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The Karongi District of Western Rwanda is where the Orphan Care Initiative began the charge with local churches to get children out of orphanages and into loving, lasting families 3 years ago. In a country that did not have a word for “adoption” when deinstitutionalization began, so many families have stepped up to open their hearts and homes to children that there was no longer any need for the orphanages in their region. All three of the region’s orphanages, which were once home to hundreds of children, are now emptied – the abandoned dormitories now testaments to God’s amazing work in Rwanda through his church and the generosity of sponsorship donors like you!

The success is so profound that the Rwandan government has now asked the Orphan Care Initiative to play a larger leading role in 3 other regions of the country. This year, PEACE teams were mobilized to vision cast God’s heart for the orphan to local churches in these new areas, providing them with the training they need to reunite families and raise up families for adoption. The churches of Karongi are now a shining example to the rest of the nation, teaching their brothers and sisters what it looks like to offer radical love through adoption.

Orphan Care PEACE Teams Deliver the Very Best in Evidence-Based Adoptive Parent Training

Life in an orphanage leaves a legacy of trauma in the life of a child – emotional pain and learned behaviors that can only be healed in the arms of a permanent family. The adoptive families in Rwandan local churches are trained in the best practices of parenting children coming out of trauma – a set of unique transformative tools called Trust Based Relational Interventions (TBRI®), developed and tested at Texas Christian University’s Institute of Child Development.

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Through a train the trainer model, local churches are equipped to not only empower families, but also empower skilled lay social workers to come alongside families as they bring home a child from the orphanage. This year, 79 members on 9 PEACE trips delivered this training in Rwanda.

The Orphan Care Initiative’s work in this field was recently recognized as Initiative founder Elizabeth Styffe was awarded the TCU Green Honors Chair for 2017.

Check out this video to watch how churches are putting TBRI into practice in Rwanda:

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Thank you to those of you who gave so generously to Rwanda Sponsorship in 2016. To set up monthly giving for the new year, visit saddleback.com/sponsorship. Let’s help another region get to zero in 2017!


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Losing one parent is one too many. For Josiah, losing his mom to HIV/AIDS in 2014 almost prevented him from remaining in his family. Josiah was only 3 years old.  He and his 3 brothers and sister were living with their sickly father named Emmanuel. A carpenter by profession, Emmanuel did casual construction jobs to get by. However, after losing his wife, Emmanuel's health began to decline and his body weakened.  He was unable to provide for his family. Emmanuel's mother and  oldest daughter took on the responsibility of caring for the young family- three of whom were still in elementary school.  

This sad reality has provided a powerful opportunity for the local church to bring hope and support.  Emmanuel attends a local Anglican church in their community where his late wife also attended.  The church reached out to little Josiah, his Dad Emmanuel and the rest of the family.  The church explained that while he was recovering from ill health, the church could help.  They could see that the family was vulnerable not only to disease, but to being separated out of desperation and poverty.  An orphanage would have been one fo the few options if Josiah's family did not have the support of the local church.

Through Rwanda Sponsorship, the local church has wholistically come alongside Josiah's family. They are being supported by their church community and are frequently visited by the members in their church family. Through God's mercy, Emmanuel is now recovering and his family has remained together - largely in response to the relationship they've developed with their local church.

The Church is the hope of the world and the hope for every orphan and vulnerable child.  Ending the orphan crisis is not just about getting children out of orphanages - it's also about helping keep children out of orphanages in the first place by helping vulnerable children remain in families. By giving through the local church, sponsorship enables the entire church to come alongside families like Josiah's, serving them in every facet of life.  Because of Sponsorship, care and support reached these siblings before they became orphans, and the family is able to grow together!


If you are interested in impacting the life of a child through sponsorship, you can become a Rwanda sponsor at www.saddleback.com/sponsorship today! Connect with us at orphans@saddleback.com to learn about the ways you can help end the orphan crisis and prevent children from becoming orphaned.

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In Gicumbi Byumba, Rwanda, 29 church leaders gathered to hear God’s Heart for the Orphan and consider the implementation of PEACE within their churches. Following breakout sessions, the leaders were prompted to identify the number one problem in caring for orphans and how their churches could solve it. Baptist leaders congregated on one side of the room while Anglicans gathered along the other. As they mulled over these questions, they realized their solution was to do physically for the orphan what God has done for believers spiritually. Their churches would adopt orphans, and as soon as possible!

Yet there was one last problem to solve. The Baptist leaders piped up, “We don’t have an orphanage; we don’t have a place to go get kids…” Then speaking to the Anglican leaders they asked, “Can we go to your orphanage, the Anglican orphanage, and adopt the children there?”  After a tense pause seeming to last an eternity the Anglicans agreed, “Yes, yes you can!” The Baptists leaders announced they were sending members that same day to bring children home as their sons and daughters. In the family of God, mercy triumphs over judgment, and unity triumphs over division. Caring for the orphan is bringing together the family of God both here and in Rwanda as we serve the Kingdom together!

As a result of the unity of these Rwandan churches, orphans have been united with families. The Rwanda Orphan Sponsorship Program equips these families who are responding with daring faith to answer God’s call to care for the orphan. You can be a part of the transformation taking place - start giving today online.

If you would like to go on an Orphan Care PEACE trip to Rwanda, email orphans@saddleback.com or call the Orphan Care line at 949-609-8555.

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Paying it forward has taken on new meaning in Rwanda. Saddleback members on a recent PEACE trip heard the story of how the gift of generosity is impacting multiple generations. 

Years ago when Moses was adopted, he found a home in his mother’s heart. His mother was an early recipient of sponsorship, one of a few families chosen to pilot the program as it began, and so Moses knew what it was to have his needs met because of the sacrifice of others.

Moses is now a successful young man of 20. When the PEACE team met him and his mother, they proudly shared how in grand display of reciprocal love, Moses had bought his mom a home - right next door to his own! It was clear how deeply Moses cares for his mother and how deeply he had been affected by this gift of belonging.

Yet the story doesn’t end here. Moses’s mother, overwhelmed with the generosity shown her, has once again decided to open her home to a child in need of a family. She’s adopted a little girl - courageously, joyfully choosing to pour herself out for the benefit of one more child. 

What amazing love! Your sponsorship enables families just like theirs to provide lifelong and life-changing love for one another. Your sponsorship equips families, and family is the gift that keeps on giving! 

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Want to become a sponsor?  Connect with us by email via orphans@saddleback.com or call 949.609.8555 to become a sponsor today!

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At the start of the new year, we want to take this opportnity to thank God for all he has done this year in helping orphaned children in Rwanda find forever families. Across Rwanda, orphanages have closed through the partnership of the Orphan Care Initiative, the local church in Rwanda, and the generosity of Sponsorship donors! Children who prayed each night for a family are now wrapped in the embrace of a mama and papa!

The transformation happening in Rwanda would not be possible without the diligent work of volunteers in local churches across Rwanda who have given of their time, resources and talent to help families adopt. We want to take this opportunity to highlight these servant-hearted leaders whose love has led many of them to adopt.

The lay social workers come from all walks of life – grandmothers whose children are grown, wise church leaders, passionate young adults, and mothers with full homes. Their hearts for the children waiting in orphanages compels them to fearlessly track down long lost family members, to walk miles of rough terrain to counsel hurting families, and often to open their own homes to welcome in an additional child. They work out of a deep love for God, their churches, and their community. As one volutneer told us, they consider it their reward when they “see the dignity return to the childrens’ eyes.”

Rwanda Orphan Care

All volunteer social workers receive training in how to best assist adoptive families, often taught by Saddleback Church volunteers on PEACE trips. Last month, a large group of lay social workers were honored for their hard work and the accomplishment of helping families. They rejoiced together by praising God – and you can watch some of the celebration here!

CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE FOOTAGE FROM RWANDA

Rwanda Orphan Care

To become a sponsor or learn more, visit saddleback.com/sponsorship.

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