Tradition of Orphan Care graphic

In Rome, prior to 374 A.D. there was a practice that existed of leaving children on the street if they were malformed, female, or an inconvenience. It was the early church who was known for taking these children off the street and bringing them into their own home

It was the Roman emperor Valentinian, who was a Christian, who banned this practice in 374 A.D. This is one of the first times we have a name of an individual who began to change the lives of orphans.

While it may seem as though the push to care for orphans has been a recent one, it is a tradition that predates modern Christianity.

The groundwork of orphan care is laid throughout the Bible. The first place we read of caring for an orphan is in the book of Exodus. Moses was an orphan, considering that his mother could not care for him, thus putting him in a basket and sending him down the river. As you know the story, Pharaoh’s daughter finds Moses and takes him as her own.

But Moses isn’t the only orphan, nor would he be the last. A few books later we read the story of another orphan. Her name is Esther. Esther lost both parents and was raised by her cousin Mordecai. Yet God uses this orphan to do remarkable things. It is through Esther that the helps save the Jews.

Throughout the entire Bible, we read of God’s beautiful plan of adoption. God tells us that He “will not leave us as orphans.”.* Once we are in God’s family He tells us the “religion which is pure and faultless is one that looks after the orphan.”*

So, the Bible has set the tone for caring for orphans and adoption, how have we, the Church, responded to this call?

Throughout centuries, there were other great individuals who took the traditional teaching of the Church and did remarkable thing for the orphans, paving the way for what orphan care looked like. In brief, here are some of these incredible people who took the teachings of the Church and put them into action:

  • Saint Jerome Emiliani – a military commander who came to know Christ. After coming to know Christ he devoted his life to the orphan. He used his own resources to house, feed, and educate orphans.*
  • Charles Loring Brace – a minister and trailblazer for social work, Charles Loring Brace is the founder of New York’s Aids Society. He played a big part in developments of orphanages, and preferred nurture over nature.*
  • Carrie Steele Logan – a woman who worked at the railroad and began to notice that many people would abandon infants and young children at the station. She sold her house and built a more functional home for these children she took in.*
  • William Wilberforce – an English politician and theologian, his advocacy for orphans shed a huge light on the plight of the orphan.*
  • Mother Teresa – a nun who moved to India to serve the poor, caring for the orphan and the Missions of Charities organization.*

While these people have made a name for themselves in history, the Church has been serving alongside them all the while. The Church has been the one to shape the faith of these compassionate souls. The Church has been the one supporting and calling people to take action.

So, Church, let’s us move forward with this tradition. Let us recognize the importance and the call of the orphan and do something. Let us continue to produce people with bold faith who will make history for loving the least of these!


Works Cited:
“BibleGateway.” Acts 3:9-10 NIV – – Bible Gateway, Bible Gateway Blog,

“BibleGateway.” James 1:27 NIV – – Bible Gateway, Bible Gateway Blog,

“4 Historical Figures Who Cared for Orphans.” Show Hope, 7 Nov. 2016,

“Charles Loring Brace.” European Imperialism, 2012,

Saturday, May 4 
The Gathering Place, Greenwood, IN

This event includes:

  • Family Fun Zone
  • New Course
  • Professional chip timing for the 5K
  • A tech tee-shirt with pre-registration (cotton blend youth sizes)
  • Option to walk, run, or sleep in!
  • Finish line celebration with awards, live music, and snacks

We hope you will join us on Saturday, May 4, 2019, at The Gathering Place in Greenwood!

Register here:


  1. Svetlana Morton

    As an adoptee, it is so cool to realize that Moses and Esther were both examples of how God uses orphans to help build His kingdom. I pray that God would fill the lives of orphans not only that the Boaz project works with but all around the world, and that they would know He has great plans for them.

    • April Jurgensen



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