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John was no stranger to the heartbreak of loss. The Rwandan genocide claimed the lives of his entire family, his first and second wives died, and he was left alone to care for his infant son, Daniel. Doing what he thought was best for his child, John gave Daniel to an orphanage.


For three years, John walked for miles to see Daniel. He visited as often as possible, always leaving brokenhearted. His son was being raised by strangers and used as free labor to plant and harvest pineapples. “Even though I’m a big man, I would cry and my son would cry when I left,” he recalls. Still, John thought it was best for Daniel to stay in a place that wouldn’t struggle to feed him and could give him a comfortable place to sleep and shoes for his little feet.

Deep in his heart, John knew that shoes were no replacement for the love of a family. Sleeping on a mattress was no substitution for the security of a loving embrace. The physical satisfaction of food couldn’t make up for the loss of a father’s affirmation. He desperately wanted to bring Daniel home, but didn’t know how he could raise him alone. “I can’t do this on my own,” he told his church congregation. “No you can’t,” his pastor replied, “but you can with the help of the church.”

John learned about parenting training and ongoing support that was available to him through Saddleback’s Orphan Care Initiative and the local Rwandan church. During a training class at the orphanage, John listened to the reasons why a child needs a family while he lovingly cradled Daniel and watched him fall asleep in his arms. At that moment, John knew he had everything it took to take care of Daniel, and he made the decision to take his son home. 

The orphanage director, hesitant to let his child labor go, suggested that John go home and prepare first. John replied, “Get what ready?” He knew there was no preparation required, and that an open heart for his child was the only thing that was truly necessary.

Today, one more child has a loving home because one more father opened his heart to receive an estranged child. Through Saddleback’s Orphan Care Initiative and the local Rwandan church, one more family has been reunited.

To learn how you can sponsor a family in Rwanda to take in a child from the orphanage, visit www.saddleback.com/sponsorship.
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10 year old Joshua’s little hands are rough and deeply scratched. These are not the typical marks of childhood play; Joshua’s scars are the result of hours spent everyday under the hot sun digging holes in the dry Rwandan soil at the orphanage where he grew up. His physical injuries only mirror in part the emotional damage he still carries with him.


A sprawling campus atop a mountainside covered in pineapples, his former orphanage looks for all appearances to be an idyllic place for an orphaned child to grow up. It prides itself on being a self-sustaining orphanage. By having the children farm pineapples on the hillside, the orphanage owners claim they are able to dry and export the extra fruit while the children learn the value of hard work.

 

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The reality is that this orphanage has been the setting for an untold number of tragedies. Joshua recently left the orphanage, finally adopted into a home and a Rwandan family all his own. Yet every morning he still wakes up and asks his new mama and papa if it’s time to work in the field. For Joshua, unending labor is all he has ever known. When his new mother served him pineapple, he looked at her quizzically. “What is this?” he asked. His mother realized with horror that Joshua had never tasted pineapple – the fruit he had been forced to farm for the entirety of his childhood.

 

This month, that same orphanage on the hillside saw the sprouting of new, miraculous seeds of hope as twenty children walked off the grounds to join permanent families. After hearing about the vision of orphan care from the PEACE Plan, a group of local Seventh Day Adventist churches from the surrounding community decided that enough was enough. They spoke to their church members, asking them if God was calling them to adopt. Twenty families stepped up to answer the call and rescued a child from the isolation of the orphanage this month. Thanks to them, and the support of Orphan Sponsorship donors, twenty children are no longer nameless workers for the would-be labor camp. Twenty children get to feel the embrace of a mother for the first time. Twenty children have regained a childhood.

 

 

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PRAY FOR ORPHANS 

 

This month, join us in praying that the remaining children in the orphanage would know the love of a family through adoption. Pray that the local churches all across Rwanda would continue to lead the way in caring for orphans in an unprecedented way. Also, pray for the families that have made the decision to take a new child into their home – that God would bless the transition as they work to heal the past hurts of their new sons and daughters.

Click here to learn more about the Orphan Sponsorship program, or to become a Sponsor!

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Do you want to improve your emotional IQ in your family and workplace? Are you wasting time in needless conflict? Do you find yourself overacting to stress in your life at work and home? Do you feel like people are constantly pushing your buttons? 

If you are interested in increasing the quality of your relationships, we've created a unique FREE event just for you. Learn how to turn stress into opportunities for closeness, from authors Milan and Kay Yerkovich.

We all have relationship patterns and habits that interfere with closeness. Learn how to identify and change the most common stress responses that harm relationships.  Create better relationships with your kids, friends, coworkers and more.

This practical seminar of self discovery and development will be taught by relationship experts Milan and Kay Yerkovich who are one of the  hosts of the popular radio show “New Life Live,”  and authors of HOW WE LOVE.  Join us to learn the tools to change your relationships and your life.

It's not all that often that Saddleback Church has the opportunity to host a free seminar that is for you and your friends, but you're invited to this special occasion and are welcome to invite others to join.

 

Reduce Stress to Build Better Relationships

Saturday, June 21

9am to noon

Saddleback Church

Refinery Auditorium, Lake Forest Campus

 

REGISTER HERE

 

We look forward to seeing you there!

Questions? Email us at orphans@saddleback.com or call 949-609-8555!

Children In Families First (CHIFF), a bipartisan bill that would prioritize family as a key element of U.S. foreign policy and help streamline international adoptions, is hosting a Tweet-Up today – and your voice matters!

CHIFF’s goal is to get the word out and influence members of Congress who will be voting on the bill. Help raise awareness for this important bill that could help orphans around the world find family and change the face of international adoption in America by tweeting your support and sharing its importance with your followers!

Please check out the CHIFF petition, sign it, and share to your friends on social media (http://childreninfamiliesfirst.org/please-sign-chiff-petition-today/).

You can also learn more about the bill in this article about CHIFF in the Christian Post: Sen. Mary Landrieu Asks Christians to #SupportCHIFF and Aid Orphans in Crisis (VIDEO INTERVIEW)  

There is still a long battle ahead for this important piece of legislation, but with your help we can help children get into families much faster! Visit the CHIFF page at childreninfamiliesfirst.org to learn how you can get involved. You can also follow CHIFF on Twitter and like their Facebook page to keep up with all the updates.

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Ernie and Pat are two ordinary members of Saddleback who have chosen to make an extraordinary difference by caring about orphans. Adoptive and foster parents, they have seen first hand the difference that family makes in the life of a child who has been deprived of a mom and dad. Below, Ernie shares a bit of his wife’s own remarkable adoption story – a miracle dating back to World War Two in Germany.

In 1947 post war Germany, a mother named Alma Mosher, a military wife lived in Germany as part of the US Occupational Forces. Alma had two biological sons, but her heart still longed for a daughter.

In a German orphanage, Alma found a six month old, brown-eyed little girl whose parents had thrown her away because she wasn’t the boy-warrior they wanted.

She picked up this precious baby girl, so tiny and underweight, and she knew that it was God’s plan for her to adopt her. Then the true battle started.

The politics in Germany and the rights of American GI’s and their families were not yet established. Alma refused to leave the country without the baby girl in her arms. After months of negotiations, Baby Pat officially became Alma’s daughter, and the first baby adopted in post-WWII Germany by an American GI. Alma’s refusal to accept a negative answer opened the door for adoption in Germany.

Forty years later, Pat lives in Lake Forest, CA and attends Saddleback Church. She is married with two boys, and like her mother, feels God’s call to help a little girl just like she was helped long ago. Accepting God’s call, Pat became a foster parent to three girls: Jessica, Kimberly, and Elizabeth.

Pat felt God’s call to foster and readily accepted, but she didn’t know the difficulty it would bring her; the same difficulty her mother faced years ago. Pat advocated for her girls – to protect them and to give them a better life. All three girls had come from difficult and traumatic situations, and needed the healing love of a family. Despite the difficulties, Pat’s love for her girls only grew with her desire to battle for their care and protection.

There is a story for each of these little girls that would fill a thousand novels, but the bigger story is how the love of a mom, who wouldn’t give up despite the hard circumstances, made a difference in the world more than a generation later.

Jessica is now a 27 year old woman living in Boston, now reunited with her birth mother. But her desire to find her birth mother did not alienate her birth family, it only added members to her already loving family.

Elizabeth, now 28 years old, was adopted by a family in Los Angeles.

Kimberly, abandoned at birth in a Tustin Hospital, is now our adopted daughter and a beautiful 25 year old woman, attending college so she can become a psychologist to help others with the same life experiences she had.

But the impact of the love of a mother doesn’t stop with helping orphaned children; there are consequences to their family members inspired by the actions of their mom. David, our oldest son, is a business man in Orange Count. Tim, our youngest son, is a pediatric cardiologist who spent ten days last Christmas with a medical team in Ethiopia and repaired the hearts of 38 children.

Pat and I are now spending time working with the Local Orphan Care Initiative here at Saddleback Church to grow a coalition of churches and Orange County Social Services to find a loving home for every orphan in Orange County and to spread that model across the country.

If it wasn’t for the love of Pat’s mother at the end of WWII, who fought for and adopted one brown-eyed baby girl, there wouldn’t be our marriage of 46 years, a business man making a difference for immigrant families, a cardiologist working on baby’s hearts, an adopted little girl studying to help others work through their emotional pain, and a senior couple now working on the Global Orphan Care Initiative at Saddleback Church.

The love of a mother can change the world one life at a time. Together with God, you don’t need to start a revolution to make a difference; loving one lonely child at a time can change the world, just like Alma and Pat changed the lives of the orphaned children around them.


To get connected to Orphan Care at Saddleback, join us this Sunday from 4-6pm in the Refinery to hear the variety of opportunities available for you to make a difference in the life of an orphan! 

If you would like information on how your family can adopt or foster a child, join us at “Thinking About Adoption or Foster Care” Wednesday June 4th from 6:30-8:30pm, or call the Orphan Care Line at 949-609-8555.

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