“A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families …” (Psalm 68:5¬–6 NIV)
According to UNICEF,1 there are an estimated 153 million children worldwide who are orphans. UNICEF defines an orphan as a child (18 years old or younger) who has lost one or both parents. This number would be much larger if we were to include children where one or both parents have abandoned their child, or are no longer able to live with their child due to incarceration or other worrying reasons. In Singapore, there are about 800 children who have been placed in children’s homes because of such reasons.
The February 2022 issue of Methodist Message focuses on the Sphere of the Family. We all believe that it is so important and precious to belong to a loving and supportive family. Sadly, we can probably add to the number of “orphans” in this world if we include those who have been, not just abandoned or forgotten, but rejected and excluded. And of course, the number would be even larger if we were to include, not just children 18 years old or younger, but adult children who no longer enjoy the support of a family, through any one or more of the reasons mentioned above.
The Bible, in Psalm 68:5, describes God as the “father of orphans” (NRSV), but then in the very next verse describes the orphan more broadly as one who is desolate or lonely. “God sets the lonely in families” (NIV). We believe in a God who “makes a home for the lonely” (NAS).
We live in a world where many of us are, or feel, orphaned and lonely. God wants to set us all in loving families. Let’s not turn people away from our families, but instead let us work with God to be a family that welcomes orphans and all who are lonely. For we serve a God who is “the father of orphans” and who “sets the lonely in families”.
|Bishop Dr Gordon Wong was elected Bishop of The Methodist Church in Singapore in 2020.
He served as President of the Trinity Annual Conference from 2012-2020.