Photographs of the millions of unwanted children in the world haunt me. These children are in overcrowded and understaffed orphanages in Romania, looking at the camera with bleak expressions, or worse, no expressions at all. They are on the streets of most cities, from Los Angeles to Caracas to Cairo, and they are being exploited.
I know that wholesale adoption isn't the answer for everyone. In some cases, the bureaucratic process takes far too long. In others, the logistics of finding adoptive parents for just the 2 million Ethiopian orphans, let alone the millions in other parts of the world, boggles the mind. In many countries, the social services network simply isn't comprehensive enough or well enough funded.
Nongovernmental agencies, such as Save the Children, Project Mercy, and Share our Strength – and many more – are doing wonderful work, but again, they have a continual need for funding.
All religions teach our duty to the poor. Surely that shows that the yearning for the divine must bring a heightened consciousness of our duty to our fellowman. A recent translation of the Bible exhorts, "Is not this the fast I require: to loose the fetters of injustice ... and set free those who are oppressed.... Then your light will break forth like the dawn ... your righteousness will be your vanguard and the glory of the Lord your rearguard" (Isa. 58:6, 8, "Revised English Bible").
Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of this newspaper, wrote with her characteristic insight, "If we turn away from the poor, we are not ready to receive the reward of Him who blesses the poor" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," p. 8).
I have found that my best preparation for any action is humble prayer to God, turning to Him as the source of all guidance. The Lord's Prayer begins, "Our Father." God is the true Parent, not only of ourselves, but of the homeless girl in Brazil and the street boy in India.
"Our" includes these and millions of others under God's care. This makes these children our family, and we have, then, a responsibility to express God's love for them in practical, tangible, ways. We do this because our love for God can be expressed in love for them.
Deeply moved by the plight of Ethiopia in the '80s, my wife and I prayed to know how best we could help.
We were led to send monthly contributions to one of the nongovernmental agencies mentioned above, and then our work sent us to Africa. Over the next 10 years, we adopted four children, two brother-sister "sets," from there.
Our first two are now grown and married, parents themselves, and making a substantial contribution to society and world peace. Our younger two are still in school and already show a marked desire to help others. In all cases, we were led through prayer to take specific steps.
Our deep communion with God, who loves us all unconditionally, will prod us to do what is within our power to help these children, whether it's specific daily prayers, monthly contributions to a worthy cause, or even adoption. But the starting point is always our all-inclusive, loving, all-acting Father, God.
Suffer the little children
to come unto me,
and forbid them not:
for of such
is the kingdom of God.