Our hearts are full of gratitude and joy to see how Orphan Sunday and Stand Sunday reached into every corner of the world in 2021. This year took special significance also as we commemorated the 20th observance of this call to the Church to care for vulnerable children..
(2021 Participating Countries)
Orphan Sunday was celebrated in many countries/regions for the first time this year — including Hong Kong, Kosovo, and The Gambia — bringing the number of countries in which Orphan Sunday was observed to 121. Each year we collaborate with international partners to translate OS content — this year adding Lithuanian, Finnish, Turkish, Armenian, Uzbek, Tajiki, Kazakh, Mongolian, and Cantonese.
Our favorite stories are always those of individual children impacted. This praise report out of South Dakota caught our attention as it shows the power of a single Orphan Sunday observance. A young pastor at a local church was tasked with planning the service, never knowing that his contemplation of the Scriptures about the orphan, and his wife’s attendance that day, would lead them to pursue adoption. “What Paul didn’t anticipate was how God would speak to his wife through this challenge. She had walked into church feeling ready to take a step toward caring for the vulnerable through hosting children temporarily and walked out knowing they needed to take steps to adopt.” You can read more of this wonderful story from the Wesleyan Church here.
Eastern Europe is alive with the call to the orphan, as new initiatives appear each year around Orphan Sunday. In Ukraine, all major denominations observe the Day of Prayer for Orphans and over 10,000 churches participate. Remarkably, the government is now supporting this message and provided free billboards across the country calling Ukrainians to prayer.
A local church in Pamarru, India used the occasion of Orphan Sunday to bless families in its community who had lost a loved one to COVID. Families were given food parcels, bicycles, and one of this year’s Orphan Sunday t-shirts. Pastor Sparjan wrote, “They have no one to care for them because others have rejected them. After receiving the gifts, one mother and child who had lost their father came to me and cried saying, ‘Thank you sir for helping us.’”
Country coordinators Malen and Mike Papadoupolous were recipients of the Orphan Sunday Founders Award in 2021 for their many years of changing culture to embrace orphans in the Philippines. An example of the fruit growing from their faithfulness can be seen in the new Rohei Foundation, which hosted an online event for 164 participants titled “Family is the Answer” as part of Orphan Sunday.
Our lead coordinator in Ghana cultivated leaders by launching a seminar called “Orphan Sunday School” with the goal of teaching about God’s heart and orphan care. Country Coordinator Bishop Osofuhene shared, “Attendees were taught [from] the Orphan Sunday resource manual, the history of Orphan Sunday, introduction to the role of a coordinator, CAFO Core Principles, Orphan Sunday FAQs, and a PowerPoint presentation of global Orphan Sunday activities. Students included a medical doctor, a bishop, church administrators, dean of a Bible college, and other church leaders. Glory be to God most high.”
Meanwhile in East Africa, recipient of the Orphan Sunday Founders Award Pastor Daniel Kaggwa traveled across the 53 districts in Uganda, sharing the heartbeat of Orphan Sunday. As a result, 1,962 churches committed to observing this special day and to serving the orphans in their communities in tangible ways.
Orphan Sunday continues to spread throughout the Middle East as a result of the advocacy of the amazing team there. Coordinator Nisreen Hawatmeh wrote, “I am really grateful to God for the feedback I am getting from the churches after Orphan Sunday this year. The way they were inspired, motivated, and encouraged to help and serve is amazing. Many people from different churches, and especially the youth, are calling me asking how they can help – and many pastors are encouraging the people at their churches to support the orphans and vulnerable children, and to stand for the families. We have coordinators in Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates.”
Domingo para el Huérfano (Orphan Sunday) is vibrant and growing across Latin America, with a strong leadership in many nations. In Mexico, the team kicked off a month of observance with an online opportunity for those across the region to come together in prayer for the orphans of Latin America. Mexico registered 150 church observances this year on the check-in map.
Churches in Brazil have come alive in November on Orphan Sunday for the last several years. Country Coordinator Sara Vargas, along with her husband Rodrigo, received the Orphan Sunday Founders Award in 2021 for the way they have transformed the nation with their leadership in serving orphans. Sara wrote, “We are in Sao Paulo sharing in one of the most important churches in Brazil. We are preaching and they are showing the video and praying in all four of their services. We experienced the wonderful presence of God.”
Finally, Orphan and Stand Sunday continues to be blessed by the support of many esteemed musical artists, and this year’s contribution by singer-songwriter Mark Shultz was no exception! The Global Simulcast features a concert and testimonies – with more than 1,200 local viewings in groups large and small, within countries as diverse as the UK, Kenya, Indonesia, and Japan. Everywhere, people are coming together to learn how they can serve vulnerable children and families.
All of this is made possible by the tireless effort of hundreds of volunteer coordinators worldwide, and we are especially grateful for them. At CAFO2021 we were blessed to name Joel Marcaida as Coordinator of the Year for his decade of service. It is the heart and hands of so many like him that make these testimonies possible.
Despite the challenges of the pandemic, God’s people continues to call the Body of Christ to care for vulnerable children and families. We are truly filled with thanksgiving to see what God has done through the commitment of his faithful followers. And we look forward with anticipation as we witness the children reached by this movement become the voice of the future.