By: John Simmons @ simmonsjohnm
It’s my personal belief that orphan care should always be at the top of our list.
After all, care of orphans, widows, and keeping ourselves from being polluted by the world are what the Bible calls “pure” and/or “faultless” religion (James 1:27).
Even so, if this is an article about religion, it should be my wife writing it rather than me. My wife is the one with unshakable faith. I’m still trying to get there. But what has brought me to the point I am (by the Grace of God), were the experiences I had, and the miracles I witnessed during and after adopting children from Russia.
I’m the guy who needs to be preached to; it always takes me far longer than it should to raise my hands. I wasn’t in Russia to save orphans. I was there to add a couple of cute little princesses to our family because we could no longer have children biologically. Those little girls just happened to be social orphans (the government had removed them from a horrifically abusive home and severed parental rights). Something unusual happened though. When adopting parents visit with their prospective children in Russia, they are typically kept away from other orphans. With our five-year-old daughter, Sarah, it was different. She was away from her orphanage at a winter camp. The one difference at the camp was that they really didn’t have a system set up for adoption meetings between parents and children.
We were left to play with Sarah and her friends. Many people imagine swarming flies and emaciated bodies when they think of orphans. Not me. I don’t imagine anything. When I think about orphans, I am remembering my friends. Two dozen children between the ages of five and seven craved any attention that my wife and I could give them. Especially, they swarmed me. Orphans and orphanages are considered “women’s work” in Russia, so these children hungered for father-figure attention. We chased, we wrestled and we played in the snow.
His next words might have been a eulogy.
“When they get to be seven or eight, they give up and stop asking.”
I noticed that every time we went back to visit, a group of children would run to our coordinator and talk to him. When I asked what they talked to him about, he said it was always the same; they wanted to know if he had found their new mamas and papas, yet. It knocked the wind out of me. Then, knowing that a very few would be adopted, I asked what he could possibly tell them. He said that he always told them the same thing: that he hadn’t found them yet, but he was still looking. His next words might have been a eulogy, “When they get to be seven or eight, they give up and stop asking.”
In the hotel that night, my already inadequate faith wavered even more. I remember saying to my wife that while Jesus might remember those children in the eternities, He had forgotten them in the present. Not wanting to make me any more angry or contentious, she let me have my space. But I couldn’t believe that anyone who had the power to give children homes, would leave them alone, destined for almost certain failure.
As time progressed, ideas came to my mind about how I might inspire others and how we could help more of those children to have families. I even began to understand ways for those of us who care, to help those who were left behind. Jesus hasn’t forgotten anyone. As much as He wants these children to have homes, he won’t take away our choice if we decide to refuse them. He has provided our hands to help the orphans. If they are not cared for, it is us, not God who has failed.
If you are thinking that this is an article about Russian orphans, you are wrong. That is simply where I first experienced what I would spend the rest of my life doing; helping children who don’t have active parents. The world and even your own community are overloaded with children who need our help. Your heart (my wife says Jesus) will tell you where your particular talents and resources will help the most. Then go there; even if it’s just across town. When you get there, lift with all your might. Someone’s life and perhaps their eternal welfare depend on it.
As we enter this Lenten season, preparing ourselves for Easter with prayer, fasting, charity and repentance, what better way than to serve orphans?
Jesus said; “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:40 NIV) If you want to serve Jesus, serve orphans. If you want to grow your faith, serve Jesus. And if you’re like me and you don’t have the spiritual strength that your wife does, it doesn’t change what you need to do. Everyone knows that we should all help children.