It’s difficult to read the Bible and not conclude that justice was important to God. In His kingdom on earth, injustice—the mistreatment and neglect of others—is “made just” by the caring acts of those who God has blessed with plenty. Throughout the Old and New Testaments we learn that we have a responsibility to care for others, especially those who are most vulnerable. And today, few people are as vulnerable as the 153 million orphans around the world.
To put that number in perspective, that’s twice the population of France. If all orphans were a nation, they would be the tenth most populous nation in the world. Instead, most of these precious children live in orphanages.
I’ve visited many orphanages in a number of countries, and despite efforts by well-meaning caregivers, you would never want your child to live in such conditions. Children are often crammed into tiny rooms that are stifling in the summer and cold in the winter. They have no toys to play with, subsist on meager diets, and are plagued with a variety of health issues. In one country, orphanages were referred to as “dying rooms” due to the high incidence of deaths. And in another country, horror stories have emerged of children being drugged to keep them quiet, lying all day in cribs with no one checking on them, often malnourished to the point of starvation. Even in the best orphanages, children do not receive the love and nurture that they would experience in a family.
In many countries, children are left to fend for themselves on the streets. Consider these staggering facts about children who are orphans or have been abandoned by their parents because of poverty:
- 1.2 million children are trafficked every year
- 8.4 million children annually are forced into debt bondage, slavery, prostitution, pornography, and other illicit activities
- 250,000 children are serving as child soldiers in armed conflicts worldwide
- More than 16 million children under 18 have been orphaned by HIV/AIDS. Around 14.8 million of these children live in sub-Saharan Africa.
Every child deserves a loving, caring family. The fact that so many children around the world do not ought to first break our hearts and then motivate us to do something about it. There is much we can do, beginning with prayer. A problem as widespread and tragic as the plight of orphans will not be solved by “man alone.” I agree with E. M. Bounds who wrote, “Prayer is our most formidable weapon, the thing which makes all else we do efficient.”
What actions can we take right now?
- Be their family
One of the greatest expressions of social justice is providing a child in need with a family. That can mean preserving them in their biological family, temporary care, or adoption. As Christians, we understand what it means to be adopted by a loving Father. Imagine the joy you could give to a child—and to yourself—by giving the gift of a family to a child who has none.
- You can give
You would be amazed at how little money it takes in the developing world to help a mom and dad buy food and pay for school uniforms and other expenses. It can be the difference between a child growing up in a family or abandoned to make it on her own. Support a family now.