November is National Adoption Month, and many churches set aside the first Sunday in November as Orphan Sunday. They focus time during their service on the plight of the fatherless and the opportunities we have as believers to make a difference in this issue. In both the Old and New Testament, Scripture speaks to our responsibility and the desire the Father has for us to recognize the needs of the orphans and our ability to step in and fill the gap for these children.
Who is an orphan? A true definition of orphan is someone who has lost one or both parents. In Scripture, God addresses the needs of both the orphan and the fatherless. He sees them and calls us as Christ-followers to be His hands and feet in their lives.
“He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the alien, giving him food and clothing”
– Deuteronomy 10:18
“A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families, he leads forth the prisoners with singing; but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.”
– Psalms 68:5-6
“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”
– James 1:27
There are orphans in every nation, including the United States. Many believers don’t even realize that God places a responsibility and calling on our lives as those who follow Christ to do something about the needs of the orphan. This can seem intimidating because initially people may look at adoption as the only way to “fix” this problem. However, the truth is that there are multiple ways believers can make a difference in the plight of the fatherless and orphan.
5 Ways You Can Participate in Orphan Care this Year:
1) Sponsor a Child
There are many reputable ministries with sponsorship programs around the world. These programs ask individuals to give a set amount of money each month that goes to that particular child to meet needs. It might be spent paying for his/her school fees, food and medical care or it might go more specifically toward housing and clothing. Many of these programs encourage sponsors to also send letters and build relationships with their sponsored child in this way. Some of these trusted organizations are Compassion International, World Vision, and Wiphan Care Ministries.
2) Bless a Foster or Adoptive Family in Your Community
You may not feel led to foster or adopt, but chances are high that there are families who have done this in your church or community. Bringing a child into your family is a tremendous gift, but it can also bring many challenges. Children who have suffered the loss of one or both parents have often gone through difficult and traumatic circumstances. Helping them transition into a new family can be stressful and take a lifetime to navigate. There are many ways you can bless a family walking this path. Praying for them and letting them know you are doing that is a huge blessing. Gifting them with a gift card so the parents can have a date night is also a blessing. As a church, holding a parent’s night out for adoptive families could help these families feel supported and connected.
3) Raise Money for a Family in the Adoption Process
Adopting a child is a tremendous commitment financially. Domestic and international adoption can cost between $20,000 – $45,000 depending on the country and program. Most families have to save and fundraise to make it possible. Having other families come alongside them to not only participate in the fundraising events but also fundraise for them, is a tremendous blessing. It lets them know they aren’t alone in their journey and that other people are supporting them. Some ideas for fundraising are holding a yard sale, hosting a Pampered Chef or Thirty-One house party, selling coupon books, having a car wash, or having a bake sale.
4) Host an Empowered to Connect Conference
One of the greatest challenges many adoptive and foster families face is overcoming the difficulties many of these children have with truly connecting emotionally with their families. Dr. Karyn Purvis, a leading specialist in attachment, created an organization called Empowered to Connect. They hold telecast conferences yearly for families to attend and navigate this attachment journey. Many churches will pay to host this conference and invite adoptive and foster families and even professionals who work with children to attend the telecast. This is a great way to support orphan care in your community!
5) Foster or Adopt a Child
The Lord clearly calls ALL of us as believers to, in some way or manner, support the orphan and the fatherless. For some, reading the verses that outline that calling and responsibility, actually stirs something deep within you. We need to challenge ourselves as believers to hold our hands open to the Father and be willing to say YES to whatever He asks of us. He may be calling you and your family to the deep waters of adoption or foster care. Not everyone should adopt; however, we should not immediately say “no” without asking the Father for His answer and a willingness to listen.
More and more churches are becoming aware of the call for believers to support orphan care. As a result, they are coming alongside families who say “yes” to orphan care in this way.
How is your church supporting the cause of the orphan and coming alongside adoptive families? How can you do more?