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May we shout for joy when we hear of your victory and raise a victory banner in the name of our God. May the Lord answer all your prayers. (Psalms 20:5 NLT)


Victory Family Church sits on a hill with a gorgeous view of the Kamonyi District in Rwanda. The church property was once an orphanage, but all the orphans who recently lived there have graciously been adopted into local families. Victory Family Church now uses the church property not only as a church, but also as a vocational school that teaches sewing and hairdressing skills as a ministry of the church. Although the orphanage closed quickly and children returned to family, most families in this area who have adopted children are in need of parental training and emotional from the church. Seeing the immense difference that church support provides family, the government specifically asked the Orphan Care Initiative to come alongside these fragile new families with tools and training.

Rwanda Orphan Care

This past June, a PEACE team from Saddleback Church had the privilege of leading a parent training seminar at this wonderful church in Rwanda. As most people living in this community rely on walking as their most common mode of transportation, it took a couple of hours for the local parents to eventually arrive on foot. The attendees consisted of a few men and approximately 20 local Rwandan women who were beautifully dressed in their bright colorful patterned dresses. Prior to the start of the parenting seminar, a few of the colorfully dressed women led the entire sanctuary of visiting Americans and local Rwandans in joyful singing of praise, worship, and dancing to the Lord. “With God, anything is possible” is what was passionately being sung to the Lord in their local Kinyarwanda language that was accompanied by a beating drum, clapping hands, joyful shouts, and joyful dancing.

The PEACE team invested hours encouraging and training the attentive Rwandan parents who have all adopted children into their families. Most of these parents expressed that they have adopted not just one child, but multiple children into their families. Many of their adopted children are now teenagers, bringing new challenges to the family dynamic. The team taught the importance of patient and gentle discipline, facts concerning brain development, emotional attachment, and Trust-Based Relational Intervention (TBRI training). Although their spirits are willing, their flesh is often weak. These wonderful parents needed to be strengthened. And this day they were.

Rwanda Orphan Care

The Rwandan parents filled pages of notes as they listened attentively and later expressed how thankful they were for what they described as an invaluable and inspiring seminar. They expressed that they were immediately motivated to start a support group of their own in order to encourage one another. The long-term mission strategy for Orphan Care was set in motion that day as that special group of faithful believers left encouraged and inspired. The visiting PEACE team was able to minister through their acquired knowledge, education, and experience that was shared through the love and grace of Jesus Christ. And this visiting PEACE team was equally encouraged by the Rwandan parents who were so filled with the joy of the Lord as they were living out their purpose as compassionate, selfless servants of Jesus Christ.

The local Rwandan parents invited the team to return again as soon as possible as they were eager to continue to learn as much, and as often as they could. Thankful goodbyes were exchanged, and with their arms raised towards heaven and hands waving, they shouted, Imana Ishimwe! Praise God!

If you would like to serve churches like this one in Rwanda on an Orphan Care PEACE trip, email orphans@saddleback.com. If you would like to support an adoptive family in Rwanda through Sponsorship, check out www.Saddleback.com/Sponsorship.


But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy, and spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may exult in you. (Psalms 5:11 ESV)


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Mike and Brenda Crary are ordinary Saddleback members who have stepped out in faith to help churches in Baja, Mexico build healthy churches that can be mobilized to care for the orphan and the sick in their communities. The couple originally was anxious to see how the local churches would react to Pastor Rick’s teachings, but God has greatly exceeded their expectations.

According to Brenda, Purpose Driven Church concepts provided the foundation of what a healthy church should look like. It expanded what the church leaders and pastors thought their roles were into what they could be, to grow the church and the kingdom. It gave them principles and strategies to do it and provided hope for pastors and leaders who had been doing the same thing, basically offering a church service, with little success. I believe it also reignited the passion for many participants as they remembered what Jesus asked us to do and how we could really do it. As these churches learned about their 5 purposes God has given us, they are more equipped and are more willing to love their neighbor by serving them in ministry within their church and in their community, then they were before. They were transformed and are now operating systems for healthier communities by creating ministries to serve their felt needs such as orphans and vulnerable children and neighbors living with HIV.”

Ordinary church members being equipped and trained to meet the needs of their community is the PEACE Plan in action. Our Baja PEACE team, alongside local church volunteers, have begun visiting orphanages to meet their needs with the shared vision of the Orphan Care Initiative—that the best and healthiest place for orphans is in a loving, lasting, legal family of their own.

The PEACE plan has been a catalyst for change, and we can’t wait to see its impact in Baja, Mexico. If you are interested in learning more about the serving globally, or are interested in signing up for a PEACE trip to Baja, email us at orphans@saddleback.com or call 949-609-8555.

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Just a few miles outside of Kigali, the capital city of Rwanda, is a humble community of low-income residents who work very hard to make ends meet. This community may not be in the slums, but here things such as motorized transportation and electricity are considered luxuries. Those living here labor to ensure that they have the basic necessities for life - daily meals, clothing, and shelter. The humble homes in this hillside community are spaced at random along the dirt roads - small rectangle residences that consist of concrete walls and floors, shielded by a tin roof. Many children living in this community are able to go to school, but this too is a luxury in Rwanda. For those families who live with the additional challenge of raising a child with severe disabilities, the specialized schooling and specialized medical attention required can feel dauntingly beyond any financial capabilities that these families can afford.

Living in this community is a young couple raising five children. Two of their grade school aged children are twins. One twin attends the local primary school, but the other twin is not able to because she was born with a spinal cord disability that prohibits her from being able to walk. As is the case with many high-risk twin pregnancies, one twin will often be more dominant while the other will struggle to grow and survive. Such was the case with this young mother’s pregnancy, and although both her twins survived her emergency C-section, one of her daughters was confined to an incubator for many months after her birth due to hindered in-utero development, coupled with complications at birth.

This young family has faced difficult challenges, but they beam with hope as they have built their family on the firm foundation of Jesus Christ. Their faith is strong, they look forward to their eternal inheritance in heaven, but their daily struggle of raising a disabled daughter is burdensome. A recent PEACE trip team was invited into this young couple’s home to hear their story firsthand. These hopeful parents expressed their dream of being able to one day see their daughter healed, able to walk, and able to work. The PEACE team, consisting of eight Saddleback men, had the privilege of laying hands on this couple and prayed for their daughters healing and future success as a child of God. As this family continues to trust God, they are able to receive much needed support through their local church. Through the Rwanda Orphan Care Sponsorship program, the local church is able to tangibly help this family, providing them means to pay the school fees for her to attend a special church-run school for disabled children, enroll her in medical insurance, and learn skills for financial health through a savings group. The local church is able to offer this precious girl hope and is able to be a bright light to this entire Rwandan community.

As the local church is able to offer support to discouraged families, the church plays a key role in ensuring that orphanages remain empty in Rwanda. Many families are tempted to give up and are even tempted to abandon their children as they struggle to find hope and purpose. However, the local church, through the support of the Sponsorship program, is able to help ensure that families remain full of hope and purpose, that they remain intact, and that whenever possible, children are raised by their family of origin. As families are strengthened and learn that they can survive together, they are able to offer the same hope and encouragement to other families in their communities. Communities are being transformed! Faith is being strengthened! Christ is at the center, and hope is alive!

If you would like to help vulnerable families like these continue to support their children, check out the Rwanda Orphan Care Sponsorship program at www.Saddleback.com/Sponsorship, or call the Orphan Care Initiative at 949-609-8555.
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Many walk into an orphanage expecting to find rambunctious and lively children. However, they are surprised to find something quite opposite. The quiet and still environment causes many to exclaim, “These children are so well behaved!”

Unfortunately, what we deem as “well behaved” can actually be a result of severe neglect. When a child is born, they quickly and instinctively discover an attachment pattern with parents. When a need arises, the child feels the need and expresses the need, crying for mom or dad comes to help. In a healthy attachment cycle, mom or dad meet the need when the need is expressed – whether that need is feeding, changing a diaper, giving a hug, etc. For many children growing up in orphanages, however, this healthy cycle did not occur. Needs were not met. When the child cried mom and dad or a caretaker did not always come.  Crying ceases because “a child without a voice quickly learns he will be ‘on his own’ in getting his needs met. Survival skills emerge in the absence of nurturing care that will later put him on a developmental trajectory of harm. Without a voice, this child will learn not to trust others to care for him” (Adoption).

According to studies performed at Harvard University, “children who experience severe deprivation typically need therapeutic intervention and highly supportive care to mitigate the adverse effects [of trauma] and facilitate recovery” (Neglect). This is why TBRI, or Trust-Based Relational Intervention, is such powerful knowledge for those caring for foster or adopted children. This form of attachment-based, trauma-informed intervention encourages parents to use a balance of nurture and structure with their child in order to repair the losses their child has endured – including the loss of their voice. Children from hard places were taught by their environment early on that their voice has no power to get their needs met. In order to disarm fear and survival strategies, parents teach children three important truths:  You are safe, you are precious, you are heard.

You’ve heard the phrase many times, communication is key. Often a child will misbehave and it is our responsibility to ask ourselves, what is the need behind this behavior? Giving children a voice helps them to convey their needs without acting out and resorting to behavior to communicate. A healthy parent-child relationship has secure attachment and attunement to a child’s emotional and developmental needs. Repetition in completing the Attachment Cycle helps to rewire the brain with trust.

 

To learn more about how to promote connection with your child, check out The Connection, a 13 week small group study to equip families with practical skills, or join us at our next Connection Seminar: http://orphancareinitiative.com/event/.

 

Sources: 

https://www.adoptioncouncil.org/publications/2013/07/adoption-advocate-no-61

http://developingchild.harvard.edu/science/deep-dives/neglect/

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It is extremely important to remember that a foster or adopted child’s beginnings may be vastly different than those of a child who did not come from a hard place. Harvard studies indicate that children who have experienced abuse, severe deprivation, and neglect often “need therapeutic intervention and highly supportive care to mitigate the adverse effects” of trauma and facilitate recovery ( Neglect). In order to combat damage done in early childhood, knowledge of TBRI, or Trust Based Relational Intervention, is helpful for providing parents practical skills for healing. This form of attachment-based, trauma-informed intervention encourages parents to use a balance of nurture and structure with their child. In order to disarm fear and survival strategies, parents teach children three important truths:   You are safe, you are precious, you are heard.

As we continue our TBRI series in preparation for our TBRI seminar happening July 15, today’s post focuses on letting your child know they are precious. Every person has the need to be known and to be loved. Connection principles can be used to show a child just how much they are valued. Connecting principles describe “ an interaction between child and caregiver that produces warmth and trust. It disarms fear, promotes attachment and builds social competence.  Even adolescents who seem resistant and challenging actually love the opportunities [these principles provide] for joyful, silly connection” ( Fleming).

Connecting with your child means being engaging, making time for them, and being attuned and mindful to their needs. Prove you value your relationship with them by investing in it. This could look like stooping down to eye level to have a conversation or setting aside other tasks for time dedicated just to listening and playing with your child. According to Pastor Rick Warren, “It is not enough to just say relationships are important; we must prove it by investing time in them. Words alone are worthless. ‘My children, our love should not be just words and talk; it must be true love, which shows itself in action.’ Relationships take time and effort, and the best way to spell love is T-I-M-E.”  

Take time to invest in your child. Show them they are precious to you.   “The best use of life is love. The best expression of love is time. The best time to love is now.” -Rick Warren

To learn more about TRBI, check out this new animated video:


Join us via webcast or at the Saddleback Lake Forest campus on July 15th to learn more TBRI strategies for parenting children from hard places. Click here to watch or email us at orphans@saddleback.com for more info.

 

Sources:

http://www.jennaflemingcounseling.com/blog-post/tbri-connecting-principles/

http://www.gracewood.org/blog/2015/09/08/teaching-self-control-with-tbri-guiding-your-child-with-discipline/

http://developingchild.harvard.edu/science/deep-dives/neglect/

Warren, Rick.  The Purpose-driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For?  Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2016. Print.

 

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