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Ernie and Pat are two ordinary members of Saddleback who have chosen to make an extraordinary difference by caring about orphans. Adoptive and foster parents, they have seen first hand the difference that family makes in the life of a child who has been deprived of a mom and dad. Below, Ernie shares a bit of his wife’s own remarkable adoption story – a miracle dating back to World War Two in Germany.

In 1947 post war Germany, a mother named Alma Mosher, a military wife lived in Germany as part of the US Occupational Forces. Alma had two biological sons, but her heart still longed for a daughter.

In a German orphanage, Alma found a six month old, brown-eyed little girl whose parents had thrown her away because she wasn’t the boy-warrior they wanted.

She picked up this precious baby girl, so tiny and underweight, and she knew that it was God’s plan for her to adopt her. Then the true battle started.

The politics in Germany and the rights of American GI’s and their families were not yet established. Alma refused to leave the country without the baby girl in her arms. After months of negotiations, Baby Pat officially became Alma’s daughter, and the first baby adopted in post-WWII Germany by an American GI. Alma’s refusal to accept a negative answer opened the door for adoption in Germany.

Forty years later, Pat lives in Lake Forest, CA and attends Saddleback Church. She is married with two boys, and like her mother, feels God’s call to help a little girl just like she was helped long ago. Accepting God’s call, Pat became a foster parent to three girls: Jessica, Kimberly, and Elizabeth.

Pat felt God’s call to foster and readily accepted, but she didn’t know the difficulty it would bring her; the same difficulty her mother faced years ago. Pat advocated for her girls – to protect them and to give them a better life. All three girls had come from difficult and traumatic situations, and needed the healing love of a family. Despite the difficulties, Pat’s love for her girls only grew with her desire to battle for their care and protection.

There is a story for each of these little girls that would fill a thousand novels, but the bigger story is how the love of a mom, who wouldn’t give up despite the hard circumstances, made a difference in the world more than a generation later.

Jessica is now a 27 year old woman living in Boston, now reunited with her birth mother. But her desire to find her birth mother did not alienate her birth family, it only added members to her already loving family.

Elizabeth, now 28 years old, was adopted by a family in Los Angeles.

Kimberly, abandoned at birth in a Tustin Hospital, is now our adopted daughter and a beautiful 25 year old woman, attending college so she can become a psychologist to help others with the same life experiences she had.

But the impact of the love of a mother doesn’t stop with helping orphaned children; there are consequences to their family members inspired by the actions of their mom. David, our oldest son, is a business man in Orange Count. Tim, our youngest son, is a pediatric cardiologist who spent ten days last Christmas with a medical team in Ethiopia and repaired the hearts of 38 children.

Pat and I are now spending time working with the Local Orphan Care Initiative here at Saddleback Church to grow a coalition of churches and Orange County Social Services to find a loving home for every orphan in Orange County and to spread that model across the country.

If it wasn’t for the love of Pat’s mother at the end of WWII, who fought for and adopted one brown-eyed baby girl, there wouldn’t be our marriage of 46 years, a business man making a difference for immigrant families, a cardiologist working on baby’s hearts, an adopted little girl studying to help others work through their emotional pain, and a senior couple now working on the Global Orphan Care Initiative at Saddleback Church.

The love of a mother can change the world one life at a time. Together with God, you don’t need to start a revolution to make a difference; loving one lonely child at a time can change the world, just like Alma and Pat changed the lives of the orphaned children around them.


To get connected to Orphan Care at Saddleback, join us this Sunday from 4-6pm in the Refinery to hear the variety of opportunities available for you to make a difference in the life of an orphan! 

If you would like information on how your family can adopt or foster a child, join us at “Thinking About Adoption or Foster Care” Wednesday June 4th from 6:30-8:30pm, or call the Orphan Care Line at 949-609-8555.

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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:

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Looking to get connected to Orphan Care at Saddleback Church? May and June are action-packed with opportunities to learn more and serve!

Check out the variety of opportunities below, and feel free to let us know if you have any questions! (call us at 949-609-8555 or email orphans@saddleback.com)

 

Thinking About Adoption & Foster Care

Have you considered adopting or fostering, but aren’t sure how to get started? This is the place for you! Families from our church who have adopted and fostered share helpful overviews and answer your questions in a no-pressure environment.

We have three different nights for you to catch the seminar and get your questions answered:

Monday May 12th – 7-9pm in MO2 (the small portable office on the Lake Forest campus)

Thursday, May 15th – 7-9pm in Room 404 (in the portable classrooms across from Tent 1)

Wednesday, June 4th – 6:30-8:30pm in MO2 (the small portable office on the Lake Forest campus)

 

SPECIAL EVENT with Milan & Kay Yerkovich, authors of How We Love

Healthy attachment is the key to great families, and great adoptive and foster parenting. Using attachment theory, experts Milan and Kay Yerkovich have created the tools to take your relationships to the next level. Come learn your attachment style, how to grow your marriage, and take your parenting to the next level at this unique event.

Saturday, June 21st – 9am – 12pm The Plaza Room, Lake Forest Campus

Register HERE: http://saddleback.com/event/11637464971/event

 

Orphan Care Volunteer Gathering

Our monthly orphan care volunteer gathering is a great opportunity to hear all that is going on locally and globally with orphan care, and get plugged in to serving opportunities! Connect with others in our ministry with a heart to make a difference in the global orphan care crisis.

Sunday, June 1st – 4-6pm in the upstairs Refinery classroom

 

Global Orphan Care Skills Training

You can make a global impact! In this training, you will learn how to empty orphanages and help orphaned children find their forever families. If you are considering going on a PEACE trip, or just want to know more, join us for skills training!

Saturday, June 14th – 8:30am – 12:00pm in Tent 2

 

Local Orphan Care Orientation

If you have a heart to serve orphaned children here in our own community, come to the local orphan care orientation to hear about the different opportunities, and how you can make a difference in the life of a foster child or adoptive family! Email lynny@saddleback.com for more information.

Tuesday, May 13th – 7-9pm in the Plaza Room

 

Questions? Email orphans@saddleback.com or call 949-609-8555.

 

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A member of our Saddleback community became involved with the Orphan Care Initiative because of how the ministry has personally affected her. She is passionate about sharing her story and her views on CHIFF (Children in Families First), but asked that her identity to remain anonymous to protect her nephew. This is her story:

 

 

My Story

My nephew is a precious bundle of precocious energy. At ten years old, what else would one expect? He is the epitome of an Orange County boy. A champion at the 200 meter in track, a lover of the Chima warrior cartoon series, a burgeoning fisherman, and a would-be surfer dude.

He also could have been an orphan.

For reasons that aren’t mine to discuss, my brother didn’t know that he had a son until several months into the pregnancy. The woman had considered abortion & adoption… Then finally told my brother that he had a son.

Sadly, as a young twenty something man-child my brother was ill equipped to take on the responsibilities of an infant. Let alone one he wasn’t even sure was his. Yet, my brother fell in love with this boy the moment he saw the first sonogram. He didn’t care that the DNA tests had come back 100% positive – they could have been negative for all he cared – this baby was his. No matter what.

In a turn of events, my brother was given full custody of his son. Sadly, my nephew has not had a relationship with his mother.

At any point during this journey, my nephew could have been lost to us, his family. My brother couldn’t do it on his own, so my parents, my siblings and I, we all stepped up. For much of his life, I have been my nephew’s “mom” and we are his support structure, his village.

 

Why it matters?

Even though I can see it hurts him sometimes to be the one without a mom at Back to School night, my nephew is one of the lucky ones. So many other children around the world suffer much, much, worse. They don’t have the support structure of family, and there is no one to advocate for them. That’s why I felt so strongly about getting involved with the Orphan Care Initiative at Saddleback, and why I’m sharing this personal story with all of you.

This is a Call to Action.

The Orphan Care Initiative is putting its support behind a bill called Children in Families First, or CHIFF, and we need to help them get the word out. Introduced to Congress in 2013, the bill focuses on finding orphans permanent families FIRST, often times with their own relatives. It also outlines a process that would help streamline international adoption, making it easier on American families waiting to adopt.

We need to write, tweet, blog, vlog, sing, and dance our hearts out to every member of Congress currently undecided on this bill. An online petition has already been created and you can sign your name to it here.

 

How You Can Help

It’s as simple as clicking a link and filling out a quick form that takes less than a minute to complete. But don’t misunderstand, this isn’t slacktivism, clicktivism, or an attempt at arm-chair foreign policy. Your support of CHIFF will literally help to change the course of not only a child’s life, but of entire families and communities world wide.

CHIFF attempts to the do the following:

·      Creating an office for vulnerable children and families in the Department of State that will create a foreign policy and diplomatic hub with a focus on strengthening families and creating families for children who need them.

·      Directing the U.S. Agency for International Development to implement development programs that also strengthen and create families. (This also means support structures for families that already exist but need to know they can sustain their households, or have the knowledge to provide, protect, and nurture their children.)

·      Making the adoption process more straight-forward and transparent for American families choosing to adopt overseas; and

·      Providing the tools needed to count and identify orphans so that we can be sure our help is making a difference.

CHIFF will do all these things while requiring NO NEW MONEY from the American people.

The United States Government already spends $2 billion on assistance programs for children internationally. CHIFF proposes reallocating a small portion of that funding to support these programs. CHIFF does not require American taxpayers to pay MORE or spend MORE. It fights, on their behalf, to spend that hard earned money WISER and more efficiently.

 

My Prayer for All of You

I never thought I’d be a surrogate mother for a young child in my twenties. I never dreamed I’d be responsible for his needs and emotions. I also never expected what a miracle that beloved burden would become in my life. My nephew lives with my parents and I in our home in Orange County, and every single day I pray in thanksgiving to God for the blessing his presence is in our lives.

I am overwhelmed by his courage to face a world that often doesn’t understand him, and so grateful for Saddleback and others who try to give comfort to other children like him: children who could have been orphans, or are orphans, but instead are viewed as just another member of God’s family, our family,— your family.

May the Lord bless you with grace, wisdom, discernment, and the courage to follow through with your convictions. I hope those convictions lead you to our church family at Saddleback, and I encourage you to support CHIFF by getting involved now!

Click here to learn more about CHIFF.

 

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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.

LAST MONTH:

·      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 hereTo visit Rwanda and make a difference on an Orphan Care PEACE trip, please email orphans@saddleback.com.

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