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Raising Your Child to Care for the Orphan

by Dennae Pierre Published Oct 2, 2011

My husband and I did not ease our way into parenting. One day we were both working at least 60 hours a week at jobs we loved, regularly visiting our favorite downtown local restaurants…and the next day, we were working around the clock, non-stop to bring our two children home. The things we talked about, dreamed about, and spent our money on changed instantly. Within 10 months we went from newlyweds (little over 1 year) to 3 children…

Our plan was to take it a little more slowly then that. We wanted to read the top 20 parenting books, develop the perfect parenting philosophy, and probably write some position papers on that parenting philosophy, but that isn’t what God planned (which I thank God for DAILY). We did begin parenting with a well-developed plan to teach our children to care about the orphan. Of course, we wanted our children to care for the orphan, but it was not something we intentionally focused on. We began to focus on the most important thing of all: how they can be disciples, followers, lovers, and servants of Jesus Christ.

I guess you could argue that if you teach your children to love Jesus, then they will naturally care for the orphan. But there are many, many Christians who love Jesus who don’t care for the orphan…so there must be more to it then that. Teaching children to love Jesus is the most important first step, but I believe there are also many more things we can do to help our children care for, “the least of these.”

We have had an unusual amount of growth in our children in regards to this over the past few months.Recently, without my prompting, my ten year old son wrote a letter to our local congresswoman requesting an appointment to tell her why our city needs good foster parents (in response to an article written in our local newspaper about not having enough foster families in Arizona). My children have wept for hungry children, friends of theirs who are living in unjust situations, and orphans. They have suggested eating a rice and bean only dinner so we can be reminded how blessed we are to live in America. Please understand that this is not the norm for my children (the norm is more like a constant lecture and pleading from me to stop being a materialistic consumerist constantly wanting more, more, more).  But these little glimpses I get into their hearts that they are beginning to “get it” happen in the softer moments. It is not our parenting skills that make their hearts ache for the poor, the orphaned, and the lost, but rather these moments are genuine outcries of the Holy Spirit living in them! Since they have committed their lives to Christ, I have seen steady, consistent growth in how they think of “the least of these.”

I can honestly tell you that this change in their thinking has come entirely by Christ beginning to transform their hearts, minds, and desires. Over the years we have stumbled across many practical ideas for developing orphan minded children (I’ll talk about that in my upcoming workshop at the Together for Adoption national conference), but I will let you in on the single, most effective thing we have done…

Prayer. Being thrown into parenting taught us quickly that I do not know all the answers or which “methods”would best work for my children. In all of our mistakes and changes of parenting styles, our prayer has consistently been that God would give them a hatred for this world and a love for his kingdom. I pray over them to know, love, follow Jesus and that God would give them the grace and ability to go to the hard places, to reach the “least of these”, that his spirit would empower them to be light in the darkest spots on this earth. I pray that God would burden them with the reality of all those around them that don’t know Jesus, the poor, the widow, the orphan, and the outcast. Of course, that prayer has expanded my own vision for what God has called me to. So I find myself praying this for myself much more then I did before I had children.

I tell people that the best parenting book I have read is Paul Miller’s, “A Praying Life” which is not a parenting book at all. Miller deepened my understanding of prayer and challenged my view of parenting. Praying consistently and fervently for my children is one of the greatest parenting skills I will ever know. It is the most necessary piece to raising children to love Jesus and as a result of loving him, care for the orphan.

  • Joshua Barta

    Hugely encouraging and helpful!! Keep on fighting the good fight!

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