[Photo Courtesy of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists]

General Conference

How Can We Reach the Most Vulnerable Children?

President of the Seventh-day Adventist World Church, Ted N.C. Wilson, and his wife Nancy, talk about the importance of recognizing World Orphans Sabbath.

Silver Spring, Maryland, United States | Ted N.C. Wilson, President, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists

Editor’s Note: Below is a transcript of a message, posted to YouTube on November 18, 2021, from President of the Adventist Church, Ted N.C. Wilson. You can see past messages here

Ted N.C. Wilson: Greetings, friends. This week Nancy and I will be sharing with you some thoughts on how to minister to some of the most precious, and yet most vulnerable, beings on the planet—children in need.

Nancy Wilson: We are told that "the tenderest earthly tie is that between the mother and her child" (AH 240), and, of course, the stability and strong love of a father has a lasting impact, too. Research shows that children who grew up in a loving, caring Christian home are more resilient and better equipped to face life's challenges.

TW: Sadly, however, millions of children today are living without a mother, father, or both. Of the more than 155 million children classified as orphans, 15.1 million have lost both parents. Every day, 39,000 children are forced from their homes because of the death of a parent, family illness or abuse, and abandonment.

NW: According to the United Nations, Asia has 61 million orphans, with 20 million in China alone. The continent of Africa has 52 million orphans, India has 30 million, and Latin American and the Caribbean have 10 million. The untold story behind the numbers is the personal toll related to conflict zones, refugee status, natural disasters, drug abuse, violence, COVID, and more.

TW: Throughout Scripture, God has expressed His concern by asking His people to show concern and care for orphans. He pictures Himself as "A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in His holy habitation. God sets the solitary in families . . ." (Ps. 68:5, 6). In Psalm 27:10 we read "When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take care of me." And one way I believe the Lord takes care of these precious, vulnerable ones is through the members of His body--the Church.

NW: This coming Sabbath, November 20, has been designated "World Orphans/Vulnerable Children's Day" by the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Under the direction of the Church's "Adventist Possibility Ministries," this yearly event encourages awareness of the plight of these dear children and encourages each of us to do what we can to help.

TW: The Bible reminds us, as followers of Christ, to respond to the needs of these little ones. In Matthew 19:14 (Let the little children come to Me . . .), we are reminded to let the children come to Jesus, and Psalm 82:3 tells us we are to “Defend the poor and fatherless.” Proverbs 31:8 (Open your mouth for the speechless . . .) encourages us to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, and Isaiah 1:17 ( . . . Defend the fatherless . . .) states clearly that we are to protect the fatherless from those who mistreat them. Matthew 25:35 ( For I was hungry and you gave Me food . . .) Matthew 25:36 ( I was naked and you clothed Me . . .) tells us we are to feed and clothe those in need, for as we do this, we are surely doing it for Jesus. And Luke 3:11 ( . . . He who has two tunics, let him give to him who has none; and he who has food, let him do likewise.) and Romans 12:13 (Distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.) reminds us to share our resources with those less fortunate.

NW: What are some actions that you can take now to help orphans and vulnerable children? Adventist Possibility Ministries offers suggestions and other ideas on their website, listed at the bottom of the screen [insert; www.possibilityministries.org/orphans].

Some of these suggestions include, first of all, praying for these children. Consider adopting or becoming a foster care parent, but even if this isn't possible, pray that these children will find a home or care center that loves them. Another way to show care is by sending a special gift. Children need to know they are special. A thoughtful gift means much. So many children struggle to have the bare necessities of life. A personal gift can say much to bring encouragement.

TW: Take time with these children and listen to their stories. Point them to Jesus as their very Best Friend. If possible, you might want to consider adopting a child. This is an important decision and one that can bring hope, stability, and a bright future for the child. Or you may want to consider becoming a foster parent. While specifics of foster care vary from country to country, this type of special ministry can provide a tremendous opportunity for foster parents to make a lasting difference in a child's life not only temporarily, but possibly forever.

NW: Even in homes where one or both parents are present, there may be times when a crisis hits a family that creates tremendous stress that is especially difficult for the children. Providing a temporary home-away-from-home can help relieve the immediate stress of both the parents and the children in these types of circumstances.

TW: In the book, Testimonies for the Church, volume 6, there is an entire chapter dedicated to the "Care of Orphans." It is there where we read, "Let those who have the love of God open their hearts and homes to take in these children. It is not the best plan to care for the orphans in large institutions. If they have no relatives able to provide for them, the members of our churches should either adopt these little ones into their families or find suitable homes for them in other households.

NW: These children are in a special sense the ones whom Christ looks upon, whom it is an offense to Him to neglect. Every kind act done to them in the name of Jesus is accepted by Him as done to Himself" (6T 281).

TW: The Church is blessed with many supportive organizations dedicated to providing an array of services for orphans and vulnerable children. Some of these organizations are listed on the Adventist Possibility Ministries website at the URL shown at the bottom of the screen: www.possibilityministries.org/orphans

May the Lord open our eyes and touch our hearts, showing us today how we can best minister to these precious children, for "of such is the kingdom of heaven."

Let's pray together. Father in heaven, you know the heart, you know the location of every orphan on this planet. Your heart goes out to them. Your wish to care for them is great. So Lord, bless the church as it cares for these vulnerable children, these orphans, all through your power. Direct church members to know exactly how they can participate in helping the orphans. Lord, we’re all orphans in a sense and so grateful that you have adopted us into your wonderful family. Help us to share that good news, that soon Jesus will come and we will be part of the family of God forever. Thank you for hearing us in this prayer. In Jesus name we ask it, amen.