Reaching Out

The Orphan Train Has Arrived

It is an early spring day in 1855. A great throng of people have gathered at the train station in Harrison, Arkansas, anxiously waiting for the arrival of a special train – an orphan train. Some came to adopt children, while others came because they wanted to witness this extraordinary event of human life and drama. Can you imagine the loneliness and the yearning for hope and a future that these children were experiencing?
Immigration to the U.S. exploded during the 1800s. Immigrant families often had many children, but if tragedy befell the father, it left the entire family poverty-stricken. There weren’t many jobs for women, so families turned to orphanages to care for their children, or the children took to the streets.
Because of this tremendous human need, orphans were sent to the Midwest and South to rural areas where they would have more opportunities for a healthy family life – over 200,000 children from 1854 to 1929. So today there are people living in Arkansas who are descendants of orphans that came on the trains.
We too were orphans. Although our earthly parents brought us into this world (the Kingdom of Man), we were orphans in the Kingdom of God until we received Jesus Christ as savior and became adapted sons and daughters of God. In the spiritual realm, we had a loneliness, a spiritual longing that could not be satisfied with worldly pursuits and pleasures. But God had and has plans for us:
“’For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

Did you just hear the train whistle? It is an orphan train that has just arrived, filled with spiritual orphans with a loneliness and longing for a relationship with God. The orphans have departed from the train, and are now here, all around us. Will you help them find their way to God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ?
To God be the Glory
Board of Evangelism