I think we can all agree that the orphan system is broken.

And, churches are moderately involved at best.

If the church can’t help orphans, God help the church.

Several years ago, when my wife and I lived in Argentina, we had the opportunity to travel across the country to the Patagonian region of Bariloche.  To us, this just may be the most beautiful place on earth.  The Andes mountains were every bit as beautiful as I had imagined.

We had the privilege of visiting an orphanage there in Bariloche when we arrived.  There were children everywhere and they were genuinely excited to visit with their most recent guests.  So, like every other trip to an orphanage, we played, we held them, we listened to stories and we watched them perform a few songs.

Don’t get me wrong.  I felt good for being there, but there was something that I was unable to shake.  The children performed some songs for us.  Then, the orphanage director shared personal stories of some of the kids.  But, the whole time, I remember thinking about what would happen when we left.  Back to the same routine.  No change.  No families for orphans.  Had this become standard procedure for church orphan care ministry?  A stop on the way to somewhere else?

There is something wrong at the root of our church’s orphan ministries.  Why should the children have to perform for us?  Why should the orphanage director have to tell every group that stops by about the little girl that was dropped off at the front door of the orphanage?  And, then go on to tell us how she gazes out a broken window for weeks waiting for a mommy who will never return.  I knew why he was telling the story.  He wanted to help these kids.  He needed to get our attention. By himself, he was unable to make the change that he envisioned.

I saw the exact same thing in Costa Rica and in Ukraine.  Story after story, our groups came and went.  We left with the benefit.  We had more humility.  We had moving pictures.  But, those children were still in their institutions without families and without much hope.

I think we should take the burden of storytelling and performance away from the directors of these institutions.  The reason they are doing it is because the church is not offering enough support, if any.  They are desperate for help.

In every instance I just cited, if the local church was at the center of involvement with these institutions, there would no longer be a need for the kids to put on a show.  And, the director would not feel the burden to share the most gut wrenching stories to garner more support. 

There’s an elephant in the church’s sanctuary. The church needs to speak up and act.  Not just the Western church, but every church in every community.  It is our calling. 

If not, the tears of millions of orphans will continue to fall in the back-alleys, bedrooms, and secret places until the church stands up and collectively says “enough”.

Let the church rise,

guilty of accepting our broken systems in the past