Sunday, July 3, 2011

Widows, Orphans, & Aliens

by Bruce Mills
Scripture repeatedly discusses three groups of people for whom God has a special love and concern. They are widows, orphans, and aliens.  There are ten verses in the Bible in which God emphasizes His love for all three groups (Deut. 10:18; 14:29; 24:17, 19, 20, 21; 26:13; 27:19; Jer. 7:6; Mal. 3:5).  There are many more verses which express God’s concern for only one or two of those groups. It is clear that those who find themselves in one of these categories are very special to our Lord.  He demands that they be given justice, that they are provided with the food and other needs which they require, and no one must ever cheat any such individual out of any money that belongs to them.
The question which arises is, what are some of the implications of these divine commands for us as we interact with those who are widows, orphans, or aliens?
In regard to widows, it means that we are to insure that the widows in our churches receive special attention in terms of financial support if necessary, assistance with maintenance and upkeep of their homes, transportation to medical appointments and grocery shopping if needed, and visits to their homes to encourage them that we care for them.  This may seem like a “no brainer,” but I personally know of a church in which it took a friend of mine about a year to convince the church leadership that a ministry that provides such assistance for the widows in the church was a good and godly thing to do.  He was told over and over that such a ministry was unnecessary.  It was as though they were oblivious to the biblical instruction regarding the believer’s responsibilities to widows.  It was only after he managed to get approval to give such a ministry a “test run” that the church’s leaders saw the value of reaching out to the widows in that church.
In regard to orphans, it means that we encourage Christians to adopt those orphaned children, and attempt to provide means by which potential adoptive parents can raise the funds needed to pay for an adoption.  It means that we hold up adoption to our congregation as an important way to advance God’s kingdom by adopting and raising those children in homes in which honoring and glorifying the Lord Jesus Christ is the consuming passion of life.  Providing adoption seminars to help the couples in our churches to understand how precious orphans are to the heart of God and providing assistance with the paperwork and home study are effective methods of encouraging believers to consider adoption.
In regard to aliens, it means that we evangelize and provide for the needs of aliens who live in our communities.  Whatever one’s thoughts on illegal immigration, the fact is that God calls believers to treat those aliens living around us with compassion and generosity.  That means that we do not take advantage of them in any financial or business transaction, such as paying a lower wage than we would pay someone else to do the same job, simply because we believe we can get away from it because the alien will not complain to anyone.  It means that churches should consider sponsoring ESL classes to assist aliens in learning the English language, which provides an opportunity to evangelize them.  It means that churches consider establishing live translation of services into the language of the primary people group living in the area, thereby providing a means by which those aliens can hear the Word of God and be evangelized.
There are certainly more ways by which believers can provide practical assistance to widows, orphans, and aliens.  These are just a few ideas. God has made it very clear that all three groups are very special to Him and thus, they should be very special to us. We need to be obedient to Scripture and care for them in a way which brings glory to God and tangibly demonstrates His love for them.

1 comment:

Joshua Waulk said...

Amen, Bruce. I can't get over how all of these categories you mention in some small way represent all believers, prior to faith. None of these things, caring for widows, orphans, and aliens, in and of themselves save, but they do proclaim the Gospel in unique and powerful ways. What a blessing that we get to participate with God in these ways. Thanks for writing, and of course, Christy and I can't wait to Talitha!