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I see you there hanging on a tree
You bled and then you died and then you rose again for me
Now you are sitting on Your heavenly throne
Soon we will be coming home
You’re beautiful, you’re beautiful

When we arrive at eternity’s shore
Where death is just a memory and tears are no more
We’ll enter in as the wedding bells ring
Your bride will come together and we’ll sing
You’re beautiful, You’re beautiful, You’re beautiful

Phil Wickman

Sunday was Easter. Two weeks ago yesterday, my 6-year-old grandson Benjamin woke up, ate breakfast with his sisters and brothers and then had a “cardiac event” as the medical folks call it. Less than 15 minutes later, he arrived at eternity’s shore and full of faith. Ben had told his family several weeks ago that he was ready to go see Jesus. You see, Ben was born with single ventricle and pulmonary atresia. Basically half of a normal heart. But, the really hard thing was Ben had been put into the care of an orphanage shortly after birth. Fortunately he was born in South Korea and he did have a foster family. But Benjamin was not going to live long in South Korea. His best chance for sustainable intervention was in America. It turns out that God’s plan for him to have a family was in America too.

Our daughter Elizabeth and her husband Mat heard about Ben. It was not the kind of adoption most families, even Christians, pursue. It was a choice to enter into pain and even suffering from the beginning. The doctor here told Elizabeth, “Best case he will live to about 20, and worst case he will make it only to 2.” For a military couple with a biological child with severe heart disease and another little boy, this was a big decision. But as they considered the Spirit’s leading, they came to believe that not only was Ben “theirs” but that if they walked away, he would still have to face this road alone. For him to face it with a family and be introduced to Jesus, was their privilege. Later the Lord brought two more biological children to Ben’s new family; one of these also had a severe heart problem.

So it was that little Ben joined our family 5 years ago. More than once we were told he would not survive for 30 days. The Lord did not read that memo and Ben was here for another Christmas and birthday and another. He was ours and we were his. Robin and I have watched as our daughter and son-in-law have entered into what the Bible calls sharing in the suffering of our Lord. Along the way of surgeries, oxygen tanks and wheelchairs, something remarkable happened…God gave this child faith along with a family.

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matthew 19:14)

Ben believed in Jesus. He understood that he would not live long. He had such faith that Jesus would take him home, he even told us once that He would pick him up in a red car. We laughed, but listen to Jesus’ words: “And he said: ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.’” (Matthew 18:3)

I was there when Ben’s mom, my first little girl, whispered to him, “It’s ok…you can go see Jesus now,” and because he was a little boy who loved and trusted his mother, and more importantly believed in heaven…he obeyed and his breathing slowed down and he slipped away. The presence of the Lord was strong. The angels were in the room. And a little boy who had earlier been released at an orphanage, left his family to join the family of the Lamb in heaven.

At Ben’s funeral, one of the Pastors made a wonderful observation. He said that this life is like the front porch. It is not the whole house; it is not even inside the house. Once we have been inside, like Ben, for the first million years we will look back at our time on the front porch as so very short. But, important decisions are made on the front porch of life here on earth. Will you change and become like a little child? Will you be willing to join Jesus in His suffering when He calls you? Will you see the lives of orphans with special needs and even terminal conditions as lives worth living, lives worth grafting into your family? Mat and Elizabeth did through God’s grace. As a result, we had a wonderful grandson who taught us that life on the front porch is all about knowing who is going to pick you up and loving those whom you can hug today.

So in the end, Ben’s story was not an adoption story. It wasn’t really a story of heroism. It was about a little boy that was really ours, who taught us in a fresh way how Jesus loved us before we loved Him. How it pleased Him to make us His real children, when we had nothing to offer Him.

What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
And what if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are Your mercies in disguise

Laura Story

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George Mueller was a German pastor who lived in 19th century Bristol, England. He preached for Spurgeon and it is said that he inspired Hudson Taylor. He was also called to Orphan Ministry.He said that there were three reasons why he asked God to help him to help orphans:

“The three chief reasons for establishing an Orphan-House are: 1. That God may be glorified, should He be pleased to furnish me with the means, in its being seen that it is not a vain thing to trust in Him; and that thus the faith of His children may be strengthened. 2. The spiritual welfare of fatherless and motherless children. 3. Their temporal welfare.”

Mueller would say that his life of faith was nothing but a work of God’s grace. The grace he was given for the faith needed to minister to orphans was a powerful demonstration to all that saw his work of the power and reality of God.

Of Mueller, John Piper writes: “He built five large orphan houses and cared for 10,024 orphans in his life. When he started in 1834, there were accommodations for 3,600 orphans in all of England and twice that many children under eight were in prison. One of the great effects of Mueller’s ministry was to inspire others so that ‘fifty years after Mr. Mueller began his work, at least one hundred thousand orphans were cared for in England alone.’”

In Matthew 24, Jesus is asked by the disciples, “What will be the sign of Your coming?” Jesus gives them a list of things that will point to the birth pangs. But His comment in verse 14 is particularly interesting in the times that we live. He says, “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations and then the end will come.”

Just the other day, my wife and I were talking about days not that long ago when there was no internet, there were no cell phones, certainly no Skype video chat, much less a personal computer. But, in just a matter a few years all of this technology, along with “social networking”, has brought profound changes that in fact can and are taking this Gospel of the kingdom around the world. Just this month in Egypt we saw the incredible results of how technology and social networking can bring down a 30-year ruler in just 18 days. In fact, in Isaiah 19:2 we read, “So I will incite Egyptians against Egyptians; And they will each fight against his brother and each against his neighbor, city against city and kingdom against kingdom.” Of course, this passage does not necessarily connect to the recent events in Egypt, but it does show us that the Lord’s plan is unfolding just as He said.

Which brings me back to Mueller. We know from Joel that in the last days the Lord will pour out His Spirit in such a way that the Gospel will reach the least and the unreached. Perhaps orphans represent a major portion of that fulfillment in our time as churches across America and now in the third world are putting action to theology in the love for orphans. As the love of Christ is brought to orphans around the world, Matthew 24 is being fulfilled. I recently heard from a friend that Christians in East Asia are taking their very modest resources and reaching out to orphans and widows, investing their lives to touch those whom are Precious to the Lamb.

If God is leading you to be a part of bringing the good news to foster children and the orphans of the world, ask Him to show you how you and your church can be used. Pray that He will provide not just for the means, but also the power through His spirit so that the faith of others can be strengthened, just like those believers of Mueller’s day.  At Hope for Orphans, we are here to help you any way that we can. We have brand new resources for various orphan ministry outreaches. We have new tools and events coming to help you fulfill the calling you have been given in your church. I hope you enjoy this month’s newsletter.

Blessings,

Paul

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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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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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One of the things we often hear when talking to local orphan ministry champions is a feeling of frustration that their church doesn’t really “get it.”  They have tried to talk to their leaders and others about adoption, orphan care, foster care, but they’re all too often met with blank stares from others who clearly don’t share their passion.  They wonder what they can do to help others get it, and they even sometimes wonder if they are at the right church.  Their frustration is understandable, but at the same time it’s important that they not push the panic button quite yet.

When I talk to people experiencing these frustrations, I always like to point them to the story of Irene.  Irene is the famous “pint-sized prophet” of South Florida who just wouldn’t shut up about the problems in the local foster care system.  She talked to anyone and everyone who would listen until something was done about it.  Because of her tenacity in helping others get it, and her unwillingness to let it go, 4Kids of South Florida was eventually born.  4Kids has helped literally thousands of children in the foster care system over the past decade…and it all came about because God planted Irene in a church, He wouldn’t let her keep her mouth shut, and God used her to help her church get it.

One of the things we often tell people is not to despair if their church doesn’t get it.  There are plenty of things that we don’t get, either…and that’s okay.  But we need to recognize that God has placed us in our churches for a reason…and perhaps part of that reason is to help our churches get it.  I have seen it time and again.  God raises up one foster family…one adoptive family…one family with a passion for international orphan care…and the next thing you know, a church starts to get it.

We’re often asked how one goes about helping their church to get it.  As nice as it would be to have some magical formula, the fact is there isn’t one.  You can’t underestimate the power of the Holy Spirit to move among a people, and it’s ultimately His gig to move them to action.  But there are things you can do to help others get it.

You can pray.  You can pray that God would begin a movement among His people in your church to care for orphans.

You can live out your passion in front of others.  We’ve discovered that orphan ministry can be contagious in many ways.   As people at our church have seen and interacted with our children (who were all adopted from foster care), they have developed more and more of an interest in engaging the foster system as well.

You can seek out others in your church that you think might share your passion.  You never know whom you might find at your church.  There could be adoptive families you don’t know about.  There could be veterans of overseas missions trips to orphanages.  People with experience in the foster care system.  Others who simply have a heart for children.  Connect with others who share your passion and watch what God does when you get together.

You can ask leadership for permission to have an Orphan Sunday event.  Reserve a room at your church.  Invite the local Heart Gallery.  Bring materials and share the need…as well as what God’s word says about orphans.

You can start an orphan ministry in your church.  Go to our website and get a copy of our Launch Guide…and begin to work through the steps to start a formalized orphans ministry in your church.

There are countless other ways that you can help your church to get it.  Again, though, recognize that it will be a work of the Holy Spirit if your church is truly going to embrace orphans ministry.  And recognize, too, that God may very well have placed you in your church so that He can use to you to help them get it.

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