John and Mary Smith are driving home from a New Year’s Eve party when their car is struck from the side by a drunk driver. The impact takes the life of their three year old daughter, Danielle. Broken and angry, they start a political advocacy group to support candidates and advocate laws that take a tough stance against repeat DUI offenders.
Jake Jones has just died of a rare childhood cancer. His parents, Bob and Sally, watched over him the past year as the disease drained life and resources. Now, without their son and any personal assets, they plow headlong into the non-profit world, starting a memorial foundation to assist their family financially and to create exposure for more research into the specific cancer that took Jake’s young life.
Nancy Brown was a single mother to Alison, her twelve year old daughter who adored her and ballet. After a desperate two month search, Alison’s body was found in a muddy ditch, the victim of a pedophile abduction, abuse and murder. Internet records show that he had stalked her online. Nancy, horrified that such things could happen through the computer sitting in her living room, begins a nationwide appeal to raise awareness of the dangers of Internet chat rooms.
We have all heard similar stories, haven’t we? Parents who are propelled by loss to vocally and fervently battle the factors that took the lives of their children.
But would Nancy Brown, the Smiths and the Jones have done anything if tragedy hadn’t touched their lives? Would they have instead remained comfortable and apathetic if death hadn’t knocked on their doors and shook their worlds? Would they have even given a second thought to drunk drivers, cancer and Internet predators…or would they have just gone about their contented lives and concluded that it was "somebody else’s problem"?
I used to think this way. I say it to my own shame. Yes, an element of it is true and perhaps resonated with you. We live in a listless, indifferent, selfish world. As such, many ‘causes’ are only championed by those that have been affected personally. They expect other people to immediately understand, own it, and jump on the bandwagon when they, themselves, refused to listen beforehand. They were deaf to the cries until the pain was their own.
But…God allowed something to happen and now they hear…and serve.
I love the way that C.S. Lewis so eloquently and succinctly put it, "Pain is God’s megaphone to rouse a deaf world." This is just as true for individual tragedies as it is for natural disasters or gross perversions that affect thousands. As lives are racked by pain, people are pressed into action and the world is touched as a result. These aren’t just temporal ripples. In many instances, waves wash through eternity.
Our Sovereign Lord, in His providential wisdom, sees that people are fully engaged because of, and in spite of, the calamities and catastrophes that have befallen them.
Nobody would have expected Nancy Brown, and the Smith and Jones families to have previously cared about all those issues – reckless drunks, cancer and pedophiles. There are simply too many causes in the world, too many hurts and injustices, to expect any one person or family to have a heart, understanding and involvement in all of them. Through circumstances and intervention, people are given specific wirings for specific calls upon their lives.
It is not fair, therefore, to judge the prior apathy of the individuals mentioned above. The flashpoint event should be acknowledged and the response should be applauded as these people have been compelled and propelled into action. In a lost and hurting world, any and all action should be commended, provided necessary education and preparation has occurred beforehand. Obviously, the discussion as to whether the context is Christ-centered or not comes into play, and is all-important, but we’ll leave that for another conversation.
There is certainly a distinction between personal causes and shared causes. There are some things that are so huge, so universal, that they absolutely require the mindshare and hands of every person on the planet. These are the things that whole generations will have to stand before the judgment seat of Christ, either as believers or as unbelievers, and give an account by answering the question, "What did you do about it?" These are the matters that have everything else wrapped up into them – including disease, abuse, poverty, prostitution, drugs, conflict – and are the ‘mega-issues’ that encompass and feed so many of these ‘sub-issues.’
We were created to have relationship…relationship with God and relationship with each other. We are bound together in degrees, regardless of whether we are children of God or children of this world. The things that touch so many of us, touch all of us. The things that affect our world so greatly, should affect each of us individually. As humanity is tested and tormented, we are responsible to take up our part of the struggle.
The mega-issues of our world are all related to the fall and corruption of that same world. Ultimately, it’s all about sin, but the concerns and afflictions manifest in different ways.
What are the mega-issues of our world and generation? – HIV/ADS, Malaria, gross poverty, violent religious radicalism, and the devaluation of women. They all cause, are part of, and envelope, a standalone issue that represents the single greatest burden (and opportunity) of our time – orphaned and abandoned children. Children in the hundreds of millions. Children of disease, abuse and poverty. Children of hopelessness. Children of promise.
Jesus proclaimed that, "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because He has anointed me to preach good news to the poor." He also indignantly said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these." There are multitudes of times in Scripture where it is clearly revealed that God has a very special heart of compassion for the poor and for the children. How about those that are poor and children? What do you imagine He thinks of them? What do you think His attitude is towards destitute children, children that truly represent the "least of these"?
Over forty times in Scripture, God speaks of His love for orphans. The fact that God gave His son for us, as spiritual orphans, in order to place us into His family, is startling evidence of His burning passion for those who are cut off and removed from love and belonging. How much more does the poor temporal orphan here on earth represent His heart of hearts, the core of His compassion, the ‘sweet spot’ of His sacrifice.
No matter how you are wired or have been touched by personal tragedy, to rescue and look after orphans embraces a multitude of specific passions. Expressed, specialized and focused purpose does indeed reside there.
Do you desire to assist the poor and crush poverty? – Rescue orphans.
Do you wish to combat HIV/AIDS and other heinous diseases? – Rescue orphans.
Do you hope to prevent pedophiles from abusing young children? – Rescue orphans.
Do you want to stamp out prostitution? – Rescue orphans.
Do you yearn for the end of drug dealing and addiction? – Rescue orphans.
Do you crave to uphold the worth and significance of women? – Rescue orphans.
Do you long to stop violent extremism and the placement of children into radical schools? – Rescue orphans.
Do you dream to crush illiteracy? – Rescue orphans.
Do you aspire to eliminate child labor? – Rescue orphans.
Do you seek to eradicate the recruitment of child soldiers and atrocities they are forced to commit? – Rescue orphans.
All these things are targeted, attacked and addressed as you help to rescue orphans from their circumstances, abuses, exploitations and vulnerabilities. The 150 million abandoned and orphaned children of the world are directly related to, involved in, and susceptible to desperate poverty, female degradation, illiteracy, disease, sexual maltreatment, prostitution, unfair child labor practices, drug peddling, and all manner of petty crime and addictions. They also provide fertile ground to be developed and stolen into extremism, slavery, and war.
To address the orphan problem is to address a whole host of societal plagues. However a person is wired for specific activism, their goals and needs are met in the faces of orphaned and abandoned children.
Addictions. Disease. Predators. The Smiths. The Jones. The Browns. All are related in the fields of the fatherless. All can work in concert by tackling the core mega-issue of our time, the core heart-breaker of Our Lord and Savior – orphaned and abandoned children.
Do you want to change your world? – Rescue orphans.