Do you love the widows and orphans of the world?

God is very interested in the widows and orphans. Are you?

It’s amazing how plain James makes the care of widows and orphans in verse 27 of chapter 1:

Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world. (KJV)

The NIV puts a slightly different twist on it:

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. (NIV)

Religion, we’re told, should primarily be concerned with protecting the vulnerable and helping us stay pure in a sinful world. I’ll be the first to admit that if unprodded I rarely practice the first two (well, all three if I’m being honest). I’d much rather leave the messy business of caring for kids without parents to someone who “has a heart for those things.” Likewise, looking after widows might mean sympathizing with someone’s painful loss.

It’s just so much easier to just read my Bible to myself, then to go and care for groups of people that have been forgotten.

So I wonder, when’s the last time you made a concerted effort to reach out a widow or an orphan? Is it something that you do regularly? Do you have any stories of how you’ve been blessed by the experience?

What does your church do to practice what James calls “pure religion”?

This train of thought was started when I ran across a site called As you might have guessed given the URL and the content of this post, there are approximately 143 million orphans in the world. To put it in perspective, that’s about half the population of the United States.

If you’re interested, they have a number of ideas of how to help the orphans of the world.

17 Responses to “Do you love the widows and orphans of the world?”

  • rose says:

    very very good never looked at it like that. I always looked at keep oneself unspotted from the world. But we are to tdo the first two as well

  • Arita says:

    i’m 42 and i’ve been a widow for 6yrs now…i lost my home and my car and i had no money because my husband didn’t leave any insurance…my church claimed they loved me and would be by myside…well i’m living with a former co-worker and sleeping on the floor…my oldest is in her first year of college. and i have two at home!! it’s been a struggle to make ends meet when your at a loss of income and your help is gone!! i love the lord but i don’t feel the same anymore about joining a church…i do visit a church but i’m not going to join….it might be a long time before i do that again!! god bless, arita

    • Chris says:

      @arita wow, I cannot imagine the heartache you’re going through! Thank you for sharing. It’s sobering to hear your story. I hope you can find a church that truly cares for you.

    • Darlene says:


      Hang in there. I too am a widow and have gone through similar frustrations (and continue to!). But I reminded that He is faithful (even when I can’t see it or feel it). I do my best to live by the Word of God; I concentrate not so much in what people are or are not doing, but what I am doing. I pray that you find peace and that you find a home church who lives and breathes God’s word. In the meantime, stay faithful and God will provide.

    • Suzanne says:

      Thank you for sharing. When I read a post like yours it reminds me of times when I have felt like my church failed me in one area or another. I remember at the times that I wanted to complain the Lord quickly caused me to look at my life and to remember any times that I helped someone else in my situation. I usually found that I failed. I was being given what I had given – little or nothing! It’s times like these that I can use to grow in Him and be a true humble follower, or I can allow a victory for the evil one, and allow the fellowship to be broken. I saw that my church needed me desperately because there were none who lived out their faith in certain areas. I found that by my living by example there were many who had the same heart, but had never seen how things were done. I can humbly say tat now with my example in certain areas some changes have taken place for the better. I’m going to start praying that you can find the humility, courage and strength to go back to your old church and live out your experiences. Show other widows and homeless folks that you care. You don’t have any material things to give to them, but you do have wisdom. As a matter of fact – God has given you wisdom that your other church members don’t have unless they to have been widows with children and become homeless, etc. I’m praying for you. Can you let me know what things you think a Christian can do to help a widow in your situation. I’m sure that when your husband was living and life was good you might have though the way most people do – “we can’t save everyone”. We all start thinking that maybe we can help with one mortgage payment, but then the next month we can’t so you might loose the house anyway, so it’s all thrown away anyway, etc. I guess we look at things from a business or practcal standpoint. I’m sure you understand because most of us look at some of these thigns as being bigger than we are and that only God can fix them. So, if you could share some effective helps that the average person can give that would be a tremendous help because honestly I don’t know how to help, but I want to.

  • Linda Williams says:

    Chris, was looking up some passages on orphans for a speaking engagement. I have been asked to speak to the kids at the school at my church next week, as my mission is with WMU and orphans is something God just kept speaking to me about for almost 11 years ago now. In my quiet time, it seemed each morning, I would run across a passage about orphans and widows. So I started praying, Lord, what do you want me to do.. So I thought, giving was the answer, that wasn’t it.. going was the answer.. I lead a group of ladies to a children’s home. most have been abused in such manners it is heartbreaking to talk of. Most are waiting for foster care. We go twice a month on Mondays to teach Bible and the church gives us a budget to give the kids a new Bible, as most kids have never had a Bible in their whole lives. They cherish these. WE do a small craft and light snack. I lead out asking for prayer request, and some do, others are shy.. One little boy had just lost his mother a few weeks earlier. Cried while I prayed. The staff said this was the first breakthrough, as he had not opened up to anyone of them about the subject. We have been told also by staff, that the children are the best behaved (as most have mental behavioral problems) while we are there. We have had several confessions for Christ but we know that we are mainly planting the Seed.. It is heartwarming, and sometimes difficult at the same time.. but we all know that this is God’s calling on our lives. I have three women at the time. At one time I had 23 women. You have to really have the compassion for the children that are in group homes, or children’s homes, etc. They are not always the best behaved children, but they are children, and we all realize what their situation was and why they are there. I think this is why my three other ladies and I have stayed as long as we have in this ministry. I do cherish all prayers. We go on first and third Mondays of each Month, this month, we will go the second and third Monday, because two of us are sick, and we are not allowed of course to go into any cottage with any cold, etc.( spreads like crazy). I also have been called to tutor one of the children. I am aghast at the reading levels of most of our kids.. 11 and 12 year olds barely can read at k level. some can read at good, but most part cannot. So my tutor is in reading and Math.. I have talked with a couple of members in our large ch. and told them of volunteer needs and some have done this since they can go during the day, and at their time. Thanks for this article.. I will use next week.. Linda Williams

  • bukky says:

    i love orphans and widows, i really have a passion for them. Am looking forward to having my own organisation for the ORPHANS AND WIDOWS. we need to make them feel loved. you people are doing a great job keep it up God is ur strength.

    • Mark Robinette says:

      Try just helping the ones you meet – you don’t need an organization – we often think big program – the real work of serving the widows and orphans will be done by one helping one at a time –
      I know, I started an org – I thought of it that way too – I learned and thought you could benenfit from it

    • Jeremy says:

      Maybe I’m splitting hairs but they don’t need to “feel” loved – they simply need to BE loved. There is a HUGE difference.

  • Ruth says:

    In the new testament, there is only one religious requirement of Christians. (Not a spiritual requirement, but a religious requirement – of the Christian Church were Jews.

    Under Jewish Law, widows were unders 65, over 65, (Widows Indeed), and Women with children whose husbands abandoned them were Also considered widows. ALL children, without fathers present, regardless of age, were considered orphans under Jewish law.

    Widows in cultures around the world are stigmatized and suffered bias and bigotry.

    Wives with children whose husbands abandoned their families also suffer. In this country, truly abandoned wives with familes don’t have insurance benefits, social security death benefits, they don’t even have the social status of being ‘Widows Indeed.”

    Will the The Church will be held accountable for this bias and bigotry? This one and ONLY religious requirement of the New Testament Christian church – Considered to be so important that it is the ONLY religious requirement – to care for thse women and children? The church is the believers – those who profess to be followers of Christ. Can mmebrs be believers if they don’t accept the only religious requirement?

  • John says:

    Thanks for bringing this up. My wife and I have four biological children and for years talked about how when we raised them and retired, we wanted to go somewhere like Africa and care for orphaned children or sick children as we had a heart for them. Then one day we realized the mission field that was right in our community (in every community). There were children here and now that needed loving homes. We began by doing foster care, and have ended up adopting two children (a brother and sister) who were “unadoptable” due to the boy’s list of issues (MMR, ADHD, etc.). Now we are looking at adopting a 14 year old boy who is also “unadoptable.”
    My point is, get involved now, don’t wait, there are children in your area right now, I guarantee it, who need your family. The need for Christians to step up and take on these children is great. I am saddened at the number of good Christians that I know and love, yet who seem willing to stand on the sidelines. Search your heart, if you have the ability to take on some children, please step out of your comfort zone and do it. God will bless you for it.

    • Sydney says:

      I agree with John that it is truly alarming sometimes the views of some people who say they are christians. However, is judging them our place? How I try to wrap my brain around it is this…just as God gives each of us special gifts or talents, He also gives each of us a different “calling”. I try to remember that as God formed and gave out our hearts He planted in there “burdens” for different needs. It is because of this that we have so many different outreaches and such. My prayer is that we all follow God’s leading and try to remember that these gifts, talents, callings, leadings etc, are potential BLESSINGS if we follow God, for everyone. My husband and I have 5 biological children, 3 adopted children from another country with 6 of these still living at home. We are currently praying about foster care. We feel so humbled that God could use our family in some small way to glorify His kingdom. If we are willing vessels we can feel His hands come down from the heavens to heal the wounds of people. we stand before our Father won’t it be wonderful to hear “thy good and faithful servant”

  • Shelley says:
    check this out, Tich Smith from our church has started this in our province Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa and hoping to take it country wide. Caring for our orphans and widows. The response has been amazing, held a banquet for 4000 people to create awareness and encourage contribution in all forms. Tich has seen this working in Uganda and would be ideal worldwide.

  • Lu says:

    This is about just that…

    Rita, I don’t know if you are still around… I don’t know if this will somehow alert you to these posts… but I’m sorry that you mentioned your situation and everyone just talked about how we should be helping orphans and widows without seeing there is someone right here in their midst they could surely try to help!

    I live in England so not sure I’m much help either but please, will you click on that link and go to my blog? There is a contact me on that and if you still are in need of help, I have many friends in the US and they are the people that ARE adopting orphans throughout the world (I work for a charity that helps find families and advocates for orphans with Down Syndrome and other disabilities) and I know I could find someone that would be able to help you.

  • Yesterday I was praying for widows too and it is very beautiful to know that Iam not alone please pray for me as I try to make a difference in Uganda.

  • Rob Slane says:

    This passage from James is one that I have spent much time in prayer and thought… I just thought that I would share something that I felt God revealed in my heart about this passage… When I first read this passage, my immediate inclination was to think of the plight of the orphaned and widowed… those who have no earthly parents or have lost their married spouses to death. However, the more that I have prayed and considered this passage, I think that James’ exhortation can be seen as much deeper than caring for those who have lost earthly parents or spouses.
    I believe that all who do not share a personal, intimate loving relationship with Jesus Christ are “orphans” and “widows.”
    Jesus equated his relationship to those who would believe in Him (his church) as the “bridegroom” to us… the “bride.” Therefore, those who do not know Him are “widowed” or have “lost” their “bridegroom.” Those who believe are also considered “children” of God, The Father. Therefore, those who do not know Him are “orphaned” in that they have no “Father.”
    This thinking has caused me to consider the “lost” in a much different way… Because of this passage, I am more prone to sympathize with those who do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ–instead of feeling discouraged or even apathetic when friends and loved-ones refuse to accept Him. Much as we all can sympathize with the child who has lost a parent or the wife who has lost her loving husband to sickness or tragic accident, I believe we could all do well to consider those who do not know Jesus Christ in much the same light–as orphaned children who do not know God the “Father” and widows who have no “bridegroom.”