I have had, and will continue to have deep reservations about the Orphan Ministry. It isn’t because I think the motives are bad but in how they present the message. I have worried about speaking out about this because I don’t have the flowery type of conversation skills that help deflect defensiveness. Please understand this is not saying anyone is bad, just that they might want to personally delve a bit deeper into the meaning of it all.
Presenting the message that being adopted by God is the same as being adopted today doesn’t work. By all measures the two types of adoption are vastly different. Believing that because you have been adopted by God that you know what it is like to be adopted (in todays understanding of adoption) – words fail me to adequately explain the multitude of differences between the two, and we would need to sit over a cup of coffee to delve into the differences.
Getting back to how the message is presented – this post has nagged away at me for a couple of days now. First it made me realize just how much I appreciated my favorite minister of all time. He was a story-teller that would tell a story about life today, and weave into that a story from the Bible that provided instructions on how to live right today. It made sense and provided guidance on how to do the right thing in everyday situations. What he didn’t do was to pick what part of a verse or story applied, and pretend the rest didn’t matter.
In the post linked above they speak of all the different things an orphan lives with – yet every item on the list is applicable to all the people who are in that crisis situation. Yet only the orphan is worthy of caring for – is the message I hear. Referring to James 1:27 and caring for the orphan in their time of distress distorts what the actual text states – which uses “and” to make it caring for the orphans and widows in their distress – not just the orphans.
Getting back to my favorite minister – perhaps he too would have used James 1:27 to urge others to go out and help the orphans and widows in the mission fields – and then spoken of Elijah and Widow of Zarephath in 1 Kings 17. The story of Elijah hiding out by the river, and when it ran dry he was told to seek out a Widow. Who, when he asked for a drink and a piece of bread – told him she only had enough to feed herself and her son one more meal. And how Elijah told her not to fear that she would have plenty until the end of the famine, if she shared. And then later, when her son became ill – Elijah took her son and pleaded with God and her son was healed. Then Elijah returned her son back to the Widow, and she told him she knew he spoke the Truth. The entire story/verse is the message, widow, child, famine, hunger, illness, and it included returning her son when he was healed. To me that parable is the one that would be aptly suited to James 1:27.
The entire content and context is everything, and that is what is missing to me, in this ministry. Picking and choosing what words to include, or exclude, create a totally different message. Try reading the Ten Commandments (NKJV) and see how it works when you remove “no”, “not”, “nor” when it is there, and when it isn’t there, add the applicable word. Completely different set of commandments.
P.s. please remember that in the UNICEF statistic on the number of orphans that is bandied about (143 million?), it includes many different definitions of orphan compared to our understanding of the term orphan – as in has no living parents or family.
“I have learned that to be with those I like is enough”
― Walt Whitman
Oct 2014: You may speak freely, but please try to use words that everyone can hear about your individual story or view. If you don't, those who can actually benefit won't hear it, I want to see change in my lifetime. I may refuse to approve certain comments.
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