A hidden tragedy caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a surge in the number of orphans worldwide. A new study finds more than 1.5 million children have lost either a parent or a grandparent who helped care for them.
This crisis is a huge challenge for both social service agencies and Christian ministries trying to help these children now suddenly on their own.
Nataliya Khomyak with CBN's Orphan's Promise says the number of new orphans combined with government restrictions due to COVID has been overwhelming.
"And so of course, we were not prepared as a society to embrace this. All of our human methods, all of our processes, methodologies, everything was failing. What we had to do is sit down, go back to the drawing board and just pray and just say, 'God, what do we do? How do we respond?'", Khomyak explained.
She says the "COVID" orphan crisis is unique from others caused by tragedies like aids, famine, or war because they tend to be more localized and predictable.
"It's all over the world. It's changing all the time and it's hitting all layers of population," Khomyak said. "It doesn't matter if you're rich or poor, it doesn't matter your hygiene skills. We've found, you know, like, nothing matters. So really, this is the time where we've seen that it made us all equal."
A Life-Saving Knock at the Door
In Ukraine, she says God helped them find new strategies, such as taking food directly to people's homes since their training center was forced to close. For a single mother taking care of her six children, it was life-saving.
"She told us she was cooking her last potato on the stove and literally, as she was lighting it up, she asked herself, 'How am I going to divide this between these kids and not even talking about myself?' And she just cried out, 'God, if you truly are real, can you like do something right now? Show up?' And she said, 'that's when you guys (Orphan's Promise) knocked on the door and came in with food,"' Khomyak recalled.
The COVID orphan crisis also comes at a time when international adoptions are down.
Herbie Newell, president of Lifeline Children Services told CBN News, "I think families, while they've had more time to explore adoption, there's just that hesitancy to think about starting an international process with vaccine requirements and different requirements to come and go across borders. So there are just some families that are hesitant," he said.
Who's Praying for the Orphans?
Newell, who leads the country's largest Evangelical Christian adoption agency, says Christians need to step up now more than ever, and if you can't adopt - you can always pray.
"I have three children, and we pray over them every night before they go to bed," he said. "Our parents are praying for them. Our family members are praying for them. But who's praying for the orphans around the world? So we may not know their name. We may not know where they're located. We may not know who they are, but the Lord that we're praying to knows them."
What is prayer? Does God hear me if I pray? Your important questions about prayer are addressed here.