Asshur shall not save us; we will not ride upon horses: neither will we say anymore to the work of our hands, Ye are our gods: for in Thee the fatherless findeth mercy. – Hosea 14:3
If I...have eaten my morsel myself alone, and the fatherless hath not eaten thereof; (For from my youth he was brought up with me, as with a father, and I have guided her from my mother's womb)...if I have lifted my hand against the fatherless, when I saw my help in the gate: Then let mine arm fall from my shoulder blade, and my arm to be broken from the bone. For destruction from God was a terror to me, and by reason of His highness I could not endure. – Job 31:16-23
Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world. – James 1:27
Helen looked at me with probing serious dark eyes, her ever-gentle face seemed only slightly altered by the concern that weighed so heavily upon her heart. She had told her story, uttered her concerns, but now she stopped, and she looked at me in silence. Two orphanages waited for them to come, but they had neither the staff nor the funding to go. Their church had opened a transitional center for boys aging out of the system – a place where they could live while they learned the delicate intricacies of balancing work and study in a world where nothing is done for you, versus the institutional setting from which they had just come. Another woman in the church was eagerly awaiting the opportunity to open a similar place for girls, in her own home no less, if they just had the funding – a means of providing for the children so that they would not have to be left while the woman went out to earn their living.
I had arrived in town less than forty-eight hours earlier. From the very moment I had gotten off the bus I had heard nothing but the needs of the ministry – from finances to logistics to hopes and visions for the future. Now all of that was about to culminate in this very moment. Now, that I had only a few hours left before getting on a bus back to Moscow.
Helen looked at me. She licked her lips nervously. So intense was the questioning in her eyes that it seemed as if the world around us had ceased to exist. At last she said what she had been thinking,
“How do we strengthen our team spiritually, Rachel, how?”
Of all the questions that had been put to me, this was the one that held the most perception. How greatly this was needed. But it would take a long time. It would take the consistent patient work of someone who could work not only with the team, but also with the church. There were issues within the ministry that needed to be resolved, misunderstandings that needed to be corrected. There needed to be training of someone to lead the ministry, preferably by a couple. Already, I had seen so much and had so little time to change anything.
We talked while we waited on the street corner for the bus that would take her home. I shared some ideas and thoughts, encouraged her, as I had been all weekend, that the misunderstandings had to be corrected – but little could be done in those few moments.
Two months later I received an email. That church had closed their orphan ministry – there was no man to lead them. Six years of labor, hundreds of lives already touched – but now it would be no more, because there was no man to stand in the gap.
Orphan ministry is a difficult and exacting ministry, but reaching the fatherless is dear to the heart of God. The need for men to take the lead in reaching these little ones for Christ is great, to set the example of how a godly man should live and to become defenders of the fatherless.
What about you? Are you a man, willing to stand in the gap?