By Michael Monroe
As believers from across the country re-discover God’s heart for the fatherless and the clear call in Scripture to take up the privilege of loving and serving orphans, more and more local churches are stepping forward to launch adoption, foster care and international orphan care ministries. With orphans numbering in the tens of millions worldwide, the need is truly staggering. But equally significant is the difference that each and every follower of Christ and local church can make in the lives of these children.
With so many needs there are almost as many different ways that local churches can become involved. Raising awareness of the needs of children and workers in the foster care system and mobilizing people to meet them, partnering with an African orphanage to provide much needed supplies and equipment, educating and supporting adoptive parents and those considering adoption – these are just a few of the nearly endless ways in which local churches can compassionately and boldly proclaim the love of God in action.
In response to both the needs and opportunities, churches of various sizes and denominations have begun to ban together with other churches in their area in order to share resources and ideas, enable the creation of new ministry efforts and more holistically live out God’s heart for the orphan. While one church may be called to support adoptive families, another may be uniquely equipped to serve children in foster care even as another is invested in many different ways in serving orphans half a world away. Individually, these churches may only be able to serve in one aspect of orphan ministry; collectively, however, they have the opportunity to see God at work in a multitude of ways, and to encourage their people to respond as God has uniquely called and equipped them.
Less than three years ago a small group of churches in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area came together to pray and dream about how God could collectively use them in the area of orphan ministry. Some had already established ministries in their church, while others still dreamed of doing the same. As a result, the DFW Alliance of Adoption and Orphan Care Ministries was born. The DFW Alliance has now grown to include over 20 churches, encompassing church ministries with a broad range of orphan ministry focuses and activities. But each of these churches share a common bond – to see God’s heart for the orphan lived out in tangible and life changing ways.
Here are just a few of the exciting things that are happening among some of the many DFW Alliance churches:
Tapestry Adoption & Foster Care Conference – Tapestry (Irving Bible Church) is hosting its annual conference on Saturday, October 24. With 500 adults and over 200 children already registered to attend, Tapestry is excited about the opportunity to educate, equip and encourage pre- and post-adoptive and foster parents, as well as many professionals. Tapestry’s annual conference is unique for its focus on a wide range of post-adoption and foster care topics. For more information about the 2009 Tapestry Conference visit at www.tapestryconference.org or check out resources from past Tapestry conferences.
Lake Pointe Adoption & Foster Care Conference – Lake Pointe Adoption & Orphan Ministry (Lake Pointe Church) will host its annual conference on Saturday, November 14. You can learn more about Lake Pointe’s adoption conference at www.adoptionconference.net. You can also listen to the breakout session from Summit V that was led by Tapestry and Lake Pointe entitled How to Host an Effective Church Adoption & Foster Care Conference.
Centro Internacional Aliento – Aliento is a Spanish speaking church in Dallas. A little over a year ago Carlos and Sonia Alvarez, lay people at Aliento, first became aware of the need of orphans around the world and in their local community. Since that time, they have obediently followed God’s leading to create one of the first orphan ministries in a Spanish speaking congregation. Aliento will be launching its orphan ministry, focusing primarily on the need of children in the foster care system, on October 25, 2009.
Christ Chapel Bible Church & Kidmia – Christ Chapel Bible Church was instrumental in helping launch the DFW Alliance and shortly thereafter they helped create Kidmia – an organization that is partnering with both U.S. and Ethiopian churches to build transitional living centers in Ethiopia to provide holistic care and shelter to children in need, while being the catalyst for their adoption into local gospel-loving families. God is using Christ Chapel and Kidmia to touch the lives of many orphans (and others) in Ethiopia.
Michael Monroe serves as a leader of Tapestry Adoption and Foster Care Ministry at Irving Bible Church in Irving, Texas.