Get close enough to the world of adoption and orphan care, and chances are you’ll run into a common dilemma: If kids in our backyard are suffering, why help kids around the world?
Without a doubt, there are immense needs in the United States. A brief glimpse at foster care shows us this. Nearly 270,000 children enter the system every year. And on average, 17,000 of those kids will age out each year without a family or support system, putting them at extremely high risk of substance and physical abuse.
These kids certainly need our support, and we are not making a case against coming to their aid. Rather, it’s a call for us to look to Scripture to see the importance of both local and international care efforts.
GOD’S HEART REVEALED IN SCRIPTURE
God’s Word gives us our motivation for mercy ministry. Back in Genesis, in His first conversation with Abraham, God shows where His heart lies. He says in Genesis 12:2-3—
“And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
As believers in Christ and members of God’s family, we’re recipients of this promise! God shows that we’ve been blessed to bless the whole world.
BLESSED TO BE A BLESSING
If you make $46,800/year (the average individual income in the U.S.), you’re monetarily richer than 99.6% of people in the world. If your income is $12,460/year (the poverty line for an individual in the U.S.), you’re still monetarily richer than 87% of people in the world.
As Mike Pettengill points out, “[The U.S. church] is the richest church in the history of the world.”
But over 4 of every 5 people in Syria live below the globally recognized poverty line of $1.90/day. Nearly 52 million orphans live in Africa, the world’s most impoverished continent. 40.3 million people around the world are trapped in human slavery each year. And these statistics are just scratching the surface.
This should break our hearts. As David Platt notes—
“From the very beginning, Christ designed for His disciples to run toward need, not away from it. To engage in culture, not to ignore it.”
Yet, according to Charity Navigator, only 6% of all American charitable giving is international, a slight decrease from previous years.
We haven’t been given wealth, gifts, and the Gospel for our own sake. God divinely calls us to use our blessings to bless others, specifically, “all the families of the earth.”
FOR ALL THE FAMILIES OF THE EARTH
Over and over in Scripture, we see that God’s love isn’t exclusive to one group or one nation. Even from this first conversation He had with Abram, we see that His heart is for every nation. In Genesis 12:3, God says—
“I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you, all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
If God is concerned with every family of the earth, His followers must be too.
It’d be a shame to touch on this topic and jump over the classic story of the Good Samaritan. An expert on Jewish law was contemplating the great commandment to “love your neighbor as yourself,” ultimately leading to the question: who is our neighbor?
Jesus answers by telling a story about a man left abused by the side of the road. After being ignored, the man is helped by a Samaritan—a foreigner & outcast of society—who Jesus points out as the ultimate example of a neighbor.
He shows that neighbors aren’t just people who live nearby or share things in common. They are people from every place and every social standing.
GOD LEADS, WE FOLLOW
We can try to answer this question using flawless logic and airtight arguments, but in the end, it boils down to following God’s lead. We join God where He is already working. And since we know God’s heart is for all people, we can be confident that He will lead willing believers to all people—both locally and internationally.
Wherever God has called you, be faithful in your service!