Look after the Orphans…

Look after the Orphans…

Jun 24, 2013

Look after the orphans…

by Katrina Goodrich


       “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” (James 1:27)




       Rather famously, an expert in the law asks Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus replies with the story of the Good Samaritan, essentially telling the man that being a neighbor extends past those people he knows and cares about, to strangers whom he would consider an enemy (Luke 10:25-37). The man didn’t get the answer he expected.

Even though the passage tells us that the man is not sincere in his question, it is an important question: Who is my neighbor? Who is my enemy? Who is my boss? Who is that person across the parking lot waving emphatically at me? The answers to these questions may dictate our future thoughts and actions so it’s important to know them.

       My question is: Who is an orphan? The answer I expect: an orphan is someone whose parents have either died or abandoned them. Seems like a no-brainer. This definition fits the context of what James is saying, and taking care of the parentless is certainly a huge and worthy objective in this world.

Coordinated efforts are being made by charities such as Compassion International to help orphans and marginalized children survive in this world. But what if that isn’t the only answer? James exhorts us to look after orphans, but by that definition I don’t personally know many orphans.

On the other hand, I do know a lot of people under the age of 18. And substantiating recent societal trends, many of them are from non-traditional families. Single-parent homes, mixed families, an abusive parent, families living in poverty; I know at least one kid living in each of these scenarios in the sparsely populated area where I live.

Many have been morally abandoned to figure out or make up life on their own. Who is looking out for them? Is there any adult in their life who simply takes the time of day to communicate with them, to show them how they should live?

       Many kids don’t have an adult they can trust to protect, encourage, or just interact with them—and they need it. They are “orphans.” How do we follow up on James’ exhortation to look after them? Most of the time we don’t.

It’s simple to pass over kids that we don’t need to communicate with. Most of them wouldn’t see you as an authority figure anyway.

With all the distractions in life it’s easy just to give a slight nod of acknowledgement to the fact that the kid is a human being and be on your way. But that acknowledgement isn’t enough for most, though they probably aren’t even aware of their own need.

Think back to your childhood and remember those people who took an interest in you. It validates a person so much when someone who should only be giving you the “nod” takes the time to talk to you. Kids today need that validation—perhaps more than ever—and especially if they aren’t getting it at home.

It is easy to look through rose-colored glasses and blame the next generation for their own failings. Instead of giving in to that temptation, why don’t we make an effort to look after them?

       Find those kids who need a trusted adult in their life. You don’t need to preach at them—just let them know you’re there.

Be a friend. Show them that they aren’t just a “nod,” but a valuable person. Look after the orphans.

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