Stories of Orphan Sunday

Leading up to Orphan Sunday, CAFO’s Ashley Otani was on the road traveling from coast to coast. She visited 7 states in 7 days, capturing video testimonies of Orphan Sunday from folks across the country.

“Orphan Sunday is the most attended Sunday at Emmaus Church.”
“It’s amazing what God is doing through Orphan Sunday.”
“The spirit of Orphan Sunday is happening everyday through the ministry of Heartwork.”
“My passion is that the church would see that there’s a huge need and that we are equipped to handle this, to take this on.”
“You don’t have to dive in head first, take one step at a time, pray and see where God takes you.”
“One person, by listening to their heart and taking action can change a life halfway around the world.”

We know you have an Orphan Sunday story to share as well. Each expression of Orphan Sunday is as unique as the group who hosts it.

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“Orphan Sunday is the most attended Sunday at Emmaus Church.” – Tami 

I found Clay and Tami on the Orphan Sunday map. When I contacted Tami about sharing how her church has participated in Orphan Sunday, it was an immediate yes.   As I met with Clay and Tami they repeated told me, their church was small and Orphan Sunday was always organic. As the story unfolded it became evident to me that their church is having an incredible impact on their community and Orphan Sunday has been in the DNA of the church from inception.

Clay and Tami joined Emmaus Church in Redlands, CA along with their two daughter adopted from foster care. When Tami approached her pastor about Orphan Sunday there was no pushback. In fact, Pastor … cares deeply about orphan care. Although they do not feel called to adopt, adoption is part of his wife’s story and a continuing storyline in their church. The last few years Orphan Sunday at Emmaus church has involved a message about “God’s Heart for the Orphan” and a panel of adoptive and foster parents. Emmaus church encourages everyone to participate. Clay relayed a story of a young single man who doesn’t feel in a place to adopt but knows he has a part to play in supporting families who do.

Orphan Sunday at Emmaus is one of the largest attendance Sundays of the year. It has grown the church as well, from 2 adopted children in Clay and Tami’s family to over 20 children who have been placed in families from U.S. Foster Care and international adoption. They even joke that there was a couple who didn’t come on Orphan Sunday because they knew if they did, they’d be signing adoption papers. Turns out they didn’t attend but months later adoption papers were signed!

What’s encouraging about Emmaus Church is the ethos of “everyone has a part to play.” Not everyone is called to adopt and there are numerous ways to support Christian orphan care, from respite care to preparing meals, and mentoring a child in foster care to financially supporting an orphan care ministry or organization.

Orphan Sunday can be a catalyst for this.

“It’s amazing what God is doing through Orphan Sunday.” – Bethany

Bethany Pattie has been an Orphan Sunday Coordinator for 4 years. She keeps coming back each year because of the great things God is doing through Orphan Sunday. She is encouraged and supported by the Orphan Sunday Leadership Team as she serves churches in Arizona.

Evident Life Church has been participating in Orphan Sunday even before Bethany and her family began attending several years ago. Each year they like to do something different, to shed light on orphan care locally and internationally. From becoming a local relay center for Operation Christmas Child collection, to local foster care agencies to child sponsorships and global orphan projects. Birthed out of Orphan Sunday has come an adoption fund ministry called “Evident Love” which has assisted local foster care and international adoptions of 20 children placed in families.

Bethany says Orphan Sunday is slowing spreading among Arizona churches and she’s eager to see what God is going to do as more and more churches find ways to mirror God’s heart for the fatherless.

“The spirit of Orphan Sunday is happening everyday through the ministry of Heartwork.”  – Niki, Heartwork

Niki and Jeremiah Parks are the founders of Heartwork. They’re aim is to help students reclaim their destiny, finding true joy in spending themselves for others. They want to see students denying the consumerism mentality that is so pervasive today in exchange for part of a larger story, God’s story.

They’ve designed a 30 days of Heartwork experience for churches, schools and individuals. They expose many students, some for the first time, to the poverty that is ravenous across the globe in hopes of producing a grateful heart and empowered spirit. They say, “We want students to live a different story than what popular culture is showing them. We want them to learn that spending themselves for others is not throwing a few guilty dollars at a cause, or buying a trendy social enterprise product. It’s about getting to know Jesus by living simply, intentionally and even sacrificially, like He did.” Here are some stories of students doing just that…

Cupcakes with Grandma’s Frosting

After hearing the Heartwork message at her church in Kansas, junior high student Jewel was challenged to live a different story. Jewel’s grandmother has a delicious frosting recipe so, when her pastor called her to spend herself in whatever way God had given her, she started with cupcakes! During the first year of selling cupcakes to her school, community and sports teams, this young entrepreneur raised almost $5,000 to build a water well in India. Even better, four years later she has raised another $5,000 for nutrition supplements in Haiti and has recruited 6 of her friends to help her fulfill orders!

Changed Trouble Maker

A youth pastor in Cheyenne, Wyoming shared about a high schooler who was on a path of getting into trouble and was questioning the faith of his family. At one point he was given community service at his church as a consequence. It just so happened that the youth pastor was about to begin 30 Days of Heartwork. The youth pastor later reported, “Even if nothing else happens during this month, this boy’s life has been changed and his heart has been turned to Jesus.” He is faithfully serving in their youth group and now involved in planning the group’s mission trip this summer.

Craig’s List 

A student’s dad recalls about his daughter after hearing about Heartwork, “She walked in the door and began gathering things… her wii, clothes, excess games and things from around her room. She was struck by the poverty and need around the globe and led to sell her excess things in order to bless others. She walked away with a grateful heart and money to help others less fortunate.”

“My passion is that the church would see that there’s a huge need and that we are equipped to handle this, to take this on.”  – Misty, OS Coordinator

Misty Seale is an Orphan Sunday coordinator in Oklahoma for 2 years. To say this gal is passionate about the church rising to care for the orphan is an understatement. She oozes with joy for the Lord and a heart to see God’s people wrap around kids who lack the love and nurture of a family.

Misty recounts celebrating her son’s 9th birthday and what a joy it is to celebrate.   At the end of day her son’s face reflected that of a child that knows he’s loved. He knows he is will be provided for and cared for. The tears in her eyes express it all. It breaks her heart to think about other kids who don’t have the love and care of a family. God is calling up His people to wrap around these kids, she’s sure of it. As the message and heart of Orphan Sunday spreads, people are going to be rising up.

She’s been at Journey Church for 6 years and a lot of prayer and planning has gone into introducing Orphan Sunday. When she presented the idea to her pastor he supported her and a team to take the lead and make it happen. The first Orphan Sunday event was a suitcase drive. They asked each person to bring a suitcase for kids in foster care, it was an easy was to have folks contribute. They also had a tent of local organizations present for folks to visit in follow up to the Orphan Sunday themed message. Year two included special speaker, Senator James Lankford and video message from the Oklahoma Governor.

She encourages other coordinators to pray, pray, pray! She doubted her qualifications at first but has grown in her confidence of God and His work through her.

Bair Foundation | Utilizing Orphan Sunday

“Each state is really trying to equip the churches in their communities to partner with CAFO and to spread the idea of Orphan Sunday and how to equip our community.”  – Sierra, Bair Foundation

The Bair Foundation is in 9 states and they are leveraging Orphan Sunday to engage churches. They use Orphan Sunday as a door into churches, instead of asking the church to come to them, they are going out. Connecting with churches through Orphan Sunday and helping them navigate how their church is uniquely equipped to care for the kids in their communities. They work with their families to bring Orphan Sunday into their churches and the Bair Foundation helps with next steps.

Children matter because they matter to God. We see in our own lives, as children of God. We model what God has done in our hearts when we receive a child.

Senator Lankford sat down for an informal interview with the pastor for Journey Church. He spoke with ease, the knowledge of a politician but the heart of a believer. It was refreshing to hear him speak from his heart about Christians stepping in as family for America’s kids in foster care. His message was simple, direct and inspiring. Below is a summary of his remarks in service as well as his off-the cuff interview with CAFO.

Government’s not good at care for children, it was never designed to be the caretaker of children. The reason government is getting bigger is because of the collapse of the family. As families collapse, government tries to step in and fill the gap. Government sees the need and tries to fill in what only the family was designed to do. The only way to turn this around is to increase families, raise up families. When the family rises, the needs are met, not only are children taken care of but a nation is changed.

It’s not an easy process becoming family for a child. You must reconcile issues within yourself, all the “we’re nots…”. But as Christians, if you hear the call of God to do this, he is saying, “I know you aren’t, but I Am.” When you hear God call you to follow him, and he shows you what that looks like, he’s going to take care of your greatest needs and he’s also going to bless a child through you. You don’t have to dive in head first, take one step at a time, pray and see where God takes you.


“One person, by listening to their heart and taking action can change a life halfway around the world.” Ronnie, Humanitarian Photographer

Ronnie Mosley has a heart for God and a big heart for people. His kindness and zest for life are inspiring and renewing for the soul. He has given his life to use whatever he has to share the message of caring for children without the love and protection of a family. Led by his daughter Christina, he follows in the footsteps she made as a young woman.

Having always been passionate about photography, Ronnie loves using his gift to tell the story of children around the world. His road to orphan care was through a pain and loss that he never imaged, the passing of this eldest daughter, Christina. She had a heart for supporting those who couldn’t support themselves. She had been a sponsor for a child name Sathish and after her passing, Ronnie and his wife Carol took over sponsorship of him. Through letter writing they found out the impact she had made in his life and Ronnie took the chance to go to India to meet Sathish, face to face.

After meeting Sathish, Ronnie began reaching out and offering his photography to organizations. His life has been changed. A common thread he see’s in the ministries he’s worked with is people who reach a juncture in their life have to make a decision to trust in God. And, through they’re obedience to live out James 1:27 they had supernatural changes in their lives.