“Without.” The word for orphan from the original language of the Bible simply meant “without.” Today, the United Nations defines an orphan as a child who has lost parents due to neglect, abandonment, abuse, or death. The UN definition is just an expansion of “without.”

If there is anything that touches the heart of God, it is ministry to those without. James conveyed the importance of caring for the without calling it “pure religion.” Historically, caring for the without has been a thread of life for the Church of God. It is our DNA—where there is a Church of God, there is care for the without. So, it is no surprise that when the Church of God reaches into any area of the world of missions, there is the necessary flow of ministry to the without.

Most Church of God children’s homes are started out of necessity by missionaries. It is a similar pattern: missionaries go, they see the horrific needs of children without parents, protection, shelter, food, education, and most of all, without Jesus. Then, they open their hearts and lives to care. Out of necessity, these ministries are adaptable and flexible, meeting the needs of the children within the context of the missionary in basically three categories.

  • Street-Level Interventions reach the children on the street. From daily to weekly interventions, these ministries focus on protection, food, education/tutoring, and discipleship. It is an incarnational ministry as the missionary moves into the neighborhood and reaches into the community.
  • Children’s Residential Ministries Centers provide another layer of care. In most cases, these centers take on the complete parental role providing more than just a bed or shelter, more than just meals, and more than just clothes—they provide a family and a community that cares. A wide variety of models can be utilized, but the theme of family is the same. Most of these centers send their residents to community schools.
  • Residential/Education Ministries Centers provide both residential and educational care for the children they serve. These centers are in areas lacking a sufficient educational component. Often the accredited education for residents reaches beyond the walls of the orphanage to the surrounding community. Thus, ministering to scores of impoverished children who would not be able to afford the high cost of education in their area.

Why does the Church of God care for the orphan—“without”? Because it is who we are!

—John Sweet