Providing gospel-centered resources to mobilize the church for global orphan care.

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In part 1, I argued that a God-centered approach to orphan care is necessarily Trinitarian, and vice versa. The reality of the Trinity should inform how churches approach orphan care, and radically so. The doctrine of the Trinity, as T. F. Torrance persuasively argues, constitutes the nerve and center not only of every other biblical doctrine but also of every aspect of the Christian way of life (The Christian doctrine of God: one being three persons, p. 31). If we take the practical relevance of the Trinity seriously, the truth of the Trinity should push us more and more toward finding church-centered, family-based, family-friendly solutions for the global orphan crisis. If the Trinity’s solution for our hopeless and homeless condition as fallen human beings was to give us family belonging through Jesus Christ, then as the body of Christ shouldn’t it inform how we serve children who are without earthly hope and home in this world?

So . . . what are some ways in which this Trinity-centered approach should inform our practice of orphan care? Here are two for you to consider.

1. Don’t think orphanage. Think family. Think home.
The Trinity is not an orphanage. When our Triune God set out to redeem us, building an orphanage and placing us in it was not a part of the plan. No, God’s plan of redemption centered on placing us in an existing home. By the grace of the Triune God we are brought into the love of the Father/Son relationship that has always existed. We are placed in the Home of homes. In Ephesians 2:19 Paul tells us that we were once strangers and aliens without hope, but now we are members of the household of God. By making room for us within the love that they eternally share, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit gave us a home and a family. God answered our need by bringing us into His household.

How should the Trinity’s unbelievable care for us inform the way that we care for orphans? Rather than building an orphanage to help Haitian churches care for their orphans, World Orphans determined to help Haitian families adequately care for the children that they had welcomed into their homes. So, World Orphans empowers local churches in Haiti to come alongside these families to give orphaned and vulnerable children the security of a loving home that cares for them in a holistic way. This model of orphan care has the Trinity’s “fingerprints” all over it.

2. Be space-creators.
By creation and redemption the Trinity created space for others. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit did not need to welcome others in (they were perfectly happy and content in their eternal communion of love). They wanted to create space for others, for us!

To be created in the image of God means that we too are meant to live in relationship with others. We were made to be space (or should I say) relationship-creators. God told His image-bearers to “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth” (Genesis 1:28). In order for Adam and Eve to fulfill this command, they had to create relational space for others. Being fruitful, multiplying, and filling the earth are trinitarian-like activities: room (geographical or relational) is created so that others can join us. Others are welcomed in and included with joy. In light of this Trinitarian approach, consider the following two questions (we could ask many more like these):

What would become of the 130,000 children in foster care who, right now, are waiting to be adopted if churches all across the country imitated God by being Trinitarian space-creators?

Would we see fewer foster children bounced from home to home if churches in the U.S. were more Trinitarian in their thinking?

As Fred Sanders writes, “the doctrine of the Trinity, although it can be stated as a series of propositions embodying truth claims about God (“God is one being in three persons”), involves much more than that. Trinitarianism is the encompassing framework within which all Christian thought takes place” (The Deep Things of God: How the Trinity Changes Everything, p. 46).

This means that we should be Trinitarian not only in how we think about corporate worship, community groups, prayer and every other aspect of church life but also in how we think about and practice orphan care.

  • Kievjoy

    I am so glad you said about families and not orphanages. We foster long term in Ukraine, just the two of getting funding etc and using our pensions (there are cases as you probably know that cannot be adopted for varying reasons). I am so sick of some people saying, ‘What only four. You should be making it much bigger than that, but in a family home they learn to live in the community as well as in a family. We do have room for another two children, but they only give us the ones that are difficult to place.

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