Once again, Orphan Sunday + Stand Sunday this year unleashed a cascade of prayer gatherings, Sunday sermons and messages, engagement events, and other activities in churches and communities around the world.
Each local expression was unique. Yet each celebrated God’s deep love for vulnerable children … His deep love for each of us … and how ordinary people can reflect that love in effective action, from foster care and adoption to family support and strengthening.
Here are just a few glimpses from stories that have come rolling in:
Among the thousands of churches that participated in Orphan Sunday across the globe, these stories from India, Mexico, and Zimbabwe highlight God’s work in and through his people in unexpected ways…
- In Mexico City, Pastors Harold Delgado and Teresita Rodríguez learned about Orphan Sunday two years ago and led their church, Centro Cristiano Frutos Nuevos in the South of Mexico City, to participate. Through their leadership and the impact of Teresita’s personal story of adoption, they helped lead nearly 40 churches this year to work together toward better care and solutions for orphans in the eighth-largest city in the world.
- Alex Sam in Pakur, India was orphaned when both his parents died of tuberculosis when he was a child. This year, through Everett Mission, God gave him the opportunity to partner with the Pakur Health Department and the India National Tuberculosis Elimination Program to “adopt” 30 families suffering the effects of tuberculosis, effectually preventing their children from becoming orphans from this disease.
- Pastor Rephat Nyartenda in Zimbabwe had planned to travel to a province 370 kms away to preach at a church for Orphan Sunday, but when he fell ill at the last minute, they invited another young pastor to speak. “The young man shared his heart and out of the meeting, 12 families committed to becoming foster care parents, which means more than 12 children will have loving and caring homes to grow up in,” Pastor Rephat shared. “With God, nothing is impossible!”
Churches across the United States connected with child-placing agencies and other nonprofits to support children in foster care in their communities. Many even used the day to launch new ministries…
- City on a Hill Church in Elliott City, Maryland celebrated Stand Sunday by kicking off a week of service, where every member of the church was encouraged to participate in events building shelves for Foster the City Baltimore, bringing meals to people on the streets in Baltimore, and collecting Christmas gifts for children in foster care.
- Horizon Church in Middlefield, Ohio launched its first wrap-around support “Care Community” for a foster family in their church.
- And Radiant Life in Wadsworth, Ohio collected funds to purchase gift cards for teenagers in foster care, joining with other churches all across Ohio to provide $50 gift cards and encouraging messages to every teenager in the foster care system in the state.
Other churches celebrated Stand Sunday as part of their year-round work to support foster and kinship families, and keep struggling families together…
- In Pittsford, Vermont at Furnace Brook Wesleyan Church, they’ve seen struggling families transformed as they engage in foster care and wrap-around support for families in crisis. One family forever impacted includes Brent and Tiffany, who felt hopeless and angry at Pastor Joel Tate when he held temporary custody of their daughter through foster care. But through his relentless pursuit of a relationship, Brent and Tiffany were led to know Christ and now are successfully parenting their children, receiving ongoing support and care from their church family, and investing in the lives of others who are struggling with addiction and homelessness. Stand Sunday has become an annual tradition at Furnace Brook Wesleyan to honor God’s heart for the orphan and widow.
- In Parrish, Fla., North River Church served 175 children through Bridge a Life’s CarePortal program, as part of an ongoing partnership to support and keep struggling families together. Their county has seen the number of children being removed from their homes reduced by 10% as North River Church members provide wrap-around support for struggling families and encouragement to local child-welfare workers.
Each of these stories and countless others this year gives a vibrant reflection of God’s heart. They remind us… and show the world… what He cares about and what He is really like. As expressed in Psalm 68, “God is a Father to the fatherless and a defender of widows. He sets the lonely in family.”
Just like the very first Orphan Sunday and Stand Sunday in 2002, these stories also remind us that God loves to work through the most ordinary of people to do some of His most important work — even me and you!