Blessed is he who has regard for the weak; the Lord delivers him in times of trouble. The Lord will protect him and preserve his life; he will bless him in the land and not surrender him to the desire of his foes. (Psalm 41:1-2)
As Christians we are taught to honor the “least of these.” The reality is that only a small percentage of Christians are extending themselves for the orphan. With 163 million orphans and counting, the statistics show us that if only 7% of the over two billion Christians in the world would adopt, the orphan crisis would be eliminated. As it stands, in Ethiopia alone only one one-hundredth of one percent of the 4.6 million orphans are adopted. Four of my six children are “unorphaned” now but were at one time very much alone in that sea of 163 million drops of orphans. Three are from Ethiopia.
It is easy, however, to get caught up in our reality in America and forget that in most places in the world, running water, a soft clean bed and plumbing is a luxury. So how do we teach our children to become a fraction of that 7% to be the hands and feet of Jesus and save the orphan? All six of our children tell us that they will be adopting. We haven’t pushed them but they are determined to adopt and care for the orphan.
Still being charitable in their day-to-day lives is a struggle. We tend to be selfish by nature. We argue about sharing. They beg for disposable items. They try to steal things from their siblings or “borrow” without their permission. It is a battle but we are determined never to back down from the lesson of caring for the “least of these.”
We watched as 25 Ugandan orphans got off the bus in the U.S. after their very first plane ride from Kampala. They arrived at the home that would house them for a summer of touring with a choir. We watched as the children coveted their own toothbrush. We watched as they thought it extravagant to place a perfectly good but only slightly used paper cup, plastic spoon and thick paper plate into the garbage. The children were elated to have their own bed to sleep in and they watched in awe as the water flowed out of the faucet.
On the way home in our van, our children complained about our not buying them a home gaming unit to add to the already two other gaming units in our family room. We explained to them the importance of having a spirit of gratitude like the children they just saw and that we should never forget how fortunate we are. We told them that we have a responsibility to take action to care for the orphan. We also explained that our lives are not about the things we get that will end up in a garbage dump one day but instead are about changing lives by showing love and compassion to others.
How do we teach charity? I think we need to expose our children to orphans and the homeless, and they need to gently see the truth to be able to look at their lives with a new set of eyes. We believe we also have to constantly remind them to prioritize the needs of those who are struggling, poor and sick.
He who is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward him for what he has done. (Proverbs 19:17)
We are celebrating with our children how far they have come out of poverty and out of their vulnerability but reminding them that children and families still reside in desperation. Charities are struggling because people are protecting what little resources they have but the Bible tells us that the best bank we can give to is the bank of God. In lending to the poor we lend to the Lord himself. Charity leads to security in eternal favor with God. As far as I am concerned, this is the best lesson we can teach them!