God’s Heart and Ours. God is vested, deeply and personally, in the plight of the orphan—and in all who are destitute and defenseless (Dt 10:18; Ps 10:14; Ps 68:5-6, Is 58:5-12). He calls His people to join Him in this, sharing His passion for orphans and bringing to each child the love of Jesus Christ in both word and deed (Is 1:17; Jms 1:27; Mt 25:40).
Responsive Love. To act upon God’s call to care for orphans is not merely a matter of duty or reaction to need. It is first a response to Gospel: the loving Father who sought us, adopted us, and invites us to live as His sons and daughters (1 Jn 4:19; Eph 1:15; Gal 4:6).
Commitment to the Whole Child. To meet only spiritual or only physical needs of an orphan is incomplete (1 Jn 3:17; Jms 2:16; Mk 8:36). Christian love seeks to address both. Even a cup of water given to quench the momentary thirst of a child is of eternal value (Mt 10:42). Yet of surpassing greatness is to know Jesus as Lord (Phil 3:8). So, just as in the ministry of Jesus, we should always hold together the meeting of physical need with the Gospel and our hope that every child will know God’s love deeply and personally.
Priority of Family. God created the family as the ideal environment for every child, and the best outcome for an orphan is to know the love of a permanent family. Given the vast and complex needs facing orphans worldwide, this is not always possible. However, priority should always be placed on family-based solutions, and any long-term care should be as permanent, nurturing and close to family as is feasible for the particular situation.
Role of Residential Care. Crisis situations sometimes demand residential care for children, including orphanages and foster care group homes. To the fullest extent possible, however, residential care should be viewed as short-term and transitional. In general, the goal for each orphaned child should be to seek a solution as far as feasible along a “continuum” toward permanent family: large group homes, small group homes, foster care, kinship care, and, ultimately, full adoption whenever willing families can be found.
Family Preservation. Whenever possible, children classified as “orphans” that have one surviving parent or other relatives should be helped to remain with family members. Efforts that enable families to stay together and prevent children from ending up in orphanages or on the streets are a vital part of response to the global orphan crisis.
Central Role of Local Church. The local church in every nation possesses both the Christian mandate and many other resources needed to care for the world’s orphans in a nurturing, family-based environment. Every initiative to care for orphans should prioritize and honor the role of the local church, carefully pairing what foreign resources may be necessary with local believers willing to open their hearts and homes to orphans in their community.