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Visiting orphans and widows…

James 1:27 says, “Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” Have you ever wondered why the word VISIT? Lord, why not ADOPT? Why not STAY? Why VISIT? Have you thought about it???

While God DOES often plan for many orphans to be adopted into families (and I believe FAMILY is the BEST place for EVERY child)–I also know that God knew eliminating the orphan crisis wouldn’t happen on this side of heaven–and we would need this important direction to know HOW to live out pure and undefiled religion. SURE–some of us WILL adopt–and in that–our children are NO LONGER orphans (AMEN to that!). BUT…what about those who will not be adopted? The ones that once knew family but it’s a distant memory? Those that are in countries that adoption really isn’t an option?

“Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.”

Visiting orphans will not be easy…

It requires leaving our families for a time. (How hard this can be on a mom–from just a planning perspective…oh and then the heart! I have actually had moms tell me they think it is wrong for a mom to leave their young children to go for a week or two to visit orphans. I do not know what to say to that–but Jesus was more bold than I am. In Luke 14:26 He addresses this better than my Southern mom self would–but He is right. “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters–yes, even his own life–he cannot be my disciple.” Now–Jesus isn’t telling you to hate your wife and children of course–but our commitment to following Him must come FIRST–and being obedient to what He asks you to do as His disciple…or you cannot be His disciple. It’s nothing to get worked up about–it is our choice…and we certainly can’t make moms feel guilty for following Jesus to the ends of the earth even if it means someone else serves their little ones at home Cheerios and hotdogs for a week instead of me…really such a small sacrifice when you think about it. THEY WILL BE JUST FINE!)

It requires a huge financial sacrifice. (Couldn’t they use my travel money in a better way? Jesus said in Matthew 26:11 “The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me.” Jesus says THIS just after he explains how God divides the sheep from the goats in Mathew 25:40, β€œThe King will reply, β€˜Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ INDEED–the poor will always be with us…and although the WORLD will say “Wouldn’t it make MORE sense if you gave your travel expenses TO the poor?” And the answer is, “No. We are indeed called to give to the poor–but we are instructed to VISIT the orphans and widows for a purpose. Out of visiting, we will know how to give–not only of our finances but of our hearts and more of our lives as well.”)

It requires giving some of your heart away. Although you THINK God is asking you to go visit the orphans and widows in their distress for THEIR sake–when you go…you realize that these sweet souls have so much more than many of us will ever have. Life is SLOW. They have EACH OTHER. They find JOY in the little things. They DANCE before the Lord. They RELY on Him to meet their EVERY need. He IS ENOUGH for them…

And I return home…



And I am overwhelmed. Because I realize–He loves ME so much. That He didn’t let me just stay in my comfort zone and MISS SEEING HIM.

You start to get what He REALLY meant when He said, “Whatever you do for the least of these…you do for me” because you actually EXPERIENCE and SEE Jesus in a way you never imagined…

And all of the sudden…


You believe in a whole new and deep and real way.


You realize really what life is all about…and it changes your marriage, how you parent, HOW YOU LOVE, how you see your children and the world around you.


and you will never again be the same.

CAN YOU TELL THAT I CAN’T WAIT TO GO BACK??? I want to encourage YOU! If you have the chance to visit orphans and widows in their distress…to go. Sure there are sacrifices–but oh the BLESSINGS are worth every last one.

And just to bring you up to date a bit on some of the sweetest orphans in our lives…they are doing pretty good! Sole Hope visited Wiphan last week and began teaching the ladies how to make SHOES!!!!

The Lord connected Asher and I a few years ago through photography–and I just love how He has weaved our lives back this time again but through Africa. Asher and her husband are also in the process of adopting–and we are SO thankful for how she and her team are pouring into our widows to teach them a new skill!

This is sweet Elizabeth…she has been a part of Wiphan Zambia since the beginning…she looks SO HAPPY here and I love seeing her smile…

Here the ladies are hard at work…

They were just a LITTLE excited to learn a new skill–don’t you think?! From the way I hear it, they DANCED every time someone learned a new part of the pattern for the shoes…

And you must see some of the cuties waiting outside…

At meal time…

And before a SOCCER/FUTBOL match…check out these jerseys…They think they are the STUFF having their own jerseys! Granted they might be barefoot–but they have jerseys right;)?!

Oh there is so much sweetness in VISITING…and it has been TOO LONG for this momma. I’ll admit I’m scared to death to leave my young children–but I know Jesus will provide the perfect care and He is enough for them…and He loves each of my babies even more than I do (WOW right?!). THE KEY to visiting orphans and widows is found in the last part of the verse…

“…keep yourself unstained by the world”…the world will have it’s opinions…the world won’t make it easy for you…and heck, most in your world might not even support or help you…but it’s not about the world…it’s about following HIM and being unconformed to the patterns of this world. And the more we go–the more unconformed we will be.

Cheri Rogers - March 22, 2011 - 12:31 am

Heck girl… the more I become aware, and get my head out of the… sand πŸ˜‰ the more uncomfortable I am.

Deborah L. King - March 22, 2011 - 8:00 am

Thanks Andrea, I needed to hear this.

Natalie - March 22, 2011 - 9:33 am

I love what you said about how visiting orphans changes us and I just want to encourage people that it is not always necessary to leave our children at home while we go on these trips. We do medical missions in a very poor area of the Dominican Republic and have always taken our children. My 8-year-old son has been there five times and the lessons he has learned about living with fewer possessions but more joy are invaluable! Sometimes I don’t feel like I am “getting as much done” with my young children along, but if the goal is changed hearts, it is absolutely worth it.

admin - March 22, 2011 - 9:39 am

WONDERFUL advice Natalie!!! We can’t wait until our kids are old enough to take with us!!! I think our oldest is getting old enough! What an amazing gift to give them–and oh the connecting and bonding I’m sure this brings to a mom and her children as well!

Jessica - March 22, 2011 - 10:53 am

So so happy you are getting to go!! What a blessing! Great truths in this post…

Elle J - March 22, 2011 - 11:01 am

To go … to Wiphan Africa … would be … breathtaking … life changing … inspiring. One day, Andrea, I will join you. Praying for His guidance to show me the day and the way.

Leah - March 22, 2011 - 11:14 am

I traveled to Ethiopia in October to bring my son home, and had to leave my 3 month daughter behind. Yes. It was SO hard. And of course it was greeted with mixed reactions, but I felt strongly about going and seeing my son’s birth country, and you know what, my entire family is better for it. πŸ™‚

Bonnie Nieuwstraten - March 22, 2011 - 1:43 pm

YES!! Just this morning I was praying, and the Lord told me, “Get ready. You’re going back to Rwanda.” I am SO excited. We’ve been involved with orphan care there with Africa New Life for 8 years. But going….that changes everything! We took our kids when they were 7 and 9 on our way to Ethiopia and it was life changing. They loved it. Ya, the flight was long and they were hungry sometimes, but in the big picture, who cares? They do not remember any of the tough stuff. This time, we will take Grace and she will only be 5, maybe 6. I would SO encourage anyone to take their kids when they’re young and while their hearts are still so moldable. Can’t wait to see how God uses you through Wiphan!

Erin Crenshaw - March 22, 2011 - 9:33 pm

Great, great stuff, Andrea!!! This was so encouraging!

dennis neal - March 23, 2011 - 12:34 am

my wife and i have been going through the adoption process through dillon for a boy from ethiopia was hoping for a son between 2-5, so sad really had Gods blessing with numerous miracles and signs, but health reasons and timing of adoption process in ethiopia has changed our minds. Please pray for us I want to be in the center of Gods will but maybe he has other plans I just dont know thanks so much. i love your blog by the way i read weekly thanks

Sandi - March 23, 2011 - 11:32 am

Amen girl!!!! I agree that kids get alot out of seeing their parents sacrifice & do for others. We have to teach them compassion by example. I think God truly blesses us through bringing to light the imminent needs of others & calling us to act in some way. I almost feel like in the end the “giver/visitor/servant” is the one who receives the most. It’s truly amazing how in the end it causes everyone to draw closer to him.

Sandi - March 23, 2011 - 11:42 am

PS TO DENNIS NEAL: God sometimes changes our plans but it is all part of his divine plan. He will lead you in the direction he has laid out especially for you & heal your aching heart. Romans 8:28 in ALL THINGS God works for the GOOD of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. I will be praying for you & your family day & night!!!!!!

Asher Collie - March 23, 2011 - 2:37 pm

What a sweet post! Where did you get those pics? So funny, I have never seen them until right now! πŸ™‚

Cristie - March 25, 2011 - 7:49 am

GIRL!!!!!!!!!!! God used this post in the most major way for me!! John and I are going to Uganda this summer for two weeks to a place called restoration gateway..orphanage, school, training center. We were at decision time about whether to take or leave or kids for two weeks. This post was part of what God used to calm my heart and continue to confirm. Thanks, friend! Decision made…we’re taking our oldest and leaving the younger two. Gulp…here we go…our first trip to Africa! And this morning, God said he’ll make the time away from the little ones seem fast! He ‘s so kind!!