Numbers Numb

In late March 1994 I was in the middle of a couple months stay in Moscow. Looking back, it was a fabulous, yet critical time in my life. While I was there, it was simply life – with its normal highs and lows. One night as I was sensing God was directing me to work full-time with Russian orphans, I felt so helpless. “What can I do, the need is so overwhelming!” I had been visiting more and more orphanages not only in Russia but in Ukraine and Belarus. So many lonely faces. So many deep needs.

According to UNICEF there are between 143 million and 210 million orphans world-wide. Really?

Does this count kids who have been taken away from families for social reasons? No.

Does this count young people who have left their institution or perhaps have turned 18? No.

Does it include kids who may have been trafficked or sold into slavery? No.

Does it include kids who live in countries who don’t report orphan statistics? No.

It really is impossible to know how many orphans are in the world today. But everyone agrees that it’s a big number. It’s really big. In fact, it’s too big for us to overcome in our lifetime!

DSC_0167Mikhail, Orphan’s Tree staff member, engaged and listening to older orphans. (Kostroma, Russia)

Numbers overwhelm us and even cause us to become numb to the fact that we can do something.

So what can we do?

  1. Meet a single parent for coffee and listen for ways to be supportive.
  2. Coach a sports team. There are always kids who need healthy adult role models in their lives.
  3. Help a family financially that plans on adopting.
  4. Teach your kids to think less about themselves and more about others. And practice what you preach!
  5. As grandparents, find ways to be life-giving, encouraging and supportive with young families in your community.
  6. Become involved in a ministry that is focused on the long term needs of orphans. Volunteer using your professional talents or your gifts, pray for a specific child, orphanage or country, give to a program that provides mentorship and hope, or go on a trip and personally get to know the issues and then be willing to share the needs with others when you return.

 “Not all of us can do great things. But we can all do small things with great love."

Mother Theresa