I was a freshman in high school the first time I interacted with children who didn’t have parents. The African Children’s choir came and sang at the college my parents worked at, and two of the kids stayed overnight with us. I loved hanging out with those kids, and I loved seeing them sing and hearing their stories. I thought to myself, “What a cool thing these kids get to do! They get to come to America and see all of these cool places and meet all these different people.” If I’m honest though, I had no real understanding of the incredible hardships they had been through and the void in their lives because they didn’t have a family.
When I got my first job, I began to sponsor a child through an agency where I would send some of my paycheck each month to help with food. I felt pretty good about myself for sending a small amount of money; but at that time, my parents paid for everything, so I didn’t really have any need for money and sending off a little of my paycheck was zero sacrifice. I believe that I did have a desire to help and show compassion for others, but I didn’t have a full understanding or a burden for the care of orphans and widows as defined by the Bible. It is fairly common for us to write a check and send it somewhere or be able to say that the church we attend gives to missions or has a benevolence fund that helps the vulnerable in our cities. However, I think there is a still a disconnect for many believers in that money by itself doesn’t solve the problem. There still needs to be a lot more knowledge, awareness and focus on our call as believers to care for those who can’t care for themselves.
I am fortunate to be on staff at a church who has grown a lot in this area over the past ten-plus years. We talk about it often and have a myriad of different ways that we give to local ministries and global organizations that are doing good quality work. We would say though, that the best way to truly gain an understanding of the needs that exist, to grow in compassion, and commit to being proactive in the care of the vulnerable is to go on a trip and see firsthand what is going on around the world.
I was extremely fortunate to be able to interact with Bethesda this past winter, and see the intentionality in which they care for kids on a holistic level. I am extremely excited about what God is doing there, not only to provide jobs and opportunities for South Africans to love on these children; but also to educate and raise awareness both locally and in the States so churches can be more equipped to support global ministries in their aid of orphans. They cared more about my mother, my wife, and myself leaving with a burden of what it actually means to care for the vulnerable than taking our money or using us to do labor around the property. I am excited to watch what God continues to do through this ministry and others like it. I definitely left with a heightened awareness of the needs both there and in my own city.
We have been given so much, and oftentimes, we see our electric bills and needed car repairs and get so consumed with our daily lives that we forget how much bigger the world is than just us. We can easily sear our consciences towards the commands of Scripture that ask us to be active in our care of orphans and widows (James 1:27). It’s not an option to participate only if we’re wealthy or if we have a special heart for it. All believers have the call to do something, and I was really blessed by the opportunity to see firsthand the many different ways in which my family and I can do something!