The following is an excerpt from a paper that was written to define the guiding principles and corresponding best practices concerning the care of orphans under Action International Ministries.
The Global Issue
In our primary fields (Asia, Latin America and Africa) orphans comprise nearly 8% of the population under age 17. India had 35 million orphans in 2003, and 3.7 million new orphans were added in 2004. In Zambia orphans comprise a staggering 19% of the population under the age of 17 are orphans! Brazil added 470,000 new orphans in 2004 and they will be added to the 4.3 million that have already been identified. Poverty, civil unrest, war, and the AIDS pandemic are dealing a crushing blow to the current generation of children. There is no question as to whether we should engage in the care of orphans, but we seek to understand how God might be honored in our actions.
The Role of ACTION
The mission of ACTION is to see the Great Commission and the Great Commandment of the Lord Jesus Christ fulfilled. We cooperate with churches and other Christian organizations to present Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord (evangelism); assist Christians in their submission to Christ and their growth in the Church (discipleship); and minister in the name of Christ to the whole person, especially the poor, as in Matthew 25:31-46 (development).
We believe that the care of orphans is fundamental to God’s plan for man and, as followers of Christ, we must actively engage in identifying those practices which are best and seek to implement them for the sake of those in need. Action International Ministries has taken up the banner of orphan care and advocacy around the world. We desire to stimulate one another in our current work, and exhort others to press on in this most needful ministry.
The Biblical Mandate
Any philosophical question becomes mere speculation without an agreed-upon foundational body of truth. We affirm that the Word of God serves as the Body of Truth for all discussion, is inerrant and infallible, and must be faithfully applied to all questions of faith and practice. Therefore, we believe that examining the Biblical mandate in regard to the care of orphans is of paramount importance. The Bible mandate specific to the care of orphans is as follows:
The Wycliffe Bible Commentary on James 1:27 supports this conclusion: “Since orphans and widows were not provided for in ancient society, they were typical examples of those needing help”.
V. R. Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament says regarding James 1:27, “Pure and undefiled religion demands personal contact with the world’s sorrow: to visit the afflicted and to visit them in their affliction.”
Strong’s Concordance suggests bereaved, fatherless, and comfortless as ideas inherent in the word “orphans” or “fatherless.”
Guiding Principles & Best Practices for Orphan Care
The best care for orphans will be achieved through following principles and practices that are derived from the Biblical foundation:
Application of Biblical Principles within ACTION
It is beyond the scope of this paper to grapple fully with how specific models of care might be applied to the countless situations encountered by various individual ministries within ACTION around the world. It is certainly within our corporate wherewithal to commit ourselves to being involved in one of the most basic of Christian endeavors, namely, caring for orphans in the best possible manner. Currently ACTION and/or our ministry partners care for and minister to orphans through a wide range of models which include the following:
These models of ministry are very different in concept and focus, yet they are in line with our organizational purpose of demonstrating Christ to those in need. Our vision and mission at ACTION dictate that all of our ministries focus on the supremacy of Christ, the proclamation of the gospel, and the nurture and growth of followers of Christ.