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The Global Orphan Crisis: Can We Really Have An Impact?

Know Orphans
New Hope Publishers

By Rick Morton

“If you can’t feed a hundred people, then just feed one.” - Mother Teresa

The number of orphaned and vulnerable children in the world today is staggering. UNICEF estimates that there are some 153 million orphans, but this number really fails to capture the actual scope of the crisis. The UNICEF number includes children that have lost one or both children to death but fails to account for social orphans who have been abandoned by their parents as a result of disease, addiction, or indifference; institutionalized orphans; and street children who may have no birth records and fail to exist officially to their nations governments.

The statistics can overwhelm us as we come to grips with the scope of the problem, but we cannot forget the magnitude of the answer: the Church. God has instituted a local, worldwide force to meet the needs of orphans and vulnerable children, and that has been His plan all along. As we trace God’s plan for orphan care through the Bible, it becomes clear that He has always had an agenda that was about His people taking responsibility for orphans to demonstrate His character and ultimately to point toward His gospel.

In Deuteronomy 10, God reminds Israel that He is Father to the fatherless and tells them that it is tied to His redemption of them out of Egypt. He reinforces that notion in Deuteronomy 24 and throughout the Old Testament. God told His people to care for the voiceless because that is what He did for them, but moreover, that is what he was in the process of doing for them in the coming Messiah and they were a living picture of the gospel every time they cared for the voiceless and defenseless in His name.

That can still be said today. When we extend ourselves to care for orphans and vulnerable children who are among the most defenseless and most victimized people on the planet, we are showing the character of God as a redeemer. We love because He first loved us. We do it not to earn His favor. We do it because of His love toward us.

The global orphan crisis is complex, and complex answers are needed to address it. Things like international adoption will always be an appropriate part of the solution, but adoption across boarders is an inevitably small part of an enormous problem. It will never be enough. God is moving within the nations of the world and the Church is awakening across the globe to the gospel mandate to care for orphans. In places as far flung as Ukraine, India, Kenya, Bangladesh, Guatemala, Uganda, and so many more, the church is embracing a spirit of adoption and orphan care, and we have a responsibility to support it as we would any other missional activity with the proclamation of the gospel is at it core.

One example is King Jesus Church and Busega Community School for the Deaf in Uganda. Deaf children were being rejected and abandoned by their families who believed them to be cursed. These children were left to live as victims on the streets subsisting like animals or worse facing death. Pastor Raphael of King Jesus Church recognized these children were valuable and created in the image of God. Through a partnership with Lifeline Children’s Services in Birmingham, Alabama, King Jesus Church began Busega Community School for the Deaf and provided stable family-like housing, food, and education to these kids. The results have been amazing. The children are thriving, and the impact and the on the church and community has been dramatic. As a result of the powerful witness to the community, more than 30 people in this difficult community have followed Christ. American churches and individual believers have been able to support King Jesus Church through prayer support, giving, and mission trips to help with infrastructure, educational programming, and sustainability projects. For more information check out www.unadopted.org

I encourage you to find a way to have an impact. There is something that we all can do right here, right now to make a difference for orphans and vulnerable children among the nations in Jesus’ name

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Rick Morton is the father of three transnational adopted children and coauthor of the popular book Orphanology: Awakening to Gospel-Centered Adoption and Orphan Care. His latest release is Know Orphans. His dedication to the plight of orphans extends beyond his own family. The Mortons were cofounders of Promise 139, an international orphan-hosting ministry. An inspiring speaker for the gospel to be expressed by the church living out God’s heart for the fatherless, Rick presents at adoption and orphan-care conferences and pastor’s conferences. Learn more about www.rickmortononline.com.