I am so grateful for this opportunity to share our experience with engaging our church in Orphan Sunday. God began writing this story more than three years ago when He called us to adopt one of His precious children. As many of you have experienced firsthand, “We learned that orphans are easier to ignore before you know their names. They are easier to ignore before you see their faces. It is easier to pretend they’re not real before you hold them in your arms. But once you do, everything changes” (David Platt – Radical). As soon as my eyes were opened to the millions of orphans, domestically and internationally, my mission to share, advocate, and enlist began.
In the midst of our first adoption process, I began reading books about how to draw attention to and prioritize orphan care at our church. I also participated in Lifeline’s webinar about engaging the church in orphan care. Despite my desire to help others learn what the Bible teaches about the fatherless, the opportunities painfully diminished with that particular audience. I wanted to include this part of our story because many of you have experienced the same situation. Your hearts are on fire for the fatherless; you want to encourage others to bring justice to the fatherless; you would like to start an orphan care ministry. Unfortunately, the obstacles are real; they can be discouraging and quite painful. However, I hope the rest of our story is an encouragement to you because “he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6).
The desire to continue sharing, advocating, and enlisting followed me throughout our second adoption and as we encountered a new community at Mount Pleasant Christian Church. After learning that neither an orphan care ministry nor the recognition of Orphan Sunday existed at that time, I began having conversations with one of my dearest friends, Christy, who led a ministry called Hands and Feet at our church. This ministry exists to encourage all women to be the hands and feet of Christ while equipping them to serve and lead in our community and world. Christy shares my heart for vulnerable children and felt that through the Hands and Feet ministry, we could hold an informational meeting to talk about adoption, foster care, and orphan care. In February 2015, Ryan and I shared our passion for defending the fatherless with approximately forty people who attended our Saturday morning meeting. Some people in attendance had previously adopted or fostered children, and others were seriously considering orphan care in some capacity. We left the meeting feeling extremely encouraged, knowing that God was sovereignly opening doors for us to share His heart for the fatherless and had planted us in a field that was ripe to hear His heart.
After the meeting took place, I spoke with our church’s Serve Pastor. He and his wife have previously adopted two beautiful girls from Russia, and they also share our hearts for vulnerable children. He was hopeful that we could plan an Orphan Sunday event for 2015. Once again, I was encouraged and excited, amazed by how God had planted his family and our family in this church at this time, and He was giving us the opportunity to share, advocate, and enlist others to defend the fatherless. Our senior pastor was very supportive of our endeavors, which meant so much to this momma’s heart.
I’m excited to say that Mount Pleasant will host its very first Orphan Sunday event on November 8, 2015.
Lifeline is one of seven different agencies we have invited to share about the opportunities that exist to serve these vulnerable children. These agencies will share multiple ways we can defend the fatherless. Representatives will share about international and domestic adoption; global orphan care; foster care; the need for safe homes while parents restore stability; advocacy for children during judicial proceedings; and child sponsorship and orphan care in India and Russia, as well as children with HIV/AIDS in Africa.
For our event, each organization will set up a booth for people to visit before and after the main program. During the program, representatives from each organization will share how they are addressing the many needs of vulnerable children while those in attendance have a small meal. Attendees will also watch various video clips and listen to powerful worship music. We are providing childcare to encourage attendance from those who want to get more involved in orphan care. The entire event will last an hour and a half, and during those 90 minutes, I am praying that God to be the loudest voice in the room. I am so grateful that He planted us at Mount Pleasant Christian Church and am thankful that the leadership is so willing to allow this event to take place. I am on the edge of my seat, counting the days until Orphan Sunday, when I am confident that God will move many hearts to help the least of these. Small seeds will be planted in many. Others may have a personal and profound experience with the Lord, who will call them forward to leap just like He did to us three years ago. I hope many of you reading this post will be encouraged to stand boldly, speak with love, and encourage your churches to engage in the plight of the orphan.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21).
For more information about Orphan Sunday, and how you can be involved with caring for the fatherless, visit www.lifelineorphansunday.org! Or contact Josh Caldwell at (205)967-0811 or [email protected]!