“Pure religion is taking care of the widows and orphans and keeping one's self unspotted from the world .”. - James 1:27
In the small kingdom of Swaziland, 43 percent of all new born babies have HIV/AIDS. It is estimated that less than 1% of those children will never know who one or either of their parents. Many children must take care of themselves at young ages. They must find shelter, provide their own food, care for their brothers and sisters, even educate themselves with out much guidance at all. Perhaps a kind relative, a series of relatives, or friends will provide much needed care. In a country that is so devastated with HIV, children are treated as mostly an inconvenience-an unwanted byproduct of sexual promiscuity. Many women must also take care of many children (some not their own), as men who fathered the children are simply “not around.” While it may seem remote from our world in the United States, it is reality in this world.
The book of James points to a timeless truth in the scriptures-God's heart for taking care of those who are defenseless. While in biblical times, the causes of women being widows and children being orphans may have been different, the fact still remains that many in this world are in difficult situations of survival not of their own choosing. Both in the Old Testament and in the New, God calls His people to take notice of this segment of society and to care for them. To ignore the plight of the widows and orphans who barely eek out a survival is to ignore the work and will of God.
We have many in our society today who are either completely defenseless or who find themselves in situations of survival that are not of their own choosing. To say that somehow they must “pull themselves up by their own bootstraps” is an argument made from privilege, an argument made from the position of plenty or of some success. The gospel calls us to reach beyond our blessings into the lives of those who are struggling-those who truly need our help and our care. Take a look at a website to learn more how you might be able to help: www.missionprovidence.org. May we be doers of the word and not simply “hearers.” (James 1:22)