There are a few ministries in Uganda that I have become aware of, and have been following the blogs of those that are ministering there. One of those is Renee with Serving His Children. While reading today's post by Renee, I totally lost it. Sobbing crying losing it. Crying out to my God and my Savior on behalf of the least of these that He seems to keep making me more and more aware of. I don't know what He is doing, or what I am supposed to be doing, but I am broken - that is for sure.
And really, how could I not be when I read up on orphan care and find the following stats:
Sub-Saharan Africa Orphan Statistics
•The total number of orphans in Sub-Saharan Africa is greater than the total number of children in Denmark, Ireland, Norway, Canada and Sweden.
•There are currently an estimated 53.1 million orphans in Sub-Saharan Africa. Of those children, 30% lost parents to the AIDS epidemic.
•An estimated 12% of all children in Sub-Saharan Africa are orphans. Of those children, 5.7 million were orphaned in 2010 alone.
•There are 28.5 million estimated maternal orphans in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Asia Orphan Statistics
•There are currently 68.9 million orphans in Asia, giving this region the largest absolute number of orphans in the world.
•Roughly 6% of all children in Asia are orphans, with 7.7 million orphaned in 2010 alone.
•In Cambodia, Laos and Korea the prevalence is even higher where 10% of all children are orphans.
•There are 20.3 million maternal orphans in Asia.
Latin America Orphan Statistics
•Roughly 5% of all children in Latin America are orphans (10.2 million in total), with 1.2 million orphaned in 2010 alone.
•Even before the tragic earthquake in Haiti, over 15% of children were estimated to be orphans, more than twice the regional average.
•There are 2.5 million maternal orphans in Latin America.
•Many are orphaned or abandoned as a result of poverty, conflict, or natural disaster.
Foster Care in the United States
Approximately 25,000 children age out of the foster care system every year at age 18.
•25% of these foster children will become homeless
•56% of these emancipated foster care children enter the unemployment ranks
•27% of the emancipated male children in foster care end up in jail
•30% of the emancipated females in foster care experience early parenthood
It is easy to read something like that and to just see the numbers and be overwhelmed. But those numbers represent LIVES. Lives of millions of babies, children and teenagers that were created just like us in the image of God.
This immediately makes me think of what Jesus said in Matthew 25:31-46.
How we treat the least of these is how we treat Jesus Himself. Those are sobering words...at least for me! Regardless of who you are, if you are in Christ, you ARE called to care for the least of these in some form or fashion. I am not sure what this will look like for our family exactly, but I know where my heart is - with the fatherless, the starving, the least of these. My heart is burdened to do something, anything.
"But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne."All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left. "Then the King will say to those on His right, 'Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 'For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.' "Then the righteous will answer Him, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? 'And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? 'When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?' "The King will answer and say to them, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.'
"Then He will also say to those on His left, 'Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.' "Then they themselves also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?' "Then He will answer them, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.' "These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."
We are told in James 1:27 that
"Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world."After visiting two widows in our family in nursing homes over Christmas (one there temporarily recovering from surgery, but normally lives with her daughter and son-in-law, and one that lives there permanently), Nathan and I became more convicted than we already were about caring for our parents as they get older. I felt just as broken leaving those places as I did when I read Renee's blog post today. It is no wonder that we read in 1 Timothy 5:8
"But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever."As Nathan put it, "it seems scandalous to put one of our parents into a nursing home when you think of all they have done for us." I agree. And again, I am not sure what this will look like some day, but I am burdened that we not leave it to someone else to care for those that spent a large portion of their lives caring for us.
I just started going through 1 Peter in my quiet times. It amazes me how even in the introductions I can learn so much! Peter is writing this letter to the persecuted first century church. I was struck by what he says in the first two verses:
"Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in the fullest."Did you catch that? "Chosen...to obey Jesus Christ." Regardless of where you stand on the predestination issues (and that is not the point I am trying to make here), the point of our salvation is not just peace in death. We are saved to obey, and that obedience brings Him glory and shows others what He is like.
I am keeping this at the forefront of my mind. My purpose in life is not about me and my own comfort and pleasure.
So, I will continue to cry out to my God on behalf of these, and seek His wisdom on how our family fits into His plan of caring for those that so many will easily cast aside as unwanted, unloved, or not needed. I know that He has a plan for us in all of this, and I am certain that it will involve Him being glorified and us being sanctified.
"Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him." 2 Corinthians 5:9