by Doug Nichols (Missionary to Children in Africa, Asia, and Latin America since 1968)
It is very discouraging to read articles which are basically negative in regards to caring for orphans and street children in orphanages. Of course, a loving home is better than an orphanage, but does that mean we should give up on orphanages altogether? We do realize that there are some unacceptable orphanages in the world, but creating more loving God centered orphanages could bring glory to God and save thousands of children the pain and abuse they face every day on the street. We need to support both adoption and orphanages.
Although placing a child into a loving family should be our goal, it is not always possible. An orphan or a street child is not taken directly from the street to a home. There is usually some type of government orphanage or childcare agency in which the child is placed while proper records are made. Then the child is placed into a loving family if one can be found.
So, why shouldn’t the church of Jesus Christ start many more orphanages around the world to place street and underprivileged children and orphans into a loving, Christian environment? Orphanages can be safe harbors where children can be lovingly protected and cared for until a home can be found.
The following are simple plans for a Christian Children’s Village in Africa as an example. A Christian Children’s Village with separate homes housing 12 children per home could care for 280 to 500 children! The village would have staff, supervisors, house parents, a school, an all-purpose building, a chapel, a clinic, a play area, and gardens for each house.
Children from neighboring villages could also attend the school. This would enable the orphans to be incorporated into society with other children, families, and loved ones, with the purpose of being adopted whenever possible.
To those who are criticizing orphanages and children’s villages, please, stop doing so and consider what could be done through well-run orphanages. What is the alternative? I believe you would agree that we should not leave the street children and orphans in the sewers, and streets where they are likely to be abused, but that we should place them in a loving environment where they can be cared for, nurtured and ministered to by the grace of God and the Gospel?
Children are tortured, abused, spit upon, kicked, starved and burned on the streets of the world. Why don’t you and I, as Christians, do something about it? Please, encourage your government and church to protect these children, get them off the streets, and place them where they will be loved and cared for in Jesus’ name.
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)
(This article was adapted by Pastor Kevin Hollinger, author of Reactive Attachment Disorder.)