Today there are some 150 regional Orphan Sunday coordinators across the U.S., and equal that number in other countries as well. More churches are getting involved daily, and it is thrilling to see how God continues to grow this simple vision born in a hard-pressed African church.
It’s easy to forget how small, new and tenuous this idea was just a few years ago. I was reminded of that this past week by a note from one of the earliest Orphan Sunday coordinators, Jeromy Smith of Maryland. He shared with me his gratitude for a member of his church’s staff—Rebecca Cooper—who’d thrown her support behind a local Orphan Sunday event when virtually no one else seemed to believe in the idea.
Jeromy described, “Frankly, she championed the cause of Orphan Sunday when it scared other leaders away….We were told by another senior leader that ‘You can do the event on this Friday, but I GUARANTEE that NOBODY will come.’ By the grace of God, 180 people came. And thousands more have been impacted since then. ”
“Fast forward three years. This year:
- Our youth pastor (who recently announced he is adopting from East Africa) is having our MD Orphan Sunday keynote speaker (a former foster youth) come share with all 300 of his teenagers on Sunday morning.
- One of our elders is MC’ing the event
- Our worship minister (a recent adoptive parent from China) is doing a promo video telling the story of a family who is in Latvia right now adopting an older sibling group of 4
- Our teaching pastor is playing an integral role, including offer to do a radio interview in my stead this year and promoting the event from the pulpit on Sunday morning.
- Multiple other mega-churches in the area have also agreed to do Orphan Sunday—and her courage to sponsor this event in the midst of much criticism has played a significant role in making the idea palatable to other churches.
- Our children’s department staff will be wearing Orphan Sunday t-shirts every Sunday in October, leading up to the event
- In short Orphan Sunday is now inches away from being part of the culture of our church: I am literally pinching myself to see if I wake up!”
Thanks be to God for people like Rebecca…and for all the amazing ways that He continues to grow hearts for orphans and foster youth with the church across America and around the world!