"God gave us the responsibility to care for the defenseless. It is through our hands the Father's love touches, it is through our voices His voice is heard, it is through our efforts and those of the church that His care is revealed to the ones the rest of the world has forgotten"
~Tom Davis, Fields of the Fatherless
For many of us our days are full of responsibilities. They range on a long scale of importance. Our responsibilities differ partially due to our stage in life. A single in their twenties has different responsibilities than a retiree than does a father of three. This quote addresses a responsibility we all have. One that has been ignored far too long, by myself included.
Caring for the "ones the world has forgotten" is not just a warm, fuzzy idea. IT IS A COMMAND. It is laid out over and over that this is the responsibility of the church. It is no secret that the need is huge. We only need to glance at the number of orphans to feel the burden of the task at hand. Then add on the number of poor, homeless, widowed, lonely...
Who could blame us for feeling overwhelmed and unable to help at all?
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn....
Read carefully. Now I am in no way close to a Bible scholar but I notice we are NOT sent to feel badly, get depressed, "bless their heart", but to BIND UP the brokenness. That demands action. Adoption is one way to bind, proclaim and release those but certainly is not the only way. We need only to listen and look around at all the awesome ministries and workers that have devoted their lives to the least of these and the countless ways to support them.
We all love the parable of the good Samaritan on the road. What a lesson it teaches. A beautiful example of mercy, kindness and action. I think we would all strive to be like him and pray that our children would be, too.
Recently our family has started visiting an older man who lives alone near our home. His apartment window looks out over a bike path and playground frequented by our family. He is always sitting in his window and looking out. He greets every passer by with a smile and a wave. We visited him for the first time on Christmas Eve to deliver some Christmas cheer. Since then we have continued to visit bringing food, goodies and hand made crafts. I don't share this to brag or boast. Keep in mind, we had waved to Mr. Richard for YEARS before ever visiting him!!
Who is waiting along your road? Look around you. If you can't find anyone, pray, and then change paths so that you will have the privilege of encountering someone that the world has forgotten.
This post was originally written in March of 2011. Two years have passed and we are still visiting Mr. Richard on a consistent basis. As we delivered St. Valentine cards and goodies to him this year and in exchange received a bag of candy corn and a bag of jelly beans from him :), a thought occurred to me: Through our obedience to the Holy Spirit's nudging in our hearts to reach out, we managed to give him someone to reach out to as well.
I came back to this post and while rereading it, I began thinking: I don't know how many visitors he had or how many names were on his Christmas card list or how many children he would buy holiday cards and candy before our friendship began but I don't think it was many. And now he has us! He has made it clear that he enjoys our visits. Early on, we would always bring something for him but have cut back on that a bit because we felt like that made him look for things to give us...such as a bird clock, almost expired Pepsi cans, and a stuffed animal dog from the 1950's, I think. So now we stop by (sometimes just a few of us but make it a family affair for holiday visits) to chat about weather, the kids' activities, community happenings, etc. We send homemade cards often. His smile as he opens the door to us makes me think he looks forward to us coming and encourages us to come back.
This year, I am very hopeful that we will be able to get him to come over to our house (as he has always declined) and, possibly that, we'll be able to get Carson to stop jumping on his furniture. :)