The role of the church in the diaconal care of orphans : a pastoral study with focus on the orphans in the Limpopo Province, Vhembe district
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Because of HIV/AIDS and many related diseases, parents are dying and leaving their children in trouble and without care. This is a stark reality that certainly applies to rural areas, including the area of Vhembe district in the Limpopo Province. In this region many children and families are living along or below the poverty line. Some children are not so privileged as to be provided with basic necessities such as food, clothing and proper education. The contribution of the church is of paramount importance in this regard. Chapter 2 includes reference to the following principles: Firstly, God is revealed as a God who cares for the fatherless. He relieves and defends them and works through people to take care of the orphans. Secondly, God exhorts the state to do justice to the orphans and to protect them. Thirdly, God commands his society to treat orphans fairly and with respect. Fourthly, God instructs families to adopt orphans and treat them like their own children. Fifthly, God bids the church to get involved in the needs of the orphans, by taking responsibility of giving care to the orphans and seeing to it that they are cared for. Finally, God promises judgment before Christ to all who mistreat orphans and poor people, and blessings to all who take care of them. The principles were identified after studying the Scriptural portions in the Old Testament (Exodus 22:21-24; Deuteronomy 14:22-29, 24: 19- 22, Esther 2:7; Psalm 94:6; Psalms 146:9; Proverbs 22: 9; Isaiah 10:1-4; Jeremiah 22:3; Zechariah 7:10.) and in the New Testament (Matthew 25:31-46, James 1 :27). Chapter 3 reflects information gained by a literature study in conjunction with the empirical study. The State, together with other NGOs and some individuals are concerned about the orphans' plight. There is also a need for the church to extend a hand, because the number of orphans is growing and growing. Chapter 4 gives the practical guidelines on how the Reformed Churches in the Vhembe district can take part regarding the care of orphans. In chapter 5 concluding remarks and recommendations are summarised.
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