James 1:27 says, “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.” It is no surprise, however, that the good work we seek to do is often difficult.
The challenges in an orphan care ministry come in many forms. At times, we can become side tracked and focus on the people who make caring for the fatherless and vulnerable hard. We face difficult family members, hard government policies, or those who seek their own selfish interests; but we need to remember that Satan is the ultimate enemy. Satan and this world system do not want believers to be a witness of what pure religion looks like. They do not want genuine faith on display for the world to see; and they do not want us to glorify God as we obey His commands to love vulnerable children.
There are many vulnerable children in the community around Bethesda that we want to help as our resources allow. The community help we seek to offer is in addition to the main role we have at Bethesda in providing gospel-focused, family-centred, and church-driven childcare.
Bethesda Outreach has always had a desire to reach out and care for vulnerable children in our surrounding community. Over Christmas, we got a list of names from some social workers of some of the most vulnerable families with children in the community. God graciously provided food hampers through a local church, which we gave to our Bethesda families as well as distributing to those desperate families.
Jack did the initial groundwork with a home visit, which was not easy, as I had to find all the family’s homes in the township areas. Then, on a hot Saturday morning, he packed the H1 bus with food, sweets, and toys to visit these children and families again. They dodged mud puddles caused by the heavy rains from the previous week and even bumped into some of our Bethesda kids who were visiting relatives during the break. As they stopped at each home, friendly people and their neighbours greeted them as they remembered Jack when he asked for directions and visited the previous night. They already seemed like old friends!
With the help of a few of the Bethesda children, we dropped off the food, sweets and toys; but once again, realized that the food was an immediate need that many of the community families have. We also remembered that they needed more than food – they needed hope: Hope found in Christ alone. As we dropped off food, they invited us on to their properties and we had the opportunity to speak to them of God’s love for sinners and the true joy and hope of Christmas. Jack did not miss this opportunity and the door is now open for continued contact and showing them the love of Christ.
It was a great opportunity to the young people from Bethesda who accompanied us on our visit to these families and children. Being at Bethesda, our children know about receiving. They see the love of Christ through the church daily. They know it is through the generous giving of the church that they have a secure home, clothes, food, a good education, and so much more. It was a joy to see these young people go out into the community and help hand out food parcels to other young people their age, in great need, who already have the burden of looking after siblings and caring for a house while still completing school.
As we have resources, we plan to go back into the community and do more. Lord willing, as lockdowns eases up, we can put these families in contact with a good church to help care for them. We can then work closely with those churches to put Christ’s love on display. Martin Luther once said, “The world does not need a definition of religion as much as it needs a demonstration.” We are praying that God will bring these needy families into His knowledge and salvation as we minister to them in any possible way.