A Thought—and a Challenge—From the Intentional Living Center
On a Mission
Blessed is he who has regard for the weak; the Lord delivers him in times of trouble. Psalm 41:1 NIV
Statistics and Souls
Josef Stalin, the evil Soviet dictator, had a saying: “One death is a tragedy; a million is a statistic.”
Stalin understood that the human mind can’t absorb and comprehend huge numbers, and he used that limitation to his advantage. Stalin was responsible for killing upwards of 20 million people during his reign of terror.
When it comes to “regard for the weak,” huge numbers can actually have a negative effect on our motivation to minister to others. If you hear that a billion people will go to bed hungry tonight, it seems a hopeless cause.
Yet God has a specific purpose for you and your family, a mission only you can accomplish. It may be to change the world or just to change your block. Whatever it is, don’t miss it.
Seek opportunities to help those in need today by
- Focusing on individual souls, not statistics.
- Asking God to give you a compassionate, loving heart for others.
Today’s One Thing
- Plan a family trip to donate food to a homeless shelter.
Johnny Carr, Bethany Christian Services
Johnny Carr is the author of Orphan Justice: How to Care for Orphans Beyond Adopting
. When pastor Johnny Carr took a position as pastor of ministry and leadership development at one of the fastest growing churches in the Florida panhandle, in 2004, he never dreamed that God would change his heart so drastically for the orphan. While at Hillcrest Baptist Church in Pensacola, Fla., he led the church in establishing its first orphan care and adoption ministry. Through this, the church serves many orphaned children internationally, and believers have changed vocations to serve children, including Carr.
Now the national director of church partnership at Bethany Christian Services, the nation’s largest adoption and orphan care agency, Carr went from full-time pastor, a position he held for 14 years, to working full time to advocate for the orphan. He firmly believes that the church must take the lead in the world’s orphan crisis.
Carr’s new book, Orphan Justice: How to Care for Orphans Beyond Adopting (with Laura Captari, B&H Books), is based on his own personal journey toward pure religion, explaining that his goal is to inspire the church to truly understand and obey James 1:27, which calls believers to care for orphans.
See excerpt below.
Protect each other from harm. Say “I’m sorry”—and really meaning it. Never lose faith in each other. These are just a few of the guidelines that Dr. Randy Carlson has developed, based on 1 Corinthians 13, that were instrumental as he and Donna raised their family. In this DVD session you’ll learn to practice these ten principles daily as you build an intentional home and family.
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Available at Amazon[/caption]
An Excerpt from Johnny Carr’s Book, Orphan Justice: How to Care for Orphans Beyond Adopting
(TRUE RELIGION: ORPHANS AND MY FAMILY – Page 15)
children. “Although we don’t have a clear estimate of the number that need to be adopted, the numbers are in the millions, not the thousands.”
For the purposes of this book, we will refer to the UNICEF estimate of 153 million children who are orphaned and vulnerable. Some of these children need adoptive families. Others need support so their families can keep them out of an orphanage. All of these children have physical, emotional, and/or spiritual needs. They face a host of challenges. In the midst of their desperation, they cry out for hope. And our redeemer God longs for His people to be on the front lines of providing compassion, support, and gospel-centered care.
God’s Heart for Orphans
I see time and again that caring for orphaned and vulnerable children is not often on the radar screen for many Christians. Somehow, in our concern for living a “good Christian life,” many of us are missing God’s passion for the fatherless. Yet, caring for the needy is one of the main purposes of the church. Throughout Scripture, it is easy to see that God has a special place in His heart for the fatherless, the widow, and the alien. This is a rebuke and a wake-up call to us. Scripture is not silent on the issue of orphan care. Throughout the Old Testament, “orphans” and “the fatherless” are mentioned forty-one times. In Old Testament law, many specific guidelines are given for interacting with orphans. As you read the following verses, look for God’s heart.
“He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner, giving him food and clothing” (Deut. 10:18).
(Page 16 – ORPHAN JUSTICE)
“Do not deny justice to a foreigner or fatherless child” (Deut. 24:17).
“When you reap the harvest in your field, and you forget a sheaf in the field, do not go back to get it. It is to be left for the foreigner, the fatherless, and the widow, so that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands” (Deut. 24:19).
Caring for the marginalized of society—widows, orphans, and foreigners—lies at the heart of Yahweh’s covenant with His people. These verses speak blatantly about the role of God’s people in caring for the fatherless and inviting them into community. It seems apparent that in Old Testament culture, orphans lived as part of the community and were cared for by God’s people.
Scripture doesn’t spell out a detailed strategy for orphan care, but God does speak directly to the role of His people. In fact, God promises judgment on those who do not take care of the weak and needy: “Cursed is anyone who denies justice to foreigners, orphans, or widows” (Deut. 27:19 NLT).
To our God, taking care of orphans isn’t just a “great idea.” It’s critical. Why? Because every man, woman, boy, and girl—including orphaned and vulnerable children—has been created in God’s image and is precious to Him. In Scripture, God describes Himself time and again as the helper of orphans.
Psalm 10:16 praises Yahweh as “King forever and ever.” Interestingly, in describing the kingly duties of Yahweh, the psalmist places primary importance on God’s care for the weak: “LORD, you know the hopes of the helpless. Surely you will hear their cries and comfort them. You will bring justice to the orphans and the oppressed” (Ps. 10:17–18 NLT). Other psalms strike a similar tone, extolling Yahweh as “father to the fatherless, defender of widows” (Ps. 68:5 NLT). Jewish scholars
(TRUE RELIGION: ORPHANS AND MY FAMILY – Page 17)
point out that God’s care for orphans flows directly from His position as king over all the earth.6 God’s people, then, are commanded to care for orphans as a direct result of who God is.
As God’s messengers, the Old Testament prophets rebuke Israel for ignoring the needs of widows and orphans. God tells His people to stop bringing Him meaningless sacrifices: “When you lift up your hands in prayer I will not look. . . I will not listen” (Isa. 1:15). Why? Because of the people’s failure to care for orphans. “Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans” (v. 17).
Malachi 3 echoes this same judgment on Israel as Yahweh confronts His people:
“At that time I will put you on trial. I am eager to witness against all sorcerers and adulterers and liars. I will speak against those who cheat employees of their wages, who oppress widows and orphans, or who deprive the foreigners living among you of justice, for these people do not fear me,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. (Mal. 3:5 NLT)
In our tendency to place ourselves above Israel, we dare not overlook one of the root causes of God’s judgment—failing to care for orphans. When I understood this for the first time, it shocked me. We’re not just reading history here. It hits close to home for those of us who haven’t considered before that God is commanding us to care for orphaned and vulnerable children.
Stop and consider this: Just like the children of Israel, we, as God’s people, will be judged for withholding justice from the oppressed and the orphan. If we have the means and the capability to care for orphaned and vulnerable children, yet fail to do so, we are in direct disobedience to God.
(Used by permission. Excerpt taken from Orphan Justice by Johnny Carr c. 2013 B&H Publishing Group)]]>