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One of the Least...
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In the mid-1800s the Eastern cities of the United States contained thousands of homeless orphans. There were an estimated 30,000 in New York City alone. Running the streets and sleeping in gutters, they lived horrific lives.

Many were the children of immigrant parents who had died from poor working and living conditions. With no education or parents to teach and guide them, these orphans’ lives were fast going to ruin.

It was Charles Brace, founder of the Children’s Aid Society that came to their rescue. The orphanages were filled to overflowing and simply could not meet the needs of these thousands of homeless children. So beginning in 18531, Brace began organized relocation of the orphans on “orphan trains.” These trains would travel to selected stations in the west, where the children would assemble on the depot platform, or at a nearby opera house or town hall. The community would gather and select children to adopt. Between 1853 and 1929, about 250,000 orphans were relocated to new homes in this manner (ibid).


Charles Brace poured himself out untiringly for the welfare of thousands of orphans. He earnestly cared about each one and was an advocate for the welfare of their futures. His selflessness reminds me of Jesus’ words to us, “And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me’ ” (Matthew 25:40). “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world” (James 1:27).

What a responsibility Jesus has placed on us. Every attitude we have towards another, or any word we speak, is as if we did the same to Him. When we are harsh or critical, we cause our Savior great pain. He hurts when we hurt others. On the other hand, when we are caring and merciful toward others, it makes His heart glad, because we are reflecting His own heart of love toward our fellowman.

Just as Charles Brace selflessly spent himself for the welfare of the orphans in the city streets, we can live our lives, consciously remembering that “inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.”

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By Brenna Rittenour. Copyright © 2014 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelinesScripture taken from the NEW KING JAMES VERSION © 1982.

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