I’ve seen some disturbing things in my life. For a while in the early 90’s my route to the university where I taught took me through one of the most dangerous areas of my city. I saw the remains of people killed execution style — a shot between the eyes, followed by torching. A “file burning,” they called it, to refer to the act of eliminating one who knew too much.

As disturbing as that was, it was not the most devastating thing I saw lying on the road. What got me more than anything were the tiny bodies of recently born babies, either abandoned or smothered by their moms. Sometimes they were carefully wrapped in a blanket, but other times they could simply be found on top of a grey trash bag. Unfortunately I had to encounter this more than once, and even after these many years I cannot erase the images from my mind.

While some no doubt use this stark reality to argue for abortion on demand, that thought would never occur to me. What grieved me the most was that whoever the mother was, in that moment of desperation she could not find someone who could provide her with a life-giving alternative to keep her baby.

It is easy for us as the church to speak out against abortion, and we must do that, but the reality is that in the U.S. alone there are 250,000 churches and yet 100,000 children in the foster care system are waiting to be adopted. You do the math. The Church of Jesus Christ could put a big dent in the orphan crisis in the U.S. in one day, between the hours of 9 am to noon. Why are we so timid in taking action?

I have some thoughts as to why this doesn’t seem to be important for the church:

  1. We don’t know the Scriptures that well.

Adoption is a major theme of the Bible, and especially in the New Testament, where it is a favorite metaphor for our redemption in Christ Jesus. There are also countless references in the Old Testament to what I call “the triad of the dispossessed,” namely the foreigners, the fatherless and the widows. The more we study Scriptures, the more we learn of God’s passion for vulnerable children, which He is careful to tell us needs to become our passion.

  1. We are focused on fighting other “wars.”

Many Christians are more preoccupied with keeping the 10 Commandments displayed in public places than with the despicable acts perpetrated against innocent children behind closed doors. We get more energized about keeping “In God We Trust” on our currency than about exposing the use of our currency to traffic women and children. It is time that we reassess the importance of the battles we choose to fight and reallocate our resources toward the battles God wants us to fight. The battle cry to protect at-risk children is sounded high and unmistakably clear in Scriptures.

  1. We think this is a “third world” problem.

First of all, the expression “third world country” doesn’t even make sense anymore in a realigned geopolitical world post the fall of the Berlin Wall. During the Soviet years, the world was divided into three clusters — the “first world,” composed of the few rich nations, “the second world,” meaning the countries under the Soviet/communist bloc, the so-called “Iron Curtain,” and “the third world,” a reference to the poorest one third of the world. It stands to reason that with the fall of communism and the rise of China’s economic power, this distinction has become meaningless.

Of course people still continue to use the expression “third world countries,” either because they don’t know about the genesis of the expression or because they intend to use it pejoratively to refer to a country that, in their way of thinking, is not up to the standards of developed nations.

But I’m digressing. The point here is that though the orphan crisis is indeed a worldwide phenomenon — there are an estimated 153 million orphans around the world — there is still a huge number of children in the foster care system in the United States — 400,000 to be exact — and about half of them are waiting to be adopted. Yes, the problem is much bigger overseas but it is not negligible in one of the richest nations of the world, namely ours. Let’s educate ourselves about the plight of the orphans in our own backyard and let’s become a force for good in this crisis.

I am so proud of our people from Grace Church who are personally involved, have championed, and are contributing financially and in other ways to help at-risk children both here and abroad. Yes, we can do a lot more, but your sacrifice and work of faith are not going unnoticed, especially by God, who loves these precious children more than we can ever imagine.

Join us this Sunday in both services as we learn more about how we can get involved in serving the orphans.

“Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.” (Isaiah 1:17).

Pastor Ivanildo C. Trindade

Lead Pastor, Grace Church, Lititz, PA