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This article originally appeared in the Boston Globe:

 

Republican Representative Tom Marino of Pennsylvania and Democratic co-sponsors David Cicilline of Rhode Island, Jim McDermott of Washington, and Brian Higgins of New York introduced a bill last week that would put the United States in the position of supporting — rather than undermining — the human rights of children worldwide. It is a simple bill, consisting of only a few lines of text and requiring no new resources. But it would have a profound effect on one of the most significant human rights crises of our time.

The bill would essentially tell the State Department to stop discriminating against children through its refusal to consider the violations of human rights inherent in their unnecessary institutionalization.

Many millions of children worldwide are now locked into institutions for no fault of their own, simply because they have been abandoned, or removed from their parents because of maltreatment. There are good homes waiting for many of these children if only nations would free them up for adoption. Currently, most of these homes are available only across national borders, since institutionalized children generally live in the poorest and most devastated countries of the world, where few families can afford to take in additional children to parent. Few of these countries have any culture of domestic adoption.

But countries regularly shut down international adoption, or create barriers that restrict it to only a lucky few. Unfortunately, the State Department has in recent years joined with other forces to limit international adoption as a meaningful option for unparented children. The result has been the precipitous decline by 75 percent in the number of adoptions into the United States since 2004, and by more than 50 percent in the number international adoptions worldwide. This represents the deliberate and unnecessary denial to well over 20,000 children per year of their most fundamental human right other than life itself — the right to grow up with nurturing parents.

This bill would put the United States in the position of standing up for the human rights of unparented children. It would put us in the position of calling out the human rights violations involved in condemning children to the destruction inherent in growing up in institutions.

Gold standard social and medical science demonstrates how institutions destroy children mentally, physically, and emotionally. It demonstrates that there is a sensitive period in early life after which, even if children are removed from institutions, it is much harder to undo the damage done. The evidence also demonstrates that placement in adoption, whether in the country of origin or abroad, works wonderfully well to help children make the most of their lives.

This bill is supported by a coalition representing academic experts in human rights and child welfare together with core organizations committed to the rights of unparented children — the National Council for Adoption, the Harvard Law School Child Advocacy Program, the Center for Adoption Policy, Saddleback Church Orphan Care Initiative, the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys, and Both Ends Burning.

This bill is simple but would represent a profound, paradigm-shattering change. It would put the United States in an important position of international human rights leadership. And Congress should be able to agree on the position that children have the basic human right to grow up in a family.

 

Elizabeth Bartholet is professor of law and faculty director of the Child Advocacy Program at Harvard Law School. Paulo Barrozo is associate professor of law and jurisprudence and director of the Clough Center for Constitutional Democracy at Boston College Law School

 

If you would like more information on how the Orphan Care Initiative works to help children remain in family, reunite with family, or regain family through adoption, email orphans@saddleback.com or call the Orphan Care line at 949-609-8555
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Paying it forward has taken on new meaning in Rwanda. Saddleback members on a recent PEACE trip heard the story of how the gift of generosity is impacting multiple generations. 

Years ago when Moses was adopted, he found a home in his mother’s heart. His mother was an early recipient of sponsorship, one of a few families chosen to pilot the program as it began, and so Moses knew what it was to have his needs met because of the sacrifice of others.

Moses is now a successful young man of 20. When the PEACE team met him and his mother, they proudly shared how in grand display of reciprocal love, Moses had bought his mom a home - right next door to his own! It was clear how deeply Moses cares for his mother and how deeply he had been affected by this gift of belonging.

Yet the story doesn’t end here. Moses’s mother, overwhelmed with the generosity shown her, has once again decided to open her home to a child in need of a family. She’s adopted a little girl - courageously, joyfully choosing to pour herself out for the benefit of one more child. 

What amazing love! Your sponsorship enables families just like theirs to provide lifelong and life-changing love for one another. Your sponsorship equips families, and family is the gift that keeps on giving! 

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Want to become a sponsor?  Connect with us by email via orphans@saddleback.com or call 949.609.8555 to become a sponsor today!

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This post orginally appeared on Pastors.com:

No matter where or how you serve God in ministry, he wants you to be an agent of mercy in the world. And the world is starved for mercy. Jesus said in Matthew 5, verse 7, “God blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” In other words, what you give out, you’re going to get back.

What is mercy? Usually we think of two things. We usually think of forgiving people who don’t deserve it. Or we think of helping people who can’t help themselves. Those are two definitions of mercy that we typically think of.

But mercy – which, by the way, is a part of God’s character – is so much more. There are at least seven facets of mercy. These are seven ways that you can transform your relationships and develop a ministry of mercy.

1. Be patient with people's quirks.

Be patient with people’s quirks. Their idiosyncrasies. Their peculiarities. Their mannerisms. Their odd behavior. Their irritating habits. You show mercy when you don’t get irritated, angry, or uptight with people’s personal quirks. And we’ve all got them.

Ephesians 4:2 gives us some of the best marriage and relationship advice we’ll ever receive. It says, “Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.” Two imperfect people cannot make a perfect marriage. You have faults, your spouse has faults and a great marriage is the union of two great forgivers.

The first place you need to learn to show mercy is at home. Why? Because you see each other’s faults far more than anybody else does. You’re up close and personal with those faults and you’ve got to live with them the rest of your life.

2. Help anyone hurting around me.

There are hurting people all around you but too often we’re too busy to notice it. If you care, you’ll be aware.

Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan to teach this very point about helping the hurting around us is the meaning of mercy. A man is going down the road to Jericho and he’s robbed left for dead at the side of the road. Three guys pass by him and two of them do nothing. The third guy of another ethnicity and culture, stops and helps him, nurses him back to health, puts him on his donkey, takes him to a motel, checks in and pays the bill for the guy and agrees to come back and pay any other expenses incurred during the man’s stay.

Jesus pointed out that our neighbor is the one who is hurting, regardless of how different they may be than us. You cannot love your neighbor as yourself without being merciful.

3. Give people a second chance.

The Bible says in Ephesians, chapter 4, “Don’t get bitter or angry or use harsh words that hurt each other. Don’t yell at one another or curse or ever be rude. Instead, be kind and merciful, and forgive others, just as God forgave you because of Christ.”

Notice in that verse the Bible contrasts mercy with six negative responses. If you want to be merciful, 1.) don’t get bitter, 2.) don’t get angry, 3.) don’t use harsh words, 4.) don’t yell, 5.) don’t curse, and 6.) don’t be rude.

The world’s response is often characterized by bitterness and harsh words. Just look at Facebook during a media controversy and you’ll see how merciless people typically are in the way they speak to each other.

We want Saddleback to be known, not for our size or great programs or great music – we want to be known as a church of mercy.

4. Do good to those who hurt you.

Mercy is giving people what they need, not what they deserve. That’s what God does with you… God gives you what you need not what you deserve. Hurt people hurtpeople. The people who you want to love the least are those who need it the most. The most hurtful people are those who need massive doses of love and mercy.

5. Be kind to those who offend you.

You have probably noticed that the verbal attacks on Christians are going up in our society. This is because we represent a barrier – we hold on to what God’s truth is. How should we respond? In kind? No, we are to be kind to those who are offensive.

One of the big problems we face today as church leaders is what people refer to as a culture war. But wars always come with tragic costs. We must decide whether we want to win the argument or win people to Christ. You don’t get across your point by being cross. You’ve got to be more interested in winning them to Christ than in winning an argument.

6. Build bridges of love to the unpopular.

There are people in your circle, people who live on your street that nobody wants to hang out with. People who you work with that everybody tells the joke behind their back. They may have those quirks. Or they may have a different lifestyle. Or they may have a different belief system or they may have a different religion or they may dress differently because of their culture. But they’re not in the in crowd. They’re not popular. They’re the outcasts.

Building a bridge of love to the unpopular is what I call premeditated mercy.

Why does God want us to build bridges of love to the unpopular and specifically to unbelievers? Because you cannot win your enemies to Christ. You can only win your friends.

If you begin to live a life of mercy you will be criticized. But Jesus wasn’t afraid of guilt by association for two reasons. He knew exactly who he was. And he knew his mission: to seek and to save that which is lost.

7. Value relationship over rules.

I want to dare you to do something very risky. I want to dare you to commit an act of premeditated mercy. Be patient with people’s quirks. Give people a second chance. Who is an unbeliever you can invite over for dinner in the next two weeks, just like Matthew did? And then invite them to church. This friends is your ministry of mercy.

If your church would like more information about starting or growing an Orphan Care Ministry, or if you would like to be a part of what Saddleback Orphan Care is doing for the Miracle of Mercy campaign, we are here to serve you! Email orphans@saddleback.com or call 949-609-8555.

We prepared our hearts to serve during Miracles of Mercy campaign by setting aside a full day of prayer and fasting on Saturday, March 12, in the Lakeside Library at our Rancho Capistrano campus. We enjoyed a time of prayer, worship music, vision-casting, and fellowship from 7:00 AM to 8:00 PM. ...
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Saddleback's Orphan Care Initiative believes that church and family is God's solution to the orphan crisis. Raising a child who has come from a hard place is much more likely to find success inside the support of a church community. Orphan Care is committed to equipping a team of volunteers with training and infrastructure to help meet the unique needs of each adoptive family. There are five key areas that we will seek to help support the family. Each family will be assigned to a family coach (case manager) to help connect them to resources both in and outside the church.

1. Healthy Family: Healthy connected relationships in the family is the best way to prevent and correct behavioral issues. Orphan Care will connect adoptive families to free counselling and curriculum-based support groups that teach the TBRI principles.

2. Healthy Finances: Economic sustainability is a critical need of every family to thrive. Orphan Care will connect adoptive families to Saddleback Church’s Financial Freedom ministry and PEACE Center to help the family achieve economic sustainability.

3. Healthy Education: Access to education is a key component the development every child to prepare them for life. Orphan Care will develop and equip parents with tools to help them advocate on behalf of their child in the classroom. Many teachers would benefit from learning the needs of adoptive children so that they can effectively address behavioral issues.

4. Healthy Household: The demands of raising an adoptive child can cause a family to let the house go. Orphan Care will call on the Men’s Ministry for minor repairs and household maintenance. Additionally for large projects we’ll conduct serve-days to help make sure the housing meets the needs of the family.

5. Healthy Community: Community is the fabric of every society. Orphan Care seeks to fully plug a family into fellowship with church family and adoptive community. Life was never meant to be lived alone–difficulties get cut in half and joys get doubled in the community of friends.

If you know a family who needs help in any of these areas or would like to help families in these areas simply call the orphan care line at 949-609-8555 or email orphans@saddleback.com to learn more.


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