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God specializes in bringing good out of broken situations, and the story of Pascasie and her family is an amazing testament of God’s redemption.

When a neighbor abandoned her baby girl after a failed abortion, Pascasie, a Rwandan widow, was stirred to compassion, and she chose to take the handicapped infant into her home. Pascasie saw the opportunity to give a family to this child who had lost hers, just as Pascasie had. A survivor of the genocide, Pascasie was deeply familiar with grief and loss. The genocide had left her widowed and with only one of her two beloved children. She lived, but feared she would not be able to provide enough to sustain herself and her children.

When her neighbor deserted the child, Pascasie made the courageous, faith-filled decision to make the girl her own, even though resources were limited. Pascasie trusted God, and it was in her obedience, amidst emotional and financial challenges, that she witnessed God’s goodness and provision on display. Her local church stepped in to help.

Thanks to Rwanda Orphan Care Sponsors, the local Rwandan church had resources to wholistically support this fragile family. Pascasie said the church is what “made the difference” in her and her children’s life. To hear the story of how Sponsorship changed Pascasie’s life in her own words, check out this video.

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The hope and transformation in this family are possible because of the generosity of the local church and Saddleback Orphan Care Sponsors! If you would like to become a sponsor, check out www.Saddleback.com/Sponsorship.

“For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

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Saddleback Church’s Orphan Care Initiative gathered in May to catch the vision of how mobilized volunteers can collectively end the crisis of children living outside of parental care right here in Orange County. The need of vulnerable children to belong in loving, lasting, and legal families is daunting, but together, there is hope of meeting this need locally by 2020. Accomplishing this vision will depend upon the church, county, and business partners focusing their efforts around the pivotal 3 R’s of permanency where children remain in healthy families, reunite with family, and regain family through adoption or kinship care.

Our local vision of “Getting to Zero by 2020!” was inspired by the model of orphan care adopted by local churches in Rwanda. With the collective decision to close all orphanages in Rwanda, ordinary church members throughout the country, with ongoing support and encouragement of their churches, decided to legally adopt children into their forever families, effectively emptying orphanages in the process! Within four years, thousands of children living in orphanages in Rwanda have been adopted, and the country is well on track to being the first African nation without orphanages. This is the power of the Church championing the cause of families for orphans.

 

Within Orange County there are about 300 children waiting for a family – meaning their parental rights have been terminated and are in need of a new family through adoption. Within the Orange County foster care system there are over 3,000 children who rely on families to care for them until their family of origin again is able to care for them or until they are adopted. The task of “getting to zero” in Orange County may sound like a lofty goal, but through collaboration of church partners, county officials, and other community stakeholders, we believe it’s possible that no child should have to wait for a family!

 

We believe every person can play a role in helping vulnerable children in the foster care system in Orange County. Though not all are called to adopt or become a resource parent, there are so many ways to support those who can. If you are interested in helping accomplish this vision and “get to zero” by volunteering or becoming the family a child needs, contact us at orphans@saddleback.com or 949-609-8555. 

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For children with disabilities, the care of a family can mean the difference between life and death. In Rwanda, families can struggle to know how to support children with special needs in the midst of a culture that stigmatizes disabled children. The challenge can become so daunting that parents sometimes abandon disabled children. The local church in Rwanda is stepping into the gap, affirming God’s love for every child and providing practical support to families caring for children with special needs. As part of the Orphan Care Initiative’s strategy to help all children remain in family, reunite with family, or regain family through adoption, children with disabilities living in orphanages who were once considered “unadoptable” have found permeant, legal, lasting families who are making amazing sacrifices to give them the care they need.

One Presbyterian church in Rwanda has begun a school for special needs children, which not only supports the children but has become a place for struggling parents to come together. Saddleback Orphan Care PEACE teams have come alongside these parents, encouraging them to start a support group to share their unique struggles in a safe space in the church, and providing them with skills to parent their children from hard places. Through Rwanda Orphan Sponsorship, as of this Spring, two of the families who adopted their children from the orphanage are receiving monetary support from their local church, in addition to three of the families who had been struggling to carry on.

Parents in the support group share that they have never before been able to talk to anyone about the challenges they face caring for their children. Being in community in the church with other families walking the same journey has lifted their burden and has helped them know that God sees them and cares about their family.

Thanks to the generosity of Sponsors, these families can now devote more attention to the care of their children and are being cared for by their local church family. Where they and their children once experienced isolation, they now have a community that can come alongside them in the tough times with practical help and shared experience.

If you would like to support a family in Rwanda through Sponsorship, visit www.saddleback.com/sponsorship or email orphans@saddleback.com for more info.

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If you could be a part of emptying the foster care system in Southern California would you do it? We feel God wants to do something new in Southern California like He’s doing in Rwanda. Soon Rwanda will be the first country in Africa to empty their orphanages and place every child into a family. This is being accomplished through a church-to-church strategy with cooperation with the local government.

Come join us for a night that will go down in history as when the churches in Southern California said they were not going to leave vulnerable children stuck in the foster care system anymore! We'll have representatives from the County of Orange along with ministry leaders from many of the largest churches in Orange County to launch this vision with us. This event has been a year in the making and will be a night you don't want to miss!

All things are possible with God and you have a role in the possibilities. “For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” Ephesians 2:10 (NLT)

A light dinner will be provided. Space is limited so please RSVP here today so we can plan accordingly. If you have any questions simply call us at 949-609-8555 or email orphans@saddleback.com

See you there!

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The country of Rwanda is approaching its goal of closing all orphanages throughout the country as children are being placed in families out of the orphanage or reunited with their families. Despite this progress, in some orphanages children remain waiting to receive a family – either because finding a willing family is a challenge or often times, there are orphans ages 18 and older who grew up in the orphanage, never learned life skills to survive on their own, and therefore feel unable to leave the orphanage setting. What does all this mean for the work of “Getting to Zero”? Even when orphanages have closed, the task of caring for vulnerable and orphaned children is far from done.

 

The work of the Orphan Care Initiative goes far beyond simply “closing orphanages.” The tools and training we provide through the work of the local churches in Rwanda is developing a child welfare system for a country that will ensure that no children grow up outside of family care. If you take the case of the United States, we have no orphanages – in their place we have a system for identifying vulnerable and parentless children, sourcing families to foster and adopt them, and training and monitoring those families so that they are successful. If you look at Rwanda through that view, the work has only begun. There is now a stellar example in Western Rwanda – where the Orphan Care Initiative has focused our efforts at the request of the government – of what it looks like to reintegrate children into families well with the wrap around support of the church.

 

However, much of the rest of the nation returned children to families without the wrap-around support of the churches, which is so critical to the long-term success of an orphanage-free child welfare system. Our most recent Orphan Care PEACE trip saw this firsthand as they conducted trainings in Kimonyi, an example of an area where the orphanage recently closed but families had never received any information on how to address the trauma their children have experienced in the institution. When the government realized these families were struggling, they specifically asked for the Orphan Care Initiative to intervene with training and support.

 

Getting a child out of an orphanage and into a family is only the start of the journey of helping that child and family succeed long term. In that way, future Orphan Care PEACE teams remain critical to delivering several important, world-view shifting messages:

1) The value and need for adoption in a culture coming out of dependence on orphanages.

2) Teaching churches how to deliver the evidence-based adoptive parent training that allows families to help heal hurts of children who have come from the orphanage and other hard places.

3) The truth that EVERYONE in the church is called to care for the orphan, and the church can help members get on mission in this area in a variety of ways.

 

The Rwanda Orphan Sponsorship is a piece of this support system designed to help children remain in, reunite with or regain family through adoption. Families brought into the sponsorship program receive support to help care for their child in the form of a monthly amount from their local church. As part of sponsorship, parents become part of a savings group to learn how to grow and manage their money, and they receive lay social work support from the church and agree to attend parenting training. In return, the families agree to use the funds to pay their child’s school fees, enroll them in medical insurance and tithe back to their local church. Because these funds go directly to the family from their local church, many families receiving sponsorship don’t know there is a Western donor on the other end, they just see it as their local church coming alongside to support them.

 

If you would like to help families who are adopting children out of orphanages through the Rwanda Orphan Sponsorship, please visit saddleback.com/sponsorship for more information on how your giving can help in Getting to Zero.

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