Guest post by Shannon Hazleton from Our Blessed Life.
“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”
James 1:27 (ESV)
Mamas, do you want the hearts of your children to be closely knit with God’s heart? Teach them to love orphans! The Bible is full of scripture conveying our Father’s heart for the fatherless, and commanding us to care for them as well.
Indeed, to be a Christian is to love orphans.
Yet, when I was young, I knew nothing of the plight of 147 million orphans worldwide, many of whom are abused, hungry, sick, and needing special care. So how can we, as a family, get involved and teach our children God’s heart in the process?
Do a Word Study
Older children can do this as a project on their own, or the whole family may get involved. Using a concordance or an online Bible program, conduct a search for keywords such as “orphan” or “fatherless” and discuss the many passages you find. Pick one or two verses to commit to memory or post on the bathroom mirror.
Reach Out to Adopting Families
Some of our closest friends recently adopted three special needs children from Eastern Europe. Whenever they were conducting a fundraiser, we were sure to spread the word and help. And what a blessing it has been to get to know those children since they have come home to the States. If you know a family in your community or church is adopting, get to know them. Ask how you can help.
Read and Pray
Early on in our own adoption journey, my young daughters found me looking at children’s pictures on Reece’s Rainbow. “These boys and girls don’t have a Mommy or Daddy,” I explained to my 4-year-old. It wasn’t long before my girls were asking to see those pictures daily, and including many of those children in their bedtime prayers.
I also recommend visiting No Greater Joy Mom’s blog, who has adopted some wonderful kiddos, and passionately advocates for orphans, and Katie Davis’ blog. Katie is a young woman living in Uganda, who has become “Mommy” to 13 orphaned girls.
This one has impacted our family the most. If someone would have told us a year ago that by August we would be traveling to a country in Eastern Europe, and adopting not one, but two young children, who happen to be HIV+ … Well, I would have laughed and thought that person was definitely wrong. Surely God had not called us to that path.
But in the last six months, God turned our world on its side. Through a few books my husband Jeff was reading (Radical, by David Platt, and Adopted for Life, by Russell Moore), God began to open our eyes, as Jeff would find himself in tears while reading over his lunch break at work, or I would find my own heart stirred as he read portions to me in the evenings, after the children had gone to bed. Messages that were preached on Sunday mornings only seemed to confirm was God was saying. His Word was opened to us like never before, and the message was clear: rescue the fatherless.
Our hearts were convicted. And there was only one answer, yes, Lord.
Through our own adoption journey, our two oldest biological daughters (ages 3 and 5) have begun to learn that the world is bigger than our little family, and that there are children who don’t have families, and have never heard the name of Jesus. (Though their little minds can scarcely imagine what that is like.) And it blesses our hearts to see them pray for those children, or hear them say, “we can be their family!” The step we have taken towards adoption has been life-changing and family-altering. It has been scary and difficult at times, and the journey isn’t over yet. But we are already reaping bountiful blessings.
Not all of us will be called to be an orphaned child’s ‘forever family’, but we can be a prayer warrior for an orphan, or sponsor a child through ministries like Gospel For Asia or Compassion International. This is a wonderful opportunity for our children to pray for, and even write letters to sponsored children.
No matter the age of our children, we can open their minds to a world that is different from their own, and help knit their hearts to the heart of the Lord.
“Father to the Fatherless,… God places the lonely in families…” Psalm 68:5 (NLT)
Shannon Hazleton is a busy stay-at-home wife to Jeffrey, and Mama to three little ones at their home in Nederland, Texas. They will travel soon to bring home two more beautiful little ones from Eastern Europe. She writes at Our Blessed Life.