More than 1 billion children—half of all the children in the
world—are victims of violence every year, according to data just released by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) Division of Violence Prevention. That amounts to 2 of every 3 girls and 3 of
every 4 boys globally who experience violence in childhood.
To understand the nature of this violence, the
CDC’s Violence against Children Surveys (VACS)
works to measure
physical, emotional, and sexual violence against girls and boys through surveys
that have been completed in five countries, and are underway in nine more. The
surveys have highlighted the tragic correlation between exposure to childhood
sexual violence and the increase in negative health conditions, including HIV
In each of the five countries studied – Haiti,
Zimbabwe, Kenya, Tanzania, and Swaziland –
than 1 in 4 girls experienced sexual violence.
In one country surveyed,
those that experienced sexual violence were
3.7 times more likely to be infected with sexually transmitted
infections, including HIV.
In addition to these negative outcomes, children who
experience violence are at greater risk for destructive yet preventable
consequences, including chronic diseases, crime and drug abuse, as well as
serious mental health problems.
The CDC has composed a group of complementary strategies
they believe are critical components for preventing violence against children. These
strategies – termed THRIVES - highlight the need for mobilizing multiple
sectors of the community. The THRIVES strategy includes: Training in parenting,
Household and economic strengthening, Reduced violence through protective
policies, Improved services, Values and norms that protect children, Education
and life skills, and Surveillance and evaluation. These focus areas illustrate that
churches have a key role to play in this important issue given that in many communities
they are the voice of influence in areas such as values toward children,
parenting, and finances.
To learn how you can participate in an Orphan Care PEACE
trip to Rwanda and help train local churches in parenting and getting children out of orphanages and into the care of families, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call the
Orphan Care Initiative at 949-609-8555.
As the distribution center for hope in the community, the local church is uniquely positioned to intervene on behalf of the orphan. In Saddleback’s Rwanda Orphan Sponsorship program, the local church in Rwanda determines which families will receive sponsorship and is responsible for providing families with volunteer social worker support. The partnership between Saddleback Sponsors and the local church is changing lives-getting children out of orphanages and into lifelong families! This month, check out a sponsorship update filmed by local Rwandan church volunteers highlighting the difference the program is making.
(The children) were very young when they first came, and they were 4 and 6 years old. They were very happy. They called me their mom and they were very comfortable. I made sure they went to school. One is in primary 5 and the other one in primary 6.
The Church and the Pastor started to come to visit the children. I didn’t even know the pastor, but I believe that it’s God who sent him to us. We were blessed by what God was doing through the support from the church.
When the support came from the church, I bought a cow so that it could help the children and built two more rooms in my home. I tell the children to always praise God and thank him because he’s the one who did this for us.
We thank God for the support and very grateful for the church. We thank God for the church, they visit us very often. And we always go to church to praise and thank God.
We no longer live a lonely life; we live a peaceful and happy life.
To learn more or become a Sponsor, visit www.saddleback.com/sponsorship.
This excerpt from The Mother &
Child Project originally appeared here.
When I watch mourners in Kenya, Malawi, Uganda, and many
other countries walk down the road behind the wooden casket of a mother and
child held high on the shoulders of men in the village, I am reminded again, This
is not a cause. This is an emergency.
Pregnant women all over the
developing world ask two tragic questions: “Am I going to die?” and “Who will
take care of my children?”
How can women be asking these
questions when they are young and full of life?
There is a compassionate mandate for
mothers to live and for children to survive—and thrive—in the arms of their
mother. One can judge the morality of a country by the way it cares for its
women and children. If there ever was something worth fighting for, keeping
mothers and babies alive and together tops them all. But—
The statistics of maternal and
infant death are gut-wrenching, vivid, and real. One in thirty-nine women in
sub-Saharan Africa are dying during pregnancy or childbirth. There is a moral
mandate to provide accurate information and the resources necessary for life
while honoring a woman and family’s cultural and faith values. Through no fault
of their own, 222 million women have limited ability to influence the timing or
spacing of their pregnancies, leaving these women and their children vulnerable.
When a woman’s cries and wailings
are heard, the numbers stop being just statistics and become the stories of
real people. Numbers are numbing. As one Rwandan woman told me, “Numbers are
statistics. Numbers are statistics with the tears wiped off.”
But there is hope, and the answer is
to keep mothers alive by equipping them to have pregnancies timed and spaced in
ways that promote health, including prenatal care, a skilled attendant at
birth, and a host of other supportive interventions, so that the mothers and
fathers can care for their children. Because every child deserves a family.
The keys to information and
transformation lie in a frequently overlooked source. For families to receive
what they need, they can go to the church, which becomes an outpost not just
for spiritual health, but for physical health as well.
Recently, I was working in Rwanda
alongside Juliette, a health volunteer who trains church members to, in turn,
become trainers volunteering in their communities. Although from different
parts of the globe, Juliette and I both are part of the PEACE Plan movement, an
initiative of Saddleback Church of Lake Forest, California, where Pastor Rick
Warren has launched 20,000 ordinary members of the church to travel globally.
To do this, he has empowered and linked churches in 197 countries. Using a
train-the-trainer approach, the PEACE Plan has equipped more than 500,000
ordinary people in church pews—or wooden benches—at the most grassroots levels
to identify, prioritize, and act on problems in their own communities through
the local churches.
Juliette, along with another
trainer, simply walks to seven homes—some of them up to an hour away—to talk to
women about pregnancy, about the value of timing and spacing pregnancy,
directing them to tools that are in keeping with their Christian faith.
When Juliette ducks through the
piece of fabric that hangs at the front door of each home she visits, she is
comfortable and credible. Armed with a teaching plan and genuine compassion for
her neighbors, she listens and teaches basic hygiene principles, HIV
prevention, and healthy pregnancy.
Volunteering four hours a week,
Juliette has reduced the maternal mortality rate in her neighborhood. She is an
expert, even though her formal education ended before the fifth grade. Early
on, Juliette taught me about dying mothers, dying babies, and the indescribable
pain of both. I always listen when she speaks. She proves that when the church
is involved, information is accessible to the local community. The church is
indispensable in terms of access to health care training and in terms of
reliability and accuracy of message.
Juliette had my attention when she
said, “Maybe one of the reasons we don’t name our babies for one month after
birth is that we’re not sure they will survive.” Juliette spoke stoically, as
if her storehouse of tears had been emptied at the graves of too many. I
swallowed hard. She continued to teach from a well-crafted lesson plan that was
both accurate and personal.
“Our bodies are tired and weak.
Today we will be talking about pregnancy and how to get healthy before getting
pregnant and how to make sure our bodies are ready so that our babies can
survive.” The lesson plan was clear, and fifty trainers—both women and their
husbands—had come to hear it.
“There are medicines and methods to
help you. We must be more intentional in preparing our bodies for our babies,
for their sake and for ours. I am a Christian, and I use pills to help me.
There is nothing wrong with using techniques or tools. I’m not interfering with
God’s will if I take medicine. When there is information and resources for
timing and spacing of pregnancies and I withhold it because I am afraid of
offending others, I am telling people they can die.”
Then Juliette taught the class a
biblical principle that is empowering and life-changing. She spoke about
stewardship. “Every gift we have comes from God. God also gave me ways to be
pregnant. He gave me eggs, and I’m responsible for them.”
The idea of stewardship—of being
accountable to God for the gifts he has given me and seeing scientific
knowledge as a gift he has given to influence my life practices—is not new. All
truth is God’s truth.
This is the type of training that
equips lay people to deliver the message in churches all over the world. At
least two things stand in the way of helping women and children survive and
thrive through healthy timing and spacing of children, yet there is a solution
that is underused and fully available everywhere. Every woman and family needs this:
Accurate knowledge and resources that honor a woman and family’s cultural and
biblical values, and a distribution channel that is accessible and trusted to
deliver the information and resources.
One of the reasons women do not have
what they need is that they can’t access it. I have seen villages where there
is no post office, school, or hospital, but there is a church. And this is the
hope. Churches can provide accurate information closest to the people who need
Alongside the suffering, there are
churches filled with people who are willing and able to make a difference.
There is a group of people in the faith community who can tackle any problem at
a grassroots level. Mobilizing ordinary members in churches everywhere to train
others brings information, tools, and hope. Referrals are made to tertiary
settings when the challenges are complex. For timing and spacing of
pregnancies, church-based grassroots education and interventions launch an idea
to scale-up possibilities. Life and mind-set change rarely happens in a
government office, but it can happen in a church.
The church is the greatest untapped
source of information and hope in the twenty-first century. And today 4,800
Rwandan trainers teaching church-based classes and making home visits in Rwanda
provide proof that the church is the distribution giant ready to serve.
Churches are located in communities
where women and children are needlessly dying. Churches are a trusted source of
information. Churches are accessible, available, and influential in
communities. It’s time to look to the church for help in solving the problems
of maternal and child health.
Elizabeth Styffe, RN, MN, PHN, is
the Director for HIV&AIDS and Orphan Care Initiatives at Saddleback
Church in Lake Forest, California. She and her husband have seven children,
including three adopted from Rwanda.
For more information on how you can get involved, email email@example.com or call 949-609-8555.
Last Wednesday Pastor Rick Warren testified during a hearing of the Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs along with US Ambassador for AIDS Deborah Birx, head of the Global Fund Dr. Mark Dybul, and Sir Elton John. During the panel, which focused on global health, Pastor Rick shared with the Senators the impact that has been made through the PEACE Plan when local churches are leveraged as key stakeholders in global health and community development.
“In much of the world, the church is the only sector outside of the capital,” he told the Subcommittee. “Even if we have all of the meds for TB, AIDS, HIV, Malaria, and all the other diseases, the issue of distribution will not be solved unless we involve the local churches . . . If we’re going to absolutely eradicate these diseases, we’ve got to do a combination of the faith sector, the public, and the private sector.”
Pastor Rick outlined a new approach needed as we move forward on foreign assistance: “First we must form a new perspective on foreign assistance. Second we must forget a new partnership in distribution, and third, we must fund a new priority in the budget.”
He also highlighted the fact that contrary to popular belief, foreign aid is less than 1% of the US federal budget. Such aid, he argued, is an incredibly efficient investment, as money spent saving lives all over the world creates friends that become important allies rather than potential enemies in the era of global terrorism.
“Medicine cost less than tanks. And the resources that we budget from humanitarian relief programs can really save us from spending far far more to send soldiers when resentment boils over. It’s strategically smart for America’s security and safety, to help people who are in pain,” he told those assembled.
Watch the full panel below:
For more information on how you and your church can become involved, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 949-609-8555.
There are so many exciting ways to get connect to serving in the
Orphan Care Initiative. Check out the events and teams below for ways that you
can take your next daring faith step to serve orphans and vulnerable children
locally or globally!
Daring Faith Expo - Serve at the Orphan Care Booth!
On the weekend of May 16/17, each Saddleback campus will have the
opportunity to learn how to join the Orphan Care Initiative during the Daring
Faith Expo at every service - and we need your smiling face to help people get
connected! If you are interested in serving at the Orphan Care booth for just
30 minutes after any service(s), let us know and we will get you all the
information you need!
Thinking About Adoption or Foster Care?
Have you considered adopting or fostering, but aren't sure how to get
started? Every first Wednesday of the
month from 6:30-8:30pm in MO2, families from our church who
have adopted and fostered share helpful overviews and answer your questions in
a no-pressure environment. If that time doesn't work for you, we'd still love
to talk to you. Free to call or meet with us for more information on fostering
Orangewood Play Group
You can brighten the day of a child living in Orangewood group home,
OC's temporary shelter for children who have been removed from their homes due
to abuse or neglect. The first group will be visiting the evening of May 22nd.
This is a great opportunity for those looking to care for vulnerable children
right here in Orange County. Email email@example.com for more information.
Rwanda: Empty orphanages and strengthen churches on
a PEACE trip
Orphan Care PEACE trips train local churches in promoting adoption,
assisting newly adoptive families, and training lay social workers within
churches. We'll train you in everything you need to know, and help you or your
family make a difference in ways you've always dreamed! Let us know when you
would like to go, and we will get you connected to a trip leader. To join an
upcoming trip email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mentor a child in the foster care system
Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs) mentor children in the
foster system and act as their voice in the legal system. With a commitment of
2 hours twice a month, you can help represent the best interests of a child and
support them on their journey to a lasting family of their own. If you would
like to learn more about becoming a CASA in Orange County, please visit their
website http://www.casaoc.org/advocate/ to RSVP to the next info session, or email email@example.com for more information.
Join a local or global action team!
You can serve in ways too numerous to name, but here's a sample: Serve
orphans and vulnerable children in our neighborhoods, help teach local churches
in orphan care, or come alongside adoptive or foster families. Serve in
sponsorship, social media, website development, writing, hospitality/event
hosts, or advocacy. There's a place for you!
Adoptive and Foster Family Support Group
This season's Adoptive and Foster Family Support Group meets on
Tuesdays from 11am to 1pm in room 409/411 on the Lake Forest Saddleback Church
campus. The support group will be studying from the DVD curriculum The Connection written by Dr. Karyn
Purvis and Elizabeth Styffe. Unfortunately, no childcare is available. Please
RSVP by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Interested? Just let us know and we will find the exact spot for you,
your family or your small group. We'll help get you connected and provide any
Have questions? Need more information? Connect with us by email (email@example.com) or phone (949-609-8555)! We can't wait to serve
with you soon!