I have recently come across a verse in the old testament regarding how God feels about the orphan and the widow. I know there are many verses that pertain to this issue, but there is one in particular that grabbed my attention while studying these verses that clearly revealed the seriousness of Gods heart for these children, “He ensures that the orphans and the widows receive justice” Deuteronomy 10:18. As I was reading this verse the word “ensure” popped out at me which of course sparked my curiosity of what the exact definition is, “To make certain of obtaining and providing something”. According to this definition God is saying he “makes certain” that these children are not forgotten and that they are “provided” for including a loving family and support system.
According the the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) there are approximately 123,000 orphans in America! These are typically children who have entered the foster care system due to abuse, neglect and abandonment. And to top that off there are approximately 20,000 that age out each year. In most states when a child turns 18 they are no longer in the system and are faced with looking for someone to help and support them. The Homeless Services Council says that youth between the ages of 18-23 are the fastest growing segment of the homeless population here in the state of Florida. The Casey Family Programs & Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute says:
- 51% of aged out foster teens will be unemployed within the first year
- 40% of young ladies will become pregnant within the first year
- Within 2-4 years after leaving state care, 32% will change living situations 5+ times
- 25% do not have a high school diploma or GED
- Only 3-11% who plan on attending two- or four-year college, will receive a degree
- 75% receive government benefits to meet basic needs
Before I go any further I would like that thank every family, individual, group, organization etc., that have given their lives to doing the best they can to provide love and support for these children and young adults!
Now I would like to address the church as a whole: Why are we not getting involved? There are many verses that reveal the heart of God for these children yet we continue to focus mainly on our churches, ministries and converts all the while “neglecting” the very words of Jesus and God. Why have our church leaders and the followers of Jesus failed to teach and adhere to his words, specifically addressed in Matthew 25:31-46? In these verses Jesus is very clear on an issue that he is personally going to address on judgement day. Jesus says the Christian, the believer, the follower of Jesus (that’s you and me) will be present. In fact, Jesus says he will gather all nations and separate the “sheep” (that’s the follower of Jesus) and the “goats” (that is those who refused to keep his words specifically regarding the “least” in Matthew 25 as stated above). How do I know? Let’s look at what Jesus says, “But when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit upon his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered in his presence, and he will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left”. Mathew 25:31-46. In the continuation of these verses Jesus states how he will be able to tell the difference between the “sheep” his true followers and the “goat” those that claim they have faith but have not kept his words regarding loving our neighbor with action which is basically the “fruit” of our faith. What is the “fruit”? “I was hungry and you fed me, thirsty and your gave me something to drink, naked and you gave me clothing, a stranger and you took me in (provided shelter), sick and you cared for me, I was in prison and you visited me. Then the righteous (the sheep, the follower of Jesus) will reply, “When did we see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you something to drink, or a stranger and give you shelter, sick and in prison and visit you?” And the King will say, “I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the “least” of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me.” Matthew 25:34-40.
James who was very close to Jesus explains this clearly in James 1:27, “Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God means caring for the orphans and the widows in their distress…” “What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do? So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless. Now someone may argue, “Some people have faith; others have good deeds.” But I say, “How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds.” James 2:14-18. So by these verses is James saying we’re saved by works? Absolutely not! He is explaining that the grace we received by faith will “produce” good works. Loving our neighbor (the poor) and helping others including the orphan (also the poor) IS the fruit of our faith in Jesus Christ. “I mean that you have been saved by grace through believing. You did not save yourselves; it was a gift from God. It was not the result of your own efforts, so you cannot brag about it. God has made us what we are. In Christ Jesus, God made us to do good works, which God planned in advance for us to live our lives doing.” Ephesians 2:8-10. (New Century Version).
Over 16 years the Jesus spoke to my husband and said these words, “Open your Bible to Matthew 25.” He then proceeded and said, “This is not a story, this is not a parable, this is going to happen one day.” And as my husband looked at that chapter he noticed there were no pen or pencil marks, foot notes or highlights anywhere. He says it was as if it did not exist. If you know anything about pastors you’ll notice that their Bibles are filled with markings and footnotes.
After his encounter with the Lord we as a family began to put Jesus words into practice by helping those in need. As pastors and founders of Ponce Church and soon Augustine Church (2017) along with our older son who has founded and pastors Ormond Church have been active in helping those in need. Our son and daughter in law have launched the Legacy Housing Project for girls aging out of the foster care system and opened Legacy House Ormond. In 2017 we are also launching Legacy House St. Augustine.
Through the Legacy Housing Project we are helping to prevent youth homelessness and trafficking. At Legacy House they have the opportunity to finish high school, enroll into college and find employment so that when they have graduated from the program they will have become self sufficient and capable of living a life of renewed hope!
For more information regarding Legacy House visit our website at LegacyHousingProject.com
Thank you for your prayers and support!
The helpless put their trust in you.
You defend the orphans.
Lord, you know the hopes of the helpless.
Surely you will hear their cries and comfort them
You will bring justice to the orphans and the oppressed,
so mere people can no longer terrify them.
Psalm 10: 14, 17-18