Posts Tagged ‘Prayer’

Summertime.  The very word conjures up images of parks and pools, baseball and barbeques.  Summer is a season when we allow ourselves just a bit more laziness…a time in which we seek relaxation, and family vacations.  The fact is, it seems that everyone loves summer.

In the midst of summer, though, we need to pause and think of those who might not welcome summer as robustly we do.  For the orphan, summer doesn’t bring to mind all those thoughts that make it a favorite season for many of us.  No, for many orphans, summer is simply 92 more days to survive the dangers of life, to wait for rescue, to long for love, to hope for a better future.  In the midst of our summertime content, we must remember the orphan’s year-round discontent.  We also need to remember that God has not forgotten the orphan, and that we must remember them too.

In our June E-Newsletter, which came out today, we highlight the story of some schoolchildren in Birmingham, Alabama, who were touched by the orphan crisis in Haiti and decided to do something about it.  They raised nearly $4000 to help bring much needed relief to children suffering in the aftermath of January’s devastating earthquake.

It’s always exciting when we meet others who “get it”.  It’s even more exciting when we see children “get it”.  When we see kids gripped with God’s heart for orphans at a young age, we can only imagine what God will do through them later in life.  Kids loving orphans are infectious and inspiring.

What might God want to do through your children in reaching the least of these?  Dads, would you be willing to set aside a portion of your free time with your kids this summer and look at what God’s word says about orphans, and what His expectations are for us in relation to them?  Moms, would you be willing to take on a project serving orphans with your kids this summer?  Perhaps you could collect shoes for orphans overseas.  Perhaps you could pray for the children in your local foster care system.  Perhaps you could collect money to help offset the cost of adoption for a family in your church.

At Hope for Orphans, our job is to serve the church as it serve orphans.  That includes your children.  We have developed two tools that we hope will better serve you as you seek to educate your children of the mandate from God, and the needs to be met among the tens of millions of orphans in the world.

The first tool is our website for children, which can be found here.  At the website you will learn more about God’s heart, you will find ideas of how your kids can serve orphans, you will read about what other kids have done to address the orphan crisis, and much more.

We have also developed a curriculum for children, called God’s Heart for the Orphan…and Me!.  The curriculum is designed to be used in Sunday school classes, Vacation Bible Schools, or even in your own home with your family.  It is an interactive children’s Bible study that exposes children to God’s passion for orphans and waiting children.  You and your kids will talk about what God wants us to do for orphans, and you will be given the tools to take action and start making a difference in children’s lives right away.

If you have ideas of how you and your children will serve orphans this summer, or perhaps have served together in the past, please share them by commenting below.

Would you consider making this a summer in which your children and family become more closely aligned with God’s heart for orphans?  Imagine what God might do in you and through you if you commit yourselves to just that.

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We’re about halfway through the National Foster Care Prayer Vigil week.  Two days ago, I asked people to share their experiences as they went before the Lord this week on behalf of those in their local foster care systems.  Yesterday afternoon, I received this e-mail from Heather Bench, a passionate orphan advocate from Salem Church of God in Clayton, Ohio:

I was most touched during our prayer vigil when a recently adopted teen from foster care rose and prayed for the foster care workers.  My heart overflowed to hear her speak words of gratitude and ask for all foster children to have good influences in their lives.  Shortly thereafter our ministry participated in our first forever family dedication of this precious family.  What a privilege to thank God for bringing this family together and commit to loving, supporting and encouraging them as the perfect family He designed.  This week I have purposefully prayed by name for the teenagers in our state waiting for families.  God has brought them to my heart through a teen’s heartfelt prayer.

Heather’s story is but one of hundreds that God is writing this week through the National Foster Care Prayer Vigil.  As we commit to going before Him in prayer for these children, and those who influence their lives, God promises to meet us where we are, and He will bless us as He blessed Heather and the others at her church.

Thanks, Heather, for sharing your story, and thanks for your faithfulness in praying for His children in Ohio.

We would love to hear from others about their prayer vigils as well.  If you have a story of how God used your time with Him this week, please e-mail me at jmoore@HopeforOrphans.org.

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Sunday’s gathering was a small one, about twelve of us, but as always, God met us where we were.  We gathered in a circle and introduced ourselves.  We discussed the purpose of the prayer vigil, we read some Scriptures, and we prayed through the prayer guide.  As I listened to the others pray, I heard things that excited me…I heard passion…and I heard tears.

One of the women who prayed Sunday has been volunteering for the past 20 months or so at a foster group home in our area.  Every week, she, her husband, and two others from our church visit the boys in the group home, sharing their lives, their pains, their fears, and trying to instill hope where despair has reigned for far too long. As she prayed, she passionately petitioned God on behalf of each and every one of the boys in the home . . . by name.

As we continued to pray, I heard weeping…so much so that at times it was hard to understand what was being said.  But God knew.  God heard.  And where the words were not necessarily clear, the sentiment was…the hearts of those who prayed were broken for the children in our county’s foster care system…but not just for the children…the tears were for their families as well.  One young woman prayed, and rightly so, that God would bring healing to families in such a way that would eventually eliminate the need for foster care at all.  Wouldn’t that be an amazing thing…if churches could come alongside families before they lose their children, and help them get on their feet and experience the restoration and healing that God has for them?

Our small gathering was a wonderful reminder of God’s passion and broken heart for these children, and His desire for us to be passionate and brokenhearted for them as well.  I pray that the hundreds of other gatherings across the country this week will experience the same.

As you hold your prayer vigils this week, if you feel so led, please send me an e-mail at jmoore@HopeForOrphans.org.  Let me know how God met you and used your time seeking Him on the children’s behalf.  I would love to share your stories in this blog throughout the week to encourage those who haven’t yet had their prayer vigils, as well as those who have yet to plan one.

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The 2010 National Foster Care Prayer Vigil starts this weekend. For eight days, followers of Christ will gather in homes, churches, parks, and more to pray for the children in their states’ foster care systems.

The National Foster Care Prayer Vigil has grown from humble beginnings (one prayer vigil in Little Rock, AR) to become a nationwide movement (220 vigils in 47 states last year) in a very short time.

As this is published, there are about 170 prayer vigils scheduled for next week in 44 states, plus Washington, DC.  Unfortunately, there are no vigils currently registered in six states:

  • Delaware
  • North Dakota
  • Rhode Island
  • South Dakota
  • Utah
  • West Virginia

We know that there are believers in those six states who, if they knew, would love to pray for the children in their states. We just haven’t found those believers…yet. This is where you come in. We are asking you to please reach out to your Christian friends in these states and ask them to go to www.FosterCarePrayerVigil.org, to download the prayer guide, to plan a vigil, and to register that vigil.

For the person who refers the first person registered in each of those states, we will send a free copy of Christie Erwin’s “The Middle Mom”, a wonderful book written by a foster mom about her experiences of God’s grace as she has fostered numerous children over the years.

Keep in mind that we will give the book to the person who refers the first person to register in each of those states.  If you recruit someone in one of those states, but they are not the first to register, we thank you and appreciate you anyway!  If you do recruit someone just let me know at jmoore@hopefororphans.org.  As soon as they register their vigil I will send your copy of the Middle Mom out to you!

Thanks so much…oh, and if you haven’t planned your own foster care prayer vigil for next week…you know what to do!

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Over the past couple of weeks, I have discussed the need for prayer for the children, families (birth families and foster/adopt families), and workers in our nation’s foster care system.

There is another group of people for whom prayer is needed as they relate to the children in foster care.  Historically, the church has cared for the marginalized in society out of obedience to God’s commands and as an outpouring of the grace we have received from Him in our lives.  God still desires for His people to be His hands and feet to those who are hurting and forgotten, including those children in the foster care system.

By and large, the role of caring for these children has fallen on the shoulders of government agencies for the past several decades.  The church has taken a back seat to social services in meeting their needs.  The constant cry of some to keep church and state separate has kept some in the church from becoming more involved.

Thankfully, that is changing.  More and more, we are seeing that church and state can not only find common ground on which to stand for the benefit of kids, but they can actually work together to see that the kids’ needs are being met and that, as a result, they have a better chance at becoming all they were intended to be.

Having been involved in foster care for ten years, I have seen quite a change in the way churches and government relate to each other in this area.  Where once there was much suspicion and mistrust on both sides, now we are seeing both sides opening up to one another and engaging in open dialogue and partnership.  It was quite a telling statement when I heard a local child welfare official say in a recent meeting that the government doesn’t do a good job taking care of kids, and that they wanted to give that job back to the church, where it belongs.

All over the country, God is moving churches to start foster care ministries.  Amazing ministries have sprung up in Florida, Arkansas, Colorado, South Carolina, Texas, California, and more, helping literally thousands of children.  We should pray that God would continue to raise up churches to care for the needs of the children in their communities.  We should also pray that many believers would open their hearts, homes, and families to these children by fostering and/or adopting them.

If you would like to speak up for the kids, families and workers in your local foster system, as well as for the church’s response and involvement, please visit www.FosterCarePrayerVigil.org.  Download or order the prayer guide.  Please start praying today for all involved in the system.  Then make sure you plan and register a vigil for your church, family, and/or friends during the week of May 16-23.

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In part one of this series, I talked about the need for prayer for the children in our nation’s foster care system.  In part two, I talked about the need for prayer for the families of the children – both the birth families, as well as the families that have stepped forward to care for them through foster care and adoption.

There is a third group of people involved in the children’s lives that we must remember when we pray.  The many workers who are involved in the foster system are on the front lines for these kids – making decisions that often affect their lives in profound ways.

Most who enter social work do so with the noblest of intentions – they have a genuine desire to help people and bring healing to broken lives.  The social workers who enter the foster system often do so because they have a real heart for children and they want to help the children become all that they were created to be.

Unfortunately, the realities of the job can overwhelm even the most committed workers.  So often, caseloads are too heavy, time is too short, and competing interests become draining.  Many times, social workers become fatigued….with the fatigue leading in many cases to burnout.

As Christians who are concerned about the well-being of, and justice for, children in the foster care system, we must remember to pray for the social workers who oversee their cases.  We must pray for the attorneys or the guardians at litem, who argue for their best interests in court.  We must pray for the judges, who often make very difficult decisions regarding short-term and long-term custody for the children.

The children in our nation’s foster care system will benefit most from dedicated workers who are driven to seek their best interests.  We must therefore pray for all of the adults who work in the child welfare system, that:
•    God would raise up laborers to fill every void:  judges, attorneys, guardians at litem, social workers, court appointed special advocates (CASA), support staff, therapists, and others.
•    God would encourage our state’s social workers and that they would not grow weary in doing good.
•    the workers will seek justice for everyone involved.

If you would like to speak up for the kids, families and workers in your local foster system, please visit http://www.FosterCarePrayerVigil.org.  Download or order the prayer guide.  Start praying today.  Then make sure you plan and register a vigil for your church, family, and/or friends during the week of May 16-23.

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