Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Identifying with the Oppressed and the Fatherless

How is God calling us to care for the oppressed and the fatherless?

As Christians we tend to do good works often--we spend a day volunteering or we donate a certain sum of money. We do our due diligence. We tell ourselves that we've made their lives better than it could or would have been. It's easy to think that providing a place for them to live, feeding them, and meeting basic survival needs is enough. But is it really?

Earlier this week, one of my devotions was on identifying with the poor. It started out looking at Nehemiah 5: 14-18. Nehemiah was governor of the land, and his position entitled him to many great perks. But knowing that his people were poor, that they were suffering, led him to forsake what was rightfully his for their benefit and for God's glory.

After all, isn't that what Jesus did for us?

"Have in mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross." Philippians 2:5-8

Christ didn't use his position for his own advantage. Instead, he chose to identify with us and use it for our advantage. And if the word "Christian" means "little Christ," should we not do the same for those we chose to serve?

So how is God calling us to care for the oppressed and the fatherless? I've thought back to this devotional for the last few days and strongly feel that the answer is to identify with the oppressed and the orphan, be willing to walk through life with them and share in their story.

As Our Own starts with the story of an orphan. One who goes through the traditional system that was the status quo of the time. Most of the kids within this traditional system stop school in 4th grade, a few go on until 7th, and even fewer up to 10th. And then they are on their own to figure out life and find security and a place in society.

This orphan eventually gets married and has two children who eventually become fatherless themselves. Their story is one of blessing, and because she is able to get a good job, her sons are able to get a top education. But their story is a rare one. There are many more orphans who easily become targets and are sold into some form of slavery. Without anyone to stand in the gap on their behalf, they live an oppressed life.

There are so many girls who are taken from their families, or sometimes even sold by their families, because they are in a vulnerable state. Orphaned, impoverished, uneducated with few job prospects... and in this already vulnerable state, they are made even more so as they are beaten and coerced to be sex slaves. Many have children, for whom they want a better life, but unfortunately 95% of girls who are born into Red Light Districts become 2nd generation sex slaves.

Unless they are rescued. And unless the aftercare gives them an identity and a purpose. Does more than provide for their basic survival, but also provide for their spiritual and emotional healing, too.

It's easy to blame these women and girls for their plight, or to treat it like it's no big deal... until you identify with them. Until you think about yourself being in their shoes, think about that little girl being your daughter.

I look at the faces of the sweet girls I've met on this trip and my heart breaks that this is their story, or at least their mother's story. And now that I know them--I have seen them--I know I wouldn't be okay with them simply being in some institutionalized orphanage, getting a minimum education, and then being sent out to wolves in sheep's clothing when they hit 18 and have no where else to go. I would want them to have a family, an identity, a sense of worth and empowerment.

We tend to take care of our own so much better than we take care of others, but to really make a difference we need to see others as our own. This organization works because the founder, and most of the staff, identify with the oppressed they seek to help and redeem. They know that to make a difference in their lives, they have to see them as their own daughters. And everything you and I could desire for our own daughters is what they desire to give to these girls.

And it really does make all the difference.

It makes all the difference when mothers willingly give up their own children, but only if they know the organization will treat them as their own daughters.

It makes all the difference when you watch 30+ kids interacting with their new mothers and fathers, thriving under their attention, and interacting with each other as a true family.

It makes all the difference when every daughter gets a quality education and you now have around 20 daughters in college and being empowered versus remaining an easy prey and possibly ending up exactly where they began.

It makes all the difference when I can look at these girls and feel that if I had a daughter, I would expect this level of care, and perhaps want even more.

So, how is God calling us to care for the oppressed and the fatherless?

It might look differently for each of us, but I've been praying that God shows me how to identify with these girls and others like them. That I'm not content to focus on my own comfort and living a life a privilege without forsaking it to identify with those lose fortunate than me. All I have comes from God, and I hope that I don't use my blessings for my own selfish reasons but instead I look for a way to stand in the gap and advocate for the oppressed.

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