“He executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and shows His love for the alien by giving him food and clothing.”  Deuteronomy 10:18

This past weekend Brent and I traveled to Sioux Falls, SD to attend a workshop.  Hope for Orphans presents Your Church and the Orphan:  A Group Workshop Experience on Orphans Ministry in Your Church.  It was very profitable and here are the areas that were covered (in a nutshell).

“Least of These” Theology 101

A.  The Bible mentions caring for the poor and oppressed approximately 2100 times in Scripture.

B.  Who were the poor?
     1.  Aliens (strangers)
     2.  Widows
     3.  Orphans
     4.  Other:  destitute, opressed, sick and in prison, hungry, need shelter, and are naked, weak and afflicted.

C.  Where does caring for these groups of people rank on God’s priority list?
      Exodus 22:21-22, Ezekiel 16:49, Micah 6:8, James 1:27

Historical Overview of Orphan Care

A.  The seven primary ways by which orphans have historically been cared for:
      1.  Extended family
      2.  Intra-community
      3.  Inter-community
      4.  Foster Care
      5.  Group Home
      6.  Orphanage/Children’s Home
      7.  No Care

The Twenty-First Century Church and the Orphan-Care Crisis

143 million orphans–can we get to them all?
There are approximately 380,000 churches in North America.
There are approximately 2.3 billion professing Christians worldwide.

In Summary

1.  God has always had an expectation that His followers will care for those in society who are marginalized.
2.  Orphans have been cared for in a number of different ways throughout history, all of them having various advantages and disadvantages.
3.  The church is God’s answer to the orphan question.

One thing that was discussed that really stood out to us from this section was that people are not aware of the orphans in the United States.  In the past their was an orphanage or orphanages in each city that held the orphans and people were aware of it and took gifts, adopted out, etc… Now our orphans are in foster homes across our nation and are invisible.  That is not to say that all children in foster care are without parents but almost 120,000 have had parental rights terminated and are available/need to be adopted.