My trip to Africa over Christmas break in 2007 ruined future Christmases in America for me. I remember experiencing a true grieving process.
I was sickened to see how far American Christians had fallen prey to the consumerism, entitlement, and secularism compared to my Kenyan friends. I spent one Christmas morning in Kenya, and it was over.
Amazingly enough, do you know what the central focus of Christmas day is in Kenya? They come together as a community to celebrate the birth of Christ! Family and food are a far cry for second place, and presents aren’t even in the running for a highlight. I came home from that experience with a completely new perspective.
I truly contemplated the difference between wants and needs.
My faith in Christ was challenged as I witnessed total dependency on Christ as Sustainer. I came home and wanted to get involved with caring for orphans and widows in any possible way. God used that trip to Kenya as a catalyst into a life of discovering His heart for taking care of orphans and widows. I had been on many other mission projects in the past, but none leaving their mark so permanently on my heart. I was compelled to study, explore, and engage in orphan initiatives.
“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” James 1:27
Taking care of orphans and widows is a mandate from God found throughout Scripture. Many Christians believe that caring for orphans and widows is primarily a married person’s job; however, single Christians can get involved in what God is doing around the globe to meet the needs of the fatherless in many ways.
The best way to get started on this adventure is to be educated on the orphan crisis.
It seems many Christians tend to be ignorant and apathetic when the topic is taking care of orphans and widows. One of the best education methods available is to go on a mission project to see third world poverty with your own eyes. Firsthand experience awakens awareness and passion. These experiences, like my Christmas in Kenya, will serve as a key motivator that will eventually lead to lasting change in your actions and perspective.
Another way to help is to give voice to the problem.
Proverbs 31:8 issues the command to speak up for those who do not have a voice in this world:
“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves,
for the rights of all who are destitute.”
Leveraging circles of influence is an effective way to instigate change for orphans and widows. These women and children need educated advocates to speak on their behalf.
After awareness has been established, it is best to find credible, long-term ministry partnerships where it is possible to invest time, talents, and resources.
Unfortunately, when dealing with desperate people, there is often corruption and deceit. It is crucial to do due diligence. Working with people who can be trusted and people who already have a track record is essential.
God has given me incredible opportunities to meet some amazing people during the last twelve years of serving internationally. In 2011, after much prayer and confirmation, I began 127 Worldwide, a ministry to help people live out a James 1:27 lifestyle.
In this ministry, we use the model explained above. We encourage people to go on an international mission project. We educate people and encourage them to be advocates in their circle of influence. We share with people credible, trustworthy partnerships where they can invest their time, talents, and resources. We empower people to fulfill God’s call on their lives through long term partnership. GO. SPEAK. INVEST. EMPOWER.
If you are interested in getting involved with what God is doing, then please feel free to contact me.
In the meantime, there are numerous ways you can be involved in orphan care on a local level. Consider some of these practical, tangible ideas for ministering as a single adult:
- Take a meal to a foster family when they bring a child home.
- Offer to babysit for a family who has adopted.
- Go on a short-term mission project to see poverty first hand.
- Sponsor a child through a non-profit organization like Compassion International, World Vision, Food for the Hungry, or Feed the Children.
- Educate yourself on the orphan crisis through helpful websites. A few of those include: Orphan Care Resources, I Care About Orphans, and World Orphans. There are literally hundreds more websites where you can find important information.
- Take the initiative to become certified respite care so you can help provide foster parents with some time to rest.
- Find a cause you are passionate about—slavery, trafficking, child soldiers, clean water, education, etc.–and support their ministry.
- Volunteer your time to a non-profit committed to helping orphans and widows, like World Relief and others.
- Volunteer to mentor adopted or fostered children.
- Get your small group or church involved in Orphan Sunday.
- Adopt a child yourself! One loving parent who can provide essential needs is a critical piece in providing a stable, healthy environment.
Are you involved presently involved in orphan and/or widow care? What are other ways single adults can minister?