Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained by the world.  James 1:27

I must admit: the first time I ever really contemplated this verse, it struck me as a little odd.  Why, given the desperate needs orphans endure, would God ask us to visit them?  Why does He not ask us to feed them?  How about clothe them?  Then, if those needs are met, certainly it would be helpful to educate them.  But visit?  It felt superfluous to me.

But then, I visited them.

By taking God at His word and obeying Him, I gained great insight into His desire for us to simply visit orphans.  I saw that God, in His wisdom, proposed a method of changing both them and us.

First, I noticed the impact that The Boaz Project’s visits had on the children.  I watched eyes brighten and hearts soften.  I witnessed the aloof become engaged and the broken venture to smile.

It is powerful, this gift of presence. 

After all, Christ’s presence in our lives is His greatest gift to us.  Oh, we long for Him to see us through our trials.  We even ask Him to meet specific material needs.  But really, what our souls long for most is His presence. Orphans are not so different from the rest of us. 

But in visiting orphans, we give God the opportunity to work in us, too.  We gain a gratitude for the gifts God has rained down on us.  We also begin to see our vulnerable selves in their eyes.  Orphans are not so different from the rest of us.

april and babyOnce we have visited orphans, feeding them, clothing them, even educating them becomes our hearts’ desire.  We eagerly seek to bless these children who are precious in His sight not only out of obligation as a believer, but mostly because they have impacted us.  They have changed our priorities.  They have shuffled our plans and dreams.

It is powerful, this gift of presence.

If you long to experience the potency of visiting orphans yourself—for the first time or the fiftieth—check out The Boaz Project’s upcoming trips.  You will not come home the same!

If you won’t take my word for it, be sure to read “Ripped from a Facebook Post” tomorrow on the blog.  Paula will convince you.