July 29, 2015
We’ve all heard the terrifying statistics: In our world today, there are an estimated 150 million orphaned children. These children face more than just loneliness. They face a future without hope. They face increased risk of disease, trafficking, malnutrition, and death.
In fact, right now, at this moment, in the 3 seconds that it took us to read those statistics, 3 children have died. That means that three children are now facing an eternity separated from God, because there was no one to tell them about Jesus. No one to tell them the good news of salvation and forgiveness at the cross. No one to show them the love of God.
It’s time for us to wake up! It’s time for us to take our responsibility seriously to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” (Mark 16:15) While we are sitting comfortably in our pews listening to nice sermons, while we are hosting nice brunches with the ladies in our church, while we are attending our nice Bible studies and printing our nice brochures and listening to our nice songs, we are completely neglecting God’s purpose for His followers: to take the good news to the people, including the children, who are lost and dying without Him.
What are we waiting for? He didn’t say, Go after you are happily married. Go when your children are grown. Go when your career is established and when you have your house paid off and when your retirement package is secure. He doesn’t even say, Go when you have more free time or when you feel better equipped or when you feel more qualified. He simply says, Go. It’s a command we have ignored for far too long.
So what does it look like to go? Does it mean we all need to sell our houses and all of our possessions and move to the other side of the world? It could indeed mean that. But not necessarily. There are myriad ways that we can obey His command to go.
We can go to the orphan care information meetings in our community, and find out how we can get involved. It may mean adopting a child. It may mean supporting missionaries who work with orphans. It may mean serving at outreach events for foster children and youth in our communities. There are lots of churches and lots of orphan care ministries who are actively reaching out to orphaned and vulnerable children. We can go and learn how we might be using our gifts, abilities, time, and resources to join them.
We can go to the agencies’ training classes and get licensed to become foster parents. Gone are the days of the local orphanages and orphan trains where people can just pick out a child they might want. For the protection of the children, there are laws and processes in place, and if we want to get involved, it means taking the classes, getting the home study, filling out the paperwork. It may be cumbersome and intrusive and highly inconvenient. But if we want to be available to love and serve these vulnerable children, we need to be willing to do what it takes to get licensed.
We can go online and find out how to welcome a child or a sibling group into our home. We can go to the website with the photolisting of foster children in our state, children who are free for adoption, waiting for a forever family. (www.adoptuskids.org). What better way to “preach the gospel to every creature” than to invite these children to become a part of our family? To show them, day after day after day what it means to love and forgive and serve and protect and respect and trust one another? What better opportunity to talk about the love of God “when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up” (Deuteronomy 6:7) than when these children are living in our very own homes?
Even if we never become a foster parent or adopt a child, we can go to the family in our church or in our neighborhood who has a new placement. We can bring them a meal, a listening ear, and a word of encouragement. We can help with their shopping and errands when they find it difficult to leave the house. We can pray for them, or even better, pray with them for strength and wisdom during the difficult days ahead. We can support them as they walk in faith in this adventurous journey.
We can go on short term mission trips and catch a vision for what the Lord is doing in other parts of the world. We can see first hand what it looks like to care for orphaned and vulnerable children, to share the good news with people who desperately need to hear it, to teach and mentor and train parents so that their families are preserved, to provide medical care for HIV mothers so that their children will not become orphans, to hold babies in the orphanage so that they will learn how to attach, to encourage local believers to foster and adopt the children in their own communities. When we leave our comfortable homes and observe different cultures and extreme poverty and great needs, how can our hearts ever be the same?
We can go right down the street to the place where they kill babies every single day. We can plead, not only for the babies’ lives, but also for the women’s souls. What a privilege, what a joy, when we preach the gospel to a mother, to see her repent of her murderous heart and surrender her life to the Lord! To know that the Lord used our stuttering voices, our obedient presence, to save a life.
We can go to the homes for women with unplanned pregnancies. We can volunteer and serve, and we can mentor a young woman, teaching her, possibly for the first time in her life, what it means to be a mother.
When we are unsure of where to go or what to do, we can always, always go before the Lord with open hands and humbly say, “Here am I, send me.” (Isaiah 6:8)
What is keeping us from obeying the clear command of Jesus to go? Is it fear? Fear of the unknown? Fear of failure? Fear of our own inadequacies and weaknesses? Fear of how high the cost might be? How much we will be asked to sacrifice? He doesn’t ask us to go alone. Immediately after commanding His followers to go, he promises, “Surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20). He doesn’t call the qualified; He calls the willing. And no matter what He calls us to do or where He calls us to go, He promises to go before us and to be right there with us.
Is it laziness that keeps us from obeying? Our addiction to comfort and safety, gluttony and excess? We should be praying, begging God to rescue us from that dangerous, malignant disease of complacency that keeps us trapped in our own little world of selfishness. We need to be asking the Lord to open our eyes to the need. To become more and more hungry for the privilege, the great honor of being able to participate in the amazing, miraculous work that He is doing in the lives of people around us and all over the world.
There are an estimated 150 million orphans in the world. It’s a staggering, almost incomprehensible statistic. But there are nearly 2 billion Christians! That’s 2 billion with a “b”. If even a fraction of us would take that first step, would go and preach the gospel, who knows how many lives will be saved? And even more importantly, how many souls will be rescued for eternity? When we stand before the Lord after our final breath, how many others will be standing there with us, all because we were willing to go?
We can no longer wait. We can no longer continue in our disobedience to the Great Call that Jesus has designed for His followers. It’s time for us to wake up. It’s time for us to rescue those who are lost. It’s time to let go of the excuses, the waiting, the fear, the complacency. It is time to step out in faith.
It’s time for us to go.