Focusing on the “Least of These”
In November 2012, Joel and I experienced a worship service that focused on the marginalized, the orphans, and the least of these. This Sunday is called Orphan Sunday, where nations around the world come together to raise awareness about the social injustices that negatively impact children and which can, at times, leave them without a family. The service was moving, with videos, songs, and visual reminders of how children can become orphans.
A Godly Revelation that Led to Action
After service, my husband Joel asked me to lunch. He told me about how he felt like God spoke to him during the service about choosing adoption for our family. At first I was taken aback, because we had actually started talking about having biological children. However, he felt convicted that God wanted us to do this for our family. He gave me space to pray and think about it.
The next week, I attended a weekend retreat with our church’s youth group. We attended a social injustice tour where we heard from individuals who spoke about different injustices that affect our local communities. One room discussed “the least of these,” meaning children who couldn’t advocate for themselves. The speaker brought up foster care, adoption, and international orphan care.
I left the event and sobbed. It was not an accident that I attended this event with our teens. Living life with this youth group led to a Godly revelation. I was broken by the injustices plaguing the children in our communities. Although I was scared, I knew that God had spoken to me too. He was telling me “It’s OK. I’ve got this. Enter into this world of social injustice on behalf of these children. I bless this choice.” I went to bed, praying and crying. I knew that God had led Joel and me on a path that would be life-changing. And so, we began the adoption process.
A Reminder to Show Love to Those who Feel Unloved
Four years later, we are preparing to experience another Orphan Sunday at our church. So many things have happened in the past four years. How we entered into the adoption process is not how we finished it. When we first began the process, we focused on what WE could do to combat the social injustices that affect children: poverty, hunger, neglect, crime. But what God revealed to us through His word, our friendships, and our son’s birth mother is this…these children don’t need us to be their savior. They already have a Savior–one who actively seeking these children every day, loving them in ways only He can do and only He can understand. We are supposed to step into these children’s pain…not to “fix it,” but to love them enough that we pray them through it.
Orphan Sunday is a somber reminder that we are here to show love to those who feel unworthy of being loved by anyone. For some people, that is walking alongside a struggling family in hopes that your support helps keep them together. For others, it’s sitting in another court session about the foster child who is in your care. In our case, it was adoption. Let me be clear. None of these situations are “beautiful” just because you are trying to live out what God has asked us to do. Even though we are all adopted by God, we are not all adopted by others in this world. That is a HUGE distinction. Caring for the fatherless/orphaned/widowed is messy, hard, and heartbreaking.
So what does Orphan Sunday mean to us?
For our family, it’s not just about raising awareness about the 150+ million children who are orphans. It’s also about reminding us of our daily, Godly mission. Serve the least of these. Fight social injustices that rip (either blatantly or subtly) our communities apart. If we are to live out the gospel, we have to do more than go to church and be at home. We have to be in our community, interacting with others who don’t look/talk/act like us. We have to teach our children through a combination of Godly example and Scripture. Then, we need to seek (and receive) discernment from God about how best to serve these children/families in a way that glorifies Him (not us).
What if we treated everyone like we wanted to be treated–with the worth that God has bestowed upon us? What if we loved God AND our neighbors? Would our world even have “the least of these” living among us? Would we have orphanages, foster care, and families broken apart? May we strive for restoration to occur around us and through us.
Here are some scripture references from this blog post.
Learn to do right; seek justice.
Defend the oppressed.
Take up the cause of the fatherless;
plead the case of the widow.
“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless in this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
Defend the weak and the fatherless;
uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed.
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
Orphan Sunday is November 12, 2017. For more information on Orphan Sunday or to find an event near you, please visit Christian Alliance for Orphans.