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December 2009 Enewsletter
Note from Paul Pennington
Executive Director, Hope for Orphans
I heard Pastor Chuck Swindoll tell a fascinating story recently about an advertisement that ran in a London newspaper in 1907. It was placed there by Sir Ernest Shackleton, an early explorer of Antarctica, who was trying to recruit a crew to sail with him to explore the South Pole. It read as follows:
"MEN WANTED FOR HAZARDOUS JOURNEY. SMALL WAGES, BITTER COLD, LONG MONTHS OF COMPLETE DARKNESS, CONSTANT DANGER, SAFE RETURN DOUBTFUL. HONOR AND RECOGNITION IN CASE OF SUCCESS."
It is said that thousands responded to this ad. As Christians, we have a God-given knowledge that the true purpose for our lives transcends daily living, the endless acquisition of material things and the pursuit of entertained comfort. Human beings, because we are made in the image of God, instinctively want our lives to count for something and to reach beyond the ordinary.
In this month’s e-newsletter, we take a moment to recognize some wonderful pioneers of Orphan Ministry who represent those answering God’s call to launch orphan ministries in their churches. We stand at the end of 2009 and look with amazement at those who are stepping up to answer not an advertisement to sail to the South Pole, but the call of God to risk, to sacrifice, and to lay their families forward to bring real hope to orphans. As you consider the child born in Bethlehem who came to die and bring each of us the living water of the Gospel, I pray that you will be a leader in your church to bring the gospel to fatherless children around the world through orphan ministry.
In this issue:
Celebrate What God Has Done
This year, we have decided to use our December E-Newsletter to recognize a few church orphans ministries that are doing incredibly innovative things to care for orphans and waiting children. We also felt this was a great way to worship God together as we thank Him for all the ways He has worked through His people on behalf of these precious children. A full description and “just add water” recipe for each of these strategies can be found in the Hope for Orphans PDF strategy library (links for each strategy are at the end of every paragraph).
Helping Foster Children Reunify with Families
Parkcrest Christian Church in Long Beach, CA, recently opened a visitation center on their church campus, to give birth parents a non-threatening place to visit with their children who are in the foster care system. The center is set up to resemble a living and dining room, with furniture, toys, and even kitchen access so birthparents can prepare meals and eat with their children while on visits. The visits are monitored by visitation coaches, who are trained church volunteers, who not only monitor, but coach the parents on how to be better parents for their children. To see the full PDF Strategy Library document, click here.
Faith Fellowship United Methodist Church in Mansfield, MA, collected and hung shoes from the top of the church, one shoe for every million orphans in the world, hanging 150 shoes in all for a month. They then asked for people to donate $100 per shoe, with the money going to orphan relief organizations in their area. To see the full PDF Strategy Library document, click here.
Red Meat and Good Conversation
Ask a man to attend a support group where he can share his deepest feelings and he will likely look at you as if you have two heads. The folks at Tapestry, the adoption ministry at Irving Bible Church in Irving, TX, came up with the ingenious plan to combine what adoptive dads need but might not want (support) with what they want, but probably don’t need (red meat), in creating what they call “Guys Burger Night.” The stated purpose of Guys Burger Night is to “find the best burger in town and talk about adoption or whatever else is on our minds.” Every month a handful of men, in various stages of the adoption or foster care process, continue their quest at a different restaurant for burgers and conversation, which may or may not be about adoption. Guys Burger Night gives these guys a great vehicle for discussing life and adoption, while building relationships and enjoying a great meal. To see the full PDF Strategy Library document, click here.
Helping Foster Kids Create Memories
The one thing that kids in foster care lack more than just about anything is memories. They often move from place to place, in many instances leaving behind most of their personal possessions. Understanding this, the folks at First Reformed Church in Sioux Center, IA, collected disposable cameras to give to kids in foster care to allow them to take pictures of things that are important to them. The kids can then take their pictures with them as visual reminders of their memories wherever they go. Church and community members donated the cameras and once they were collected, they were given to county social workers to distribute to the children. The camera drive was so successful (75-100 cameras were collected) that they were able to donate cameras to children not just in their county, but in neighboring counties as well. To see the full PDF Strategy Library document, click here.
Finding Forever Families for Foster Children
After attending Hope for Orphans’ Your Church and the Orphan Workshop in nearby Asheville, NC earlier this year, the folks from East Pickens Baptist Church in Pickens, SC, started dreaming even bigger dreams about what God might do through their very young orphans ministry. The result is a new initiative called Adopt N.O.W. (No One Waiting) modeled after Project 1.27 in Colorado. The goal of Adopt N.O.W. is to raise up Christian families from churches throughout South Carolina that will eventually provide homes for all 500 children waiting for adoptive homes in South Carolina’s foster care system. To see the full PDF Strategy Library document, click here.
Sharing Christmas with Orphans Overseas
Christmas is a wonderful time to remember orphans, as it was the birth of Jesus that paved the way for our adoption, delivering us from our own former state as spiritual orphans. Each December, the orphan ministry champions at Salem Church of God in Clayton, OH, hold a Birthday Party for Jesus right after one of their regular church services. They invite families to come together for lunch and introduce them to their orphan ministry partners, inspire each other with new ideas for orphan care, and make and decorate Christmas cards and crafts to send to orphans living overseas. To see the full PDF Strategy Library document, click here.
It seems like every day we are learning of more and more churches that are answering God’s call and launching orphans ministries and caring for orphans in new and amazing ways. We are humbled, honored and blessed to be able to partner with so many of these churches, and it is our sincere prayer and hope that God will continue to allow us to be a part of what He is doing in the world and will equip and enable us to serve every church to reach every orphan in 2010 and beyond. To learn more about what these and other churches are doing to answer God’s call to care for orphans, or to share some of the ways God is using your church to love and care for orphans, visit the Hope for Orphans Strategy Library by clicking here.
Thank you all so much for what you are doing, and please continue to let us know what God is doing and how we can pray for you. We are so grateful to work alongside all of you as you make yourselves available to how God wants to use you in the lives of orphans and waiting children.
God bless you all as we look forward together to what God will do in 2010.