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3 Less-Than-Obvious Ways to Care for Widows & Orphans
God calls Christians to care for the vulnerable, like widows and orphans. But how? Here are a few ways that may be less obvious.
James, the bold little brother of Jesus, writes, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world” (James 1:27). We have a clear and compelling call from God to help those who normally cannot help themselves.
God’s call to help both orphans and widows can appear to be a daunting task and one that leaves many of us feeling immobilized. But by the grace of God there are some very practical ways we can move towards expressing love and support for orphans and widows. Here are three less-than-obvious ways we can care for those so dear to the Father’s heart.
1. Encourage foster care
The church today must continue the strong legacy of adoption that has been established for centuries. Orphans should be taken into Christian homes from every local church. Few actions, if any, better illustrate what God does for us in Jesus than adoption!
We have a clear and compelling call from God to help those who normally cannot help themselves.
But we also live in a world with temporary orphans: boys and girls whose parents are unfit to care for them. Providing a home for an injured or vulnerable child while the state investigates well-being is an incredible ministry. And while the heartache of having needy kids come and go from your home takes an enormous toll on foster families, the impact they make is much greater.
2. Develop responsible men
Paul gives clear instruction to the church about caring for the needs of widows in 1 Timothy 5:3–16. And while there are some important things that must be done to react to such needs, one charge is preventative. Men must take on the financial responsibility of caring for their extended family.
This responsibility includes those who are or may someday be widows. This responsibility is so important that it comes with one of the sternest warnings in all of Scripture: “But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his own household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Tim. 5:8).
The church today must continue the strong legacy of adoption that has been established for centuries.
Young men must be taught to work hard, work smart, and steward their money well so that when the opportunity arises, they may care for household members young and old alike. They must repent of the selfishness and shortsightedness that infects many younger men today.
3. Build intergenerational small groups
Healthy churches are multigenerational churches, and healthy churches are comprised of similar small groups. Groups that are homogenous don’t best depict the family and community images that describe the church in the Bible. An ideal group should consist of married couples, unmarried singles, divorced men and women, and widows.
These groups should be encouraged to care for members spiritually and materially. Not all ministry needs to be formal nor programmatic. Often the best examples of care are informal and relational.
What are some ways you and your church can care for widows and orphans?