The Bible instructs us to help orphans and take up the cause of the fatherless, but how do we do that? What if we don’t know any orphans or aren’t in a position to adopt? Through Compassion, I learned how to help orphans in a practical way. Will you join me in fulfilling this God-given mission?
How To Help Orphans – A Personal Story
As a 16-year-old, my life was pretty easy. Sure, I fretted about my next algebra test, increasing my basketball shooting percentage, and I thought about boys. But I didn’t worry about where dinner would come from. I had loving parents who worked hard to supply me with clothes and food. Like most teenagers, I took those things for granted.
Several years later, I took a trip to Brazil with Compassion and met Anderson, a 16-year-old boy who didn’t take any of those things for granted. He invited me into his home with hospitality I’d never experienced from a teen boy before. His one-room home, where he lives alone, contained a bed, a couch and a few kitchen items. I chuckled when I saw his basketball shoes nicely cleaned, placed next to a bottle of hair gel. He may live alone, but he’s still a teenager!
I could tell Anderson was nervous and he really wanted to tell me his story. He had a gleam in his eye that comes from God’s work and he was bursting to share it. I listened as he shared about his difficult life.
When Anderson was a small child, his mother left the family. Then when he turned 10, his father died, leaving Anderson and his two brothers alone. To deal with the loss, his older brothers turned to drugs and within four weeks, they were also dead — one from a drug overdose and one from gang violence.
At 10 years old, Anderson became an orphan, with no family left.
He had no one to support him, care for him or love him. Anderson had a life-changing decision to make. He could turn to the streets or he could turn to his local Compassion center that was only a couple of blocks from his house.
Anderson turned to the streets, but quickly learned that he had made the wrong choice. The dangers were unavoidable and the gangs didn’t provide the support he craved. One day, he opened the door to the Compassion center and was greeted by the people who have been his family ever since. Each day, they provide him with a hot shower and a meal. They encouraged him to attend school and told him about a God who cares for the orphan and the widow. He even calls the center director “Mom.” Despite his difficult circumstances, he is choosing to walk with God as his Father.
Anderson, now 20, continues to be supported by his local Compassion center. He receives health checkups, nutritious food, and support from the staff who serve as his new family. When he was 18, he worked at a local pizza shop for one year, saving his paychecks because he had a dream to own his own business. With the help and training from of the Compassion center staff, he now runs a car wash service in front of his house. When he became very ill with a parasite in his brain, the Compassion center supported his recovery through antibiotic treatment. He is healthy once again and his small business is thriving. He dreams of improving his business and renovating his little house.
“We thank God for all the opportunities Anderson has been able to receive and that we can help meet his needs. We pray to the Lord that his life will get better and better and that we can have the strength to help several other boys like Anderson who need love, care and protection,” says Vânia, the Compassion center director.
How to Help Orphans — A Father to the Fatherless
Orphaned children around the world face the same choice as Anderson. Many find themselves alone, with no one to care for them. Nearly 43 million children in the least-developed countries are orphans due to AIDS, armed conflicts, natural disasters, famine, abuse and other issues related to poverty. Compassion’s programs are instrumental in keeping these orphaned children off the streets and giving them the necessary resources for life. They can access nutritious food, clean water, medical care, education and training in life skills.
Isaiah 1:17 says, “Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.”
That’s a great message, but how do we do that? Some people are able to adopt and foster, and to them we say, “Thank you.” If you’re not able to, consider these four practical ways to help an orphan.
How to Help Orphans — Four Practical Ways
Sponsor an orphan: Many orphan kids around the world are living in poverty. You can tell them they are loved by sponsoring them through Compassion. The program will provide them with clean water, nutritious food, educational opportunities and more.
Give aid to children who are highly vulnerable: Often these are children living in child-headed households or whose caregivers are unable to care for them. Compassion depends on a network of local church partners to identify, intervene, protect and support children living in highly vulnerable circumstances. Your donation helps to support and protect children vulnerable to abuse, exploitation, homelessness and trafficking.
Motivate your church: There may be families in your church or community who are fostering or adopting. Meet with your pastor or a church leader to discuss how your church can support these families.
Pray: Pray for God to protect children who are in vulnerable situations. Ask God to bring trusted adults in their lives to advocate for them and intervene when necessary. Pray for orphans around the world to know the hope and healing of Jesus.
When I left Anderson’s home that day, I left feeling completely different than I anticipated. I knew we would be visiting the home of an orphan, so I assumed I would leave feeling sad. On the contrary, I saw firsthand how God used Compassion to be a father to the fatherless! On the wall of his home, Anderson has painted, “Eu te amo e Jesus também” — I love you and Jesus does too!
Will you join me in sponsoring an orphan child?
This article was originally published Aug. 13, 2019.