By Tony Richmond, associate pastor for family ministry at First Baptist Church of Keller, Texas
“To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Colossians 1:27
In orphan ministry, as in any ministry, we can sometimes forget where our hope is found.
Orphans’ hope is not found in a safe place to nurture them. Their hope is not found in a family that will travel across the counties, states, countries, or oceans to adopt them. Their hope is not found in a community of people who will surround them and their family. Make no mistake—loving families and churches are significant means of grace. But orphans’ ultimate hope is found in Jesus alone.
This year marks the 500th anniversary of the beginning Protestant Reformation. The Reformers identified five principles as central to the doctrine of salvation. One of those principles was Solus Christus—“only Christ”.
Solus Christus refers to the teaching that Jesus Christ is the only mediator between God and man. Without Christ, there is no salvation. The work for our salvation and our being declared righteous by God is due to the work of Christ alone.
Without Jesus, we have no hope. Without Jesus, there is no hope for orphans. This means that we need to make sure that our care for orphans and vulnerable children is centered on the true hope found in Christ.
Here are three ways to ensure that the hope that we are giving to orphans and vulnerable children is centered on Christ:
See your sin biblically.
While the good news of Jesus is that we have been declared eternally righteous in Him, there is no denying that we struggle with our sinful flesh. As parents, we make mistakes. As Paul says in Romans 7, we “do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.”
As parents, pastors, or ministry leaders, we are sinful beings walking on our own path of sanctification while attempting to lead others in their sanctification. Admitting our need for Christ’s forgiveness frees us to walk humbly alongside those we lead.
See your identity biblically.
As parents, we can be tempted to take their sense of meaning and purpose from our children. But this is a terrible place to find identity, leading us to take our children’s sin and brokenness as personal failures or insults.
Our identity does not come from our kids’ obedience. It comes from God. God has redeemed you and adopted you. You are his precious child forever. Realizing this frees us from asking our kids for perfect obedience that they are not able to give, and it leads us to forget ourselves and lead with sacrifice and selflessness.
See success biblically.
How we lead is shaped by what we think success looks like. As parents, we look to academic achievement, social connection, or milestone development to check how our parenting is going. As ministry leaders, we look to attendance numbers, likability, or positive reviews to assess our ministry.
But our success is not measured by what has been produced—by grades, by attendance, by positive comments. It is about being a tool in the hands of our God, who is truly capable to produce eternal transformation in the lives of the ones we lead.