On Nov. 1, Orphans and Widows Sunday, Southern Baptist churches across the country will remember our mandate to practice James 1:27 throughout the year. Not only that, but November is Adoption Awareness Month. With such a large emphasis on serving widows and orphans this month, here are three ways a believer can be mindful of them throughout the year.
1. Be close to the brokenhearted
Scripture tells us clearly that God is close to the brokenhearted (Psalm 34:18). Those of us who choose to imitate Christ know that we should be close to the brokenhearted as well.
Last year our neighbor’s husband had a medical emergency; sadly, he did not survive. In the following weeks, we saw her local church show up and draw near. There was rarely a night when we didn’t see cars in her driveway, with someone bringing a meal over or just sitting with her. My husband remarked, “It does my heart good seeing that front door open so often.”
The local church has the profound opportunity to be near to the brokenhearted over a long period of time. Whereas it is hard for one individual to carry the weight of being near all the time, there is strength and stability when a group of people dedicate themselves to those who are suffering, whether widows in our communities or children placed in foster care.
2. Practice a lifestyle of service
Throughout the New Testament we are called to a lifestyle of service. Philippians 2:3-4 tells us that we’re to do nothing out of selfish ambition and are to look to the interests of others. Galatians 5:13 encourages us to not use our freedom for our flesh, but to serve one another humbly in love. And 1 Peter 4:10 says that whatever gifts we have should be used to serve others.
When we look at scripture, it is undeniable that serving those in need is a critical part of the believer’s life. And so, we don’t merely give lip service to orphans and widows this Sunday; we find ways to serve them throughout the year and practice the biblical call to a lifestyle of service.
3. Pray regularly
“Thoughts and Prayers” has gotten a bad rap lately. It’s often used as a shallow condolence offered without any commitment to act on another’s behalf. And yet, for Christians, we know that one of the most powerful things we can do is to charge the throne of God boldly on behalf of one another.
People of prayer don’t merely offer thoughts and prayers as a condolence; rather, we commit ourselves to think about and pray for orphans and widows regularly. We pray for them with our families and friends around the dinner table. We ask God to give us eyes to see them in our communities, so that when we are praying we can name them by name and then act on the ways the Holy Spirit moves us to serve them.
Prayer is never an empty sentiment in the believer’s life. Instead, it’s a powerful tool to advance God’s Kingdom in our world, and so we pray big and audacious prayers over the orphaned and widowed. We pray boldly, “Thy Kingdom come,” with all its restoration and redemption, “on this earth as it is in heaven.”
Every day is orphans and widows Sunday
Orphans and Widows Sunday is a great way for us to align our hearts with the call to practice true religion (James 1:27). But let us guard our hearts against relegating this to one Sunday a year, and let it serve as a reminder that our lives should always be poured out for the sake of the orphan and widow. In other words, may every day look like Orphans and Widows Sunday.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Brittany Salmon is a professor, wife, mother and writer living in Abilene, Texas.)