Africa sits on a ticking time bomb, which can explode any moment. It is the economic burden of handling the growing number of needy widows and orphans on the continent. The causes are too numerous to delve into in this editorial. The authors of the various articles in this issue of Reformation Zambia have handled that well. Suffice it to say that death devastates families, especially when the “man of the home” who was the chief breadwinner passes on. The loss is more than the pain of losing a loved one. It is the snuffing out of the light of hope for the future. Economic woes begin.

Our interest in this issue of the magazine is to point out our biblical responsibility to this growing challenge. Is it only the business of governments and not the concern of the church? What does the Bible say about widows and orphans, and what is our responsibility towards them, if any?

Perhaps the most obvious passage of Scripture, which will be repeated in this issue of Reformation Zambia will be James 1:27, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” How can anyone reduce the biting nature of this passage upon our consciences? We cannot claim to be living lives that please God if we neglect the orphans and widows that God has placed among us.

Sadly, in Africa, the vulnerability of orphans and widows is exploited instead of being guarded. Soon after burying their departed relative, greedy relatives tend to swoop down like eagles to snatch the little property and money left behind for the orphans and widows. They forget what God said to his people at the establishment of Israel as a nation. He said, “You shall not mistreat any widow or fatherless child. If you do mistreat them, and they cry out to me, I will surely hear their cry, and my wrath will burn, and I will kill you with the sword, and your wives shall become widows and your children fatherless” (Exodus 22:22–24).

Pastor Collins Sakalunda, gives us the shocking statistics about how bad this problem of widows and orphans is on our continent. In summary, Africa is the worst hit by the deaths of parents—and especially husbands and fathers—on the planet and so we have the highest concentration of widows and orphans. The article makes for very sad and alarming reading. As they say, “Statistics are stubborn things.” In this case, they are screaming at us to do something about this ticking time bomb.

This is followed by an article that looks at the compassion and mercy of God in the Bible by Pastor Jacob Mwila. Since we are made in the image of God, it is interesting to look at God’s concern for widows and orphans. You would think that because death is God’s judgement on the human race our suffering would not move him, but it does. Indeed, as we soon learn from that article, God wants to use us to lift widows and orphans out of their suffering.

Finally, Pastor Kasango Kayombo spells out to us what our responsibility as a church is towards needy widows and orphans, especially those who are members of our church. He begins in the Old Testament and works his way into the New Testament showing us God’s clear instructions to us. He wraps up his article with practical counsel on how we should look after widows and orphans today, at the start of the 21st century.

I do not think that we can ever solve the growing problem of widows and orphans in Africa as a Christian church, and the Lord is not asking us to do so. There are too many underlying causes that are far beyond us that keep causing the deaths of the breadwinners in homes. However, what this issue of Reformation Zambia does, is to move us to do something about the widows and orphans that God has brought within the ambit of our churches. We are not to make their suffering worse by our greed. Rather, we are to express God’s compassion to them and thus relieve them of their suffering.

For the sake of widows and orphans, get an extra copy and pass it on to a friend or two. Who knows, what they read in this issue of Reformation Zambia may prove to remove the wrath of God from someone who may have been guilty of sinning against God in this area due to ignorance!