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Charlotte is a 28-year-old Rwandan mother of three. When you walk into her home, the first thing you notice is how tidy she keeps her house. 

The second is the barely restrained joy that seems to radiate from her three children, Shadrack, Ivan, and Chantel, as they bounce around the room. Looking at them, you would never guess that Shadrack and Ivan were recently rescued from lives of isolation in the orphanage when Charlotte adopted them a year ago. 

Charlotte knows exactly what that sort of deprivation feels like - she and her two younger sisters grew up in an orphanage. She still chokes up when she shares how difficult life was for them after losing their parents in the genocide. Charlotte became caretaker of her sisters, eventually marrying young because she saw it as her only option to continue providing for her siblings. 

Charlotte’s pastor praises her courage and her heart as an adoptive mom. “She’s a great mama. Whenever she sees a child who has a problem, she is quick to help because she knows what that is like.”

Shadrack, her 16-year-old son, sums up simply what it means to him to have a mama, papa, and a home to call his own. “The difference between here and the orphanage,” he says, “is I have freedom here.” 

Sponsorship has allowed Charlotte’s family to purchase a cow, the milk from which she uses to feed her family and sell at market. As Shadrack and Ivan proudly display the cow to visitors, it’s easy to see the pride they have in their new forever family. 


“GETTING TO ZERO” UPDATES 

  • This summer’s Orphan Care PEACE Team trained seven churches in Kigali in how to start orphan care ministries. Those churches have begun gathering their members and casting the vision to care for orphans!
  • Orphan Care PEACE Teams helped 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.com for more information.

If you would like to begin sponsoring a family in Rwanda to adopt a child from the orphanage, visit saddleback.com/sponsorship. Questions? Email orphans@saddleback.com.

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Fall has arrived, kids are back in school, and it's a great time to get connected, learn, and gain the tools to help your family and other families! Whether you are new to orphan care, or have been around a long time - there is a spot for you to grow and learn! Gain some new insight to help your kiddos, or to serve vulnerable children locally and globally.

We hope to see you at one of these great opportunities:


Orphan Care Skills Training – Oct. 24 from 9am-1pm in the upstairs Refinery classroom

Learn how to end the orphan care crisis by helping children remain in families, reunite with families or regain a family through adoption can only be done through healthy churches helping launch healthy families. You’ll learn an overview of the practical advanced skills that you can use in your own family and give away to a church. Learn the skills churches need in parenting children from hard places using Trust Based Relational Interventions, Adult Attachment and Trauma Informed Care.

 

Adoption/Foster Care Support Group – Meets Tuesdays 11am-1pm, starts Oct. 27

Join other parents as we listen, learn, and grow together. This season's Adoptive and Foster Family Support Group meets on Tuesdays from 11am to 1pm in the upstairs Refinery classroom on the Lake Forest Saddleback Church campus, starting October 27. The support group will be studying from the DVD curriculum The Connection: Where Hearts Meet written by Dr. Karyn Purvis and Elizabeth Styffe. Unfortunately, no childcare is available.


Questions? Email orphans@saddleback.com or call the orphan care line at 949-609-8555!

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Claver’s life changed dramatically at the age of 13. An orphan who spent most of his life living in an orphanage, newly adopted Claver was transitioning into a traditional family structure for the first time. And this transition, his new parents realized, was going to be a process. 

Developmentally, Claver had been delayed from years of being institutionalized in the orphanage. Issues in school arose because he had never learned how to interact with authority figures or other children. He also had trouble trusting his new parents. 

But Claver’s new family wasn’t about to give up on him. Claver’s new father, Bernard, knew with constant care, attention, and support Claver could flourish, it would just take a little time. 

Volunteers from the local church paid regular visits to Bernard, to encourage and train his large and loving adoptive family. They connected the family to sponsorship to help cover new expenses and school fees. Claver is now 15 years old and thriving thanks to the strong relationships he developed with his parents and siblings. He is also doing much better in school. Bernard proudly passes around Claver’s latest report card - boasting that he is now fourth in his class!

Sitting next to his son, Claver, and his younger son on the couch, Bernard explains his reasons for adopting, “You have to start with a wanting heart, not because others have done it. God has given me so much and I wanted to give back in a way. Now, I won’t sit down without a child in my home.”

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Claver's healing will be an on going process. The relational pain he experienced while living in the orphanage will require care and attention from a family who knows and loves him. His rescue from the orphanage made possible thanks to the support of the local church and the generosity of Saddleback sponsors, who give Bernard and his family the support they needed to bring Claver home.

If you would like to begin sponsoring a family in Rwanda to help a child leave the orphanage and gain a forever family, please visit saddleback.com/sponsorship or email orphans@saddleback.com

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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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