us, and we must act.
Written by Levi Bareither, our Advocacy and Development Coordinator
If you are curious about how to engage your church on this issue or are looking for educational resources, feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’d be happy to answer your questions or send some resources your way.