Recently I reread Anne of Green Gables and today I watched the DVD as my baby slept and I baked cookies (seriously! I cannot believe this is my life! More on that another post, another day...).
I have loved the story but today, as I watched the DVD, I was struck by just how awful orphans were treated. They were taken as household slaves, not rescued from their orphanages or 'asylums' as they were called in order to give them a better life and loving home..
Orphans were treated so badly - distrusted and accused of all sorts of horrible things - as if it was their fault that they had no parents. They were treated with contempt, instead of compassion.
How did it get so screwed up? My heart is just broken for precious ones like these...
Today, orphans and others who have been abandoned - those who are most vulnerable - are often treated terribly. These are the ones who are most at risk of abuse - being trafficked for sex or other forms of slavery. It's an atrocity that occurs worldwide - sometimes even in our own 'backyards'.
This is not how it's meant to be. God has a special place in his heart and his family for these precious ones. Oh how his heart breaks when he sees the injustice and pain.
Psalm 68-5-6 says, "Father of orphans, champion of widows is God in his holy house. God makes homes for the homeless, leads prisoners to freedom..." (MSG)
God tells us to look after those who are without families, who are oppressed - to be a voice for those who cannot speak for themselves and to be his hands and feet in the world, showing love and bringing freedom (Proverbs 31.8-9).
James 1.27 tells us that anyone who "sets himself up as 'religious' by talking a good game is self-deceived. This kind of religion is hot air and only hot air. Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the Father is this: reach out to the homeless and loveless in their plight..." (MSG)
In Isaiah 58.6-9 (MSG), God also tells us -
"This is the kind of fast-day I'm after:
to break the chains of injustice,
get rid of exploitation in the workplace,
free the oppressed,
What I'm interested in seeing you do is:
sharing your food with the hungry,
inviting the homeless poor into your homes,
putting clothes on the shivering ill-clad,
being available to your own families.
Do this and the lights will turn on,
and your lives will turn around at once.
Your righteousness will pave your way.
The God of glory will secure your passage.
Then when you pray, God will answer.
You'll call out for help and I'll say, 'Here I am.'"
God says that the kind of sacrifice and worship he wants is the kind that shows his love to the world. We can fast, pray, do stuff in church for God and yet allow people around us to go hungry, to be oppressed. God says that he doesn't honour that kind of living.
In the following verses of that passage, God says this:
"If you get rid of unfair practices,
quit blaming victims,
quit gossiping about other people's sins,
If you are generous with the hungry
and start giving yourselves to the down and out,
Your lives will begin to glow in the darkness,
your shadowed lives will be bathed in sunlight.
I will always show you where to go.
I'll give you a full life in the emptiest of places -
firm muscles, strong bones.
You'll be like a well-watered garden,
a gurgling spring that never runs dry.
You'll use the old rubble of past lives to build anew,
rebuild the foundations from out of your past.
You'll be known as those who can fix anything,
restore old ruins, rebuild and renovate,
make the community livable again." (Isaiah 58.9-12 MSG)
Wow! Who wouldn't want to be a part of that?!
Sometimes we can feel overwhelmed with the injustices we see or hear about. Sometimes we can be uncertain about what God wants for us or how we can be the 'light in darkness' he asks us to be.
These passages give us clear insight into what God expects and asks but it also gives us promises he makes to those who live this way. God promises that our lives will shine. He promises to hear us when we call to him and he promises full lives.
If you want to impact the world around you - if you want to help make the community you live in new and full of life, then read these passages again. Look around you. Can you see hungry people you can feed? Do you know of people who are being exploited who need someone to speak on their behalf and help bring freedom? Do you need to stop gossiping?
We can all do something to bring light into the dark places of our world. What are you going to do today?
[We can do things on our own or with our Church communities. There are organisations, such as Watoto, The A21 Campaign, She Rescue Home, International Justice Mission that we can partner with also, as well as many, many others. Check them out and see if God may have you get involved.]