Update on Orphan Sunday

Orphan Sunday

As a church we recognize Orphan Sunday in November. What does this designation mean? If we’re not careful, observing Orphan Sunday becomes the Sunday, distinct from all other Sundays, that we mention orphans, announce the need among them, and mourn the fact that so many children are left alone and destitute. And if we’re not careful, our responsibility is perceived fulfilled in commemorating a day known as Orphan Sunday. Jesus calls to more than commemoration. He calls us to action, and he calls us to act specifically on behalf of orphans and widows.
Why Orphan Care?

Orphan Care explains and demonstrates the gospel. Caring for the orphaned is at least an obedience issue and at most a gospel issue. It is first an obedience issue because the people of God are called to care for the orphan from the beginning of Christian Scripture. Directive is given to avoid mistreating them in Exodus 22:22-24; to seek justice for the fatherless in Deuteronomy 27:19 and Isaiah 1:17; to protect, provide, and care for orphans in Deuteronomy 14:28-29, 24:17-22, and Zechariah 7:10; and to help and support the fatherless in James 1:27. God is not simply the Lawgiver on behalf of the orphan yet divinely distant. God the Father is identifying himself Father of the fatherless in Psalm 68:5; seeking justice for the orphan in Deuteronomy 10:18; upholding the fatherless in Psalm 146:9; and receiving those forsaken by father and mother in Psalm 27:10.
Caring for the orphan is most significantly, though, a gospel issue. It is a portrait of the gospel repeatedly painted by Jesus and writers of the New Testament. We, who are children of wrath (Ephesians 2:3), are at first no part of the heavenly Father’s family but reckoned as orphans. Jesus, not received by his own people, welcomed those who did receive him and gave them the right to become children of God (John 1:11-12). Paul uses adoption language as well in multiple books, perhaps most clearly picturing the gospel as adoption in Galatians 4:4-7. These verses clearly illustrate the gospel as adoption when Paul writes, “God sent forth his Son… to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.” Adoption, so closely tied to the gospel, demands that orphan care is a gospel issue. As Jesus said to his disciples, “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you” (John 14:18).

Your Response

I was delighted to see how you responded on that Sunday to the call to orphan care, particularly through the Guardian ad Litem (GAL) ministry. A number of people expressed interest and asked questions about how they could help. Seven families took their action a step further and signed up for Hands of Hope. And over fifty people signed up expressing interest in the GAL program. We’re bringing the GAL training to Parkwood through our Equip classes to make it even easier for you to follow through in caring for these orphans that are in desperate need of your care and concern. You can express your interest in GAL training that begins January 6, 2016 by completing this form on our website. Foster Care training will also be available beginning on that date.
Call to Continued Care

Parkwood responded on Orphan Sunday, but our job is not finished. If you expressed an interest in GAL, Hands of Hope, or some other form of orphan care, I encourage you to follow through with action. As John encourages us, “let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth” (1John 3:18). If you did not express interest, consider what God may have you do in obedience to his command to care for orphans or to display his gospel to a world that did not receive him. It is not acceptable that so many children are without father and mother and so many are abused and mistreated. Remember, God is aware of this tragic problem, and he has a solution. He has called his family to be family to those without a family. Indeed, how can we assume that we have fulfilled our responsibility to the orphan by commemorating a single day of the year? Orphan care clearly implicates how we personally obey our heavenly Father as well as how we understand and communicate his gospel. Let us so love the world not only in word or talk but in deed and in truth.