Are you still looking for what your life's purpose might be? Many are. Scripture may help you find your way. James 1:29 says it is "to visit widows and orphans in their affliction." That seems pretty clear. And there are lots of ways to do that.
Widows, especially the newly widowed, are often left with little or no support system. Often they have few, if any, work skills. They may be stuck in low-paying jobs. And if they are left with the need to support children as well as themselves it can be overwhelming. And the emotional trauma can leave them even more vulnerable. This is clearly "widows in their affliction."
Lead your faith organization in developing support groups and resources for widows in, as well as outside, your congregation. Do more than carry in casseroles after a death. Follow up with resources the family may need.You may be able to provide emotional support, guidance, mentoring, career building, transportation, child care, advocacy, even financial support where needed. Help widows build networks that enable them to build healthy and strong futures for themselves and their children. Explore community organizations that may also develop support and resources that can become part of a network.
And we are to visit orphans in their affliction. I'd say that this goes beyond the technical definition of orphan - children who survive the death of both parents. I'd include children who are without care-giving parents, perhaps because the parents are deemed unfit, are in prison, or are separated due to military service or illness. There are millions of children left to social services, foster care, or bounced around between extended family members, children without a permanent or long-term home.
Caring foster parents are often in short supply. If there are not stable foster care homes available when children enter the system they end up in institutions or go to foster homes where there are multiple foster children and little care, where they are neglected or abused. Sometimes children wait years for a home, especially if they are waiting to be adopted. These children need love and support, mentoring and care. Perhaps you can find ways to help. Children should not have to remain abandoned.
Adoption is one of the best ways to rescue an orphaned or abandoned child. Support efforts to make adoption a more affordable and more visible option in your community. Perhaps your faith community could create a fund to help pay expenses of adoption. And they could encourage their members to adopt, especially older and disabled children who are harder to place. Then the members could support the family as they work through the issues of being adoptive parents.
- Your organization could host a screening of the film The Dropbox.
- Educate yourself and others on the situation of foster care in your community and state. How many are in the foster care system? Are their enough people willing to care for needy children on short notice? Do local ministries and havens for children have enough resources?
- Read "Twelve Ways Ordinary People Can Love Orphans." at http://www.christianalliance for orphans.org/wp-content/uploads/Twelve-Ways-to-Love-the-Orphans.pdf.
- To be sure your helping and not hurting, read When Helping Hurts by Steve Corbett & Brian Fikkert.
- Give generously to organization locally and around the world that support the health, safety, and well-being of vulnerable children.
What will you do with your life?