Guest Post from Mike Douris, President of Orphan Outreach and CAFO Board Member
This summer, Christian leaders in Guatemala held the country’s first Orphan Summit. Their desire: to help Guatemala’s Christian community better understand and act on behalf of Guatemala’s orphans. Just as much, they desired to link together those already serving orphans in Guatemala in both relationship and effective collaboration.
A range of organizations joined local leaders in supporting the conference. These included the LifePoint Church in Virginia, the Christian Alliance for Orphans (CAFO), Orphan Outreach, Hope for Orphans and SETECA Seminario Teologico Centroamericano.
The conference was held at SETECA and some 300 pastors, Guatemalan Christian leaders and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO’s) attended.
From the start, organizers hoped the conference would serve as a catalyst for long-term collaboration amongst organizations, churches and advocates. They desired to begin the process of forming an alliance that together would engage the Guatemala church to more robustly fully engage the needs of orphans in their country.
That’s just what happened. Building on the conference, a group of core leaders met later in the summer to discuss forming an alliance. On September 30th, I had the chance to meet with the group and share lessons learned from the formation of CAFO in the US. I also made clear that CAFO and the other groups that had supported the conference were very willing to walk along side the Guatemalan leaders as they formed their Alliance. David Hennessy, CAFO Director of Global Movements, continues to provide assistance to the leadership of the Alliance.
This group of leaders pictured below made the decision to form the Alianza Christiano de la Huerfano (A.C.H.) Their first project was to join together in promoting Orphan Sunday. They also are now laying plans for a more in-depth conference in 2014. What happened this summer at the conference and in November on Orphan Sunday was exciting. But I believe even more exciting things lie ahead as Guatemalan Christians unite for Guatemala’s orphans.