“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” (James 1:27, ESV)
Within a two mile radius of where you are sitting right now, someone is hurting. We are busy people, heavily focused on our tasks and providing for the needs of our family. We can get caught up in a religious routine of going to church, reading our Bibles quickly before heading to work, and praying as we fall asleep at night; but, according to James 1:27, God expects more from His people.
We are called, every one of us, to visit and assist those who are grieving and in need. American culture is so focused on the individual that it is not always obvious how to help orphans and widows in their distress. Below are a few ideas as to how we can be a blessing to these precious people (and I too felt convicted as I wrote them!):
Four Realistic Ways We Can Bless Widows (and Widowers too):
- Running errands. For older widows who want to get out of the house, you can pick them up and take them grocery shopping or doctor appointments. For older widows who struggle to get around, you can run errands for them. And, for younger widows who are still working, or working and raising children, you can check in with them to see how you can best bless them. Depending on the ages of their children, babysitting may be an enormous blessing.
- Snow removal and lawn care services. But, not just limited to these. House repairs you can tackle or home updates you can make will be a huge blessing in a widow’s life. Many of these women have never had to worry about patching roofs or fixing the plumbing. By addressing some of these practical needs, you can offer God’s precious widows significant peace of mind.
- Helping to make them feel safe. There are various ways to accomplish this. For those who have the means, you can pay to have an alarm system installed. If you cannot afford something like this, is there a group of people who could contribute to the cause? This is often a continuous financial obligation due to monitoring, so before offering to finance something of this magnitude, donors need to be sure either the widow or they can continue to pay over time. In addition to alarm systems, there are Life Alert necklaces (or similar products) they can wear to get help if they fall or have some other emergency. If an alarm or a Life Alert system is not feasible, you can create a neighborhood watch system where trustworthy volunteers take turns driving by and checking on widows’ properties. You can call or text a group of widows nightly to make sure all is well. Those with construction skills can look over widows’ homes and build extra safety features, add deadbolts to the doors, and seek to address other safety concerns.
- Your consistent company. My great aunt is in a nursing home, and though she is not a widow, she still appreciates Mom’s Tuesday visits. While mom is there visiting Aunt Irene, she also pops over to visit Aunt Irene’s former roommate – she is 95 years young, has outlived two husbands, and notices when Mom misses a Tuesday. She appreciates having someone to talk with who takes an interest in her life and stories. Younger widows who are still working and raising children also appreciate the company, but it may require a bit more scheduling. Everyone needs warm attention and loving hugs. People need to be touched.
Four Realistic Ways You Can Bless Orphans:
- Financially. Perhaps the most obvious way to bless an orphan in need is by giving money and resources to help him or her receive the food, education, and general care needed. If you do not personally know any orphans, you can research groups that minister to children who have endured tragedies and offer financial help. If you have the opportunity to visit an orphanage, give gifts, and spend time with the children there, that would be even better. It would probably change your life even more than theirs!
- Plan for their futures. If you know of children who have lost their parents, even if they are immediately adopted by family members or someone else in the community, think ahead to the next phases of their lives and start brainstorming ways you can offer them hope and stability over time. If you have the means, beginning or contributing to a college fund? Building relationships with them so they have a mentor when they need one? He needs someone to attend his sporting events. I can do that! She will need someone to talk to when she has a crush or wants to learn how to be more feminine. I can help her with that! Children have needs at every stage and there is always something you can do to support them. Even if your contributions do not seem like much, they will see your consistency over time and take comfort in knowing you are there for them!
- Volunteer with organizations that help orphans get placed with loving families. Charity organizations run on the backs of their volunteers. If you have a heart for God’s babies and want to assist in finding them loving homes, give your time to ministries who do just that!
- Adoption. “Wait, I thought you said realistic ways to help orphans.” Adoption may be more realistic than you think. The process can seem long and confusing (two of the reasons I have been leery of it in the past), but knowledge is power. Talk to others who have adopted. Pray for God to lead you. What better way to impact the world than by giving your home, stability, and Christ-centered teaching to a child who feels alone and perhaps unwanted? And what better display of the gospel to the world than through adoption?
Imagine the ladies, gentlemen, and children you have the opportunity to serve and then think of your mom, dad, grandparent, mentor, godparent, aunt, uncle, niece, nephew, or child. Give to them as you would your closest loved ones.
If you left this world, how would you want someone to treat your sweetheart?
If you knew one day your child would lose both parents, how would you want the community to treat your baby?
If your aging parent(s) were in need, what would you most wish for them?
Take the answers to these questions, and your boyfriend or girlfriend’s hand, and build a bridge to the folks in your community who need so much care.
Finally, ask yourself one more important question: If I were alone, brokenhearted, and afraid, how would I want to be treated?
Which suggestions above are you going to take action toward? [Comment below!]