By: Lindsy Wallace
I am a huge fan of bringing our children alongside us as we serve orphans and vulnerable children. This will look different depending on the ages of your children, but here are some practical ideas and prayerful encouragement for teaching children about orphans in our very own community.
What I really want you to know is this: there is something for everyone. You can dip your toes into the pond or dive in headfirst, BUT don’t let yourself become overwhelmed and as a result, do nothing. At some point, the need must compel us to practically do something. Let that point be now.
Start with scripture. There are five things God’s word tells us about caring for the poor. (I think we can all agree anytime the Bible refers to “the poor,” orphans and vulnerable children are included.) Even young children can count on their fingers and memorize these five things. (Thanks to Lisa Kjeldaarld for giving me permission to share these with you!)
- God is concerned. Psalm 140:12
- God identifies Himself with the poor. Proverbs 14:31
- God commands us to act. Isaiah 1:17
- God blesses those who serve. Proverbs 19:17
- God punishes those who ignore orphans. Jeremiah 5:28
Participate in collecting school or other much-needed supplies for foster children. Children often enter foster care with nothing but the clothes on their backs. OCA strives to make the transition into foster care just a tad bit easier by providing clothes and other much-needed items through the Kids’ Care Closet.
Encourage your kids to go through their clothes and toys and donate the items they “choose” to give away to the Kids’ Care Closet. Make sure to take your kids with you to drop off the items.
Specific needs at this time are costume jewelry bracelets (12-18 year old girls), adult medium t-shirts, youth medium t-shirts, youth large t-shirts, coloring books, crayons, playing cards, powder, night lights, pacifiers, baby lotion, bottles.
Take your kiddos and a list of these needed supplies to the store. Explain what you are purchasing and why. If your kids are anything like mine, they will present you with ample opportunity to teach them about kids who are less fortunate than they are and what Jesus says our response to these little ones should be.
Teach your kids to be comfortable with public speaking so they can be a voice for those who are not heard. Have them memorize and recite scripture. Come up with questions and let them interview each other. Teach them the art of storying the bible and let them share stories with family members and others who don’t know Jesus. This is all great practice for growing into a bold voice for the fatherless!
Encourage them to donate their birthday instead of receiving gifts. (You could do this one too! 😉 We have done this with our kids from the beginning and, obviously, it is much easier with a one year old. Now that they are older we, allow them to choose the organization, ministry, or adopting family that will be the recipient of their birthday. We do still buy them one gift and grandparents are exempt from this rule. (Because they don’t listen to us anyway.) Our kiddos really do enjoy giving up their gifts for others! It’s pretty amazing!
Follow websites highlighting children waiting for families, let your kids pick a child, and pray that child home. The power of prayer is, well, powerful. You and your little ones can intercede on behalf of a child in need and change their life. Isn’t that amazing?! Teach your kids to get on their knees for the fatherless at an early age. For a listing of waiting children in Kentucky visit KY SNAP.
Serve with your kids. Christmas is right around the corner and provides lots of opportunities for serving with our children. Last Christmas, through OCA, our family adopted a single dad and his four kids. We shopped as a family for their family, our kids helped wrap the gifts, and deliver them. It wasn’t necessarily advertised as an opportunity to serve as a family, but we easily made it into one. Be creative as you seek out ways to serve vulnerable children with your kids.
Adopt a foster family. Your family may not feel called to bring a foster child into your home but that doesn’t mean you can’t make a huge impact on the life of a foster child and their foster family. Being a foster parent is hard work. You can bless these families by making them meals, becoming a respite provider, offering a day away for the biological kids, or giving the parents a date night. Come up with your own creative and personal ways to bless your foster family!
PRAY! Our kids pick up on what is important to us. If we are not praying for orphans and vulnerable children, our kids won’t be either. Ask God to break your heart and the hearts of your children for what breaks His.