We are not saved by works, but our faith works! James describes “pure and undefiled religion before God” as “visiting orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world” (James 1:27). While not negating the importance of purity and separation, we not only speak about the love of Christ, but also show it.
We are uniquely blessed by the Florida Baptist Children’s Homes which is celebrating 113 years of helping kids and families. Led by Dr. Jerry Haag, they allow churches and individuals to be uniquely involved in helping those who are so often helpless and hopeless. We welcome Dr. Haag and the Board to our campus, hosting a very special dinner on Monday evening as we share the vision about helping in Florida and abroad. I am excited to support a ministry that in 2016 impacted 171,273 children and families domestically through 24 ministry site locations and also in 14 different countries. Their theme is, “One More Child!”
In Florida, there are 1,899,000 children living below the 200% poverty level. In our state, there are 1,559,000 children living in a single parent home. Almost half of all families in Florida living in poverty are headed by a single mother, with nearly 280,000 single mother households in poverty. In our county and four others surrounding it, there are 82,059 single parent households. There is a 19% increase in the number of children being removed from their homes due to abuse, neglect and abandonment in Southwest Florida, totalling 1,000 children this year. To change the possible trajectory of a child growing up in poverty heading to drugs and crime, we must begin by helping not only the child but the mother to find Christ and grow in Him.
Janet and I are passionately concerned that our church lead out in the building of a Brave Mom’s Home to serve courageous single mothers and their children. Dr. Haag will share how this can happen and provide shelter, mentoring and love. This entails the purchase of a site, building a home, and providing volunteers.
The Florida Baptist Children’s Homes also provides the The Porch Light ministry to those in sex trafficking, as well as the possibilities of adoption and foster care for many families. Orphan’s Heart is a familiar ministry to many of our people who have gone to Guatemala to help hungry kids and has international impact.
While we are affluent in the goods of this world, God calls us to be “rich in faith and heirs of the Kingdom, which He has promised to those who love Him” (James 2:5). Jesus has told us to bring the children to Him. We dare not take the attitude of the disciples who “rebuked them.” In both concrete and symbolic ways, we are like Jesus as we “take them in our arms and bless them” (Mark 10:16).