Saddleback’s Orphan Care InitiativeIn 2005, Saddleback Church launched what it hoped would be a transformational and life-changing initiative to support church-based interventions for orphans and vulnerable children in RwandaAfter learning that over one million children are orphaned in Rwanda, Saddleback launched the Orphan Care Initiative and began a partnership with the local churches in Rwanda in hopes that many children would find loving homes and social support.
Supporting the orphan
Saddleback believes that the local church is the hope of the orphan and is positioned to identify needs and support interventions. The local church has large volunteer participation, simple administration, broad distribution, and motivation
“We decided to partner with the local churches because we care about the whole person – every aspect of an orphan’s life,” said Elizabeth Styffe, Orphan Care Initiative director. “The best way to reach every need is to go through the local church.”
Over the last few years, Saddleback’s Orphan Care Initiative has worked in partnership with the local church in Rwanda to provide a new model of sponsorship where children are supported directly through the local church to increase the capacity and effectiveness of family-centered, church-focused interventions.
Ordinary people making a difference
The Orphan Care Initiative has also sought to facilitate the establishment of an international adoption agency, promote church-based systems of home care/foster care, prevent future children from being orphaned through education and HIV treatment for expectant mothers, promote domestic adoption, and encourage people that anyone can make a difference.
“Our vision and purpose is to make it so that ordinary believers are enabled to respond to God’s heart for orphans and implement his plans both locally and globally,” Elizabeth said.
The initiative wants to make it easy for ordinary, everyday people to feel encouraged to do extraordinary things through God’s calling. Even if people can’t adopt or go to Rwanda, there are several other ways for them to make a difference.
“I first got involved with the Orphan Care Initiative in 2007,” volunteer Lynn Young said. “I’ve been a social care worker for over 10 years and wanted to be able to use my experience to help orphans and foster children. Being part of this initiative has brought such hope and meaning to my life.”
The Orphan Care Initiative hopes to create many ways for people to care for orphans, including raising awareness in the community through classes and volunteer opportunities and building curriculum so that small groups can grasp a deeper understanding of the initiative and learn ways they can be a part of it.
“We want everyone to take the time to stop and learn more about the goals of the Orphan Care Initiative and how they can get involved,” Elizabeth said. “Our hope is that our church will be known for having a heart for orphans.”
There are many opportunities for individuals, families, and small groups to be part of adoption and foster care recruitment, mentoring, shelter support, foster and adoptive family support, social worker support, and so much more.
“It is hard to put into words how much the Orphan Care Initiative has changed my life and what it means to me. It’s part of my everyday life now and it’s an honor,” Lynn said.
To learn more about the Saddleback Orphan Care Initiative, visit www.saddlebackfamily.com/orphancare. To receive further details about serving locally or globally with the initiative, contact us at (949) 609-8555 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.