Orphan care... mission work, or not?

Before I post the lengthy commentary I've written about this subject, I'd like to put this topic out and just get you thinking.

Does caring for orphans equate to our American definition of mission work? Or is orphan care simply glorified social work?

I know my answer; how about you?

Orphan Care - Part I - A Hungry Child Has No Ears To Hear


Mrs. Edwards said…
The test of our works is not in the work itself but its power. True fruit--or mission work--that is done in the power of the Holy Spirit and obedience to Him is a "good work," but work done in our own power--even what seems to be good, will not stand the test.

My belief is that mission work must be both focused on the spiritual and physical needs of people. It is a false choice to suggest that we can do one without the other. However, it is very tempting to get caught up in the "good" that we do for people, thinking (like wealthy Americans) that making someone comfortable for their earthly life is worthy of praise. In our cushy lives we sometimes forget Who is the Bread of Life.
Kerri said…
Well, our biblical "mission" is the Great Commission (the final instructions of Jesus before His ascension) and in that sense, all Christians should really consider themselves missionaries where ever they are in the world and no matter their profession. Being overseas on the mission field makes it more concrete to me that I was as much a missionary prior to coming to Brasil (only I knew the culture and language much better before going overseas!!).

The GC (which I consistently have to keep in mind) "And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.""
(Mat 28:18-20) Making disciples means investing our lives, teaching, mentoring, living out a Christian life in front of others and caring for physical needs is included in that I think.

From a worldly standpoint (or even the 'American definition') I guess that bonafide mission work would depend on the mission itself and its defining characteristics.

We are called to a life of obedience to the Word and to the best that we can discern God's will for us. James 1:27 says that "Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world." If someone can find a means to do this full-time - - how awesome, honorable and blessed!

Now from just the perspective of your dear friend - - there couldn't be a more noble and precious calling to missions Laura - - because I know that at the heart of your loving orphans is a desire to see them come to Christ. And a child's heart is rarely a hardened one. Where God has brought you (and us) over the last three years - - how He's worked in our hearts, taught us, broken us, been patient with us, led us and continues all of these things (for me on a daily basis because I'm SO stinkin' fallen) is beautiful, isn't it? Especially considering that fact that I'm such a mess!!!

I love you!
Araratacres said…
At what point do you start saving souls? When they are 18 and no longer a ward of the state? Ummm no. My goodness, how can you not care for the well being of someone with basic food, clothing, and shelter while also caring for their very souls. To me this is only very basic common sense. I am only an armchair Bible scholar, but I feel sure that anything positive we do in the name of Jesus is mission minded.
Yes, there is social work out there that is not based on Christian principals. There is also social work that combines helping the body and soul. Why does it have to be one or another?

PS- I think I know exactly where this topic came from, and I thought the same thing (assuming we are thinking the same thing :)......
Denise said…
I was going to say many of the same things already written by these wise women (though probably not as eloquently).

Laura, I'm not so sure you even COULD do "social work" because I think by definition you would have to be a little removed from those you are caring for. I can't imagine a child in the world that you would not love (and love on a pretty big scale) and when you love, as a Christian, you can't help but be concerned for their souls. And so as you are helping that first toddler back to her feet a prayer forms in you mind and just like that you are a missionary! Whether she ever knows it or not, God has responded to that prayer and her life is changed.
Laura said…
Ladies - You have each added something special to my initial thoughts about this topic. Thank you SO much for sharing your wisdom. With many counselors, there is wisdom...

I will probably pull tidbits from all of your words to share in my coming post on this topic.

Love in Christ!
Mrs. Edwards said…
Wonderful thoughts from all. I just read in John Piper's Life as a Vapor devotional this excerpt, which is so fitting:

"You have one life. One very short life. Then an eternity to remember. Does not the suffering in this world seem inexplicable to you? Is not this great, global (and intensely personal) suffering a call to magnify the mercy of Christ by how we respond? Is not suffering a seamless fabric, stretching into eternity for unbelievers? And therefore, are not Christians the only people who can respond with helpful relief to the totality of misery? Unbelievers may relieve some suffering in this vapor's breath of life on earth. But beyond that they are no help at all." p. 20.

(I added the bold print.)

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