Orphan’s cries make for wrenching memorial service for Brooklyn rabbi and wife murdered in Mumbai

This headline caught my attention and the story broke my heart.

The 2 year old boy literally cried out during the memorial “Abba!”

Reading this was a powerful picture for me of what Paul says about the believer in Romans 8. The cry of everyone in Christ is a similar cry, a cry for our “father”, a cry for reunion, and more specifically, redemption.

Read the story below and pray for the families who have been deeply impacted by this great tragedy. May we weep with those who weep and cry out for the freedom of creation and our full redemption (Rom 8:18-24).

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Read the rest of the story.

How Many Orphans Are There in the World?

More and more I hear people talking about the millions of orphans that are alive today in the world. I’m thankful for this because most people don’t realize the magnitude of the problem of orphaned and abandoned children.

That said, I think it is also important for us to know what we mean when we throw out statistics. First, as Christians we need to know what we mean because we have been divinely called by God to care for these children. Secondly, we need to know what we mean so we can give care in the most effective way possible.

The latest UNICEF numbers for 2008 indicate that there are an estimated 132 million orphans (the 2006 estimate was 143 million).

UNICEF and global partners define an “orphan” as a child who has lost one or both parents.

Therefore, of the 132 million children they classify as orphans, only 13 million have lost both parents. The majority of orphans are living with a surviving parent, grandparent, or other family member. 95% of all orphans are over the age of 5.

This is crucial for us to understand because as UNICEF writes, “it can have concrete implications for policies and programming for children. For example, UNICEF’s ‘orphan’ statistic might be interpreted to mean that globally there are 132 million children in need of a new family, shelter, or care. This misunderstanding may then lead to responses that focus on providing care for individual children rather than supporting the families and communities that care for orphans and are in need of support” (UNICEF Press Release).

The more I think this over, the more I can’t help but feel this has huge implications on the way we approach our calling to “visit orphans in their afflictions” (James 1:27).

The Boys of Baraka

 

My wife and I watched The Boys of Baraka the other night and I have not been able to get it off my mind. 

The documentary looks at the lives of four inner-city boys from Baltimore, MD who spend a year at the Baraka School in Kenya. The goal being to help them boys overcome the obstacles that most of their fellow students face in the public school system in Baltimore. 

The film begins with  this haunting statistic:

76 percent of black males who enter high school in Baltimore will not graduate. 

That is almost unbelievable to me! 

Bill Cosby comments in the Special Features that this movie shows us that these young men need mentors. To quote Cosby, “Put a body on them!” They need someone to believe in them, walk with them, to push them to not give up. 

We don’t necessarily think of these youth as orphans but there is a real sense in which they are. One definition of ‘orphan’ is a person or thing bereft of protection or position.’ These youths are largely “fatherless” – their mothers and grandmothers are carrying the brunt of responsibility in raising them. Their fathers have moved on, are incarcerated, or dead. They are left with little or no protection. On top of that they are born with little access to resources to gain skills that will put them in positions of worth in this world. They are in America the least and the last and the truly lost. From the world’s perspective they are ‘throw aways.’

So, what ought to be our response to a movie like this? To the reality of this in our own cities? What would it look like if the church took the lead in providing mentors for these young men. To step up and be the “fathers” they need. To be the “body on them” that will believe in them today and not stop believing until they succeed. 

One of our ABBA Fund families just watched the movie as well and blogged their thoughts here. They are also involved in a ministry doing just what this movie calls us too. I love what she writes: 

Volunteer at a school related program for inner city children in your area. Take one day a week to spend with an at risk inner city child. Invest in them, encourage them, mentor them. Be that somebody, that person that lets them know they can hope, they can dream and see their dreams happen. They not only can beat the odds but change the odds.

You can be a part of changing a child’s future.

Watch this movie. Pray for these kids. And consider what you can do. Let me know what God does! 

Here is a clip from the movie – 

Working to give Orphans a Face, a Family, and a Future

The other day I stumbled onto the website for Orphans Know More and was blessed by this video and to read of their mission. I have been praying for those who are adopting orphans in their own countries for awhile now as I see that as being key in meeting the needs of the millions of orphans worldwide. This is a ministry supporting those doing just that in Uganda (Ugandan’s adopting Ugandan orphans!) It is really something special! Yesterday, I had the joy of spending over an hour on the phone with the couple in England who started the ministry. They have an incredible story…pray for this ministry and stay tuned for more to come!   

Orphans Know More is a relationally based charity working to bring global communities and people closer together. We believe that the best way to tackle the growing international orphan crisis is to follow the Biblical principle of placing the lonely into families. Jinja in Southern Uganda is the site of Orphans Know More pilot project. It is there that around 30 local families have taken 150 Orphans in as their own, offering love, acceptance and care to these children without condition. These families of up to 15 children still function as a nuclear unit free from institutionalisation, inspiring hope in us all that this model can be replicated on a larger scale.

Orphans Know More have set out to:

  • Increase the standard of living for these families
  • Ensure that all children are able to attend school, have appropriate nutritional intake, and live in adequate housing
  • Guarantee that all children who are unwell with HIV/ AIDS or other ailments are receiving the treatment they require
  • Give 100% of money raised directly into these areas as well as funding a local social worker to assess the needs of the children and the care they are receiving

It is our hope that people in the UK will become linked to communities across the world, taking on their needs as if they were our local neighbours. We are gifted with the means to act on our compassion.

Orphans Know More believe in working together to give orphans a Face, a Family and a Future.