Ten years ago in Kigali, Rwanda’s capital city, an
unspeakable tragedy left a young unmarried girl, Joselyn, pregnant with a baby
boy. She felt ashamed and broken.
Shortly after she gave birth, Joselyn’s aunt took the newborn
and sent him to an orphanage hidden in the mountains miles from Joselyn’s home.
Her aunt told Joselyn if she tried to find her son she would be arrested for
Last month, diligent orphan care volunteers from local
churches near the orphanage began to unravel now ten-year-old Eric’s history.
The story slowly unfolded. They found out this child living without hope of a
family actually had a mother. When Joselyn learned that her Eric was
waiting—parentless—she found new hope that she could reunite with her son once
The orphan care volunteers talked Joselyn through the
potential challenges of raising her son. Undeterred, she made the bold decision
to bring him home. In the course of their conversations and parenting training,
the volunteers asked Joselyn if she knew about Jesus, how He cared for her, how
He had come to redeem her pain and make her whole. Joselyn accepted Christ that
day in her home. She realized that her current accommodations—a small house
doubling as the community bar—was no place for a child, and she chose to move
down the street to a humble mud home, one with an extra room for Eric.
Local church members paid Joselyn’s way to make the grueling
six-hour bus ride to the orphanage where she and Eric were finally reunited.
Tears rolled down their faces as they embraced each other at last. As Joselyn
dried her son’s eyes using her traditional Rwandan skirt she spoke to him with
the soothing, tender words Eric had waited so long to hear, “ I love you. I
can’t wait to care for you. I can’t wait to hold you.”
Mother and son are now back home in Kigali, adjusting to
their new lives as a family. Through the generosity of sponsorship donors,
Joselyn has the means to provide a better home and a smooth transition for her
son. Eric will receive love from his own mother who can now provide medical
insurance, school fees and the home he never knew. He will hear and experience the love of Jesus
in the arms of his mother, with a family of his own.
This month, members of the local Rwandan church have decided
to take a local PEACE trip to fix up Joselyn’s home, making it more suitable
for their little family. They plan to paint the walls and add windows to the
small rooms. Through the love, care and provision of Saddleback sponsors and
members of the local church in Rwanda, Joselyn’s painful experiences have been
redeemed through their miraculous reunion, and a little boy’s future is forever
You can help children leave the orphanage! If you are interested in helping families like Joselyn and Eric reunite, visit saddleback.com/sponsorship for more information.
Laurence is a 17-year-old girl living with HIV in Rwanda.
Lawrence’s parents died when she was just two years old, and she was sent to
live in the orphanage. For fifteen lonely years, Laurence didn’t have access to
the care she needed, and at times the painful skin condition she developed from
her disease kept her out of school and isolated from other children in the
Laurence lived depressed and without hope. Because of her
age and her HIV status, the orphanage claimed she was unadoptable—that no one
would want her. Laurence couldn’t see an end to her loneliness.
However, that is not how Laurence’s story ends. Five
hours away from the orphanage, a woman named Kabibi also lives with HIV. Kabibi
lost two children in the genocide, and though she heard God whisper that she
would one day have a family again, but without a husband she couldn’t see how
that was possible. She asked God, “Will you make me laugh like Sarah?”
Through the Global HIV&AIDS Initiative and the Rwanda
Orphan Care Initiative, Kabibi learned about Laurence, one of the last children
left in the orphanage, and her heart broke. Kabibi knew God had redeemed her
pain so she could redeem others, and she decided, no matter the opposition, she
could be a mother to Laurence.
As they met for the first time, Kabibi embraced her new
daughter. Tears streamed down both their faces as Kabibi told Laurence, “I’m
going to be your mother.”
Laurence saw that after years of living without a family,
she could finally have a home with a mother who loved her deeply. She decided
to go with Kabibi.
With the help of the local church and Saddleback
sponsorship, Kabibi has been able to
adopt Laurence. Just a few days ago, Kibibi went to the orphanage to get
Laurence. At last, Laurence left the orphanage and came home to a family of her
own – to a mom who will love her and make sure she gets the HIV care she needs.
Half of the children who lived in orphanages in Rwanda
when we began two years ago now have a family of their own. Together as a
church, we can reach the goal of zero children living in orphanages in Rwanda.
Did you know you can sponsor a Rwandan family who is
willing to adopt a child like Laurence?
For just $38 a month you can bring a
child out of an orphanage. Please visit www.saddleback.com/sponsorship
for more information.
Grace’s 11th birthday party looked the same as
any eleven-year-old’s from the outside—children ran around her house in
superhero costumes, eating cake and ice cream and playing games—but this eleven-year-old’s
birthday party was different. Instead of asking for toys and clothes, Grace
asked her guests to give to support orphans in Rwanda waiting to be adopted.
Grace attended Saddleback’s PEACE night, and visited the
Orphan Care breakout session. There she saw pictures of little Rwandan faces,
desire and longing in their eyes, and Grace’s heart filled with love and
compassion for children her age half a world away.
She felt called to do something for them, and decided to be
creative. After some thought, her mom suggested donating money from her
birthday party rather than asking for toys like she normally would.
“I was just proud of
her,” said Grace’s mother. “We live in Orange County, and everyone has so much,
so we thought it was a better thing to do than get a toy. I felt like we were
blessed to be involved.”
Grace’s friends were very supportive of the idea, excited to
be part of something bigger than themselves. Through her party, Grace raised
$650, enough to support an adoptive family in Rwanda for over a year.
Grace shared, “Now one of my friends wants to do it too.” Grace’s
mother said, “Maybe it will spread the idea around. God works in your heart,
and maybe he works through you to reach other’s hearts.”
One of Saddleback’s mottos is “Every member on mission.”
Grace is just one example of a believer living her life on mission – using her
influence to impact the world and God’s kingdom. After feeling God’s call, she
did what she could to follow him faithfully, and He multiplied her efforts more
than she could have imagined!
Many people feel overwhelmed at the idea of tackling the
orphan care crisis, but as Grace shows, everyone can make an impact. Together,
through each of us playing the part God calls us to play, we can end the orphan
care crisis by helping children remain in family, reunite with family, or
regain a family of their own through adoption.
If you’re interested in helping a family in Rwanda adopt a
child from the orphanage, please visit saddleback.com/sponsorship.
ideas of how you can get involved, join the Orphan Care Initiative breakout at
PEACE night on November 22 at 6pm in Tent 3 on the Lake Forest Saddleback Campus!
The greatest adversity is the loss of a mother's touch. Sadly, for children whose mother is HIV positive, 16% of these children will be orphaned as a result of HIV and AIDS by the time they reach their 18th birthday. This has obvious tragic implications in the life of a child.
A new report has been released highlighting the effects of
HIV on children whose mother is living with HIV. Sadly, the report by the PEPFAR Orphans and
Vulnerable Children Technical Working group, in partnership with Management
Sciences for Health and the Human Sciences Research Council confirms that
children are at serious risk for adverse emotional, physical and developmental
outcomes when their mom is living with HIV.
Even in areas with high treatment, 16% of children will, by age 18, be
orphaned as a result of HIV and AIDS.
The report also found a significant decrease in the graduation rates and
higher incidences of anxiety and depression.
The study describes that children are also at increased risk for sexual
exploitation and early sexual debut when a mother is too ill to protect and
care for them. In every arena, children suffer because of HIV.
What can be done to provide hope and healing for mothers and
children infected or affected by HIV? At Saddleback, we care about mothers and their
children infected and affected by HIV. PEACE teams travel to help local
churches come alongside mothers and children. They help churches provide HIV testing and guide mothers into early
treatment. Church-based health care
workers volunteer to check on the mother’s health and help with HIV
medications. Ordinary members of
Saddleback Church work with local churches, providing training to youth on
how to prevent HIV.
The Bible says, “The Spirit of the LORD is upon me, for he
has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that
captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be
set free.” (Luke 4:18) You are invited to join a PEACE team that
helps women living with HIV and their children.
For more information on joining a PEACE trip; firstname.lastname@example.org
OVCsupport.net, PEPFAR.gov Consequences of Adult HIV for Affected Children:
Modelling the Impact (September 2014)
Keep an ear out this week – on Wednesday October 15th,
Kay Warren will be featured on Focus on the Family, discussing the role of the
church and every believer in caring for orphans. In the hour long segment,
Kay re-tells her journey with HIV&AIDS from the time God broke her heart
for the hurting, leading her to a passion for the many people living with AIDS,
and for the children who were left orphaned and alone by parents who died from
this disease. Her message is a call for the church to step up and speak up for those who cannot speak up for themselves.
“Mothers [who are dying] in
every country ask the same question: who will take care of my children when I
die? Does the church have an answer? Does your church have an answer to that
Kay Warren’s first experience with HIV and orphans came
while flipping through a magazine where pictures of men, women and children,
weak and dying from the horrific disease, shattered her, illuminating to the
brokenness of the world and her own heart. This one small experience sent her
on a journey on which she became, what she terms, “gloriously ruined” and “dangerously
surrendered” to God’s will for her life. Kay now calls on the church to take up
the cause of those who cannot stand up for themselves – children living outside
of parental care.
Every believer can play a role in ending the orphan
crisis. As Kay asks, “If you’re going to be ruined, why not be ruined for the
kingdom of God?”
If you have a
heart to help orphans or are considering adoption – we are here to talk to you!
Simply call the Saddleback Orphan Care line at 949-609-8555, and we will
connect you with people with adoption experience who would love to answer your
If you missed Kay’s message, you can listen to her speak
at the Christian Alliance for Orphans summit: http://kaywarren.com/accepting-the-call-to-care-for-orphans-kay-warren/