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Orphan Care PEACE teams travel to Rwanda to work with the local church to train social workers, teach churches about orphan care, and visit the homes of families who have adopted.

Here one team member, Tim, shares his experience on an orphan care PEACE trip this summer when he visited the home of a man who has adopted and is receiving support from the Rwanda Orphan Care Sponsorship program:

The moment I entered Anatas’ home, I couldn’t help but notice the desperate circumstances in which this man lived. The damp, dirt floors were only barely visible from a single light bulb haphazardly hanging from the ceiling. The rugged adobe bricks that served as the walls of the home looked severely weathered. There was a single wooden bench and a couple foldable plastic chairs surrounding a table in the middle of the living room. We sat down and politely introduced ourselves. This was my first home visit in Rwanda and had no idea what I was in for. 

Anatas was a tall and slender man who looked to be in his mid-to late 40’s. He appeared to be very timid when he first introduced himself. His daughter Martha was sheepishly sitting beside him, occasionally whispering something in Kinyarwanda in to his ear. As he continued to share his story, his initial mild manner turned to excitement and joy. He couldn’t help but smile at the way he described how God had radically changed his life. I was moved by his testimony of perseverance and resilience.  After the genocide that decimated his home, he remained a soldier to provide for his family. He witnessed the brutal deaths of people close to him and questioned his own survival.  He said he later examined his purpose and place in the world. In his heart, there was an emptiness that he was longing to fill. Soon after, Anatas went to check out a Christian church with his wife.  Since then, he has been attending church regularly and is a living testament to the blessings the Lord has given him. Now as a leader in his church, Anatas uses his story to bring others to Christ.

At the center of every man’s success is a woman.  In this case it is Valencia, his wife of 20 years. Together they have raised 6 beautiful children, 5 of whom are their biological children. His eldest daughter, Ruth, is his niece and was taken in after her parents tragically lost their lives during the conflict. Though their family, like many others, has been through tremendous suffering, their faith continues to thrive. Anatas has a deep relationship with Christ. He shared with me that his biggest hope is that his kids will grow a strong relationship with Christ as well.

Just as soon as I thought I had figured him out, he revealed a startling revelation. He is infected with HIV. His struggle to afford the HIV medications only exacerbates his struggle to supply food for his family.  His job as a construction worker yields a meager pay. He tells me that the Orphan Care Sponsorship funds that he receives through the local church for taking in an orphan are critical in providing for his family. Although he appears to be in desperate circumstances, this does not impede him from being a guiding example for others.  He works with a ministry in his church that gives tests and provides treatment for others with HIV. He provides hope for others through Jesus.  

What Anatas and I shared during this visit transcended all cultural and language barriers.  Our faith in God united us to be able to share our story as one family.  I concluded the home visit with a prayer. I prayed for his health and family. I prayed that he continue to be a shining beacon of hope for all others he comes across.  Last, I prayed that other loving families, like those of Anatas, would open their homes for the orphans of Rwanda and provide a safe haven for those who are neglected. Though this man came from humble beginnings, he had the heart and generosity of a king.  His story will forever remain in my heart.  

Since this visit, our team was fortunate to have been able to conduct many more.  I heard shocking testimonials of people whose lives have been transformed by God. We consoled and offered our support and encouragement to the homes of HIV survivors, adoptive parents, and orphans. I was able to share, laugh, and even cry with the people of Rwanda. This experience has opened my eyes to the power of faith and love. I no longer want to travel any other way.

 

If you would like to sponsor a family in Rwanda like this one, please visit www.saddleback.com/sponsorship

You can go to Rwanda and make an impact just like Tim. If you are interested in learning more about Orphan Care PEACE trips, please email orphans@saddleback.com.

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Today Senator Mary Landrieu and thirteen other Members of Congress introduced the Children in Families First Act of 2013 (CHIFF) into the Senate, with introduction into the House expected in a few weeks.

The introduction of this act is an exciting step forward for American international policy towards orphans, as CHIFF is built on the idea that American law should reflect the fact that children need families, and that institutional care is never an adequate substitute for the care of a family.

Around the world, millions of children are growing up without parental care, often sent to live in institutions. CHIFF aims to realign U.S. foreign assistance to prioritize children growing up in families. It will does this by focusing on protecting children by preserving, reunifying or creating families through kinship, domestic and international adoption; and strengthening procedures to prevent abuse of children without families, all without increasing spending. The goal of CHIFF is to make government smarter, not bigger, by redirecting resources that are currently not being well used in relation to foreign assistance for vulnerable children.

As part of its scope, to achieve these goals CHIFF would establish a bureau in the Department of State that will become the much-needed foreign policy and diplomatic hub on international child welfare. This new Bureau would be tasked with building international capacity to implement effective child welfare systems, with particular focus on family preservation and reunification, and kinship, domestic, and intercountry adoption. It also would streamline, simplify and consolidate responsibility for all processing of intercountry adoption cases by placing these functions under the direction of the United States Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS). 

Visit http://childreninfamiliesfirst.org to learn more about the Children in Families First Act of 2013, and to learn how you can contact your member of Congress to encourage them to support CHIFF.

 

Right now, over 1,000 children and youth in California foster care are waiting for adoptive families – waiting for the opportunity to have someone to call mom and dad. At the same time, God has given clear commands to care for His orphan children, and California is home to over 20,000 churches.

Wait No More is an exciting one day conference, hosted by Focus on the Family, designed to help find families for children waiting in foster care by bringing together churches and church members from across the state.

Join Saddleback’s Orphan Care Initiative, Focus on the Family, California’s Health and Human Services as well as church and adoption leaders from around California on Saturday, September 14, 2013 from 10am to 2pm at the Lake Forest campus at Saddleback Church for Wait No More.

You’ll hear more about the kids who are waiting, the process of adoption from foster care and ways to support adoptive families. In addition, agency and county representatives will be on site to answer questions and help families get started. At last year’s Southern California event more than 208 families initiated the process of adoption from foster care! 

 

Learn more about the event here:

http://icareaboutorphans.org/california/

 

Registration is free! Click here to register online:

http://www.eventbrite.com/event/7610518265?ref=ebtnebregn

 

If you have questions about Wait No More, or would like to help volunteer at the event, please call the orphan care line at 949-609-8555 or email LynnY@saddleback.com.

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For the past two weeks an Orphan Care PEACE team has been serving in Rwanda, working with the local church to train social workers, teach churches about orphan care, and visit the homes of families who have adopted.

We asked one of our team members, Amy, to share a little of her experience on an orphan care PEACE trip and what it has meant to her. Below she recounts a day of home visits in Kigali:

 

"Pure & genuine religion in the sight of God means caring for orphans and widows in their distress." James 1:27

Today our Orphan Care PEACE team visited two homes and witnessed firsthand widows and orphans in distress. They are struggling each day for survival. I am in tears as I type this - words cannot describe the conditions they live in and the problems they face each day. Today definitely put things into perspective for me. 

We met an amazing woman named Josephine. Her husband was killed in the genocide and she was left alone with one son. Despite her own hardship, over the years she has taken in four additional kids whose parents died of AIDS. They don't have a house to call their own... so they have moved around a lot! Right now they are renting a space for 6 about the size of my closet. She struggles each trimester to pay the tuition for school.

When we visited her family, she had tears the whole time we were there because she felt like somebody cared. We brought a small bag filled with some basic food staples, and spent some time listening and praying for her.  

We also met Odetta, a grandmother caring for her grandchildren. Her daughter and son-in-law both died of AIDS. She also has taken in additional kids whose parents died of AIDS - five children all together. Her story is also filled with heartache from the genocide: her husband was killed and she has ongoing medical problems from her injuries. She was very grateful for the visit from us and the local church members, as well as the food that we provided.

I am humbled beyond measure to meet these sweet families who have very little, but have all taken in orphans. It has been an amazing day.

- Amy, Orphan Care PEACE trip member August 2013

Since Amy's visit, Josephine, Odetta and their families have been receiving support from the Rwanda Orphan Sponsorship. They now are able to provide for basic necessities, as well as school fees and medical insurance for their children. To learn how you can support an adoptive family in Rwanda, visit www.saddleback.com/sponsorship.

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Our monthly Global Night is around the corner!  Join us Saturday, August 24 at 6:30 pm at the Lake Forest campus to learn more about PEACE and how you can get involved and go on an orphan care PEACE trip. The night will start in Tent 3, and then move to Rwanda breakout time in Tent 1.

Because of the great interest from Rwanda Rocks we are expecting a large crowd for the Rwanda gathering, and we invite you to come and be part of the evening and potluck! Join us to be encouraged and energized by a meeting filled with prayer, testimonies, and exciting stories of previous trip experiences. This is a great opportunity to learn more about Rwanda and get your questions answered by people who have already been. Sign up for an orphan care trip, and get information on what’s happening in 2014!

If you are interested in going on a PEACE Trip to Rwanda, have a heart to obey the Great Commission, or are passionate about praying for Rwanda; Global Night is for you! We hope to see you there!

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