As members of CAFO, we endeavor to:
1 Love God with all of our heart, mind, soul and strength, seeking to grow daily as earnest disciples of Jesus Christ.
2 Love our neighbor as ourselves, seeking good for every individual as one made in God’s image and bearing profound dignity, regardless of any trait, choice, or history.
3 Honor Scripture by holding it as our highest authority and guide, against which all other claims are weighed.
4 Uphold and strengthen family as God’s provision for the nurture of children, and the lifelong covenant of marriage between a father and a mother as God’s design for the stability and flourishing of families.
5 Respect government by following all laws, as long as they do not require violation of conscience, and by encouraging policies that allow people of faith to maintain their convictions as they serve others.
God’s Heart and Ours.
God is vested, deeply and personally, in the plight of orphaned and vulnerable children—and in all who are destitute and defenseless (Dt 10:18; Ps 10:14; Ps 68:5-6, Is 58:5-12). God calls His people to reflect His special love for these children in both word and deed (Is 1:17; Jms 1:27; Mt 25:40).
To act upon God’s call to care for orphans is not merely a matter of duty, guilt or idealism. It is first a response to the good news, the Gospel: that God, our loving Father, sought us, adopted us, and invites us to live as His sons and daughters (Jn 1:12, Gal 4:6, Eph 1:15; I Jn 3:1). We love because He first loved us. (1 Jn 4:19)
Good intentions alone are insufficient. All care for children must be guided by both knowledge and wisdom (Prov 19:2; Phil 1:9-11). In our broken world, no solution will be without flaws. Yet our aim must always be to offer the excellent care we’d desire to give Jesus himself – informed by Scripture and the best available research, knowledge and proven practice.
Commitment to the Whole Child.
To meet only spiritual or only physical needs is incomplete (1 Jn 3:17; Jms 2:16; Mk 8:36). Christian love seeks to address both, just as Jesus always did. Nothing is of greater value than to know Jesus Christ and one’s identity as a child of God (Phil 3:8). Yet even a cup of water given to a thirsty child is of eternal worth (Mt 10:42).
Priority of Family.
Both Scripture and social science affirm that the best environment for children is a safe, permanent family. When this is not possible, the goal for each child should be – as a general rule – to move as far as possible along the “spectrum of care” toward permanent family. Care for children should always be as safe, nurturing and as close to family as is feasible for the given situation.
Children that have a surviving parent, or other relatives willing to care for them, should be helped to remain with family whenever safely possible. Likewise, when families have been separated, reunification is of first priority whenever safely possible. Efforts that enable struggling families to stay together are a vital part of the Bible’s call to care for orphans and widows in distress.
Care within a family is our unequivocal ideal for children. Yet we also honor the devoted care and protection provided by many quality residential facilities. We further recognize that therapeutic group settings can play an essential role in the healing of children with intensive needs. We urge that new programs prioritize family-based care. We encourage existing residential programs to grow as close as feasible to the ideal of family and to promote family-based solutions whenever possible.
Centrality of the Local Church.
The local church in every nation possesses both the Christian mandate and many other resources needed to care for the world’s orphans in a nurturing, relationship-rich environment. Every initiative to care for orphans should prioritize and honor the role of the local church, carefully pairing what foreign resources may be necessary with local believers willing to open their hearts and homes to orphans in their community.
Scripture overflows with calls for unity in the Body of Christ (Ps 133; 1 Cor 12:12; Eph 4:3, Col 3:11-15; Phil 4:1-3). Such unity yields special strength (Ecc 4:9), welcomes the presence of Christ (Mt 18:20), and confirms that Jesus was sent by God (Jn 17:20-23). Disagreements are inevitable and sometimes even necessary. Yet amidst all that strains unity, we commit to honoring each other above ourselves (Rom 12:10) – and labor in unison to see every child experience God’s unfailing love.