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I have been reading Deuteronomy lately and a certain phrase seems to keepdefender popping up, that is Foreigners, Fatherless and Widows. These three groups of people seemed especially important to God. Check these verses out:

God defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt.         Deuteronomy 10:18-19

At the end of every three years, bring all the tithes of that year’s produce and store it in your towns, so that the Levites (who have no allotment or inheritance of their own) and the foreigners, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns may come and eat and be satisfied, and so that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands.          Deuteronomy 14: 28-29

Rejoice before the LORD your God at the place he will choose as a dwelling for his Name-you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, the Levites in your towns, and the foreigners, the fatherless and the widows living among you.      Deuteronomy 16:11

Be joyful at your festival – you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, and the Levites, the foreigners, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns.         Deuteronomy 16:14

God wants his chosen people to live in community and respect and care for one another, especially those who are poor and powerless and most likely to either be forgotten or taken advantage of. That would be the foreigners, fatherless and widows.

God takes special pains to remind the Jews that they were once foreigners in Egypt and to remember how unpleasant that was – to be used and abused. It was bad, don’t treat the foreigners in your midst like that.

With regards to the fatherless and widows – well, in that patriarchal society the male head of household was everything. The breadwinner. The family representative. The protector. If the father died the outlook was pretty bleak for the surviving spouse and her young children. Relatives were expected to help them out. But God goes beyond leaving the burden of care to the extended family. He wants all the people of the community to not only help them out, but to respect them, remember them and include them.

That was then, and this is now. That was God’s commands to a group of tribes that lived thousands of years ago. What about our tribes today? Does God expect us to continue to help the foreigners, the fatherless and the widows? Or is that the governments job and the church can pretty much ignore those people and get away with it. God will wink and look the other way. Maybe, maybe not. James, the brother of Jesus wrote to the church that true religion that is pure and faultless is to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. James 1:27

Perhaps people who fail to look after orphans (the fatherless) and widows have already been polluted by the world.

In the United States there are more fatherless and single mothers than ever before. Doing some research on the internet I was surprised to learn that there are aproximately 13 million single mothers raising 22 million children and that about 60% of children living in mother only families are impoverished while only 11% of children living with two parent families are impoverished.

In the Gospels children seem to have a special place in Jesus heart. I don’t think that has changed, and perhaps none are closer to him than the fatherless.

The foreigners, fatherless and widows were on the bottom rung of society in ancient times, and even today they struggle more than most. There are other groups in the United States that are struggling and many feel hopeless and helpless. As I was considering the plight of many foreigners, fatherless and single mothers, three other groups came to my mind that God may be calling the church today to not only give a hand out, but a hand up, spiritually and economically speaking:

The department of Housing and Urban Development reports that there are about 554,000 homeless people in the United States.

There are about 16.1 million mentally disabled people in the United States.

5.5 million veterans have some type of disability.

Thank God for all the churches and various ministries who help these millions of people with encouragement, programs and spiritual direction. Everyones greatest need is the love of God and living in right relationship with God. God loves everyone and wants everyone to be happy. Sometimes God calls a church or individual to be part of the answer to relieve human misery; to bring joy and peace to a suffering soul, whether that person be a foreigner, a fatherless boy or girl, a single mother, a bruised and battered veteran, a homeless person or a mentally challenged individual. Helping people in need helps us to be happier people. Just ask God, he’ll tell you.

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