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“Orphan Sunday,” by Pastor Bruce Plummer

November 11, 2018

Today is Orphan Sunday, a celebration held in thousands of Christian churches around the world to remember the orphaned and vulnerable, here in the States and around the world. This message is a challenge to all of us to remember God’s heart for the orphan, solitary and lonely and do our part in reaching out to them. There’s even a specific challenge that God has given Christ Community that I talk about at the end.

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Sermon Notes

Does God actually care about orphaned and vulnerable children?
     James 1.27
     27 Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.
     Psalm 68.5-6a
     A father of the fatherless, a defender of widows,
Is God in His holy habitation.
6 God sets the solitary in families.
     Psalm 27.10
     When my father and my mother forsake me,
Then the Lord will take care of me.
     Matthew 18.10-11
     10 “Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven. 11 For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost.
The obvious answer is yes.
     But just how prevalent is the problem of being an orphaned or vulnerable child?
There are, worldwide, over 15 million “double orphans.” Those are the kids who have experienced the death of both parents. That’s what we often think of when we think of orphans. It’s hard to comprehend a number like that. That’s the population of New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, combined. Kids with no parents.
     There are 144 million kids who have experienced the death of one parent to disease, war, violence or accident. 
     That number is even harder to comprehend, but that is the number of people in the entire nation of Russia.
     And that’s not even the other part of who we’re considering today. The vulnerable child.
      Characteristics of children defined as vulnerable include those: 
orphaned by the death of one or both parents; 
abandoned by parents; 
living in extreme poverty; 
living with a disability; 
affected by armed conflicts; 
abused by parents or their carers; 
malnourished due to extreme poverty; 
and finally, those marginalized, stigmatized, or even discriminated against. 
     All vulnerable children have one common denominator: they have no reliable social safety networks on hand to depend upon in order to adequately manage the risk to which they daily exposed.  
     Of the 2.2 billion children on the earth right now, fully half live in extreme poverty, defined as living on under $1.25 per day, max $450 per year.
     That’s a lot of numbers. I can’t relate to those, as real as they may be.
     But I can relate to the Scriptures.
     Luke 10.29-36
     29 But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
30 Then Jesus answered and said: “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side. 33 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. 34 So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.’ 36 So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?”
     One day, Jesus was talking with a religious leader. And this guy answered Jesus’ question correctly, about the most important considerations in God’s Kingdom. 
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, mind, strength and your neighbor as yourself.
     But who is my neighbor? He asked in order to justify his own approach to the neighbor question. And Jesus turns the question around, properly. Are you the neighbor to the one on the side of the road?
     The guys who looked the best and were the most respectable came on this wounded and vulnerable person. They both had things to do. They both considered that touching this man would mean the interruption of their schedule, their plan and expectations, so they immediately walked by and thought that the memory of that man would fade into their routine. Can’t see him from my house. Or my church.
     But the one that didn’t look the best, wasn’t the well connected or well thought of came by. And as we see, he was the one who was the neighbor. He used his heart’s compassion and gave himself to the man. His time, talent and treasure. It’s obvious that the Samaritan had a schedule and a plan already. That he was willing to interrupt for someone unrelated, unknown to him. And he did.
     How do we react to that story? Well, if I found someone on the side of the road I would certainly stop and help. Good. But how often do you find someone like that? Not often. Until you let God open your eyes.
     Every day. Every day. In this world 22,000 children die from poverty and poverty related conditions. 
     Here’s a jar with 22,000 small bb’s in it. The kind you can’t see from your house, dorm room or apartment. If one child in your extended family dies you would be devastated. But in obscurity, like a small bb that you really can’t see well, that you would walk by and not notice easily, 22,000 children will pass out of life today.
One is like this. Here’s all 22,000.
     Which one of you is neighbor to them?
     Jesus told another story of a reckoning at the end of the world. He divides everyone into two groups and calls the ones on His right sheep and the ones on the left goats. The sheep He commends and brings into His Kingdom. The goats He condemns to Hell. The characteristic that divides the two groups? 
Matthew 25.45-46
     What do we do?
     We need to find them, the actual kids, here, there and everywhere. Ask God to show you who you in particular you need to get involved with.
     Then go down this list:
Adopt. If you can’t adopt then
Foster. If you can’t foster then
Sponsor. If you can’t sponsor then
Volunteer. If you can’t volunteer, then
Donate. If you can’t donate then educate. 
     For $38 a month you can lift a child out of poverty in Jesus Name through one on one sponsorship and discipleship. Go to our channel on the Compassion International website , pray and choose a child. Anyone with a job can do this. Even college students have been known to join with one or two others and sponsor a child.
     Let’s each do something.  
     Which one of you will be neighbor to them… the orphaned, the vulnerable children in this world?