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Archive for the ‘Foster-Care’ Category

In James 1:27 the believer is instructed to visit widows and orphans in their distress.

As American Christians, I think many of us have not considered the implications of what distress really means for kids in foster care and many other orphans throughout the world.

Many North American believers have awakened to God’s love for fatherless children. In some circles, unfortunately, and sometimes dangerously, it is even becoming a badge of spirituality to adopt.

Still, God has given thousands of children the joy of a forever family. The growing adoption movement is a visible illustration of God’s plan to overcome sin and brokenness through His adoption of us, made possible by the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus. As for the Christian families adopting these children, the blessings for both them and their children have been nothing short of a demonstration of the reality of God.

However, what many people have not always understood is the magnitude of pain, hurt, fear, need, affliction, or “distress” as it were, that many children bring with them. When we love these children with special needs or who are coming from dark places, that means that this distress becomes a part of us…our marriages and our families. Some, maybe most, who are adopting have no idea of how to prepare themselves, much less their children and spouses.

This includes not really grasping the level of sacrifice that God is sometimes calling families to in adoption. In Hebrews 11, we all remember the recounting of the victories and miracles that God performed through people of faith, but what we forget are those lives talked about in verses 35 through 38. These are equally lives of faith; believers who endured mockery, scourging, chains, stoning, death by the sword and affliction. They, like those who experienced victory, also gained approval through their faith for something better.

Sometimes adoption is full of victory, miracles and joys unimaginable. But sometimes it brings with it the sufferings, confusion, doubts and struggles that can only be faced through faith and with the power of the Holy Spirit. When families are called to such adoptions, they often need help. The Church should be a place where they can turn and get that help.

There is a crisis brewing and spreading almost as fast as God is mobilizing the Church to serve orphans. The crisis is coming about as a result of the rapid increase in believers who are adopting older, special needs and at-risk children, but are not fully equipped to do so. The crisis is manifesting itself in an increase in the number of families struggling to cope with some of the issues their new children bring to their homes, and in an increase of post-placement risk of disrupted adoptions as well.

Next year, some experts estimate that 60% of all children adopted from China to American families will be special needs kids. In Ukraine, like many other parts of the world, it appears that future adoptions will be skewed greatly to older kids and sibling groups, in addition to those with severe emotional and medical needs. In America, we understand more instinctively that children from foster care are often coming from hard places.

At Hope for Orphans, we believe that God’s solution for meeting this crisis (and the whole orphan crisis for that matter) is THE CHURCH. The Church was designed by God to be that safe community where members of the body serve one another when the wheels come off in life. The Church should be a place where families can be honestly prepared, maybe even helped through self-assessment in advance of entering the process to adopt older, special needs, or at-risk children.

This September 16th and 17th, we will be hosting the Hope for Orphans Institute at the Hope Center in Plano, Texas. The purpose of this two-day conference is to equip orphan ministry leaders, pastors, counselors, social workers and others with biblically-based skills and tools to serve families called to adopt older, special needs and at-risk kids. We will have nationally-renowned experts providing insights to help families and leaders to meet this growing need. This event will be hosted and moderated by Ryan Dobson, who is himself an adult adoptee.

We believe that the Church is the key place that the needs of struggling adoptive families can be met in-depth and in sustainable ways. For social workers and professionals partnering with the Church in serving families in acute need, the principles from this conference will give new power to help make a difference. To learn more about this event and how God can use you to help others in your church and community, go to www.HFOInstitute.org.

 

Paul Pennington is the founder of Hope for Orphans. He and his wife, Robin, have six children. They live in Dallas, Texas.

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This Saturday night, at 8 PM Eastern, 7 Central, Fox Television will air Change of Plans, a pro-family, pro-adoption movie presented by Walmart and P&G as part of their Family Movie Night Series. Immediately following the movie, there will be a special LIVE 45-minute webcast, sponsored by Chik-fil-A’s WinShape Foundation, in which viewers can submit their questions about adoption, and a panel, which includes Hope for Orphans’ Paul Pennington, will respond.

To learn more about the movie, please click here. To learn more about the webcast, please click here. To share this with your friends on Facebook, please paste this link (http://on.fb.me/FamiliesForAll) to your profile page.

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In just 4 days, on Saturday, November 13th, hundreds of believers will gather at Watermark Community Church in Dallas for Wait No More, an adoption conference put on by our good friends at Focus on the Family’s Adoption & Orphan Care Initiative.

Wait No More is designed to share God’s heart for adoption, as well as the need for adoptive homes for waiting children, with Christians through speakers, video, music, and opportunities to connect with local foster care agencies.

To date there have been Wait No More Conferences in Colorado, Missouri, California, Florida, and Ohio. The results have been staggering. More than 1000 families have signed up to start the foster adopt process as a result of attending these conferences. God is clearly using the team at Focus to bring many kids forever families.

We at Hope for Orphans are honored to participate at these events. After the speaker portion of the conference, we will have a booth with some of our materials and staff present to share more about how we can serve you in your church’s orphans ministry.

If you are near the Dallas area this weekend, and are willing to take a few hours out of your Saturday to hear more about God’s desire for families for Texas’ waiting children, please go to the website and register. Or, if you have friends or family in the area, please pass this on to them.

Even if you’re not able to attend, please pray that God would use this event for His glory and that He would touch many hearts on behalf of the more than 3,500 children waiting for families in Texas’ foster care system.

Oh, and for those of you near Atlanta, GA, Wait No More is coming to your area, on February 26, 2011, at Victory World Church in Norcross.

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…They began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. Acts 2:45

“If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” Matthew 19:21

From the beginning of the church, there has been a connection between the Good News and loving those in need. That connection usually means sacrifice. North American Christians as a bunch are not quite as keen for sacrifice as those in the early church, perhaps because there has been a drift in teaching away from Biblical truth and grace. The new direction has been towards more motivational and frankly “me-centered” teaching. However, as we approach the annual Cry of the Orphan Campaign and Orphan Sunday, we are seeing churches all over America who are launching lay-led, people-to-people orphan ministries, in which there is not only sacrifice but a laying out of lives for the fatherless. The impact, not only on orphans, but on churches, has been amazing.

At the beginning of Hope for Orphans, we worked with a small church in South Texas — a fledgling orphan ministry started by two adoptive moms who had a vision and conviction that loving the fatherless was not optional. This led in fairly short order to 29 kids coming for a summer hosting program. The Russian-speaking kids who came had an impact that reached much further than a handful of kids getting families. This church had a revival of sorts through the love of these orphans that introduced the entire congregation to a country most had probably never heard of. The Lord used orphan ministry to give this church a new passion for missions, evangelism, reconciliation and the Gospel that was truly supernatural. 29 kids became 41 and from there this church and its orphan ministry has helped mentor churches in many places to similar results. The compounded impact for children in foster care and around the world is wonderful. The transformation brought about by seeing the visible gospel by the whole congregation has been priceless.

The point is…One Church Can Make a Difference…a difference that impacts generations for God’s glory. Will you be an orphan ministry leader in your church? One way to give a vision to your church in these next few weeks is through the Cry of the Orphan Partners’ one-hour content-on-demand video special Answer the Cry. This free resource can be used in Sunday schools, small groups, youth groups and even in a special worship service to introduce your church to God’s heart for orphans. This and other resources will be available at www.cryoftheorphan.org. This special program will also be available on DVD in limited supplies at Family Christian Stores locations across the country.

We even have a promo video that you can show leadership in your church or maybe use to promote your own event. You may watch the preview now by clicking here.

Also, at Hope for Orphans, we have a new video that speaks to how God is using the church. You may see that video by clicking here.

So this Orphan Sunday week, consider a sacrifice of your time to give voice to those kids who have none. Consider how God wants to use your Church for loving orphans and waiting children.

Blessings
Paul

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When “Jenny” was placed in our home as a nine-year-old in foster care, it was clear to us almost right away that she had some very deep fears…fears that would not easily be overcome.  Those fears were most apparent whenever we would awaken her from sleep.  Her eyes would shoot open…she would almost look petrified until she could get her bearings and see that she was safe.

It took three weeks before we learned why Jenny was so afraid. For years, she and her younger brother had been sexually abused by their mother’s boyfriend, “Mark”.  Their mother had known about it, yet had failed to protect them.  Now, she was scared to death that Mark was going to find her and kill her.  We reported what she told us and eventually, Mark was arrested, and based primarily on Jenny’s testimony, he was sentenced to nearly twenty years in prison.   Still, it took a long time before Jenny felt safe in our home.

Children need to feel safe.  They thrive when they feel safe.  But what happens when they don’t feel safe?  They don’t thrive.  According to Created to Connect: A Christian’s Guide to the Connected Child, by Dr. Karyn Purvis and Michael Monroe, fear cripples children.  It not only cripples them…it can manifest itself in all kinds of negative behaviors.

Could it be that so many children in foster care exhibit negative behaviors due, in part at least, to the fact that they know deep down that there is not a single person on the face of the earth who has their backs?  Could it be that they live in constant fear because they feel threatened and they know there is no one who will step in to protect them from real harm?

Contrary to what the world says, God has made men and women different.  And while moms would certainly do anything to protect their children, it is men whom God has given the role of protector (of their wives as well as their children).

Right now, there are about 125,000 children in foster care who are waiting for forever families.  These kids have a lot in common.  Fear is one of them.  Each of these kids goes to bed at night lacking the security your and my kids enjoy every day.  As Christians, and as men, we can’t allow this to happen.

What about it, men?  Let’s not wait for our wives to drag us into caring for the waiting children of the United States Foster Care System.  Let’s take seriously our God-given role of child-protector and let’s help 125,000 children sleep better at night.  Not only will they sleep better at night, but their behaviors are bound to change as they begin to believe you have their backs.  The waiting children in foster care deserve to enjoy the same security your kids and mine enjoy.  Are we going to give it to them?

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The DeMoss Group Press Release Oct. 18, 2010

FamilyLife Co-Founder Barbara Rainey Joins Christian Alliance for Orphans

“My heart has always been drawn to orphans . . .” – Barbara Rainey

LITTLE ROCK, Ark., Oct. 18, 2010 – Continuing FamilyLife’s strong legacy of helping orphans, co-founder Barbara Rainey has agreed to serve on the board of the Christian Alliance for Orphans.

Rainey, a speaker and best-selling author, is also the mother of six – including a daughter whom she and her husband, FamilyLife president Dennis Rainey, adopted in 1983.

“My heart has always been drawn to orphans and their sadness, and from personal experience I also know the joy we can find in loving them,” said Rainey. “As a result, adoption and orphan care will always
be a part of my God-given mission in some way, and I’m excited about the opportunity to work more closely with the Christian Alliance for Orphans.”

The Christian Alliance for Orphans includes many of the nation’s most respected Christian organizations and churches, working together to ignite and equip individuals and churches for effective, Christ-honoring service to orphans.

Paul Pennington, executive director and founder of Hope for Orphans (a ministry of FamilyLife), was a founding board member of Christian Alliance for Orphans. After serving on the board for seven years, Paul is rotating off, and Barbara Rainey is taking his place on the board.

“Barbara will bring a lot of fresh ideas and the perspective of an adoptive mom,” said Pennington. “As a founding member of the Alliance, Hope for Orphans is thrilled to have Barbara representing us.”

In addition to its work with the Christian Alliance for Orphans, FamilyLife’s Hope for Orphans ministry is also deeply involved in the Cry of the Orphan campaign. Through special programming, radio broadcasts and cryoftheorphan.org, the Cry of the Orphan campaign raises awareness and offers easy ways for people to be a part of the solution to the orphan crisis.

This year, Cry of the Orphan is producing Answer the Cry, a 60-minute video program – hosted by Francis Chan – addressing ways EVERY Christian can have an impact on the life of an orphan. Answer the Cry will be available free to churches and groups in early November, in conjunction with Orphan Sunday (Nov. 7). For more information about Answer the Cry or to find out how to watch it, go to cryoftheorphan.org.

For more than three decades FamilyLife has focused on the mission of using biblical principles to build healthier marriages and families. FamilyLife works in 100 countries around the world to help to transform lives and restore hope through its Weekend to Remember marriage conferences, Homebuilders couples studies, FamilyLife Today radio broadcasts, Hope for Orphans orphan care ministry, FamilyLife publications, and the internet. For more information visit FamilyLife.com.

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Next Saturday will be a great day for orphan advocates across the country. On October 1st & 2nd, there are THREE great conferences that we want to introduce you too.  Whether you live on the east coast, central, or west coast, a phenomenal conference is right around the corner.

On the east coast, in Southern NJ, Chris Padbury will be delivering the key note address which aims to awaken the local church to all aspects of “defending the cause of the fatherless.”

In Austin, TX, the Together For Adoption conference will be addressing over 1000 attendees. The theme of the conference is “The Gospel, the Church, and the Global Orphan Crisis.”  If you live anywhere near this event, you will not want to miss this conference.

On the west coast, in Los Angeles, CA, Hope for Orphans’ John Moore will be the key note speaker. There will be several sessions covering the Biblical foundation for orphan care, as well as numerous break-out sessions that will give you substantial and tangible ways to engage in the orphan crisis.

To learn more information about these conferences, please visit the Hope for Orphans website: www.hopefororphans.org

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