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Is your family experiencing infertility? Find community and hope with other couples walking the same journey at the Embracing Hope retreat at Saddleback Church on Jan. 27-28!

Join couples like Phillip and Alex, a couple who found support, community, and healing through the church in the midst of their infertility story. They will be sharing their journey at the retreat, and you can hear a bit of their story below...

 

Embracing Hope is an overnight retreat for husbands and wives experiencing infertility and exploring the many ways they can build their family.  We will kick things off on Friday night with an amazing session followed by socializing around fire pits next to the lake. The conference will continue throughout Saturday afternoon with life changing discussions and chances to create meaningful relationships. If you are walking the painful and often lonely road of infertility we would love for you to attend this event!

 

We encourage couples to come together and grow as you embrace the hope that God has for you in this overnight experience. There will be several breakout sessions where attendees can choose to hear about topics closest to their heart and situation, Q & A panel discussions, amazing testimonies, worship, and lots of opportunity for connection.

 

Space is limited so click here to register today. Please, don't hesitate to contact us with any questions or concerns at 949.609.8555 or orphans@saddleback.com. We can't wait to spend time with you!

At the heart of the Orphan Care Initiative at Saddleback is the belief that church and family are God’s remedy for the orphan crisis. Psalm 68:5 says, “God places the lonely in families…” When we were spiritually orphans, God adopted us into His family. In fact, Scripture teaches that the reason God made the world was so He could adopt (see Eph. 1:4-6). It gives us an inheritance and the right to call Him Abba, or “Father” (see Gal. 4, Rom. 8). As a result, as Christians, we are given the joy of reconciling people to God through adoption (spiritual adoption), and helping children stay in their families, be reunited with their families or find a new family through adoption (physical adoption). In this blog (originally posted to Daily Hope), Pastor Rick Warren shares how we are adopted into God’s family, the Church.

 

“There are only two ways to get into a family: You can either be born into it, or you can be adopted into it. God does both for you! It’s called being born again, and it’s called being adopted into the family of God. God does both.

In Roman law, which people followed in the New Testament, you could disown a child you birthed. But if you adopted a child, you were forbidden to ever disown them. God says you are not only born again into his family, but he has adopted you, and there is no way he could ever disown you. That’s good news!

You may ask, “No matter what I do? Really?” That’s right — no matter what you do!

Once you’re born, you cannot be unborn. Once you are born again, you cannot be unborn again. You can grieve the Father, just like we often do to our earthly parents. The fellowship may be broken, but no matter what your parents say, everybody knows you are still their child. In the same way, once you become a child in the family of God, you’re in!

The Bible says in 1 Timothy 3:15, “I want you to know how people who are members of God’s family must live. God’s family is the church” (GW). We are the family of God. Church is not something you go to. Church is something you belong to. You’re welded into the building of the temple of God. You’re grafted into the vine and the tree of life. You’re born again and adopted into the family of God. You’re joined into the body of Christ. These are all connection models.

Most people think that Christianity is a belief system. There are beliefs that are involved, but it’s more than that. It’s a belong system. It means you belong to the family of God. It means you are a part of the body of Christ. The Bible says it’s like being born into a family.

Romans 15:6-7 says, “You will all be joined together, and you will give glory to God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Christ accepted you, so you should accept each other, which will bring glory to God” (NCV).

To learn more on God’s heart for the orphan, check out this video of Rick and Kay Warren. For more information on how you can be involved in helping children remain, regain, or reunite with family, email orphans@saddleback.com or call 949-609-8555.

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A team of women leaders from Saddleback recently took a PEACE trip to Rwanda to serve local churches with the Orphan Care and HIV&AIDS Initiative. We asked the team to share their experiences from the trip. Lauren Franco, a student leader in our College Age Ministry and Women's Communities Intern, offers a glimpse into what God is teaching her through the experience of serving in Rwanda:


The Hidden Beauty of Suffering

Rwanda was absolutely beautiful. Thousands of hills, rich with a green I'd never seen before. People warm and intelligent and joyful in such a way that embodies the Lord's own joy. Yet as beautiful as Rwanda is, I'm reminded that it's only a taste of God's glory. I'm reminded how small I am compared to His creation, and how all of the hills in Rwanda and stars in the sky, pale in comparison to how brightly He shines.

I learned of God's own heart. That was probably the most painful of all. But I asked Him to do it. To help me see and feel and hear how He does, and when you ask Him this, the answer is never without pain. Because Jesus suffered. We are called into a "fellowship of His sufferings" (Phil. 3:10), which, by nature of the name, is painful. At one point, I remember running to my room knowing if I didn't make it in time I would burst. Flinging open the door I fell to my knees, weeping in a way I never have before. I got angry. I didn't understand why He'd put His children through this pain. The kind of pain that is chronic, and unending, and irreconcilable. And what I was experiencing was only a taste. My heart broke for the nation that suffered a genocide so horrific that it is largely unspeakable, and left orphans, disease, and unimaginable loss in it's wake. It broke for the woman raped and beaten and left for dead that our team went to meet, who also contracted HIV/AIDS from the horrific incident. It broke for the grandmother single-handedly raising a grandchild who will be displaced from her home this week. It breaks again and again for stories that are not mine, yet somehow I share in because we're called to share in the fellowship of suffering, and weep with those who weep.

I suppose the only thing I can do to try to understand the genocide, and God's hand in any of it, is how clearly He's seen in suffering. Light needs darkness to shine right? Who do we draw near to when the bottom falls out of our world? Who is the only one large enough to cling to? And when we walk with another person through that suffering, God's love is seen. 

As Kay Warren so eloquently puts it "Deliberately choosing to enter into the experience of a fellow human being sets the stage for God to make an entrance."

And despite all the devastation and heartache, Rwanda now is an example to the world. The most forgiving, and joyful body I've ever seen, now stands not only in place of the wreckage and brokenness, but because of it. I have no doubt that God uses Rwanda to exemplify His unexplainable and unwarranted forgiveness. Grace seeps into every crevice of this country, and should push us to set aside denomination, and take up unity, let go of differences and take on love, and give pain up to God and take on joy instead.

He is near to the broken-hearted. And at times, when we ourselves are weak and vulnerable, broken as well, that's ok. It's okay to feel small and inadequate if it reminds us how big God is

Resilience & Revival

Something else that God spoke clearly to me was to "shed your light-hearted faith, and take up a resilient one." Stop picking and choosing what I like about Jesus, what I want to do or who I want to serve here on earth, and instead dive into ministry the way He did. In the trenches, on the front lines, resilience to me resembles armor. The kind of faith that can take a hit. That can take a sword and a battle and the hardest fights. It is beaten but it still stands. I don’t desire for anything in my life to be light-hearted. That implies a surface level attachment. An unwillingness to delve deeper, and go further. The need to stay light and happy in all things. That’s not what God longs for from us either. Jesus’ excruciating death on the cross was not light-hearted. He was resilient up there. Resilient and determined to keep faith in the Father despite what was thrown at Him. 

Maybe this rings true for you too, but I’m hungry for a revival. A revival of my own faith, to be the kind of resilient He so blatantly called me into, and a revival of the American church. More dependency on God, less emphasis on material, and more fire to grow the Kingdom. I heard the word “revival” more times than I can count on this trip, and the word still rings. There is hurt in the world, and yet we have the most powerful weapon on Earth. The church is powerful. When it's ignited, when it's active, it conquers problems. We are the church. It's not a building, and it's most certainly not confined to four walls and Sunday. We saw an active church in Rwanda, a church that is caring for the sick in their community, is mobilized to adopt and is clearing out orphanages, getting kids off the street, and being the very hands and feet of Jesus. That's what I crave for this generation of the church all over the world. Rwanda has pushed me out of blindness and into the harsh light of reality. When God shows us something I suppose we have choice of what to make of it, but we can never again claim we did not know. 

You can help empower the local church in Rwanda with tools and training to impact their communities and empty orphanages. If you would like to go on an Orphan Care or HIV/AIDS PEACE trip, email us at orphans@saddleback.com or call the Orphan Care and HIV/AIDS line at 949-609-8555.

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If you’ve ever thought about adopting or fostering, you are not alone. Did you know that one out of four couples have considered adoption or foster care. No matter why you have considered it, there is a place where you can get accurate information, simple overviews, and your questions answered. During the month of November, Saddleback Church will be hosting an informational seminar called, Exploring Adoption and Foster Care for My Family, at six locations in Southern California....
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Do you know any church wild enough to brainstorm, plan, and execute a conference for 2650 guests from all 50 states and 33 other countries in less than 50 days? Do you know anyone with such God-sized, audacious dreams and vision? Here at Saddleback Church, we do!

The Purpose Driven Church Conference was held at the end of June at Saddleback Church Lake Forest and marked the first time in a decade that Pastor Rick taught this conference in the United States. Last week marked the follow up conference – Purpose Driven Essentials. A special feature of the June conference was breakout tracks that enabled pastors and other church leaders from around the globe to sit in on specialized tracks to learn about more specific vision of empowering local churches with a discipleship process that helps get every member on mission.

Our Orphan Care and HIV&AIDS Initiatives shared about the vision of our ministries with conference attendees in separate breakout sessions and as a part of the Saddleback Signature Ministries panel that also included The Daniel Plan, Celebrate Recovery, and the Mental Health ministry. These breakout sessions enabled conference attendees to learn more about how the local church can be a source of hope to end both the global orphan and HIV crises and take practical solutions back to their churches.

In the Orphan Care breakout session conference attendees were shown why the Church should care about the global orphan crisis. As we have been spiritually adopted in the family of God, we should in turn model His heart to the orphaned by helping children remain in family, reunite with family and regain family through adoption. 

In the closing session of PD Essentials, Pastor Rick reminded pastors, "Please don't build an orphanage. Kids don't need orphanages; they need families! We have a goal that Rwanda would be the first nation in Africa with no orphanages... Children are getting in to families!"

In both the orphan care and HIV sessions, the message was clear: the local church is the hope of the world! God always intended to work through His Church, and Jesus promised that not even the gates of hell will prevail against the church. The tasks of ending the global orphan and HIV crises may seem monumental, but through the local church, we can successfully see children placed in loving, legal, and lasting families and effectively eliminate HIV in our lifetime.

Will you and your church take up this mantle in ending the global HIV and orphan crises? Perhaps your church needs help mobilizing members to ministry. For more information about how to start these ministries in your own church, please visit hivandthechurch.com and orphansandthechurch.com, or call the Orphan Care Initiative line at 949-609-8555.