Calling … and Following

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I’ve heard it more than once . . .

Okay, I see the numbers. I know there are 153 million orphans out there, and they need to be loved.  I hear the need… and I am really glad you’re doing what you are doing, but God hasn’t called me to do this.


Well, actually He has.

I do get this.  I understand your point.  You are not ready to sell everything and move to Brazil, Mozambique, Thailand.

But you are called.

Look at Scripture’s definition of acceptable religion:  In the book of James – “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

I get the “keep ourselves from being polluted by the world” part, but that is only half of the equation. Caring for widows and orphans is given every bit as much weight and importance as being pure. Righteousness or personal holiness or godliness or whatever term you want to use to describe normative Christianity is every bit as much a function of how we interact with the orphan as it is personal piety and purity.

We like a sanitized faith.

Far too often discipleship is seen as between us and God: I have a daily quiet time, I worship, and I live a pure life. Good, that’s a piece of the puzzle.

But getting dirty, living in relationship with those who are in contextual pain, is absolutely intrinsic to our identity as Christians.

You are called, and your calling makes a difference for desperate children.


A brief story and then a point.  Well, actually, the story is the point . . .

Last week a mission team from Princeton Alliance Church was visiting our City of Youth campus. Philip asked one of our girls—without knowing her story—if she would share her testimony with the group. And she did.

Only fifteen years old when she came to the City of Youth, but she had already experienced a lifetime of pain, abandonment, abuse. She had seen her father murder her stepmother. An abusive relationship led her first to drug addiction and then to prostitution. And then in her words,

One day, I looked in a mirror and did not recognize myself anymore. I knew I had to get help. So I went to the youth authorities, and soon found myself at the City of Youth.

Here I found something different, people who encouraged me, and believed in me, and introduced me to God and His infinite love. I used to always wonder ‘why me,’ and why my family had been taken away. But now I understand that God did not take away my family; He has given me one. The City of Youth is my family; the family I have never had.

But then the point . . .

You may not live here in Brazil, but every one of you is part of my new family. With every smile, with every embrace, you show us that you care, and that you will always be here for us. When I look at you, I see people who are not perfect, but who are doing their best to show every child here the perfect love of our Lord Jesus Christ.


Transformation like this happens when we—as the Church, as individuals, as followers—decide to take our calling seriously and live out religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless . . .

. . . to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

So, let’s continue this conversation.

How will you live out this calling?

2 Responses to Calling … and Following

  1. Anna & David August 19, 2014 at 12:02 pm #

    We are both enjoying your book. David was an exchange student to Univ. of Sao Paulo in 87. He transferred to the Campinas campus that year. We have been amazed at how close he was to all that HU was doing at that time. Thank you for writing and sharing your work.

    • David August 19, 2014 at 12:18 pm #

      Thank you Anna and David. The responses have been really very positive, and I pray that God will use the words to transform lives. If you ever make it back to Campinas, we would love to host you on campus.

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