Encountering the Fatherless

Encountering the FatherlessHello everyone! The blog has been running without me for the past week and a half, because I was on my very first missions trip. It wasn’t a trip for orphan care (like I expected my first missions trip to be), but it was an awesome experience, and God gave me a huge open door to work with fatherless kids.

Our team’s main purpose was construction, but the area where we were working has a huge problem with fatherlessness. The kids in the village don’t fit the stereotypical image for orphans. Most of them have a parent or grandparents to feed them and give them a place to sleep. They have homes, clothing, and food to eat. As far as I could understand, most of their father’s were absentee, not dead. But for all practical purposes, these kids were fatherless. They are growing up without the protection and guidance of a father figure. They fit into the category of kids we talked about in Who Are Orphans.

Interacting with these kids for over a week made me think a lot. Two observations stuck out to me most.

1. Orphan care advocates need to look beyond orphanage walls.

IMG_6This concept has been hard for me to embrace. Reading books like Orphan Justice and The Global Orphan Crisis helped open my heart to this reality. Meeting the kiddos on this trip drove it home even more. Especially as Christians, it’s important to realize that helping orphans isn’t limited solely to bringing physical aid to recognized orphans. Orphan care as a Christian covers a much broader spectrum and includes a wide variety of ministries.

For example, evangelism is an important part of carrying for orphans because many cultures won’t value or nurture kids until Christ changes their hearts. Encouraging good work ethic, responsibility, and fidelity can prevent abandonment, disease, and social decay that leads to fatherlessness. My brother and I were talking on the way home about what a difference just a few solid male role models could make in the community we were ministering in. Our entire team was tremendously impressed by the impact being made by one local guy who has a big heart for the kids and people of the village.

Those types ministries don’t specifically target orphan care, but they can profoundly impact the orphan situation. And that’s something we need to be aware of.

2. Ways of Life that Lead to Adoption Hardships

IMG_2275Reading books is a great way to gain a foundational understanding about any subject, but experiences is usually ten times better than book knowledge. I’ve done a lot of reading about what causes behavioral issues in adopted kids. On this trip, I got to observe a very basic cause. The kids that we interacted with had very little adult supervision. Their parents/mother/grandparent expected them to spend the majority of their time out in the village doing their own thing. According to the missionaries and people we were working with, they experience very little discipline or rule enforcement. Those comments made me think of how adopted kids often test boundaries and act surprised when they’re disciplined.

The kids we spent the week with were adorable. Some of them were more demanding and manipulative than others, but for the most part they were very loveable kids. Yet if you transplanted any of them into a typical American home, there would be struggles. Very few of them have been taught obedience, respect of authority, compassion (especially towards animals…house pets beware!), problem solving, or diligence. They’re not bad kids, they just don’t have a working understanding of these things.

So, those were my basic observations from the trip. Or at least my basic observations that apply to this blog.

Have any of you been on missions trips that gave you a better understanding of orphans or orphan care? Do you have personal experiences that deepened your understanding of orphans, adoption, etc.?

Leave a comment


  1. Nice pics.

  2. I’ve never been on a mission trip, nor have I had personal experiences that I can think of at the moment that showed me something about orphans/adoption. However, things that I’ve read and heard have contributed greatly to opening my eyes. For example, I’ve learned a lot about the foster care system from friends who foster.

    • I bet you can learn a whole lot about the foster care system if you have friends who foster. I know I’ve learned a ton about adoption from following various friends’ adoption journeys.

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