Orphans and Us: Two Great Needs, Intertwined

Here’s a post by Jedd Medefind- President of the Christian Alliance for Orphans.  I thought his words were a great follow up on our April newsletter, and reinforcement for our call as the Body of Christ to serve orphans.

What do would-be disciples of Jesus most need? The list could be long, but one simple answer might be this: we need something that will invade our lives and homes, swing from the chandeliers, and jump on the furniture ‘til the stuffing comes out. At least, I often need that. To shake me from self-absorbed habits, numbness to my neighbor’s need, just-enough-but-not-too-much sacrifice, religion that’s more akin to personal development than to obedience and holiness.

It’s a bit provocative to realize that the greatest need of the world’s orphans and vulnerable children is often the perfect reverse of our own.

Yes, they frequently need food, water, shelter and clothing, too. (And for children in families that raw poverty could bring to disintegration, material help may be all that’s needed.) But while these tangible goods help a parentless child to survive, they rarely enable her to thrive. That’s because what every child’s heart most desires is to know love and family, to hold and be held by a deep sense of place and belonging. They need to be invited into a home, permanently, where they may just swing from the chandeliers and jump on the furniture ‘til the stuffing comes out. That’s why, as important as financial support of aid and development ministries often is, to truly care for orphans requires more personal involvement—engaged, active and doors-wide-open.

What a remarkable intersection: the great need of orphans and the great need of so many Christians, fitting together like a socket and a plug.

I often hear similar accounts from Christians who’ve opened their lives to vulnerable children, whether as foster parents, through adoption, as mentors, or in other meaningful, long-term relationships. They say it’s often been difficult, with real sacrifices along the way. Responses from the children sometimes have, and sometimes haven’t, been all they’d hope for. And yet, the journey has been among the most meaningful they’ve ever ventured. It’s been a discipleship journey, rich with growth and tears and celebrations they wouldn’t trade for anything.

As a friend who helps Christians become foster parents put it, “The kids are often really changed by it. But I think I see the parents changed even more.”

There’s no Scriptural reason to imagine every Christian is called to adopt or foster. But we are all called to care for orphans in their distress: from providing childcare to adoptive families that need a breather, to mentoring a fatherless boy, to inviting kids from the local group home over for holidays.

The result, most always, is transformation. In the child. In us.

So we ought never view caring for orphans and discipleship as separate categories—distinct from each other, or even competing. Rather, they are as intertwined as a tree and its leaves; mutually sustaining, one lifeless without the other. Said one pastor to me recently, “As the people in my church go deeper into adoption and orphan ministry, I see them grasping the meaning of the Gospel and God’s love more deeply than I ever have.”

Like our Lord, these children stand at our door and tap quietly. If we open, they’ll come in, swing from the chandeliers and trounce the furniture. They’ll never be the same. And neither will we.

1 Comment

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One response to “Orphans and Us: Two Great Needs, Intertwined

  1. Tom Robinson

    Probably one of the most relevant and truthful pieces written to and for the comfortable Church, today. The author well-described how we have matured and grown in the our relationship with Christ, through our children – those we had to really stretch ourselves to bring home, and love.

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