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DEPARTMENT OF WRITING FOR PUBLICATION
THE CHRISTIAN RESPONSIBILITY TO THE FATHERLESS, ORPHANS, WIDOWS, AFFLICTED IN OUR MODERN SOCIETY.
TEXT: Exodus 22:22-24
- Orphans, aliens and widows formed the three classes of powerless persons in ancient society. God took special care of these people because of their basic vulnerability, requiring that they be not oppressed and cursing those who did oppress with the threat of becoming orphans themselves. Although they could contribute to the general work force, they would have had to be adopted for them to inherit property or to learn a skill as an apprentice. Several decades down the line, not much has been done to reverse this inhuman trend. The reaction of God in Exodus 22:22-24 shows how serious God abhors actions that do not favour widows and orphans.
- In the bible days, men were given so much recognition above women and children. The man is seen as the root, breadwinner, representative and head of any family. We were conceived and born in sin because our root who is Adam sinned but Jesus was without sin because His root is not a descendant of Adam but God Himself. During the ministry of Jesus on earth, he fed a lot of people but only men were counted.
- Abraham, Jacob, and many others gave birth to both men and women but it was only the men who were given recognition. Losing a father or husband inn those days was seen as a punishment (Ruth) or a disaster. The fatherless are frequently mentioned in the Old Testament, generally in association with the widow and the stranger, as typical instances of the unprotected and necessitous, who are, especially subject to oppression, and also to God’s special protection. The word orphan appeared 41 times in the Old Testament.
- DEFINITION OF TERMS
- (FATHERLESS, ORPHAN AND WIDOW)
- All the three have something in common; they have all lost a responsible man. The words orphan and fatherless are sometimes use interchangeable in the bible. We may take both words mean the same for the sake of explanation, biblical illustration and simplicity.
- The concise English dictionary defines the above words as follows:
- Fatherless: A child whose father is dead.
- Orphan: A child whose parents are dead. “Orphan” originally means “lonely”. This means also there could be children with parents who qualify to be called orphans. However, In Collins builds dictionary it means; a child whose real parents are dead or whose adopted parents and foster parents are also dead.
- Widow: A woman who has lost her husband by death and has not married again.
- ORPHANS AND WIDOWS IN GHANA
- Though there is no specific data on orphans and widows in Ghana, several unfortunate occurrences in our social set up signify that there are many of them and the number is not depreciating. War, famine and disease insured that there would always be a large number of orphans and widows.
- In Yendi, Bawku, Nkunya and Alavanyo, there are a lot of widows, orphans and fatherless children due to the large number of men who died in tribal wars. Disease and famine has also killed a number of men in Ghana and the entire continent of Africa. This has increased the number of widows and orphans. We can reverse the trend if we consciously work at eliminating the factors that lead to the subject under review.
- GODS WORD CONCERNING THE FATHERLESS, ORPHANS AND WIDOWS
- 1. Justice is especially due them (Deut. 24:17);
- 2. If not, the curse of God comes on the congregation (Deut. 24:19)...
- 3. A corrupt society extorts the sojourners, wrongs the orphan and the widow, and expresses contempt for father and mother (Ezekiel 22:7, cf. Isaiah 10:2)...
- 4. Those who mistreat the orphan and the widow are paralleled with adulterers, sorcerers and perjurers in Malachi 3:5.
- 5. But God himself provides for the basic needs of these unfortunate (Deut. 10:8)
- 6. God is known as the ‘ Father of the fatherless’ (Psalm 68:5)
- 7. This fact is reflected in the laws that forbid picking up fallen sheaves, or regleaning the vine or the olive tree (Deut. 24:19ff.).
- 8. Also they along with the Levites receive a potion of the tithes of the produce given every third year (Deut. 14:28ff.).
- WHAT CAN ONE PERSON DO?
- 1. If possible adopt a child into your family.
- 2. If adoption is not possible, become a foster parent.
- 3. Volunteer in a Christian organization that provides adult mentoring for children who need a parental role model or look for similar opportunities in the church.
- 4. Ask your church to start an adoption/foster care information group. The group would be charged with the responsibility to keep adoption and foster care options before the congregation. It would also provide church members with information on adoption and foster care processes.
- The number of children who are in need of adoption is unknown since no single organization is charged with the responsibility to gather the statistics. Though we do not know exactly how many await adoption, the number is certainly min-numbering. Although not every family can adopt a child, there are many who can and should. Christians, especially, should take seriously the exhortation of God to assist those who are some of the most vulnerable among us, children who are awaiting adoption.
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