This past Sunday was national Orphan Sunday, and it couldn’t have been more timely as we are full steam ahead on preparing our dossier, and just coming off a week spent with an orphan in our home. My friend, Andrea, asked me a month ago if I would be interested in helping plan the service, and I said yes not expecting to really do anything. However, in the days and weeks approaching the service, God began to flood my heart with passion and excitement for this opportunity. It was so beautiful to see His hand over it all.
Our first goal was to present all the different aspects of orphan care, showing that there is truly something for everyone..from ministries supporting family preservation, to child sponsorship, to missions, to fostering and adopting. As we explored this avenue, we wanted to have various people in the church speak about how they are passionate in one of these areas. We attend a very small country church, but within our church of about 100 (on a good week), we have 6 adoptive families, 1 foster family and some former foster families, 4 people who serve in Honduras every spring on short -term missions, and many people who serve families locally and abroad to keep children with their families. Our church has a beautiful heart, and we just wanted to encourage people to show even more hope!
Our dear friend and mentor, Gary, is the director of the United Methodist Children’s home. He spoke about how the Bible says it is not good for man to be alone. We often associate this with marriage, but he reminded us that it is not good for ANY man (woman or child) to be left alone in this life. We are created to be in families. He also told us that the biggest need he has right now isn’t for people to give money or donate goods in his ministry, but for Christian people to open their homes as foster families and love these “orphans of a different kind.”
Our little kiddos at church signed and sang “Jesus loves the little children,” and for the first time EVER Addy was excited about going up to perform! Abe–eh, not so much! Ha! Then two of the older girls sang Children of God.
My friend, Erin, spoke about her love for the Compassion International ministry, which is also close to our hearts. Andy and I began sponsoring our first child when we were 18 and 19, and were dating. He was a little boy, about 4 years old, named Ronaldino from Peru. Ronaldino is now 15 years old and serving alongside the Compassion team in his village, and it has been incredible to see how his letters have changed from a little boy just answering prompted questions, to writing us about how God is moving in his life, and telling Abe and Addy all about how he loves to eat fish and play with his sisters. Andy and I had always had the hope that, God-willing, we would be able to let each of our children sponsor a child around the time they could form a letter. For Addy’s 5th birthday this year we sat down at the computer and scrolled through all the little girls that had a birthday the same week as her and let he choose a “pen pal.” She chose 5 year old Jaquelin from Mexico. After our second letter from Jaquelin, she informed us that she hadn’t been able to celebrate her birthday this year because her father had passed away. This has struck the need for action in the heart of Addy and we are trying to work alongside Compassion International to find way to help them through this difficult time. My children typically despise being in front of the church on display, but wanted to be a part of Orphan Sunday, so we made a video at home about how much we love sponsoring and writing letters to children around the world. This video was my favorite part of the whole service. 😉
A sweet woman named Roberta, who has been doing short-term missions in Honduras since 2002, spoke about the impact that has made on her own faith. And, Andrea spoke about keeping families intact to prevent more orphans through ministries like Safe Families and purchasing gifts with dual purposes. She challenged people this holiday season to only buy gifts that would also help others, such as The Apparent Project and fashionABLE which provide impoverished mothers with jobs and skills to care for their families.
I blubbered about adoption for a while, and then Andy closed the service with a prayer for the 153 million orphans who are holding on to the hope of God using someone to forever change their situations. It was such a beautiful morning, and we are praying that our hearts continue to be more and more like the heart of God and His love for the little ones.