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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
Years ago, a 13 year old boy in Rwanda suffered the loss of both his parents. Left without an adult caretaker, he then watched as his infant siblings - just two and three years old - were taken away and placed into an orphanage.
Today, that young boy has grown into a young man living in rural Kigali with a wife and a three-year-old son. A loving couple of little means, when they heard that the Rwandan government is working to empty all the orphanages, they agreed to adopt his long-lost younger siblings and bring them home. After a history filled with so much loss, these siblings now live together once again as a family! No longer on their own, once lonely children are now secure in the care of a family that loves them.
With the support of Saddleback sponsors, this couple has been able to reunite with children who would have spent their entire childhood in an orphanage, perhaps never knowing they had family in the community. This is just one example of the amazing transformation that is taking place across the country as a result of the partnership between the Rwandan government, local churches and the generous support of Saddleback families who have given to the Rwanda Sponsorship Program.
To learn more about how you can help a family in Rwanda reunite or adopt through the Rwanda Sponsorship Program, please visit saddleback.com/sponsorship.
If you are interested in going on an Orphan Care PEACE trip to Rwanda to see the transformation for yourself and be a part of the amazing work that is being done, email email@example.com or call 949-609-8555 for more information.
Thank you to the over 700 families who have contributed to emptying orphanages in Rwanda. Your gifts are making a difference helping 3000 children leave the orphanages! 5 of Rwanda's 35 orphanages have already been emptied and 800 children now have a permanent loving family in Rwanda to call their own. With your help, the PEACE plan is training and equipping local churches to empower and support Rwandan families for life-long, self-sustaining adoption. Children now have a family of their own! Let’s get to zero children in orphanages!
Here are two opportunties to be a part of this exciting time in Rwanda:
You and your family can make a lasting difference by traveling to Rwanda! Teams are going year round, and we’ll provide all the training you need.
Come hear from all the Rwanda teams – including orphan care – and learn how you can get involved at our monthly Global PEACE Night on Saturday May 25th at 6:30pm in Tent 1.
For more information on Orphan Care Rwanda trips, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For $38 a month, you can have a major impact in the life of an orphan as Rwanda continues to empty their remaining orphanages by the end of 2014!
Your sponsorship helps provide: A FAMILY, school fees, medical insurance, sustainable income-generating skills, church-based lay social worker support, and family training through the local church
Unlike other sponsorship programs, your sponsorship goes to the family through the local church. Working through our long-standing network of PEACE Plan local churches allows for high accountability and integrity.
The PEACE Plan is the only effort that is not just caring for orphans, but ENDING the orphan crisis by reuniting children with parents in the community or raising up and training adoptive families in Rwanda
Visit http://saddleback.com/giving/opportunities/emptyorphanages/ to sign up.
If you haven't gotten involved yet, you still can! Here are two options:
To learn more about going on Rwanda PEACE trip, email email@example.com or attend one of our trip info meetings: