Orphans, Widows, the Poor and Oppressed

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James called it "pure and undefiled religion," (James 1:27) but care for the needy is identified as one of God's highest priorities throughout the entire Bible. As Derek Prince shares, take a fresh look at an issue that goes much deeper than simply social concern.

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It’s a real excitement and a privilege for me to be here tonight. I do feel, and I don’t say this normally, I do feel this is a special appointment. I believe God has put on my heart something which can be a key to release the people of God into a much fuller outreach than many of them are in at this time. The subject that I’m going to deal with is our responsibility as Christians for orphans, widows, the poor and the oppressed.

Many people speak about widows and orphans, but the Bible always puts it the other way around—orphans and widows, because orphans are totally helpless, widows are only partially helpless. And the Bible has much more to say about this than I think most of us, at least speaking for my own part... I’ve been preaching for over fifty years and I really have never seen this theme as I’ve been seeing it in the last few weeks and months, and I’ve heard some wonderful sermons and some wonderful places. I have never heard a sermon on our responsibility for orphans and widows. Never in over fifty years!

Let me just mention that we have a book here called Appointment In Jerusalem. It’s a very dramatic story of my first wife, Lydia, a Dane, who began a little children’s home in Jerusalem in 1928, if you can believe people were alive and walking the earth. It’s totally true and it’s a great story. I’m proud that she was my wife. And three of our daughters are sitting here in front of me this evening which is... So because of the theme which is how Lydia took in a little dying Jewish baby, had nothing to put her in, emptied her suitcase, wrapped her in her underwear, and began to care for her. This is the story of how that happened. Appointment In Jerusalem.

So I think we’ll come to our theme for tonight, our responsibility for orphans, widows, the poor and the oppressed. And I want to take this in a systematic way. I want to study first of all the nature of God Himself. And then the requirements for righteousness in every successive stage of God’s dealings from the flood of Noah onwards—under the Patriarchs, under the Law of Moses, under the Prophets, in the New Testament and then some general promises and warnings at the end.

But first of all let’s look at the nature of God Himself. In Psalm 68 and verse 5 it says of God,

“A father of the fatherless, a defender of widows, Is God in His holy habitation?”

So that’s the character of God. He’s a father to the fatherless and a defender to the widows. Then in Psalm 103 and verse 6, it says,

“The LORD executes righteousness And justice for all who are oppressed.”

I don’t think most of us realize how passionately God cares for those who are oppressed. And most of the human race at this particular time are oppressed. The number of people who get a fair deal and are treated honorably is a small proportion of the human race. Most of the human race today are unjustly, and unfairly treated. And God cares about them. He loves them. He wants to help them, and He’s also very, very angry with those who oppress them.

And then in Psalm 140 and verse 12.

“I know that the LORD will maintain The cause of the afflicted, And justice for the poor.”

Now that’s God’s nature to care for the afflicted and to desire justice for the poor. And let’s face it, frankly there are not many places where the poor really get justice. And I’m not sure that Britain is one of them. Britain is a lot better than some places. But I doubt that we can say here in Britain tonight that the poor really are treated with justice, with fairness.

Now I want to look at picture of God’s standards of righteousness in all the main ages that the Bible deals with, beginning with the age of the Patriarchs—that’s the time before the Law of Moses. The time of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and the time even earlier before then. And the main book that unfolds that is the book of Job, which is a very fascinating and stimulating and challenging book. And in Job 29, Job himself gives us a picture of his righteousness. And I found it extremely challenging to consider the way Job treated people. Job 29 beginning at verse 11 it says,

“When the ear heard, then it blessed me, And when the eye saw, then it approved me; [in other words I had favor with people. Why?] Because I delivered the poor who cried out, And the fatherless and him who had no helper. The blessing of a perishing man came upon me, And I caused the widow’s heart to sing for joy.”

Whom is he speaking about? The fatherless, the widows, the poor and the oppressed. And then he says this and it’s very remarkable for those who are interested in doctrine. He says,

“I put on righteousness, and it clothed me; My justice was like a robe and a [diadem or] turban.”

You see, none of us has righteousness of our own. Right back in the time of Job he says “I’ve put on righteousness, and it clothed me.” And every one of us who’s counted righteous before God in any age is clothed with a righteousness which is not ours. We have no righteousness of our own. So right back in the patriarchal time Job says, “I put on righteousness. Not my own, and it clothed me.” And this is how his righteousness was expressed.

“I was eyes to the blind, And I was feet to the lame. I was a father to the poor, And I searched out the case that I did not know. I broke the fangs of the wicked, And plucked the victim from his teeth.”

You look at that outline of Job’s righteousness. He says, “I delivered the poor, the fatherless, and him who had no helper. The blessing of a perishing man came upon me. I caused the widow’s heart to sing for joy.” I wonder if you could ever say that. Have you ever done anything for a widow that would cause her heart to sing for joy? They’re not far away. I’ll talk to you a little later about them.

And then in Job 31, Job, who’s asserting his righteousness before God, disclaims being guilty of various sins and he lists a number of sins that he did not commit. And what has impressed me is some of the things that he considered sinful. I just want to take you to one passage there in Job 31 verse 16 and following. Now you have to remember that these things are things that Job said he did not do because they were sinful. And if he had been doing these things he would not have expected any mercy from God.

“If I have kept the poor from their desire, or caused the eyes of the widow to fail, Or eaten my morsel by myself, So that the fatherless could not eat of it.”

Now all those things Job considered sinful—to cause the eyes of the widow to fail, to eat your food by yourself when there were hungry people around - Job said I’ve never been guilty of that. Could you say that? Then he goes on,

“(But from my youth I reared him [the fatherless] as a father And from my mother’s womb I guided the widows); If I have seen anyone perish from lack of clothing, Or any poor man without covering.”

If I’ve seen anybody in need of clothing and did nothing about it, that was sinful. Then he says,

“If his heart has not blessed me, And if he was not warmed with the fleece of my sheep.”

When I saw a man who needed clothing, I took my own sheep, sheared them and gave them the wool. Bear in mind if Job had not done these things he would have considered himself a sinner. And then he goes on,

“If I have raised my hand against the fatherless, When I saw I had help in the gate; [in the court] Then [this is a tremendous statement] let my arm fall from my shoulder, Let my arm be torn from the socket.”

You understand what he is saying? He is saying, if I haven’t used this arm of mine to bless the needy, to help the widows, to feed the hungry then it has no right to be in my body. It shouldn’t be here. Could you talk like that? Or does Job have a standard of righteousness which is different from most of ours today. And who is right? Job or us? I tell you, I get so challenged by these words. I’ve read them again and again and I’ve said to myself, this man Job had a standard of righteousness which we don’t even think of, most of us today. And yet he was affirming his righteousness before God.

Well, then let’s go to the Law of Moses. In Leviticus 19 verses 9 and 10, this is about how to handle your agriculture.

“When you reap the harvest of your field, you should not wholly reap the corners of your field, nor shall you gather the gleanings of your harvest. And you shall not glean your vineyard, nor shall you gather every grape of your vineyard.”

In other words you’re to leave a certain amount of your harvest, whether it’s corn or whether it’s grapes, unreaped. Why?

“You shall leave them for the poor and the stranger: I am the LORD your God.”

You see, it was built into the Law of Moses. Every Jew that followed that law had to have a concern for the poor and the stranger. It was part of his agricultural proceeding and they were agricultural people. And then the Lord concludes there by saying, “I am the LORD your God.” And this is how I interpret that—“This is the kind of God I am and this is how I want you to represent Me with a concern for the poor and the stranger.” That’s built into your whole life system. It’s part of it.

And then in Deuteronomy 14 verses 28 and 29 speaking about a celebration that took place every third year, speaking to all the people of Israel, Deuteronomy 14 verses 28 and 29,

“At the end of every third year you shall bring out the tithe of your produce of that year and store it up within your gates. And the Levite, because he has no portion nor inheritance with you.”

Now the Levite was the one who was serving God and he did not have any inheritance because this inheritance was the offering of God’s people. So it would correspond to the missionary or the evangelist in our society today.

“And the Levite, because he has no portion nor inheritance with you, and the stranger and the fatherless and the widow who are within your gates, may come and eat and be satisfied.”

You see whom God cares for? The stranger, the fatherless and the widow. And He’s built it into the Law. An Israelite could not follow the Law of Moses without being concerned for the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow. And then He says, “I am the LORD your God. That’s the way I think, that’s the way I am, that’s how I want you to represent Me.”

Then we come to the Prophets and I’ll only take just a few passages out of many. As I’ve studied the Prophets over the years I’ve come to certain conclusions, and I’ll just share them with you and you can ask yourself do you agree. But I find if you read the Prophets from Isaiah onwards, basically there were three sins that provoked God’s anger. The first was idolatry, the second was adultery and the third was indifference to the poor. Now I’ve observed in dealing with people over the years in deliverance, that if people get into idolatry very often it will be followed by adultery. In other words, spiritual adultery leads to physical adultery. I’ve seen that time and time and time again.

Now we are all supposed to be shocked by idolatry and adultery. But what about the third thing that God puts on the same level? Indifference to the poor. This is what He says in Isaiah chapter 1, verse 16.

“Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; Put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes. Cease to do evil, Learn to do good; Seek justice, Reprove the oppressor; Defend the fatherless, Plead for the widow.”

Who’s at the top of God’s list? The fatherless and the widow. And the failure to do that God puts in the same category with idolatry and adultery. And then a little further on in verse 23 speaking about the leaders of the people at that time, God says to Israel,

“Your princes are rebellious, And companions of thieves; Everyone loves bribes, And follows after rewards. They do not defend the fatherless. Nor does the cause of the widow come before them.”

You see failure to defend the fatherless is in the same category with idolatry and adultery. We’ve got our own little list of sins. But they’re a very incomplete list. I mean, I’ve probably been Pentecostal longer than anybody here and I’ve heard many, many wonderful sermons. I’ve never heard a sermon that clearly defines our responsibility to care for the orphans and the widows. Never once in fifty-eight years.

You see, when this really struck me I said to myself, “How come that I’ve been a preacher all those years and I’ve never seen this.” I’ll tell you about my own personal experience a little later.

Let’s go on in Isaiah chapter 11 verse 4. Now this is a prophecy of Jesus as the Messiah.

“There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, And a Branch shall grow out of his roots. The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him, The Spirit of wisdom and understanding, The Spirit of counsel and might, The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD. His delight is in the fear of the LORD, And He shall not judge by the sight of His eyes, Nor decide by the hearing of His ears; But with righteousness He shall judge the poor, And decide with equity for the meek of the earth.”

Whom is Jesus concerned about? The poor, the meek, the oppressed, the people that don’t get a fair deal.

Now I’ve been privileged. I come from a privileged level of society in Britain. I’m not speaking about what I didn’t get because I got a lot more than I should have gotten. But I’ve come to realize that most of the people in this country are not really getting what they should. That may shock you, but I find it’s true and the basic reason is human selfishness. Everybody cares for themselves. And you know you can be Pentecostal and very selfish. Did you know that? You can speak in tongues and be very selfish. Very self-centered, very concerned about yourself, and still speak in tongues. I believe in speaking in tongues. I speak in tongues every day. But that’s not a substitute for my character.

Let’s go on in Isaiah to 58. This is a passage that David Wilkerson calls the key to continuing revival. And I think probably the record of his ministry justifies his claim. Isaiah 58 verses 6 through 9.

“Is not this the fast that I have chosen: To undo the bonds of wickedness.”

And believe me I believe in fasting. Basically I fast every week so I’m not suggesting that fasting is unimportant, but God says there’s a lot more to fasting than just abstaining from food.

“To loose the bonds of wickedness, To undo the heavy burdens, To let the oppressed go free, And that you break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, And that you bring the poor into your house who are naked; When you see the naked, that you cover him, And do not hide yourself from your own flesh?”

Are we guilty of that? Just not seeing the people who need us. You know what suburbia is? It’s really refusal to identify yourself with your people. In the United States, and I live in America most of the time and in Israel. What’s happened in all the major cities is that the poor and mainly the blacks have moved into the center, standards of living have gone down, and the wealthy have moved out to the suburbs. What is that? It’s hiding yourself from your own people. It’s refusing to confront the need of your people. Then comes this wonderful promise.

“When you see the naked and you cover him, And do not hide yourself from your own flesh? Then your light shall break forth like the morning, Your healing shall bring forth speedily, And your righteousness shall go before you; The glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer; You shall cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’”

Here’s a guarantee of answered prayer. But it’s on a condition. It’s on a condition that you care for the people who need you. That you do not hide yourself from your own flesh.

I don’t know whether I should say this or not. I was educated at Eton and then at Cambridge and I was put in a segment of society that just didn’t really recognize there were people that needed help. It wasn’t exactly that we were against them. We were just indifferent. Then I was called up into the British Army in 1940 and I was suddenly pitched forth into a lot of people I had never known existed. Especially the Jordies (?) How many Jordies do we have here? Anybody? God bless you, I love them. They are warmhearted people. But when I went into the British Army I couldn’t understand them and they couldn’t understand me. Literally we did not have a language in which to communicate. And I began to discover there’s different people in Britain that I’d never known. I never knew anything about them. I was confronted with a lot of areas in my own character that needed dealing with. I’d been hiding myself from my own flesh. I could have had an easy way through life probably the rest of my life. I’ll tell you how it changed. Not now but in a little while.

Then I want to talk about Sodom for a moment. Now everybody I think—no, not everybody—but a lot of people know what the real famous sin of Sodom was. It was homosexuality, wasn’t it? But that’s not what God charges it with. This amazed me when I discovered this. In Ezekiel chapter 16 verse 49. This is addressed to the city of Jerusalem, but it compares Jerusalem with Sodom. And this is what the Lord says about Sodom.

“Look, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters [that’s her fellow cities] had pride, fullness of bread, and abundance of idleness; neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.”

There’s not a mention of homosexuality. I don’t mean that God is indifferent to homosexuality. Far from it. But the basic sins of Sodom was selfishness, carnality, self-indulgence, looking after Number 0ne. And you know what I believe? This is just my opinion. I believe that kind of culture will always produce homosexuality. That’s why we so many homosexuals in the world today, because of the sins of our day which are just like the sins of Sodom.

“Look, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters [that’s her fellow cities] had pride, fullness of food, and abundance of idleness; neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.”

How well does that involve contemporary British culture? Now there are wonderful exceptions but they’re exceptions. And we can lament the upsurge of homosexuality, but I believe that kind of culture will always produce homosexuality. It’s not the root. The root is selfishness, self-indulgence, indifference to others.

Let’s turn to the New Testament. Turn to Luke’s gospel. And again, this is something that so impacted me I really had to decide was what I had to do about it. And I haven’t decided yet. Now we’re turning to Luke chapter 3. This is part of the ministry of John the Baptist who, as you know, was sent to be the forerunner and prepare the way for Jesus. His theme was summed up in one word—Repentance. And in Luke 3 beginning at verse 9 John says this.

“And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”

And notice God requires good fruit. It’s not enough to say I don’t bear bad fruit. I’m not doing anything wrong. Are you bearing good fruit? Because if you’re not it’ll be cut down and thrown into the fire. So the people... And notice this is not the prostitutes or the tax collectors. This is everybody. They heard his message.

“So the people asked him, ‘What shall we do then?’ [What have we got to do? His answer was so simple.] He answered and said to them, ‘He who has two tunics, let him give to him who has none; and he who has food, let him do likewise.’”

Not complicated, not theology. Just be concerned about the people who need you. When I read that I thought to myself—I got a little mental picture of all the suits and the jackets I have hanging in various closets in various places. And I thought to myself, I don’t need all those. And it’s really not that I’m greedy. I don’t amass clothing. It just somehow grows. I live in three different countries at different times and it’s complicated. But I thought to myself I have never acted on that word ever in my life. If you have two jackets and somebody else none, what do you do? Tell me? You give it to him. That’s right. If you have food and somebody else has none, what do you do? Thank you. All right. So we’re clear what it means.

Then Luke 14 Jesus gives instructions, verses 12–14. Now He had been invited to the house of a Pharisee for a meal. And at the end of the meal He gives this advice to the Pharisee. Luke 14 verses 12, 13 and 14.

“Then He said to him who invited Him, ‘When you give a dinner or a supper, do not ask your friends, your brothers, your relatives, nor your rich neighbors, lest they also invite you back, and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you; for you shall be repaid at the resurrection of the just.’”

Now that’s a general statement to Christians. So when you have a party whom are you going to invite? Your friends, your relatives, or the people who really need the invitation who can’t invite you back. I want you to see this as consistent all through the Bible. It’s not something that just comes up in one place. I am amazed that I’ve studied the Bible so long and never saw it so clearly as I’ve seen it in the last few weeks.

And I’ll tell you this, and I very rarely say this, but in 1957 when I was living at number 77 Westbourne Grove at about two o’clock in the morning the Lord woke me up and He spoke to me audibly. And I mean, I could take you to the place where I was, the place where the Lord was standing, I didn’t see Him. I’m very cautious about when I say this but this is what He said. “There shall be a great revival in the United States and Great Britain.” And I noticed how polite the Lord was. He calls everybody the right title. The United States and Great Britain. No just Britain, but Great Britain. And I believe it. I believe it’s very near. I believe it’s coming very soon. Not because we’ve earned it, but because God decided to send it. Then He said to me, and I very, very rarely say this, but I feel God wants me to. He said, “Thou shalt be His instrument in Britain, but the condition is obedience in small things and in great things. For the small things are as great as the great things.”

And I want to tell you, and this is absolutely unplanned, I believe the message that I’m bringing you tonight is the key to releasing revival in Britain. You’ve got thousands of wonderful Christians who just sit in church chairs and sing hymns. What about the people who really need you? You don’t even have contact with them, some of you. If you were told today to invite the poor, the maimed, the lame the blind you wouldn’t know who to invite. You’re so far removed from them. You’re just not in contact. But they are the people that need you.

All right let’s go to Matthew 25, the prophetic parable of the sheep and the goat nations. We can’t go into this in detail but it’s a picture of the end of the age. When the Lord establishes His kingdom He’s going to judge the nations and He’s going to have two categories—the sheep and the goats. The sheep He’ll set on His right hand, the goats on His left. The sheep he will invite into His kingdom, the goats He will reject totally. And to the goat nations He pronounces some of the most terrible words that ever came from lips. Let me read it to you—verses 41 through 45.

“Then He will also say to those on the left hand [the goats], ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: [What terrible words. Would you ever want to hear those words proceeding from the mouth of the Lord?] ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.’’”

Never prepared for human beings. The devil has no option. That’s where he’s going to end. We don’t have to end there. We have a choice. And then He tells them why—verse 42 and following.

“For I was hungry and gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not come to Me. Then they also will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, insasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’”

And bear in mind that we can go to an everlasting condemnation for the things we haven’t done. Not for the things we have done. He didn't condemn them for what they had done. He condemned them for what they hadn’t done. Very, very solemn. You see my personal view of contemporary Western culture, Christianized culture, is that we will be judged not for what we’ve done, but for what we haven’t done. And I’m not excepting anybody here. There’s nobody excepted including me. We are going to be judged not so much for the sins we have committed, although that will be part of it. But for the good things we didn’t do. Inasmuch as you didn’t do it... And I don’t read anywhere in the Bible more terrible words than that, Depart from me you cursed into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.

And then this is all summed up in a couple of verses in the epistle of James. James chapter 1 verse 27. Now this is a summary of New Testament teaching. It says,

“Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit [care for] orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.”

You know being an old time Pentecostal I’ve heard many, many sermons about not being like the world—preached against worldliness and all sorts of things that were classified as worldliness. I’ve never heard a sermon on our responsibility for orphans and widows. Never. I’ve heard some well-known preachers in my day. And James says, This is pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father.

Now there is a negative side to it—keep oneself unspotted from the world. But the positive takes precedence—to care for the orphans and widows. Are you practicing that kind of religion? If not, who gave you exemption? Who exempted you? Who decided that you were not included in this? It didn’t apply to you. I’ll tell you one thing. It applies to me. And I’ll tell you a little bit about my own experience before we finish.

Now let’s look at a few general statements, mainly from the Book of Proverbs. Proverbs 19 verse 17.

“He who has pity on the poor lends to the LORD, And the LORD will pay him back what he has given.”

So when you give to the poor you’re lending to the Lord. And I’ll tell you one thing, the Lord always pays back. He never remains indebted. How much have you given? I know you don’t have to answer me, but stop and ask yourself. You pay your tithe. That’s wonderful, that’s only the beginning. That’s only the beginning. It’s a very important beginning but it’s not all.

And I’m really happy to think what I’ve given to the poor and I’m not claiming to be a great giver, but I’m glad to know that the Lord is going to pay me back. I trust Him. I’ve lent to people who didn’t pay me back. If you’ve had the same experience, but the one person who will pay you back is the Lord. Let me tell you one thing. Never lend to members of your family. Just give it.

Proverbs 31 verse 20. This is the excellent wife, the model mother and wife. And it says this in chapter 31 verse 20.

“She extends her hands to the poor, Yes, she reaches out her hands to the needy.”

Dear married lady, is that true of you? Why not? Does it apply? You have to answer, I don’t. Then there are two warnings. Proverbs 21:13.

“Whoever shuts his ears to the cry of the poor will also cry himself and not be heard.”

Is that reason why some of our prayers are not answered, because we haven’t heard the cry of the poor? If we don’t hear the cry of the poor, God will not hear our cry. It’s very clear. In Proverbs 28:27.

“He who gives to the poor will not lack, But he who hides his eyes will have many curses.”

Those of you that are any way familiar with the Middle East, that’s certainly true, because when a beggar stretches out his hand and you give him nothing he’ll follow you all down the street with his curses. For sure. And I mean those curses have some power. They’re not just words.

Well, my first wife who lived amongst the people of Jerusalem, mainly speaking Arabic, she said she went into a shop in the Old City and the man wanted to sell her something and she said it was too expensive. She wouldn’t buy it. She said as she walked out down the street she stumbled and almost fell. She realized the shopkeeper had put a curse on her. Believe me, dear brothers and sisters, don’t venture in the Middle East if you don’t understand the power of blessings and curses because they’re very powerful.

Amos chapter 6, verse 3 and if you read the prophet Amos his main theme was injustice and selfishness. And for that a whole nation was banished from the presence of God. All right, Amos chapter 6 beginning verse 3.

“Woe to you who put off the day of judgment, Who cause the seat of violence to grow near; Who lie on beds of ivory, Stretch out on your couches, Eat lambs from the flock And calves from the midst of the stall; Who chant at the sound of stringed instruments, And invent for yourselves musical instruments like David; Who drink wine from bowls, [now most of you don’t do that] And anoint yourselves with the chief ointments, But are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph.”

Now isn’t that a Charismatic meeting? We have a good time. We have a lot of music. We’ll eat and we’ll be really happy. But we will not be concerned about the people who don’t have anything. Is that true? It’s not true of all but it’s true of many. Now I don’t say that to condemn you, but I say it because I think if you really want the blessing of the Lord on yourself and on this nation you’re going to have to do something about it.

You might say, “Brother Prince, you’ve preached a lot. What have you done?” So I’m going to tell you and I want to say I take no credit for this whatever. I didn’t do it because I was good or righteous, I did it because the Lord showed me to do it. But I was born in India of a British family, an only child, educated at Eton and Cambridge. I had, as they say, a silver spoon in my mouth. And then I went into the British Army reluctantly, and I ended up in the Middle East. And I met a Danish lady, much older than I was, who had started a little children’s home. And I fell in love with her and I felt that God wanted me to marry her and God also told Lydia He did want me to marry her. So when I married her, the same day I got a wife I got eight daughters. Remember, an only child. I never had any sisters. Didn’t know much about women. Well six of them were Jewish, one was Arab, one was English.

I think I’ll talk about them for a little while. I’ll start with the youngest. I’ve got three of them here in the front row tonight. So this is an illustrated sermon, you understand. My youngest, English, married to a Goan, if you know what a Goan is. A Goan is a man from Goa. If you don’t know where Goa is you need a lesson in geography. Anyhow, she has two children—a son and a daughter. So that gives me two grandchildren.

Then my Arab daughter, married to an Englishman—a very English Englishman—she has three children and one grandchild. So that gives me three grandchildren and one [great] grandchild.

But now wait for the punch. One of my Jewish daughters married a widower who’s right beside her right now, a minister of the gospel. He already had six children by his first wife who passed away, and she had five more. So that gives me eleven grandchildren. Magdal how many grandchildren do you have? Twenty-eight. So you realize I’ve got twenty-eight great-grandchildren. And that’s not the end by any means. We can go two generations further.

So I am not without experience. You say well what did you do? Well I really can’t take the credit for it. First of all I fell in love, and then I fell in love with the family. Out of that family, which started with one little desperately sick Jewish baby in 1928, there is a family that now has more than one hundred and fifty members.  And we’re distributed around the world from Israel to Britain to Canada to the United States to Australia. But marvel of all marvels, we really are one family. Every one of us would agree. We have never been divided. We’ve never split up. That’s the grace of God you see. I take no credit for it but I do give God all the credit.

Well I got eight in my first marriage. Then Lydia and myself, we went out to Africa, to Kenya for educational work. And I was for five years a principal of a college for training African teachers for African schools. And one day, about five o’clock in the evening a rather strangely assorted group of people turned up—a white lady carrying a little black baby in nothing but a dirty towel and a black African couple. About five o’clock in the evening they said, “This little baby’s mother died in giving birth. She was found on the floor of an African hut. Somebody picked her up and took her to the hospital, she’s been six months in the hospital, now the hospital’s say, ‘We’re not a children’s home. We can’t keep babies.’ So we have been looking for three days in this whole area for any family, African, Asian or European, that will take this little baby. We went to the Mission Hospital and they said we can’t take her but the Princes take children.”

So that’s why they came to us. “Well,” we said. “You know that was long ago. We don’t do that now. And we have our own work and we’re busy from morning till night.”

“Well,” they said. “We’re so tired. Would you let us sit down?” So we gave them three seats and gave them a glass of water to drink. And after about fifteen or twenty minutes they got up to go. And as this white lady walked past me she paused just for a moment, not for any special reason. And this little black baby put out her left hand towards me as if to say, “What are you going to do about me?” And I looked at my wife who was right on the other side of the room, and normally I mean we would pray about that, we would make decisions we would... And bless her, she said, “Give me a week to get a crib and some baby clothes and you can bring her back.” So that’s how we got our ninth.

Then when I married Ruth I got three more Jewish, adopted by her and her first husband. So I have twelve children—eleven girls and one boy.

Well, I used to say to Ruth, “One thing you cannot complain about is our life is never dull.” And it never has been dull. Since I came to know the Lord I’ve never had a dull life. I’ve faced challenges and opportunities and needs I didn’t even know existed. And here I am, 84 years old, and I’m still going on. Let’s give Him the glory. Amen.

The question is if you believe what I’ve said is right, what are you going to do about it? Are you going to do anything? Let me tell you one thing that most of us could do. I have in my heart a real burden for single mothers. When I married Ruth she was a single mother with three children. Her husband had deserted her. And I want to tell you that most single mothers have a very difficult time. Some of you here know that from personal experience.

I believe the church has an obligation to do something about single mothers. I said this to a brother once and he said, “Well, it’s their sin that got them into that trouble.” That’s not really the truth. It’s true—some of them were unwed mothers, but not most of them. But even so, after all where does Jesus in the gospel forbid us to show mercy to sinners? After all they need mercy. But most of them are left struggling with a situation that they’re not really guilty for. And it’s hard. It is not easy. I mean if I asked some of you to put your hands up, you’d put both hands up. Don’t do it. I believe the church can do something for single mothers.

Let me say this to you, you know the key to happiness is not being loved, it’s having someone to love. That’s what makes life exciting. And there are people who need your love not very far from you. They may not be very lovable people. They may be a little bit bitter, a little bit angry, a little bit against God. “He hasn’t treated me right. Why am I in this situation?” But I want to tell you, if you really want to be happy find somebody to love. It will make all the difference in your life. It’s wonderful to be loved. I’m loved by many people. I don’t deserve it. But I tell you what really brings joy to my heart is to love somebody who isn’t loved. And to see the smile on the face when they say, “At last, I’ve got a friend.”

You see selfishness is a key to misery. You can be very spiritual, very committed, and pretty miserable. So I want to suggest that we need to think what we’re going to do about single mothers. Most of you who have homes, who have families, not very far from you somewhere there’s a single mother who would benefit from your help. Let me tell you one thing that’s difficult for women. It’s difficult for me too. It’s taking care of a car. There are all sorts of things that I don’t understand about cars. I’ve been privileged. I have sons-in-law who understand so I don’t have to worry. But it’s a struggle for a woman on her own to be responsible for a car and yet her job and her life may depend on it. If you could help her, you’d have a friend. Don’t be religious. Don’t start to tell her, “I want to win you to the Lord.” Just say, “I’ve seen you have a difficult time. Maybe I can help you.” And after a little while something will change in her heart and in her children.

I just finished writing a book which will come out early next year called Husbands and Fathers. And it’s about husbands and fathers. And my diagnosis of the problem of the Western world is renegade fathers. Father’s who’ve reneged on their primary responsibilities as husbands and fathers. And the result is chaos in society. You can have all sorts of social programs but there’s so substitute for God’s way. And God’s way is a family. Nobody’s ever invented anything that will take the place of a family. It’s a privilege to be part of a family. I really thank God every day for my family. I pray for them and they pray for me. I’m embarrassed to think how many people pray for me.

I had a physical problem diagnosed with cancer a little while ago. And I got letters from many different countries. “We’re praying for you. Our church is praying for you”. I thought to myself, you know that’s unreasonable. But I don’t turn it down. I don’t turn it down. So I’m just suggesting to you that some of you need to break loose from your little religious mold and do something daring. After all, I did it. How many people would marry a woman and get eight daughters at the same time? And I tell you it was the making of me. It got me out of the religious rut. It got me involved with real people and real problems.

So I’m going to ask you if you, having heard what I have to say tonight, want to tell the Lord, “Lord, I’m not really fulfilled. I could do a lot more than I’m doing. In many ways I’m pretty self-centered, to say the truth. But tonight I would like to make myself available to You to love somebody else who isn’t loved. To care for somebody who’s not cared for.”

If you would like to make that decision, just pray about it. Just have a few moments of silent prayer.

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