A Plea to Pastors on Behalf of the Orphan

by | 4 May, 2017 | 7 comments

Is your pastor neglecting a great Gospel issue?

Up until two years ago, I’d never heard a sermon on adoption. A great multitude languishes in our midst, devoid of hope, desperate in affliction, and most of all, ignorant of the life-changing message of Jesus Christ. Who will be the one to deliver the words of life to the orphan, even by proxy? The issue of the orphan is a great Gospel issue.

Here is the logic. Pastors desire to reach the lost with the Gospel. Many (most) of the lost are unchurched and unlikely to repent as an adult. Yet, every year, we ‘graduate’ thousands of unchurched children into adulthood via the foster system, swelling the ranks of those least likely to repent.

Adoption, physical adoption, serves to reach them as children or teenagers, when they are much more receptive to Christ. This is a Gospel issue, a great and tragic Gospel issue. Pastors preach against sin and its ill effects, as they should, but tracing the problem as close to the source as possible, an ever increasing number of children have no parents to teach them about Christ.

Orphans suffer physical affliction far greater than you may imagine. Every year, thousands turn 18 without being adopted and enter a life of affliction: incarceration, addiction, pregnancy out of wedlock, and homelessness. Bleakness shrouds their future. Statistically, all of them will fail at life. Yet, this is not the real issue. The real issue is that most of them don’t know Christ!

The Gospel is relational, communicated most effectively to people with whom you have a relationship. Not to discount the random encounter with a stranger – the Holy Spirit moves where He wills – but from the beginning, God’s people were to spread over the earth via procreation and discipleship. (Genesis 1:28) The parent-child bond should be the tightest of all relationships. Even secular researchers acknowledge the vast influence of parents over their children. This is why the Bible so vehemently exhorts parents, fathers really, but parents, to teach.           

            Train up a child in the way he should go… (Proverbs 22:6a)

            You shall teach them [these words] diligently to your children… (Dt. 6:7)

            Make them known [the things of God] to your children… (Deuteronomy 6:4)

            We will not hide them [the things of God] from their children… (Psalm 78:4a)

Children unequivocally inherit the faith, or lack thereof, of their parents, their fathers really, but their parents. For this reason, God commands parents so pointedly to teach our children about Christ, to bring them up in the way of the Lord. Now, consider those who have no parents. What about them? Who will teach them about Christ?

Yet, pastors seem largely silent on the issue. I was saved in 2005 and have attended church at least weekly since then and until our church preached through the issue two years ago, had never once heard a sermon on the need, on the biblical mandate, to adopt.

My frustration is that God’s Word does not return void. Based upon the few times we’ve preached on the issue, several families have answered the call to foster and/or adopt and several more seriously consider it. From our tiny church, more than a dozen children, from unimaginable backgrounds, are now being reared in a loving, godly home, and brought up in the way of the Lord…all from the faithful exposition of God’s Word on the topic.

Where desperation once prevailed, hope abounds.

The system struggles with need. In our region, the Department of Children’s Services scrambles to find homes for 1009 foster children from among only 249 foster families. In all of Tennessee, DCS counts only 2434 foster homes to place nearly 9,000 children. Thousands of children will never be taught about Christ from the most trusted people in their world, their parents.

Two years ago, the desperation of the situation prompted a local youth judge to assemble the pastors in our community. He sought encourage our local pastors to exhort God’s people to adopt, to foster. We met a few more times and talked about it a bit. After that, the group dwindled and disbanded.

When I asked one of my peers about the apparent disinterest, he commented that each pastor already had their own ‘projects’ they were working and typically were hesitant to add any more to their already full plate.

Pastors exhort their people to obey the Great Commission, to seek and to save the lost. (Matthew 28:19-20, Luke 19:10) We challenge our people to open their mouths and communicate the life-changing message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ…to strangers. We’ve invented programs – Sharing Jesus without Fear and The Way of the Master come to mind – to teach us how to share the Gospel…with strangers. Each summer we dispatch church members on short trips to far-away lands to serve and talk about Jesus…with strangers.

What if God’s under-shepherds (pastors) exhorted God’s people to adopt, to raise these children in godly homes, to teach them about Christ? What if pastors exhorted the Church to repent of this oversight and to see adoption as the desperate Gospel issue that it is? Maybe then, the Church would not stand idly by as this multitude languishes, desperate for what they cannot fathom. Will you be the one to tell them?

Call upon your pastor today and challenge him to preach the full counsel of God’s word concerning the orphan.


  1. Kristina Smith

    Great article! Bold and true! Will be sharing and so very thankful for a Pastor in our lives that gets this and is seeking ways to change it! <3 (only thing I didn't feel was spot on…. "The parent-child bond should be the tightest of all relationships." While it is MOST important, Mom & Dad's relationship with one another, and each individuals relationship with Christ must come before, for all to be successful. 🙂 )

  2. Kyle Thompson

    Appreciate this post and shared it with a Jewish businessman I’ve been connected to through a movie project which highlights the MULLY: the World’s Largest Family (12,000+ orphans from the streets of Nairobi over the last 28 years). He came to Christ while working with the movie and since then has openly voiced his concern that church’s don’t know what to do practically after preaching.

    Would love your thoughts on this as we are going to be sharing this post with the pastors we’re connecting to this movie project

    • Bradford Smith

      Kyle, let me know what you need. I am led to speak to this issue in any forum provided.

  3. Larry Asher

    A good read with a lot of insight and challenge.


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Bradford Smith

Bradford Smith

Author - Founder

Soldier, Pastor, Author – Bradford stays busy, with his wife Ami, raising their 9 children, serving the nation, pastoring, preaching, and writing books (#3 is due out October ’17).


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This is a powerful read in a small book. The subtitle hits the mark with its description of, "A Biblical Treatise on Adoption." The author poses a challenge to the reader to stop reading the book upfront if the reader does not want to be moved to action.

   Janice S. Garey  

The call that sounds for the incredible need of emotionally and physically abandoned and orphaned children and one that when answered manifests the love of Christ.

  Anne Rightler

This book is a must read for anyone affected in any way by addictions. So many of the situations in this book seem hopeless, but as Brad so clearly points out, Christ is the solution and the only hope of man. As long as there is breath, there is hope!

  Scott Doherty

In Scourge, Brad offers us more than cold statistics or a cautionary tale. Instead, he offers us the solution - faith backed by action - to overcome this insidious problem Insightful and provocative, Scourge is a warning flag, guide post and rally to hope for all of us.

 Chad Chasteen


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