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Annie in Africa

 ORPHANS…are all over the world. While definitions vary, it essentially is a child permanently bereaved of or abandoned by his or her parents. World Orphans reports that there are 153,000,000 worldwide under some definition of orphan. This would indicate that 6.5% of the world’s children under 18 are without parents or parental support. Some estimate there are 40 million street children in Latin America. While orphans exist everywhere, they are more prevalent in the less developed countries. It is reported that Africa has the largest percentage at 11.9%. Lost in all these statistics is the vast number of children who die in these countries before 5 years of age, mainly from AIDS, unsanitary conditions and malnutrition.

 Our three oldest grandchildren, Luke, Sarah Peyton and Annie, have each been to both Haiti and Africa ministering to orphans (and being ministered to). Annie may make it her life mission. And our daughter, Evelyn, is currently on the waitlist to adopt a 2 to 7 year old boy from Ethiopia. Many Christian friends are heavily involved in support of orphans and orphanages all across the world, providing hope for the helpless. Countless adoptions take place every year but there are never enough adoptive families. And probably none of us alive today have escaped viewing a daunting photo of a face of a needy orphan.

Sarah Peyton in Africa

 Jesus made one of the most profound statements impacting those of us placed here onearth. He said; “Assuredly I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me” (Mt. 25:40b). How many? One! What He was describing was this. You see anyone hungry, thirsty; needing housing, clothing; sick and in prison; if you reach out to them in My name, you have done it to Me. Have you ever done anything in your life where you knew with absolute certainty you had done it for Jesus, and Him alone?

Maybe, just maybe one of the serious testing grounds for our faith are the orphans of the world. Jesus gives us a glimpse. “For you have the poor with you always, but Me you do not have always” (Mt. 26:11).  He did not create poverty and the parentless; we did this all by ourselves brought about by our sin nature. And He has not waved His ‘magic spiritual wand’ and eliminated it. What He has done is left it up to us under His guidance. He has given us a responsibility and a privilege.

Let’s see. According to most reports, there are over 1 billion people who profess to be Christians in the world today. And if we divide that by 6 to get to a global family unit, the result is 166 million plus. There are 153 million orphans, well less than the number of family units. And most of them are in places where the cost to provide food, clothing and shelter is extremely low compared to America. I’m not on a crusade-I’m just saying. Jesus said “one”!

James makes an interesting point. “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world” (vs. 1:27) Visit could mean to reach out, support, adopt. But to do nothing is not an option. The verse says “before God”. So, it appears He is watching because He cares, not as a spy. He cares for the orphan but He cares for us also. He knows we need to be engaged to receive His promised joy and to be fulfilled.

Look with me at what the Lord says about kings and their reigns. “Shall you reign because you enclose yourself in cedar? Did not your father eat and drink, and do justice and righteousness? Then it was well with him. He judged the cause of the poor and needy; then it was well. Was not this knowing Me? says the Lord” (Jer. 22:15-16). Jesus said that when you care for the “least’ you are doing it to Him; and now we see the Spirit recording that if we do the same, we will know God. And He throws in a bonus nugget-“it will go well with you.” Anyone into things going well, both here and for eternity? We said earlier that orphans may be the proving ground for our faith. James put it this way. “But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?” (vs. 2:20 ).

Luke in Africa

 Orphans need us and for sure we need orphans! If all that we have just recited is true, and it is, then it is imperative that we examine our hearts, our budgets, our time, our priorities and mostly our obedience to His word. Did He really say, just “one”? So far, our three young teenage grandchildren have gotten to experience Jesus on two trips through the orphans. Their hearts have been forever changed. Let’s prayerfully consider how we may join them and take our Jesus to a dying and lonely world-of orphans!

 P. S. And thank you to all of you who helped them go by giving and praying. That counts, you know!

Copyright 2013

Bill C. Dotson



Scriptures taken from the New King James Version

Certain information taken from Wikipedia, the free dictionary and World Orphans.

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