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Mike and Brenda Crary are ordinary Saddleback members who have stepped out in faith to help churches in Baja, Mexico build healthy churches that can be mobilized to care for the orphan and the sick in their communities. The couple originally was anxious to see how the local churches would react to Pastor Rick’s teachings, but God has greatly exceeded their expectations.

According to Brenda, Purpose Driven Church concepts provided the foundation of what a healthy church should look like. It expanded what the church leaders and pastors thought their roles were into what they could be, to grow the church and the kingdom. It gave them principles and strategies to do it and provided hope for pastors and leaders who had been doing the same thing, basically offering a church service, with little success. I believe it also reignited the passion for many participants as they remembered what Jesus asked us to do and how we could really do it. As these churches learned about their 5 purposes God has given us, they are more equipped and are more willing to love their neighbor by serving them in ministry within their church and in their community, then they were before. They were transformed and are now operating systems for healthier communities by creating ministries to serve their felt needs such as orphans and vulnerable children and neighbors living with HIV.”

Ordinary church members being equipped and trained to meet the needs of their community is the PEACE Plan in action. Our Baja PEACE team, alongside local church volunteers, have begun visiting orphanages to meet their needs with the shared vision of the Orphan Care Initiative—that the best and healthiest place for orphans is in a loving, lasting, legal family of their own.

The PEACE plan has been a catalyst for change, and we can’t wait to see its impact in Baja, Mexico. If you are interested in learning more about the serving globally, or are interested in signing up for a PEACE trip to Baja, email us at orphans@saddleback.com or call 949-609-8555.

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Many walk into an orphanage expecting to find rambunctious and lively children. However, they are surprised to find something quite opposite. The quiet and still environment causes many to exclaim, “These children are so well behaved!”

Unfortunately, what we deem as “well behaved” can actually be a result of severe neglect. When a child is born, they quickly and instinctively discover an attachment pattern with parents. When a need arises, the child feels the need and expresses the need, crying for mom or dad comes to help. In a healthy attachment cycle, mom or dad meet the need when the need is expressed – whether that need is feeding, changing a diaper, giving a hug, etc. For many children growing up in orphanages, however, this healthy cycle did not occur. Needs were not met. When the child cried mom and dad or a caretaker did not always come.  Crying ceases because “a child without a voice quickly learns he will be ‘on his own’ in getting his needs met. Survival skills emerge in the absence of nurturing care that will later put him on a developmental trajectory of harm. Without a voice, this child will learn not to trust others to care for him” (Adoption).

According to studies performed at Harvard University, “children who experience severe deprivation typically need therapeutic intervention and highly supportive care to mitigate the adverse effects [of trauma] and facilitate recovery” (Neglect). This is why TBRI, or Trust-Based Relational Intervention, is such powerful knowledge for those caring for foster or adopted children. This form of attachment-based, trauma-informed intervention encourages parents to use a balance of nurture and structure with their child in order to repair the losses their child has endured – including the loss of their voice. Children from hard places were taught by their environment early on that their voice has no power to get their needs met. In order to disarm fear and survival strategies, parents teach children three important truths:  You are safe, you are precious, you are heard.

You’ve heard the phrase many times, communication is key. Often a child will misbehave and it is our responsibility to ask ourselves, what is the need behind this behavior? Giving children a voice helps them to convey their needs without acting out and resorting to behavior to communicate. A healthy parent-child relationship has secure attachment and attunement to a child’s emotional and developmental needs. Repetition in completing the Attachment Cycle helps to rewire the brain with trust.

 

To learn more about how to promote connection with your child, check out The Connection, a 13 week small group study to equip families with practical skills, or join us at our next Connection Seminar: http://orphancareinitiative.com/event/.

 

Sources: 

https://www.adoptioncouncil.org/publications/2013/07/adoption-advocate-no-61

http://developingchild.harvard.edu/science/deep-dives/neglect/

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It is extremely important to remember that a foster or adopted child’s beginnings may be vastly different than those of a child who did not come from a hard place. Harvard studies indicate that children who have experienced abuse, severe deprivation, and neglect often “need therapeutic intervention and highly supportive care to mitigate the adverse effects” of trauma and facilitate recovery ( Neglect). In order to combat damage done in early childhood, knowledge of TBRI, or Trust Based Relational Intervention, is helpful for providing parents practical skills for healing. This form of attachment-based, trauma-informed intervention encourages parents to use a balance of nurture and structure with their child. In order to disarm fear and survival strategies, parents teach children three important truths:   You are safe, you are precious, you are heard.

As we continue our TBRI series in preparation for our TBRI seminar happening July 15, today’s post focuses on letting your child know they are precious. Every person has the need to be known and to be loved. Connection principles can be used to show a child just how much they are valued. Connecting principles describe “ an interaction between child and caregiver that produces warmth and trust. It disarms fear, promotes attachment and builds social competence.  Even adolescents who seem resistant and challenging actually love the opportunities [these principles provide] for joyful, silly connection” ( Fleming).

Connecting with your child means being engaging, making time for them, and being attuned and mindful to their needs. Prove you value your relationship with them by investing in it. This could look like stooping down to eye level to have a conversation or setting aside other tasks for time dedicated just to listening and playing with your child. According to Pastor Rick Warren, “It is not enough to just say relationships are important; we must prove it by investing time in them. Words alone are worthless. ‘My children, our love should not be just words and talk; it must be true love, which shows itself in action.’ Relationships take time and effort, and the best way to spell love is T-I-M-E.”  

Take time to invest in your child. Show them they are precious to you.   “The best use of life is love. The best expression of love is time. The best time to love is now.” -Rick Warren

To learn more about TRBI, check out this new animated video:


Join us via webcast or at the Saddleback Lake Forest campus on July 15th to learn more TBRI strategies for parenting children from hard places. Click here to watch or email us at orphans@saddleback.com for more info.

 

Sources:

http://www.jennaflemingcounseling.com/blog-post/tbri-connecting-principles/

http://www.gracewood.org/blog/2015/09/08/teaching-self-control-with-tbri-guiding-your-child-with-discipline/

http://developingchild.harvard.edu/science/deep-dives/neglect/

Warren, Rick.  The Purpose-driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For?  Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2016. Print.

 

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Saddleback Church’s Orphan Care Initiative gathered in May to catch the vision of how mobilized volunteers can collectively end the crisis of children living outside of parental care right here in Orange County. The need of vulnerable children to belong in loving, lasting, and legal families is daunting, but together, there is hope of meeting this need locally by 2020. Accomplishing this vision will depend upon the church, county, and business partners focusing their efforts around the pivotal 3 R’s of permanency where children remain in healthy families, reunite with family, and regain family through adoption or kinship care.

Our local vision of “Getting to Zero by 2020!” was inspired by the model of orphan care adopted by local churches in Rwanda. With the collective decision to close all orphanages in Rwanda, ordinary church members throughout the country, with ongoing support and encouragement of their churches, decided to legally adopt children into their forever families, effectively emptying orphanages in the process! Within four years, thousands of children living in orphanages in Rwanda have been adopted, and the country is well on track to being the first African nation without orphanages. This is the power of the Church championing the cause of families for orphans.

 

Within Orange County there are about 300 children waiting for a family – meaning their parental rights have been terminated and are in need of a new family through adoption. Within the Orange County foster care system there are over 3,000 children who rely on families to care for them until their family of origin again is able to care for them or until they are adopted. The task of “getting to zero” in Orange County may sound like a lofty goal, but through collaboration of church partners, county officials, and other community stakeholders, we believe it’s possible that no child should have to wait for a family!

 

We believe every person can play a role in helping vulnerable children in the foster care system in Orange County. Though not all are called to adopt or become a resource parent, there are so many ways to support those who can. If you are interested in helping accomplish this vision and “get to zero” by volunteering or becoming the family a child needs, contact us at orphans@saddleback.com or 949-609-8555. 

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If you could be a part of emptying the foster care system in Southern California would you do it? We feel God wants to do something new in Southern California like He’s doing in Rwanda. Soon Rwanda will be the first country in Africa to empty their orphanages and place every child into a family. This is being accomplished through a church-to-church strategy with cooperation with the local government.

Come join us for a night that will go down in history as when the churches in Southern California said they were not going to leave vulnerable children stuck in the foster care system anymore! We'll have representatives from the County of Orange along with ministry leaders from many of the largest churches in Orange County to launch this vision with us. This event has been a year in the making and will be a night you don't want to miss!

All things are possible with God and you have a role in the possibilities. “For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” Ephesians 2:10 (NLT)

A light dinner will be provided. Space is limited so please RSVP here today so we can plan accordingly. If you have any questions simply call us at 949-609-8555 or email orphans@saddleback.com

See you there!

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