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”. And so 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.
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 say:
- 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 kids!
Now I would like to address the state of the “church” as a whole: Why are we not getting involved?! We have verse after verse that reveals the heart of God for these children and we continue to focus mainly on our churches, our ministries and converts all the while “neglecting” the very words of Jesus and God. We have failed to take seriously the words of Jesus specifically in Mathew 25:31-46. In these verses Jesus is very clear on an issue that he personally is going to address on judgement day. Now before you (the believer) roll your eyes and ignore what I just said because you believe the “Christian” will not be present on that day, let me give you a heads up: You WILL! We all will. 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 rest of these verses Jesus shares 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.
James who was very close to Jesus explains this quite 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 and helping others including the orphan 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).
Fourteen years ago the Lord spoke clearly to my husband who had been a pastor for many years and a very successful business man. One afternoon while in our living room he said these words, “Open your Bible to Mathew 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 their Bibles are pretty worn and marked up. From then on we as a family because of our faith and listening to the words of Jesus we began to help others. And now as founders and pastors of Ponce Church we have for the last 11 years been active in helping those in need. And more recently God has led us to start “Restore Hope Daytona” where we are providing a home for age out foster girls, called, “Hope House”. We see Gods heart for these children and are inspired to walk out what he has put in our hearts. Our efforts as a family and a community will help get these girls off the street and help prevent homelessness, poverty, trafficking and prostitution. We are currently in the process of obtaining our first home and also have a house mother to care for the girls. We will help them finish high school, enroll into college and help them find employment so that when they have graduated from the program they will be self sufficient and able to obtain their own home/apartment.
If you feel the Lord speaking to you to get involved, we encourage you to visit and learn more at RestoreHopeDaytona.com.
It is our prayer that every pastor and their churches take Jesus words seriously and begin to make helping those in need more of a priority and witness for themselves that when they do, God will add to their churches and make sure every need is provided for. For more go to PonceChurch.com and listen to Pastor Ricks messages. He has spent years and hours of prayer and preparation hearing from the Spirit of God in how to implement these biblical truths in our own lives and in our congregations. Also we are in the process of writing our first book. Look for it soon! Thank you.