Orphanages serve as one of the greatest influences on Christians to become missionaries or donate to charities. This comes from the desire to help children without parents who cannot provide for themselves. Unfortunately, over recent years, research and statistics about orphanages reflect that the money donated to many orphanages does the opposite of protecting kids. So, what exactly happens in orphanages? Are all orphanages bad? How should the church and missionaries respond to the devastating discoveries about orphanages? In order to protect children across the globe as James 1:27 instructs Christians to do, these questions must be investigated.
Recent research demonstrates that the kids placed in orphanages in developing countries often have at least one living parent. Unbelievably, orphanage workers in developing countries sometimes recruit children to live in their orphanages. Studies in Cambodia recently illustrated a serious issue in which workers at orphanages purchased children from poor families to place in their orphanages. Additionally, research reflects that even though the number of orphans has significantly decreased over the past decade, the number of residential care institutions like orphanages has increased by 75% in Cambodia (Kelly). From there, these institutions advertise the children they placed in orphanages in order to receive money from donors. Spending their childhood in an orphanage in and of itself has major consequences, but in addition orphanages in developing countries sometimes leave kids severely malnourished and even give adults outside their family access to the “orphans” from hours to days at a time (Kelly). The severity of conditions in these orphanages needs acknowledgment, empathy, and action to ensure that this kind of mistreatment stops.
To globally help children in orphanages, Christians, and specifically missionaries, need to agree that although orphanages historically had an important role to play in the care of children, in 2021 they are a temporary and inadequate situation for any child. All kids deserve to grow up in a loving home with suitable parental figures. Orphanages should certainly focus on taking proper care of kids while they reside there, but should focus even more on finding suitable homes for each orphan (Kelly). In an effort to endorse more adoption in Nigeria, Hadiza El-Rufai, the First Lady of Nigeria, explains that “No matter how well run an orphanage is, we really do not want our children to grow up there; it can never be as a child growing up in a family with mother and father.” She also adds that people can contribute to the well-being of orphans in more ways than just donating money (Alhassan). Christians should understand that through missions, they should hope to accomplish a reduction in the number of orphanages instead of building more. This goal will benefit the children in foreign countries as missionaries and donors focus on finding orphans loving homes.
Instead of abruptly stopping donations to orphanages or ignoring the devastating results that research done on orphanages reveals, Christians should consider how to best aim donations and missions. Although the information in this article is certainly heartbreaking, hopefully, Christians can push themselves to ask difficult questions about orphanages or any institutions they have donated money (Kandiah). God asks for Christians and missionaries to think critically and consider both the potential benefits and consequences of each of their actions. In the NIV version of the Bible in Proverbs 14:15, King Solomon writes that “The simple believe anything, but the prudent give thought to their steps.” Clearly, the Bible asks Christians to contemplate what to believe and how to act. When it comes to missions and taking care of children, Christians should take this verse deeply into account to honor the Kingdom of God and effectively care for the disadvantaged.
Alhassan, Rayyan. “Kaduna First Lady Urges Nigerians to Adopt Orphans.” Daily Nigerian, 6 Dec. 2018, https://dailynigerian.com/kaduna-first-lady-urges-nigerians-to-adopt-orphans/.
Kandiah, Krish. “The Christian Case against the Orphanage.” ChristianityToday.com, Christianity Today, 8 Aug. 2019, https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2019/august-web- only/christian-case-against-orphanage-kandiah-gls.html.
Kelly, Nicola. “Urgent Action Needed to Halt Trafficking of Children in World’s Orphanages – Report.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 14 Dec. 2021, https:// www.theguardian.com/global-development/2021/dec/14/urgent-action-needed-to-halt- trafficking-of-children-in-worlds-orphanages-report?fbclid=IwAR1- l3P4K859F55PGsOcI1ZMLJbJBhvOz3Qp5RiILqX3Lnu5zUjQTR4ZJus.