Read the recent profile of the Christian Orphan movement and the Alliance from One News Now…
The need is great, the call is clear
Presently, more than 130 million orphans are estimated to be in the world. “Scripture is very clear that if we desire to reflect God’s heart in the world, one of the key ways that works itself out is in loving service to orphans,” said Jedd Medefind, president of the Christian Alliance for Orphans. The Alliance is a cohort that “works to ignite and equip individuals and churches for effective, Christ-honoring service to orphans,” according to its Web site.
“What’s also tremendously significant is when Christians choose to love orphans, they are mirroring the love of our Heavenly Father who loved us when we were wayward and alone,” he added.
Orphans’ physical needs such as food, water and shelter can be met on a mass scale through governments and big organizations.
“But it takes loving individuals to meet the deeper needs of a child without [one or both] parents,” Medefind explained.
This is where the local church comes into play as the essential instrument for effective orphan care. “The local church empowered to care for its community is God’s vision for meeting human need,” Medefind said. Therefore, he concludes that local Christians rooted in the local community are usually the ones most capable of providing long-term care.
Specifically, American churches play a powerful role in carrying out this vision. Domestically, the alliance is seeking to equip American churches for all forms of orphan care, including local foster care, adoption ministry and global orphan care partnerships. As a result, American churches will then have the resources and expertise to come alongside indigenous churches and teach them how to care for orphans in their own communities.
For example, the alliance is a part of a combined initiative called HORT (Haiti Orphan Relief Team), which is working “to identify, train and resource Haitian churches to be the direct rescue and care mechanism for Haiti’s hundreds of thousands of orphans,” according to http://haitiorphanreliefteam.blogspot.com. As part of the effort, U.S. churches are being recruited by HORT to partner with Haitian churches to strengthen orphan care in their immediate communities.
However, Medefind says that both adoption and in-country care are vital parts of the solution to a growing need. But as the need grows, Medefind said there is a single statistic that matters more than any other: “It only takes one caring individual to make a lifelong difference for an orphan.”
Yet, orphans aren’t the only ones changed through this type of ministry. Orphan care ministry is also transformative in the life of the church.
“I’ve come to realize that discipleship and caring for people in need are not separate goals, but both are deeply intertwined with a Gospel-centered life,” Medefind explained. “We shouldn’t see evangelism and discipleship in contrast to orphan ministry.
They are integrally related. … If we’re truly seeking to live as apprentices of Jesus, we’ll continually be focused on both the spiritual and physical needs of our neighbor, just as Jesus was.”
▶ Talk to your church leaders about involving your church in the HORT initiative.
▶ Stay up to date with the latest trends and information in orphan care by signing up for the Alliance’s monthly newsletter at www.christian-alliance-for-orphans.org.
▶ Attend Summit VI – Establishing and growing church-centered orphan ministry is the focal point of Summit VI, to be held April 29-30 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The annual two-day conference is a growing effort of the Christian Alliance for Orphans. It is designed to inspire and equip Christians for effective orphan ministry, which encompasses adoption, foster care and global orphan care.
Attendees will hear from some of the national champions of orphan care including John Piper, Tom Davis, Al Mohler and Mary Beth and Steven Curtis Chapman, among others. There will also be more than 50 workshops providing the nuts and bolts for church-based orphan ministry.
Summit VI is open to anyone interested in defending the cause of the fatherless. The conference will offer practical knowledge and allow attendees to build relationships and partnerships while gaining an understanding of where God is leading the church in terms of orphan care.
For more information and to register, visit www.christian-alliance-for- orphans.org/summit/. For questions, send an e-mail to info@christian alliancefororphans.org or write to Christian Alliance for Orphans, 6723 Whittier Ave., McLean, Virginia 22101.