By Matthew Hanks - Director of Advocacy Have you ever had a strong yearning to help in a situation but have not known how? I live in Colorado Springs, and a several weeks back, some 500 not-too-distant neighbors of mine lost their homes. Watching the fire consume hundreds of acres of prime real estate, billions of dollars in terms of equity and, worse yet, immeasurable amounts of dreams and memories had me itching to respond with aid. But with each day that the fire roared on, the reality that I could do very little to help sank in. I felt powerless. The only thing I could do to truly assist in this tragedy was to pray.
At the same time of this event, my wife, Amelia, was being told she needed to have a stereotactic biopsy to rule out breast cancer. Again, wanting to do something to help, it was even more in my face that the only practical thing that I could do was pray.
Both of these situations brought on extreme feelings of helplessness. The fire brought on feelings of wanting to help others, but not being able to. The medical procedure, being more personal, brought on feelings of uncertainty and fear; feelings that fit a more typical definition of the word helplessness: unable to help oneself.
Looking back at these coinciding occurrences, I’m reminded of the story of Gideon, where the Lord cuts the Army’s ranks by 90% so that the people would not say, “my own hand has saved me.” Though the courageous army of fire fighters fought an amazing and honorable fight, it was ultimately the directional change of the wind and the subsequent rain that kept it from continuing its path of destruction. A community’s prayers were answered. Prayer again was victorious when Amelia showed up for her biopsy. The concerning mass, that was seen clear as day on the original ultrasound, was no longer there when the technician went looking for it. It had literally vanished! To God be all the glory.
The relationship between these two types of “feelings of helplessness” (1. Not being able to help oneself; 2. Not being able to help someone else) often comes to mind when I think about orphan care in the developing world. Obviously, the orphans and vulnerable children World Orphans serves would fall under the ‘unable to help oneself’ definition. We exist as a ministry primarily because of these helpless ‘little ones of His.’ The more exposure to them, their circumstances, stories, afflictions and pains, the more we feel that strong yearning to do something.
World Orphans also exists as a vehicle for you, the church in North America, to respond to that desire to help and to alleviate the feelings of helplessness as experienced in the case of the fire. It is our desire to ‘equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ’ (Eph 4:12-16). Serving the US church is also at the heart of what we do.
But there’s one more party in the equation of our orphan care model: the “saints” in the countries where the orphan pandemic is out of control. The feelings of helplessness that we in Colorado Springs experienced for those four days that the fire raged is what they live with daily when it comes to rescuing the orphans in their midst. Where prayer and God’s provision are one piece of our rescue plan, in the US we tend to trust more on things like fire departments and ultrasounds. The needs of our vulnerable are met by government subsidized housing, Medicaid, food subsidies, public schools, and the state run foster care system.
The churches in these developing nations know that if they do nothing, no one will. The tragedy here is that they, our brothers and sisters, often times don’t have the resources to take care of their own children, let alone someone else’s. The desire to help burns in them, yet they know all they can practically do is pray. They feel powerless to act.
“Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act.” -Proverbs 3:27
As I’ve raised support to fund the ministry that the Lord has put in my heart to do, I’m often reminded of how easy I have it compared to those in ministry in the majority world church. I live in a nation where there’s a Christian majority; where we are given a tax incentive to donate to ministry; where we have networks of family and friends with disposable income to rely on. Working in full-time ministry is a luxury that even the head pastors of most churches outside the US don’t have. Theologically, I’m sure their church bodies would love to meet the needs of their pastor… just like they’d surely love to take in all the orphans in their communities. They just can’t.
“So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” -Gal 6:10
World Orphans is committed to rescuing orphaned & abandoned children, strengthening the local church, and impacting communities with the Gospel of Jesus Christ through church-based, family focused programs.