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.
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.
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!
This month marks 20 years since the genocide in Rwanda that devastated the country. All over Rwanda, local churches are remembering those lost, while also celebrating how far God has brought the country since that time.
Pastor Leonidas is keenly aware of the change that transformed the country, as leader of a church in the Karongi District of the Western Province, an area hardest hit by the genocide. His church is a source of life and hope for his community, and many families in his congregation have experienced the transforming impact of PEACE Plan programs, including Orphan Sponsorship.
One of his church members, Elena, is a prime example of the power of the PEACE Plan coming together with the local church and the generosity of sponsorship donors to create change. Elena is a single mother of eight children. Three of the children she took into her home when her neighbor developed AIDS and became too sick to care for them.
Elena’s life was in shambles until she attended Pastor Leonidas’ church, which was going through the Purpose Driven Life study. Elena found hope and learned that God had a purpose for her life. Through the PEACE Plan, she learned how to care for her community. She joined a savings group and developed the heart to take in her neighbor’s children, who would have ended up in an orphanage without her care. Her new life in Christ, her local church, and the support of the Orphan Sponsorship Program gave her the confidence and resources to take additional children into her home. Through the money management skills she learned in her savings group, Elena was able to use her resources well, and she has now started a thriving new business which allows her to provide more for her children.
To begin sponsoring a family in Rwanda to take in a child from the orphanage, click here.
Click below to WATCH Pastor Leonidas and Elena’s stories in their own words:
The Orphan Care Iniative is coming alongside local churches as they partner with the Rwandan government in the effort to empty all the orphanages in Rwanda and place those children into loving, lasting, legal famlies. Part of this effort is our Rwanda Orphan Sponsorship program, which provides Rwandan families with the financial support needed to be able to take an additional child into their home, allowing the child to become a son or daughter, and not an orphan any longer.
We are so grateful to the support of our Rwanda Orphan Care Sponsors - check out the impact that their generosity, combinded with the efforts of the PEACE Plan working in local churches, is making:
OUR GOAL IS TO ASSIST THE RWANDAN CHURCH AS THEY GET TO ZERO. ZERO CHILDREN LIVING IN RWANDAN ORPHANAGES.
ORPHAN CARE SPONSORSHIP HAS HELPED AS:
· 1,500 children leave the orphanage and join a family of their own
· 15 orphanages close completely
“ When my parents died of AIDS, I thought it mean I would be an orphan for all of my life. Now I realize there is hope for a family.” - An orphaned child in Rwanda
WE ARE DOING THIS BY MOBILIZING THE LOCAL CHURCHES IN RWANDA THROUGH THE PEACE PLAN TO CARE FOR ORPHANS IN THEIR COMMUNITIES.
· 3,000 pastors and church members received training in orphan care
· The message of “God’s Heart for the Orphan” was preached in 22 churches across Rwanda
· One of our own Rwandan PEACE staff adopted a 10-year-old named John
“We have a long way to go. Everyone cares about orphans, but we had not realized that it is best for the child to come into a home.” - Rwandan church member
VOLUNTEERS FROM LOCAL CHURCHES ARE TRAINED IN HOW TO COME ALONGSIDE FAMILES THAT ARE TAKING IN CHILDREN FROM THE ORPHANAGE.
· 150 volunteers and government social workers have been trained in how to care for families and children
FAMILIES WHO NEED FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE TO TAKE IN A CHILD FROM THE ORPHANAGE ARE ABLE TO RECEIVE SUPPORT FROM THE RWANDA ORPHAN SPONSORSHIP PROGRAM.
SPONSORSHIP THIS MONTH HELPED:
· Families provide school fees, medical insurance and basic necessities for the child they welcomed into their home.
· Families join a savings group to learn how to make their income sustainable.
· Families multiply dividends from their sponsorship funds.
“People do not realize that just because we are poor, it does not mean we are not good parents.” - A mother in Rwanda
THERE IS STILL MORE TO BE DONE: The Rwandan government has asked the PEACE Plan to take a greater role in deinstitutionalization, working in every area where government social workers are focused.
If you would like to sponsor a family in Rwanda to take in a child from the orphanage, please click here. To visit Rwanda and make a difference on an Orphan Care PEACE trip, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
What is the Orphan Care Initiative?
The Bible makes it clear that God cares deeply about the orphans of the world and expects His people to do the same – in fact, He uses our care for orphans as a benchmark of our faith. “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress…” James 1:27
The Orphan Care Initiative of Saddleback Church exists to provide meaningful ways for every person to engage in caring for orphans through local churches at home and around the world.
We believe that every child deserves a family. The best thing we can do for the orphan is to help them join a family so that they are no longer an orphan, but a son or daughter. To reach the vision of every child with a family of their own, locally and globally we work to help children remain in family, reunite with family, or regain a family through adoption.
There are simple things everyone can do to help move children one step closer to a loving, lasting, legal family of their own. Here are some examples of opportunities in the Orphan Care Initiative:
Orphan Care Skills Training Wondering what you can do practically to serve orphans locally and globally? Orphan Care Skills Training will be a great foundation to learn simple things everyone can do to help end the orphan crisis. Mark your calendars for June 14th from 8:30am to 12:30 in Tent 2. Email email@example.com for more info.
Trauma-informed care classes Most orphans and institutionalized children suffer from childhood trauma. Understand of the effects of trauma on attachment and what to do to promote attachment and trust with children from hard places and traumatic backgrounds. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.
Volunteer with Orphan Care You can make a difference serving with Orphan Care! We have many opportunities get involved – examples of volunteer needs include: blog writing, social media, events, office admin, and anything else you have a passion for! If you have a heart to serve in the office or at church, we’re here to help you get connected! Email email@example.com to get involved.
Consider fostering or adopting If you’ve ever thought about adopting or fostering, we have a place just for you! Come get accurate information, simple overviews, and your questions answered. Hear from ordinary people who have adopted in a no-pressure, friendly environment. Learn God’s heart for adoption, and simple ways to take your next step. Join us the first Wednesday night of every month from 6:30 to 8:30pm in the MO2 building of the Lake Forest campus (the smaller portable office building).
Support important Orphan Care legislation Did you know that right now the US House and Senate are considering legislation that would help ensure that American efforts for children are focused first on finding orphans permanent families? CHIFF (Children in Families First), would also help streamline international adoption, making it easier on American families waiting to adopt. Click here to sign a petition and email your members of Congress to support CHIFF.
Rwanda Orphan Care PEACE Trips Saddleback PEACE Teams are helping children get out of orphanages and into families! You can help local churches as they partner with the Rwandan government, which has decided to empty all its orphanages by 2014. Out of the 3,000 children who started out in orphanages, 1,500 have already gone home to a family in Rwanda. Orphan Care PEACE trips will train local churches in promoting adoption, assisting newly adoptive families, and training lay social workers within churches. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.
Sponsor a family in Rwanda Did you know that for $38 a month or a one-time donation, you can help support a family to be able to take in a child from the orphanage? Your sponsorship provides for basic necessities, school fees, and medical insurance. Families on sponsorship are required to join a savings group and tithe to their local church. Click here to sign up online.
If you have questions or would like more information on any of these opportunities, please email email@example.com or call 949-609-8555.
The Rwanda Orphan Care Sponorship is changing the lives of families in Rwanda, and helping once hopeless children find the love of a family!
You can help empty orphanages by becoming a sponsor! $38 a month helps a family take in a child from the orphanage and provides them with school fees, medical insurace and everything needed to help them transition to their new home! Gifts go directly to the family through the local church. To help make sponsorship funds sustainable, families on sponsorship are required to join a savings group and tithe to their church.
Together, we are "getting to zero" - zero children living in Rwandan orphanages.
To learn more and begin sponsoring a family, click here.
Below is a quick update on a real family whose lives have been changed by sponsorship!