What is an orphan and are all children in orphanages orphans?
According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, an orphan is a child deprived by death of one or usually both parents and an orphanage is an institution for the care of orphans.
I wish it were that simple to define. It simply is not.
While orphanages are institutions that care for children that have lost one or both parents due to death, there are many that also care for the child that is without any adequate care because of sickness, disease, poverty, or a tragedy of one form or another. Orphans may or may not have living parents.
I hesitate to even enter this discussion because of the complexity. I certainly do not have any authority on the matter. I’m not looking for an argument on adoption and/or the actual numbers. I just want to make it clear that there are many children in the world that have one or two parents, but still need someone to care for them. These parents aren’t all abandoning their children. They aren’t all unloving and uncaring. Some mothers and fathers are doing everything in their power to provide food and shelter for their families, but even with all of their efforts, they are unable.
Now that we have that behind us, let’s discuss those children whose basic needs are not being met and the role of the church. Once again, I acknowledge this is an extremely complicated subject and I am only trying to tackle one small aspect of the issue.
Remember, the church is the people, not the building.
The local church gathers for worship, prayer, the reading and teaching of God’s Word, discipleship, and evangelizing the lost. It is also a family that cares for one another.
When one part of our physical body hurts, our whole body feels its pain. Our church body should be the same. It rejoices when others rejoice and grieves when others grieve. This body of believers should care for each other and should lift each other up in prayer. If we need an example, we go to the book of Acts where they lived in one accord and broke bread together daily. They even sold all that they had and distributed so that no one had need.
Wow! I hope you can disagree with me here, but I don’t see our local churches working this way.
When we started sponsoring a little boy at the Truth Children’s Home Orphanage in India, call us naive, but we had the Merriam-Webster definition in mind. As we started reading each of the profile stories of the children, we were a little confused. Most of these children have a mother and/or father. Are these children orphans or not? We sure don’t want to get taken advantage of like that friend of a friend we heard about at some point. (*note the sarcasm*)
If you know me, you know that I have an itsy bitsy issue with trust. I don’t trust much that I read or much that I hear. In fact, I don’t care if I’m told by some big authority figure that something is true. If it doesn’t seem right to me, I’m going to have to do some research first. Maybe this comes from my crazy dichotomy of a childhood, but I’ve found it can sometimes serve me well. The way I abuse it will be in another blog. For sure.
I checked out the legitimacy of this orphanage in particular. It seemed to be legally registered with the government. I even talked to a man that had a contact at the IRS. No red flags.
There was no doubt in my mind that the Lord had used this church and pastor in our lives. He had given us a great love for a people we had never met. The Lord had been tearing down walls of greed and teaching us how to be a cheerful giver. So, after much prayer (and research), we decided to jump in with both feet.
“Maybe I just have to go and witness this for myself”, I thought. Some things have to be experienced to fully understand.
“I had only heard about you before, but now I have seen you with my own eyes.”
After visiting these children, after watching the widows look after their care, after speaking with Pastor Wilson babu about their stories, after going to nearly all of their homes and meeting their mothers, fathers, grandmothers, etc., I finally understand. I get it.
What I am witnessing is the church functioning as the church should.
Please, hear me. This is a village that was once all Hindu that is now 20% Christian. These are Christians that come together to BE the local church. These are VERY poor families. I’ve been to their homes and I’ve seen the lack of shelter and food that they can provide.
The Truth Children’s Home Orphanage is a local body of believers caring for their own.
Maybe that discourages you from wanting to come alongside them with prayer and support. Not me. I am inspired. I am inspired to see, FINALLY, a church sacrificing for each other, a church living for Christ together, a church celebrating together, a church suffering together.
You may be thinking, “Well, then let them take care of their own needs.” Let me assure you, this is not a case where an eastern church is looking for the western church to provide all of their needs. This does happen…I am very sad to say. I know that the Pastor teaches the church to give. I know that the people want to give.
Each Sunday as the members enter the service, there is prayer and then an offering is given. It may be money or may be rice, beans, oil, etc. Like the widow’s mite, they give what they have. Whatever it is, it is their offering of thanksgiving to the Lord. If money is given, it is used to provide for the needs of the church. If food is given, it is used to feed the pastor’s family, the children, and the hungry that come into the church.
The children are cared for by Pastor Wilson, Sister Jemimah, and the widows in the church. The widows are not paid to do this, but they are offered a place to sleep and food to eat.
Unfortunately, their offerings are still not enough. God could multiply the rice miraculously or He could ask us to be obedient and to care for the least of these. We know that anyone that gives a cup of water in His name will surely be rewarded (Matthew 10:42).
Here lies a grand opportunity for us. We can witness a local church functioning as a body AND we can be the universal church functioning as the body of Christ. We have an opportunity to hold our brothers and sisters up in prayer, to support them with our finances, and glorify our Father through the process.
Let’s BE the church…the true church…The Body of Christ!