“God sets the lonely in families…” Psalm 68:6a NIV
The newest addition to Patricia’s family weighed little more than 2lbs when she arrived. A stroke of luck had led security guards to a tiny baby girl abandoned in a bush near Patricia’s home, alone, underweight and still attached to her umbilical cord. At one month old, the hope of survival for this little one looked bleak. Families in the neighborhood were hesitant and unwilling to take the baby in, anxious about the degree of care she would need and nervous she wouldn’t survive.
Patricia, however, was moved with tender compassion for this child. Already a mom of 4, Patricia has a heart for children and had heard about God’s heart for the orphan, so she volunteered to take in the baby. With no guarantee of how long she would get to mother this fragile child, Patricia stepped out in faith choosing to meet this orphan’s needs in any way she could, starting with her need for family. By God’s mercy, the nearest hospital assessed Patricia’s little one and proclaimed she was in good health! And the story doesn’t end there…
Rescued from certain death, this little girl Francine is now a beloved and permanent member of Patricia’s family! After four months of fostering, the Rwandan government offered Patricia the opportunity to finalize her adoption and legally make Francine a forever daughter in Patricia’s family.
"I love children. It's a blessing to have children. I have hope for her future. I know she is mine" -Patricia
The story of Patricia’s daughter Francine is one filled with hope. This mother has physically modeled for her daughter, her friends, and her community what God has done for every believer spiritually: Rescued us from death and given us life as beloved and legally adopted daughters and sons of God’s own family! Now one of 5 siblings, Patricia’s daughter will grow up healthy and strong and connected to a physical family with the opportunity to have a relationship her loving heavenly Father as well.
Rwanda Orphan Care Sponsors serve not only families, but churches too. Your Sponsorship allows Patricia’s local church to come alongside her in this endeavor. Your faithful giving empowers Patricia to meet her newest daughter’s need for a family as she continues to meet the array of emotional, relational, medical, and financial needs of her family as a whole. When families come around an orphan in their most critical moment, your sponsorship is a critical way in which the local church can come around their family.
“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
Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy. Psalm 126:5
An important part of Getting to Zero is helping vulnerable children remain in their families. One such group are the children of commercial sex workers – mothers who will often leave their children alone at night to work the streets.
This month we are celebrating that 44 women in Busanza, Rwanda recently graduated from a program in their church that trained them in income generating tools to help them move out of commercial sex work and into sustainable livelihoods. Orphan Care teams from Saddleback had spoken into the lives of these women during their training, sharing with them the value of their children and their children’s need for attention and care from their mothers. When a team returned again a few months ago, they were given a glimpse into the truly transformative power of that message.
Josephine, a young mother of two, stood to share her testimony. Her life had been marked by extreme loss and pain. Desperate to survive, Josephine entered into commercial sex work as ameans to provide for her and her children. Feeling trapped and hopeless, she could not see how she could care for and love her children. She had already formulated in her mind the plan for where to abandon her children when she walked in to hear the Orphan Care team share their message of hope that day. God opened her eyes to the important role she had to play as a mama to her two little ones.
Through the support of her church, Josephine was ready to become an attentive mother to her children. Josephine’s eyes were opened and her heart towards her children changed when she learned the principles of Trust-Based Relational Intervention, or TBRI®, at her church. Within a community of other women with similar life experiences, Josephine was equipped with knowledge on how to foster connection that builds attachment with her children, disarm fear, and give voice. These practical interventions infused Josephine’s parenting with hope that she could be the loving and supportive mother her children need, and the community at Mama Joy’s encouraged her to persevere through the challenges this paradigm shift would bring.
Coupled with their newfound parenting skills through TBRI® education, the women at Mama Joy’s church also learned income-generating modalities that would enable them to have a trade that could support their families. The women were taught how to use sewing machine to make beautiful clothing, purses, and other goods and also learned how to handcraft jewelry. These life skills offer the women holistic interventions to generate wealth outside of commercial sex work. The women are also equipped with knowledge on wealth stewardship through savings groups, allowing them to learn how to manage their income, invest, and grow their wealth, helping build a solid foundation for future financial stability and success.
The support of their local church and Mama Joy has equipped 44 women just like Josephine to learn practical life skills to provide for their families, leave commercial sex work, and be caring, present mothers to their children. We praise God for how He’s re-writing their stories, taking them from pain and desperation, to joy!
If you would like to become a Rwanda sponsor, connect with us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or learn more about giving now at
The Karongi District of Western Rwanda is where the Orphan Care Initiative began the charge with local churches to get children out of orphanages and into loving, lasting families 3 years ago. In a country that did not have a word for “adoption” when deinstitutionalization began, so many families have stepped up to open their hearts and homes to children that there was no longer any need for the orphanages in their region. All three of the region’s orphanages, which were once home to hundreds of children, are now emptied – the abandoned dormitories now testaments to God’s amazing work in Rwanda through his church and the generosity of sponsorship donors like you!
The success is so profound that the Rwandan government has now asked the Orphan Care Initiative to play a larger leading role in 3 other regions of the country. This year, PEACE teams were mobilized to vision cast God’s heart for the orphan to local churches in these new areas, providing them with the training they need to reunite families and raise up families for adoption. The churches of Karongi are now a shining example to the rest of the nation, teaching their brothers and sisters what it looks like to offer radical love through adoption.
Orphan Care PEACE Teams Deliver the Very Best in Evidence-Based Adoptive Parent Training
Life in an orphanage leaves a legacy of trauma in the life of a child – emotional pain and learned behaviors that can only be healed in the arms of a permanent family. The adoptive families in Rwandan local churches are trained in the best practices of parenting children coming out of trauma – a set of unique transformative tools called Trust Based Relational Interventions (TBRI®), developed and tested at Texas Christian University’s Institute of Child Development.
Through a train the trainer model, local churches are equipped to not only empower families, but also empower skilled lay social workers to come alongside families as they bring home a child from the orphanage. This year, 79 members on 9 PEACE trips delivered this training in Rwanda.
The Orphan Care Initiative’s work in this field was recently recognized as Initiative founder Elizabeth Styffe was awarded the TCU Green Honors Chair for 2017.
Check out this video to watch how churches are putting TBRI into practice in Rwanda:
Thank you to those of you who gave so generously to Rwanda Sponsorship in 2016. To set up monthly giving for the new year, visit saddleback.com/sponsorship. Let’s help another region get to zero in 2017!
Losing one parent is one too many. For Josiah, losing his mom to HIV/AIDS in 2014 almost prevented him from remaining in his family. Josiah was only 3 years old. He and his 3 brothers and sister were living with their sickly father named Emmanuel. A carpenter by profession, Emmanuel did casual construction jobs to get by. However, after losing his wife, Emmanuel’s health began to decline and his body weakened. He was unable to provide for his family. Emmanuel’s mother and oldest daughter took on the responsibility of caring for the young family- three of whom were still in elementary school.
This sad reality has provided a powerful opportunity for the local church to bring hope and support. Emmanuel attends a local Anglican church in their community where his late wife also attended. The church reached out to little Josiah, his Dad Emmanuel and the rest of the family. The church explained that while he was recovering from ill health, the church could help. They could see that the family was vulnerable not only to disease, but to being separated out of desperation and poverty. An orphanage would have been one fo the few options if Josiah’s family did not have the support of the local church.
Through Rwanda Sponsorship, the local church has wholistically come alongside Josiah’s family. They are being supported by their church community and are frequently visited by the members in their church family. Through God’s mercy, Emmanuel is now recovering and his family has remained together - largely in response to the relationship they’ve developed with their local church.
The Church is the hope of the world and the hope for every orphan and vulnerable child. Ending the orphan crisis is not just about getting children out of orphanages – it’s also about helping keep children out of orphanages in the first place by helping vulnerable children remain in families. By giving through the local church, sponsorship enables the entire church to come alongside families like Josiah’s, serving them in every facet of life. Because of Sponsorship, care and support reached these siblings before they became orphans, and the family is able to grow together!
God is at work in Rwanda - mobilizing ordinary church members to care for the orphan in radical ways! At the close of a God’s Heart for the Orphan vision seminar in Eastern Rwanda, an Orphan Care PEACE team asked the pastors attending to name 1 or 2 volunteers they could send the following day from their churches to receive the lay social worker training. As the team wrote in their journal that evening they noted:
“We asked the pastors to think of 1 or 2 people to send to our training tomorrow and we got 50 names! 1 could show up or all 50. We aren't sure but we are praying for all of them to come!”
The next day, 50 ordinary Rwandan believers came from various churches to receive the training! It was incredible that 50 individuals from different churches would drop their daily work to come receive training on how to support adoptive families in their communities. This answered prayer only illuminates the bigger miracle God has been stirring across Rwanda. Orphans are being taken into families with immediacy, churches are being mobilized to support families, and local church members are the ministers!
If you would like to be part of a miracle by sponsoring a Rwandan family to help them adopt, visit Saddleback.com/Sponsorship, or email email@example.com for more information.
Families end the orphan crisis.
“God places the lonely in families...” Psalm 68:6 NLT
“Focus on the child and the family – not just the child – help with the whole family physically and spiritually” -Rwandan Lay Social Workers