Why Orphans Are Needy & Needed

In this video for the upcoming annual summit of the Christian Alliance for Orphans, Dennis Rainey explains how adoption taught him a surprising lesson about orphans and need… 

Image: Christian Alliance for Orphans
Video: New Vision Productions

All I Really Want for Christmas

Adoption is inseparably tied to the Christmas story. When Joseph obeyed God’s call to proceed with his plans for marriage, he not only took Mary as his wife, but also Jesus as his adopted son. Although he was just a young man, Joseph had enough love in his heart to share his life and his name with a child whom he had never fathered. This world needs a lot more men like Joseph.

In his song, “All I Really Want for Christmas,” Steven Curtis Chapman shares the heart cry of the estimated 145-150 million orphans around the world who desperately need parents to offer them the kind of love that Joseph offered Jesus so many years ago.

Photo: miguel ugalde

The One Jesus Called Abba

“When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel

of the Lord commanded him…”

Matthew 1:24

In his book Adopted for Life, Russell Moore draws attention to an often neglected character in the Christmas story–Joseph of Nazareth. Although we rarely consider the important role played by Jesus’ adoptive father, Dr. Moore emphasizes how much Joseph’s life has to teach us about courage, selflessness, and genuine faith… 

When God speaks in a dream to Joseph about the identity of Jesus, Joseph, like everyone who follows Christ, recognizes the voice and goes forward (Matt. 1:21-24). Joseph’s adoption and protection of Jesus is simply the outworking of that belief.

In believing God, Joseph probably walks away from his reputation. The wags in his hometown would probably always whisper about how “poor Joseph was hoodwinked by that girl” or how “old Joseph got himself in trouble with that girl.” As the stakes get higher, Joseph certainly walks away from his economic security. In first century Galilee, after all, one doesn’t simply move to Egypt the way one might today decide to move to New York or London. Joseph surrenders a household economy, a vocation probably built up over generations, handed down to him, one would suppose, by his father.

Again, Joseph was unique in one sense. None of us will ever be called to be father to God. But in another very real sense, Joseph’s faith was exactly the same as ours. The letter of James, for instance, speaks of the definition of faith in this way: “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world” (1:27)…

James tells us that genuine faith shelters the orphan…

Joseph’s faith was the same kind of faith that saves us. Very few, if any, of us will have a dream directing us to adopt a child. None of us will be directed to do what Joseph did–to teach Jesus Christ how to saw through wood or to recite Deuteronomy in Hebrew. But all of us are called to be compassionate. All of us are called to remember the poor. All of us are called to remember the fatherless and the widows. That will look different in our different lives, with the different situations and resources God has given us. But for all of us there’ll be a judgment to test the genuineness of our faith. And for some of us, there’ll be some orphan faces there.

[Adopted for Life, pp. 74-75,82-82]

Photo: Bill Davenport