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“If one family out of every four churches in the U.S. would adopt a child, there would be no more orphans in the United States.”

 

Elizabeth Styffe, Director of the Orphan Care Initiative at Saddleback Church, recently spoke with Ruth Bell Olsson, from Bethany Christian Services during their "Every Child" podcast, about the orphan crisis facing our world today and how the global Church can be equipped to end this crisis by learning about God’s heart for the orphan.

 

“Not every believer needs to adopt, but every believer needs to say, ‘What can I do to end the orphan crisis?’” Elizabeth says that the Church is the only entity that cares for people from cradle to grave and that God has called each of us to care for the orphan: “Every night, including tonight, children are going to bed praying what my children say they prayed. Every night they prayed for a mom and dad…It’s not overly dramatic, it’s not overly emotional, this is real as it gets. This is reality.”

 

The local church can end the orphan crisis by helping children remain in family, reunite with family, or regain a family of their own through adoption. Elizabeth notes, “This is about doing for a child physically what God has done for us spiritually.”

 

Listen to the full podcast here


If you are interested in becoming involved with the Orphan Care Initiative, email orphans@saddleback.com or call 949-609-8555.

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Karen and Marv Quinn are ordinary Saddleback Church members who took a daring faith step to travel on an Orphan Care PEACE trip to Rwanda. What they saw of the people, country, and the power of the local church changed their worldview, and we asked them to share their experiences in their own words:

 

A PEACE trip to Rwanda in some ways feels like a trip back in time to first century Christianity. The entire country in unashamed about being on fire for Christ. There is an unspoken dignity among the people and a palpable presence of the local church everywhere.

 

Leaving Kigali we traveled to the western province and the city of Kibuye. Rwanda is the country of a thousand hills and we must have passed by 500 of them on our three hour drive there.

 

We had the privilege of meeting with a pastor who leads a rural church in this farming sector of Rwanda. His church has implemented the Orphan Care Initiative in a way that so reflects his congregation. We were greeted with worship and the clamoring of loving children who could not wait to sit next to us. The pastor spoke about how families in his church were adopting orphans, attending parenting classes and forming savings groups. Four of his members shared their testimonies, their love for their church, their love for the pastor, and their dependence upon Christ. One lady had overcome alcohol, accepted Christ, then found her self- worth in Jesus and not in the bottle. Once healthy, she had gone on to adopt and to participate in a savings group. Another had adopted, added to her own biological family, participated in a savings group and with that money had bought a pig because pigs reproduce quickly. Investing in livestock was a ticket out of poverty. Her son is now completing his university education. All four church members had adopted and given orphaned children loving mommies and daddies. They all proudly held up their savings books because savings groups had pulled them out of poverty. It was beautiful to see how Orphan Care initiative and Savings Groups Initiative work hand in hand to help families, with the church being the center of their success.

 

We followed the pastor to a home visit whereby he regularly visits his members who have adopted to check in on the family and the welfare of the children. Five of us were invited in to this humble home with a dirt floor, mud construction and love that just exuded. The husband was working and the wife invited us in to share her testimony and to minister to us with her remarkable story. Years ago she and a man in her village found a seven month old abandoned baby girl and brought her to the local orphanage. They kept thinking about the baby all the time, and their love for her prompted them to get married and then to adopt her. She is their oldest child is now 12 years old. Since that time, the mother and her husband had two biological boys. When we asked her daughter about school she beamed and the pastor praised her on how much hard work she puts into her learning. The family had joined a savings group, bought a cow and some chickens, and added onto their one room home. The church is a family to families who adopt, orphanages are closing, children are being raised in loving families and the church is the hub of it all.

 

We witnessed the PEACE Plan in action.

 

If you are interested in serving on an Orphan Care PEACE trip, and assisting the local church in getting children out of orphanages and into families, email us at ophans@saddleback.com
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When Amerita learned from her local church that there were children in her community who needed loving families, she took a step of faith and made the courageous decision to adopt 13-year-old Felix from the orphanage. One year later, Felix now enjoys life as a much-loved son and spends his days playing with his three siblings - Claude (also age 13), Diane (10), and Fifi (8).

Amerita is excited to share via video all she has been able to do to care for her growing family through the generosity of her local church and Orphan Care Sponsorship.


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WATCH THIS VIDEO to hear how sponsorship has impacted her family and her ability to care for her new son.

“GETTING TO ZERO” UPDATES

  • Orphan Care PEACE Teams have been helping raise up adoptive families and train lay social workers in Rwanda all summer! You and your family can go to Rwanda to be apart of the amazing transformation God is doing – email orphans@saddleback.comfor more information.
  • Two new churches in Kigali, Rwanda’s capital city, have taken an important first step in receiving training on God’s Heart for the Orphan and starting Orphan Care ministries.

To begin sponsoring a family like Amerita's, visit Saddleback.com/Sponsorship.

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As the distribution center for hope in the community, the local church is uniquely positioned to intervene on behalf of the orphan. In Saddleback’s Rwanda Orphan Sponsorship program, the local church in Rwanda determines which families will receive sponsorship and is responsible for providing families with volunteer social worker support. The partnership between Saddleback Sponsors and the local church is changing lives-getting children out of orphanages and into lifelong families! This month, check out a sponsorship update filmed by local Rwandan church volunteers highlighting the difference the program is making.

(The children) were very young when they first came, and they were 4 and 6 years old. They were very happy. They called me their mom and they were very comfortable. I made sure they went to school. One is in primary 5 and the other one in primary 6.


The Church and the Pastor started to come to visit the children. I didn’t even know the pastor, but I believe that it’s God who sent him to us. We were blessed by what God was doing through the support from the church.


When the support came from the church, I bought a cow so that it could help the children and built two more rooms in my home. I tell the children to always praise God and thank him because he’s the one who did this for us.


We thank God for the support and very grateful for the church. We thank God for the church, they visit us very often. And we always go to church to praise and thank God.


We no longer live a lonely life; we live a peaceful and happy life.


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

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There are so many exciting ways to get connect to serving in the Orphan Care Initiative. Check out the events and teams below for ways that you can take your next daring faith step to serve orphans and vulnerable children locally or globally!

Daring Faith Expo - Serve at the Orphan Care Booth!

On the weekend of May 16/17, each Saddleback campus will have the opportunity to learn how to join the Orphan Care Initiative during the Daring Faith Expo at every service - and we need your smiling face to help people get connected! If you are interested in serving at the Orphan Care booth for just 30 minutes after any service(s), let us know and we will get you all the information you need!

Thinking About Adoption or Foster Care?

Have you considered adopting or fostering, but aren't sure how to get started? Every first Wednesday of the month from 6:30-8:30pm in MO2, families from our church who have adopted and fostered share helpful overviews and answer your questions in a no-pressure environment. If that time doesn't work for you, we'd still love to talk to you. Free to call or meet with us for more information on fostering and adopting!

Orangewood Play Group

You can brighten the day of a child living in Orangewood group home, OC's temporary shelter for children who have been removed from their homes due to abuse or neglect. The first group will be visiting the evening of May 22nd. This is a great opportunity for those looking to care for vulnerable children right here in Orange County. Email orphans@saddleback.com for more information.

Rwanda: Empty orphanages and strengthen churches on a PEACE trip

Orphan Care PEACE trips train local churches in promoting adoption, assisting newly adoptive families, and training lay social workers within churches. We'll train you in everything you need to know, and help you or your family make a difference in ways you've always dreamed! Let us know when you would like to go, and we will get you connected to a trip leader. To join an upcoming trip email orphans@saddleback.com.

Mentor a child in the foster care system

Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs) mentor children in the foster system and act as their voice in the legal system. With a commitment of 2 hours twice a month, you can help represent the best interests of a child and support them on their journey to a lasting family of their own. If you would like to learn more about becoming a CASA in Orange County, please visit their website http://www.casaoc.org/advocate/ to RSVP to the next info session, or email orphans@saddleback.com for more information.

Join a local or global action team!

You can serve in ways too numerous to name, but here's a sample: Serve orphans and vulnerable children in our neighborhoods, help teach local churches in orphan care, or come alongside adoptive or foster families. Serve in sponsorship, social media, website development, writing, hospitality/event hosts, or advocacy. There's a place for you!

Adoptive and Foster Family Support Group

This season's Adoptive and Foster Family Support Group meets on Tuesdays from 11am to 1pm in room 409/411 on the Lake Forest Saddleback Church campus. The support group will be studying from the DVD curriculum The Connection written by Dr. Karyn Purvis and Elizabeth Styffe. Unfortunately, no childcare is available. Please RSVP by email to orphans@saddleback.com.

Interested? Just let us know and we will find the exact spot for you, your family or your small group. We'll help get you connected and provide any necessary training.

Have questions? Need more information? Connect with us by email (orphans@saddleback.com) or phone (949-609-8555)! We can't wait to serve with you soon!