Welfare Ministry


Chapter 27—The Care of Orphans

Christian Fathers and Mothers Needed—Until death shall be swallowed up in victory there will be orphans to be cared for, who will suffer in more ways than one if the tender compassion and loving-kindness of our church members are not exercised in their behalf. The Lord bids us, “Bring the poor that are cast out to thy house.” Christianity must supply fathers and mothers for these homeless ones. The compassion for the widow and the orphan manifested in prayers and deeds will come up in remembrance before God, to be rewarded by and by.—The Review and Herald, June 27, 1893. WM 220.1

Christ Says, Take These Children—Fatherless and motherless children are thrown into the arms of the church, and Christ says to His followers: Take these destitute children, bring them up for Me, and ye shall receive your wages. I have seen much selfishness exhibited in these things. Unless there is some special evidence that they themselves are to be benefited by adopting into their family those who need homes, some turn away and answer: No. They do not seem to know or care whether such are saved or lost. That, they think, is not their business. With Cain they say: “Am I my brother's keeper?” They are not willing to be put to inconvenience or to make any sacrifice for the orphans, and they indifferently thrust such ones into the arms of the world, who are sometimes more willing to receive them than are these professed Christians. In the day of God inquiry will be made for those whom Heaven gave them the opportunity of saving. But they wished to be excused, and would not engage in the good work unless they could make it a matter of profit to them. I have been shown that those who refuse these opportunities for doing good will hear from Jesus: “As ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to Me.”—Testimonies for the Church 2:33 WM 220.2

Open Your Hearts and Your Homes—My husband and I, though called to arduous labor in the ministry, felt it our privilege to gather into our home children who needed care, and help them to form characters for heaven. We could not adopt infants, for this would have engrossed our time and attention and would have robbed the Lord of the service He required of us in bringing many sons and daughters to Him. But we felt that the Lord's instruction in Isaiah 58 was for us, and that His blessing would attend us in obedience to His word. All can do something for the needy little ones, by helping to place them in homes where they can be cared for.—Manuscript 35, 1896. WM 221.1

There is a wide field of usefulness before all who will work for the Master in caring for these children and youth who have been deprived of the watchful guidance of parents and the subduing influence of a Christian home. Many of them have inherited evil traits of character; and if left to grow up in ignorance, they will drift into associations that lead to vice and crime. These unpromising children need to be placed in a position favorable for the formation of a right character, that they may become children of God. WM 221.2

Are you who profess to be children of God acting your part in teaching these, who so much need to be patiently taught how to come to the Saviour? Are you acting your part as faithful servants of Christ? Are these unformed, perhaps ill-balanced minds cared for with that love which Christ has manifested for us? The souls of children and youth are in deadly peril if left to themselves. They need patient instruction, love, and tender Christian care. WM 221.3

Were there no revelation to point out our duty, the very sight of our eyes, and what we know of the inevitable working of cause and effect, should arouse us to rescue these unfortunate ones. If the members of the church would bring into this work the same energy and tact and skill that they employ in the common business relations of life, if they would seek wisdom from God, and earnestly study how to mold these undisciplined minds, many souls that are ready to perish might be rescued.... WM 222.1

Brethren and sisters, I ask you to consider this matter carefully. Think of the wants of the fatherless and motherless. Are not your hearts stirred as you witness their sufferings? See if something cannot be done for the care of these helpless ones. As far as lies in your power, make a home for the homeless. Let everyone stand ready to act a part in helping forward this work. The Lord said to Peter: “Feed My lambs.” This command is to us, and by opening our homes for the orphans we aid in its fulfillment. Let not Jesus be disappointed in you. WM 222.2

Take these children and present them to God as a fragrant offering. Ask His blessing upon them, and then mold and fashion them according to Christ's order. Will our people accept this holy trust? Because of our shallow piety and worldly ambition, shall those for whom Christ has died be left to suffer, to go in wrong paths?—Testimonies for the Church 6:282-284. WM 222.3

They Are God's Property—Orphans who are lent to Christians in trust for God are too often passed by and neglected, and yet they are bought with a price, and are just as valuable in the sight of God as we are.... They must be cared for; they must receive special attention. You cannot expend your means in a better way than by opening your doors to make homes for them. When the Lord sees that you are faithful in doing what you can to relieve human misery, He will move upon others to provide means to care for those who need help. Those who enlarge their hearts in this kind of work do no more than their duty. WM 222.4

Christ is our example. He was the Majesty of heaven, yet He did more for our fellow men than any of us can possibly do. “Ye are labourers together with God.” Let not one needless expenditure be made for the gratification of pride and vanity. Put your mites and your larger sums in the bank of heaven, where they will accumulate. Many who have had precious opportunities to wear the yoke of Christ in this most precious line of work have refused to submit to the yoke. It has not been pleasant to practice unselfishness, and they have neglected to make the cases of the poor and unfortunate their own. They do not heed the injunctions of Christ, and improve every talent that the Lord has given them, cooperating with heavenly intelligences in gathering souls who will serve, honor, and glorify the name of Christ.—The Review and Herald, January 15, 1895. WM 223.1

Counsel to Foster Parents—Dear Brother and Sister D: Your late visit and conversation with us have suggested many thoughts, of which I cannot forbear placing a few upon paper. I was very sorry that E had not carried himself correctly at all times; yet, when you consider, you cannot expect perfection in youth at his age. Children have faults, and they need a great deal of patient instruction. WM 223.2

That he should have feelings not always correct is no more than can be expected of a boy of his age. You must remember that he has no father or mother, no one to whom he can confide his feelings, his sorrows, and his temptations. Every person feels that he must have some sympathizer. This boy has been tossed about here and there, from pillar to post, and he may have many errors, many careless ways, with considerable independence, and he may lack reverence. But he is quite enterprising, and with right instruction and kind treatment, I have the fullest confidence that he would not disappoint our hopes, but would fully repay all the labor expended on him. Considering his disadvantages, I think he is a very good boy. WM 224.1

When we entreated you to take him we did it because we fully believed it was your duty, and that in doing so you would be blessed. We did not expect that you would do this merely to be benefited by the help that you would receive from the boy, but to benefit him, to do a duty to the orphan—a duty which every true Christian should be seeking and anxiously watching to perform; a duty, a sacrificing duty, which we believed it would do you good to take up, if you did it cheerfully, with a view to being the instrument in the hands of God of saving a soul from the snares of Satan, of saving a son whose father devoted his precious life to pointing souls to the Lamb of God who taketh away the sin of the world.... WM 224.2

In regard to E, do not, I entreat of you, forget that he is a child with only a child's experience. Do not measure him, a poor, weak, feeble boy, with yourselves and expect of him accordingly. I fully believe that it is in your power to do the right thing by this orphan. You can present inducements to him so that he will not feel that his task is cheerless, unrelieved by a ray of encouragement. You, my brother and sister, can enjoy yourselves in each other's confidence, you can sympathize with each other, interest and amuse each other, and tell your trials and burdens to each other. You have something to cheer you, while he is alone. He is a thinking boy, but has no one to confide in or to give him a cheering word amid his discouragements and severe trials, which I know he has as well as those more advanced in years. WM 224.3

If you shut yourselves up to each other, it is selfish love, unattended with Heaven's blessing. I have strong hope that you will love the orphan for Christ's sake, that you will feel that your possessions are but worthless unless employed in doing good. Do good; be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate, laying up in store for yourselves a good foundation against the time to come, that you may lay hold on eternal life. None will reap the reward of everlasting life but the self-sacrificing. A dying father and mother left their jewels to the care of the church, to be instructed in the things of God and fitted for heaven. When these parents shall look about for their dear ones, and one is found missing because of neglect, what will the church answer? It is in a great degree responsible for the salvation of these orphan children. WM 225.1

In all probability you have failed to gain the boy's confidence and affection by not giving him more tangible proofs of your love by holding out some inducements. If you could not expend money, you could at least in some way encourage him by letting him know you were not indifferent to his case. That the love and affection is to be all on one side is a mistake. How much affection have you educated yourselves to manifest? You are too much shut up to yourselves and do not feel the necessity of surrounding yourselves with an atmosphere of tenderness and gentleness, which comes from true nobility of soul. Brother and Sister F left their children to the care of the church. They had plenty of wealthy relatives who wanted the children; but they were unbelievers, and if allowed to have the care, or become the guardians, of the children, would lead their hearts away from the truth into error, and endanger their salvation. Because these relatives were not allowed to take the children, they were dissatisfied, and have done nothing for them. The confidence of the parents in the church should be considered, and not be forgotten because of selfishness. WM 225.2

We have the deepest interest for these children. One has already developed a beautiful Christian character and married a minister of the gospel. And now, in return for the care and burdens borne for her, she is a true burden bearer in the church. She is sought unto for advice and counsel by the less experienced, and they seek not in vain. She possesses true Christian humility, with becoming dignity, which can but inspire respect and confidence in all who know her. These children are as near to me as my own. I shall not lose sight of them nor cease my care for them. I love them sincerely, tenderly, affectionately.—Testimonies for the Church 2:327-334. WM 226.1

Judged by What They Did Not Do—There are orphans that should be cared for; but some will not venture to undertake this, for it would bring them more work than they care to do, leaving them but little time to please themselves. But when the King shall make investigation these do-nothing, illiberal, selfish souls will learn that heaven is for those who have been workers, those who have denied themselves for Christ's sake. No provisions have been made for those who have ever taken such special care in loving and looking out for themselves. The terrible punishment the King threatened those on His left hand, in this case, is not because of their great crimes. They are not condemned for the things which they did do, but for that which they did not do. You did not do those things Heaven assigned you to do. You pleased yourself, and can take your portion with self-pleasers.—Testimonies for the Church 2:27. WM 226.2

Be Daughters of Benevolence—To my sisters I would say: Be daughters of benevolence. The Son of man came to seek and to save that which was lost. You may have thought that if you could find a child without fault, you would take it and care for it; but to perplex your mind with an erring child, to unlearn it many things and teach it anew, to teach it self-control, is a work which you refuse to undertake. To teach the ignorant, to pity and to reform those who have ever been learning evil, is no slight task; but Heaven has placed just such ones in your way. They are blessings in disguise.—Ibid. WM 227.1

Those With a True Mother's Heart—Mothers who have wisely reared their children feel the burden of responsibility, not only for their own children, but for their neighbor's children. A true mother's heart of sympathy goes out for all with whom she comes in contact. With a determined effort she seeks to turn wayward souls to Christ. In His strength she is enabled to do much. And those who have no children have responsibilities to bear. In most cases they may receive into their homes children who are orphaned and homeless. These they may train for Christ's sake to practice those virtues so much needed in our world.—Manuscript 34, 1899. WM 227.2

Let the condition of helpless little ones appeal to every mother's heart, that she may put into exercise a mother's love for homeless orphan children. Their helplessness appeals to every God-given attribute in human nature.—The Medical Missionary, November, 1894. WM 228.1

In the Loving Atmosphere of a Christian Home—There are the multitudes of children who have been wholly deprived of the guidance of parents and the subduing influence of a Christian home. Let Christians open their hearts and homes to these helpless ones. The work that God has committed to them as an individual duty should not be turned over to some benevolent institution or left to the chances of the world's charity. If the children have no relatives able to give them care, let the members of the church provide homes for them. He who made us ordained that we should be associated in families, and the child nature will develop best in the loving atmosphere of a Christian home. WM 228.2

Many who have no children of their own could do a good work in caring for the children of others. Instead of giving attention to pets, lavishing affection upon dumb animals, let them give their attention to little children, whose characters they may fashion after the divine similitude. Place your love upon the homeless members of the human family. See how many of these children you can bring up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Many would thus be greatly benefited themselves.—The Ministry of Healing, 203, 204. WM 228.3

Why the Responsibility Belongs Primarily to the Church—God has placed in our care the poor and the suffering, and these are to be cared for as Christ cared for them. The Lord would have this work done in the different churches, rather than that these unfortunate ones should depend so largely upon institutions; for this will take out of the hands of the churches the very work God has appointed them to do. WM 228.4

When fathers and mothers die and leave their children unprovided for, the orphans should be cared for by the church. Open your hearts, you that have the love of God, and take them into your homes.—Manuscript 105, 1899. WM 229.1

Orphans’ Homes—When all is done that can be done in providing for orphans in our own homes, there will still be many needy ones in the world who should be cared for. They may be ragged, uncouth, and seemingly in every way unattractive; but they are bought with a price, and are just as precious in the sight of God as are our own little ones. They are God's property, for whom Christians are responsible. Their souls, God says, “will I require at thine hand.” WM 229.2

To care for these needy ones is a good work; yet in this age of the world the Lord does not give us as a people directions to establish large and expensive institutions for this purpose. If, however, there are among us individuals who feel called of God to establish institutions for the care of orphan children, let them follow out their convictions of duty. But in caring for the world's poor, they should appeal to the world for support. They are not to draw upon the people to whom the Lord has given the most important work ever given to men, the work of bringing the last message of mercy before all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people. The Lord's treasury must have a surplus to sustain the work of the gospel in “regions beyond.” WM 229.3

Let those who feel the burden of establishing these institutions have wise solicitors to present their necessities and raise funds. Let the people of the world be aroused, let the denominational churches be canvassed by men who feel the necessity that something be done in behalf of the poor and orphans. In every church there are those who fear God. Let these be appealed to, for to them God has given this work.... WM 230.1

The design of an orphans’ home should be not merely to provide the children with food and clothing but to place them under the care of Christian teachers, who will educate them in the knowledge of God and His Son. Those who work in this line should be men and women who are largehearted and inspired with enthusiasm at the cross of Calvary. They should be men and women who are cultured and self-sacrificing, who will work as Christ worked for the cause of God and the cause of humanity.—Testimonies for the Church 6:286, 287. WM 230.2

Small Homelike Institutions—Such institutions, to be most effective, should be modeled as closely as possible after the plan of a Christian home. Instead of large establishments, bringing great numbers together, let there be small institutions in different places. Instead of being in or near some town or large city, they should be in the country, where land can be secured for cultivation and the children can be brought into contact with nature and can have the benefits of industrial training. WM 230.3

Those in charge of such a home should be men and women who are largehearted, cultured, and self-sacrificing; men and women who undertake the work from love to Christ, and who train the children for Him. Under such care many homeless and neglected ones may be prepared to become useful members of society, an honor to Christ themselves, and in their turn helping others.—The Ministry of Healing, 205-206. WM 230.4

Importance of Seeking Counsel—God will not bless those who work without taking counsel with their brethren. Any Seventh-day Adventist who supposes that in himself he is a complete whole, and that he can at all times safely follow his own mind and judgment, is not to be trusted; for he is not walking in the light as Christ is in the light. There will be many who have not a correct sense of what they are doing. Men need clear ideas, deep spirituality. In His service God desires every man to move sensibly, weighing the motives prompting his movements.—Manuscript 26, 1902. WM 231.1

If We Obeyed God's Instruction—The Word of God abounds with instruction as to how we should treat the widow, the fatherless, and the needy, suffering poor. If all would obey this instruction, the widow's heart would sing for joy; hungry little children would be fed; the destitute would be clothed; and those ready to perish would be revived. Heavenly intelligences are looking on, and when, imbued with zeal for Christ's honor, we place ourselves in the channel of God's providence, these heavenly messengers will impart to us a new spiritual power, so that we shall be able to combat difficulties and triumph over obstacles.—Testimonies for the Church 6:284, 285. WM 231.2