In an occasional series that begins today, this newspaper will look at two South African families of modest means but extraordinary heart. The members of these families have done what they could to help solve one of the often overlooked problems of AIDS in Africa by adopting children orphaned by this scourge.
Governmental programs, including those of the United States and other nations in the West, often focus nearly exclusively on anti-retroviral drugs, and then to a much lesser degree, on awareness and prevention programs. But almost nothing is done to help the millions of children left hopeless and homeless. These South African families, which the Monitor will revisit from time to time, have set an example for the world.
The unselfish hope shown in these families resonates and inspires. The tragedy of the millions of abandoned children is of a scope unparalleled in world history, and it seems that our decency as human beings demands some kind of response.
For many years, I have found that an openhearted willingness to hear God's word in my heart and mind is always the first step. This prayer to learn and do God's will replaces our opinions, challenges our biases, and compels us to loosen our strongly held convictions.
Jesus might have been indicating this when he told his friends, "I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me" (John 5:30).
When my wife and I came face to face with orphan siblings who needed care, I have to admit that I felt I had perfectly good reasons not to be the one to step up to the plate.
We had already done this 10 years before, and our children were now adults; I didn't want to face teenagers again; and there was the issue of my age as an older parent. But listening to God made it quite clear that these children, orphaned by AIDS, were to be our children.
Four years later, they are vibrant and happy teenagers, gracing our lives with laughter and love, sports and homework. We certainly have learned that God is the Father-Mother of the universe, holding us all in His family.
Adopting isn't everyone's bag, but anyone can pray. Prayer may lead us to making contributions to reputable charitable organizations (some are listed in the article I referred to). It can lead us to volunteer to help others in our community who need help, or even to become foster parents.
Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of this newspaper, saw the spiritual universality of the family of man as ideas of God, and wrote, "The rich in spirit help the poor in one grand brotherhood, all having the same Principle, or Father; and blessed is that man who seeth his brother's need and supplieth it, seeking his own in another's good" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," p. 518).
Acknowledging the fatherhood of God inspires and impels us to express more brotherhood in our daily lives, and we in turn are blessed.
In the place
where it was said unto them,
Ye are not my people;
there shall they be called
the children of the living God.