What do you think of when you hear the word adoption or orphan? When I think about adoption, I envision a family that has gone through hours and hours of paperwork, excitement and tears to bring a child into their family to love unconditionally. When I think about orphans, I imagine a child that has lost both of their parents. An orphan to me is a child that, if they are not taken in by an immediate family member, will end up ‘in the system’ struggling to find the love of a stable caretaker.
Asian Families and Orphans
Rural Asian villages don’t necessarily have the same definitions as many of us do about adoption and orphans. There are two common scenarios where a child may become ‘orphaned’ in Asia. First, both a child’s parents may die. Second, one parent may die or leave the family and the stepparent may reject the child forcing them out of the home. In both cases, there is no government intervention looking out for the best interest of the child. Instead, it is expected that the child’s extended family will absorb them and care for them as their own.
However, moving in with an aunt or uncle doesn’t always mean great things for an orphaned child in Asia. These children are sometimes considered a burden and an extra mouth to feed, so they are treated as slaves rather than family and neglected instead of loved.
A TCT Community Caring for Orphans
Part of the TCT training is for the communities to identify the poorest in their communities. They look for widows, the destitute, the sick, and the poor and seek to serve them. One of the common groups that churches identify as needing help is the orphans. Churches set up programs to address the various needs that these children may have.
First, the children needed shelter. Typically teenagers who are orphaned are not taken into relatives homes. If they are fortunate they are left to care for the family home, for too many they are left to gather scraps and build a shelter. Usually the home becomes unstable, with no one to help them take care of it. So, churched build a stable homes for orphaned children to live in. They are simple houses, but it is safe, secure, and feels like home to these children.
Next, no longer having a parental figure in the home, orphans need adults to come alongside them as mentors. The churches have volunteers who regularly visit the home and help the children through life’s struggles. Also, the church designates tutors to help the children with their school work so that they don’t fall behind in their education.
Orphaned children also need help getting food and basic necessities. Being young and still of school age, the children are not able to earn a full income on their own, so the churches plant a large gardens fully intended to help the children. Food from the garden is either eaten by the orphaned children or sold at the market and all the proceeds go towards caring for the orphans in the village.
Orphaned children in this community are no longer treated as slaves with no hope for their future. Instead, the church has come alongside these vulnerable children, caring for and loving them as their own family. This is just one community that is living biblically when it comes to caring for the vulnerable around them. Other TCT churches are also showing God’s love to the orphans in their communities. How can we also serve the vulnerable around us? Like Isaiah 1:17 says, “Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows.”Image courtesy of Neon Tommy / Flickr.com