World Orphan’s Day was created by The Stars Foundationä to raise awareness about the number of children in this world who lack something most of us take for granted: parents. The Stars Foundation™, founded in the early 1990’s, is committed to helping at risk youth and child abuse victims through strategic relationships with non-profit organizations.
The foundation hoped that World Orphan’s Day would bring awareness to and motivate people to help. World Orphan’s Day falls on the second Monday of each November. This year it will be November 12, but the Seventh-day Adventist Church suggests that congregations set aside the 17th of November to focus on this event.
Why a World Orphan’s Sabbath?
It is obvious that the purpose of the religion is not only to create a liturgical context in which to worship God but, as Jesus commanded, is also focused on caring for the weakest around us. It is enough to read the whole Gospel to grasp the intention of Jesus. The purpose of this Sabbath matches the statement of James in the Bible: "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world" (James 1:27).
“…to look after orphans…” The simple way is to present to the Church the reality of orphans living around us. Information can create an awareness of the picture and offer an opportunity to find ways to look after orphans. This is not only a local challenge; this is a phenomenon that touches over 140,000,000 orphans in the world according to UNICEF statistics from 2017.
To have a better grasp of the situation, look at these findings:
- Every 2 seconds a child becomes an orphan. - Food for Orphans
- 400,000 orphans die every year of malnutrition. - Food for Orphans
- 8 out of 10 children orphaned by AIDs live in Sub Saharan Africa. - UNICEF
- 99% of orphans will never be adopted. - Food for Orphans
- It is estimated that over 1.2 million children are trafficked each year globally. – UNICEF
- 20 million children are orphaned in India. - SOS Children Villages
- Out of the 21.3 million refugees worldwide, half are under 18 years old – UNHCR
What is your reaction when reading these findings? What can we do personally? And as a Church?
Compassion for Orphans and Vulnerable or Abandoned Children
The Church’s ministry for these children ranges widely from providing orphanages and foster homes, to adoption and strengthening the local community so it can care for the children. Our responsibility for the fatherless is echoed throughout the Bible (Ps. 10: 13,14; 68:5: 82:3; John 14:8; James 1:27) and through specific counsel to church members, for example: “As far as lies in your power, make a home for the homeless. Let everyone stand ready to act a part in helping forward this work. The Lord also said to Peter: ‘Feed My lambs.’ This command is to us, and by opening our homes for the orphans we aid in its fulfillment. Let not Jesus be disappointed in you” (Ellen G. White, Adventist Home, p. 170).
Larry Evans, Global Special Needs Ministries director for the Adventist Church, shares that “Tragically, millions of children all over the globe have become orphaned for many reasons: war, famine, displacement, disease or poverty. Of the more than 132 million children classified as orphans, 13 million have lost both parents. Jesus cared for these children and so do Seventh-day Adventists. There are several Adventist supporting organizations working to bring hope and healing to orphans and vulnerable children. You can find a list of these organizations that need your financial support by going to the Special Needs Ministries website: specialneeds.adventist.org/orphans.”
World Orphans – Vulnerable Children’s Sabbathis called to bring awareness to the great need and, through compassion, bring hope and healing to those who are far too easily neglected by society at large.
Elsa Cozzi, Inter-European Region (EUD) Children’s Ministries Director, says:
“When we think of children, we think of their friendliness, naiveté, carefreeness, and fragility. God created us this way. Our life begins with these very feelings, and that is why with each child there are two parents to accompany him along his developing path. But when these parents are missing, the child takes on an extra feeling: that of sadness, with all its meanings. When he realizes that he is alone in his life, and that he has no affective support, he either locks himself up in his world or reacts by breaking the chains of loneliness. In all cases, his existence is different. If he encounters adequate adult support on his way, his existence will have fewer obstacles, otherwise we can imagine the burden of his suffering.
I welcome the initiative of the Adventist Church to create a ministry in favor of orphans, and I also appreciate the decision to establish a special day in their favor. However, I would like us not to stop there, but to open ourselves to any initiative that could alleviate the suffering of these little unfortunates and find in us, who feel challenged, a valid support. What to do? The Children's Ministries department will soon make its contribution.”
Corrado Cozzi, EUD Special Needs Ministries Director, adds: “To dedicate a day to orphans is an act of civilization and social awareness. But this does not mean thinking about orphans for just one day. However, talking about them in our institutions, even for just one day, could generate a special attention that goes beyond a celebration. Projects and suggestions could arise and perhaps encourage some program in their favor. This was the intention of Jesus when He focused on the need to care for orphans. When was the last time you spoke about orphans in your institution?”
For further information on orphan ministry, visit specialneeds.adventist.org/orphans.