As we focus on the call to embrace orphans, the reality is that most vulnerable children served today by caring Christians throughout the United States are not technically orphans.
Dictionary.com defines “orphan” as “a child who has lost both parents through death.” While that tragedy definitely deserves Christian compassion and action, the more typical challenges among many hurting children and families arise from such struggles as poverty, hunger, addiction, neglect, abuse and incarceration.
Whether a child is orphaned or faces other overwhelming odds in life, Scripture is clear that followers of Christ are called to minister to those in need around us. In the words of James 1: 27 (NIV), “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.”
PURSUING MINISTRY PASSION
Jerry Haag, president of One More Child and Florida Baptist Children’s Homes, and his wife, Christi, were the featured missions leaders in a recent unit of Woman’s Missionary Union’s “Missions Journey: Students” curriculum. During a video shoot for the student curriculum, we had the opportunity to visit with the Haags about the tremendous needs among vulnerable children and their calling to make a difference.
“What I am absolutely passionate about is feeding children physically and feeding them spiritually,” Jerry said. “This year, we’ll provide over 8 million meals both locally and globally. I like to see kids with full bellies and a heart full of Jesus.
“We know that Jesus loves and He calls on us to love,” he added. “In Galatians, it says the only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. I just don’t see how we can love someone if we don’t meet that physical need that’s there. At the same time, I don’t think we can love someone unless we tell them about Jesus.”
“We come from generations of Jesus followers, Jesus lovers on both sides of our family,” Christi reflected. “It’s really amazing the Lord allows us to do what we get to do but you can look back and see how He prepared us for that because we love it.”
COMPASSION IN ACTION
Noting that “we’ve been given so much,” Jerry declared, “We need to be able to turn around and use it for others. We need to look at people with compassion and then put that compassion into action so that we’re never forgetting that these are people that were created in God’s image. This child is dearly loved and created by our Maker.”
How can we follow Jerry and Christi Haag’s example of serving children in need? A few starting points include:
- Pray for vulnerable children, including their physical, emotional and spiritual needs.
- Organize a food or diaper drive and donate the gifts to a local ministry.
- Participate in a mission trip or service project to benefit at-risk children.
- Take an active stand to help end child sex trafficking.
- Consider being trained to become a foster parent or respite foster care provider.
Above all, consistently seek out practical ways to be an advocate for vulnerable children and families in distress.
For more ministry ideas, download a free sample or purchase Missions Journey: Students to help empower youth in your church to discover missions needs and opportunities.
By Trennis Henderson, WMU National Correspondent