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Deana, a member of one of this summer’s Orphan Care PEACE trips, shares her experience visiting a mother recently enrolled in the sponsorship program:

“It was such an honor to meet Josephine. She was the first home we saw when we went with the local church to visit families living on less than 68 cents a day. When we set out through fields and dirt roads to meet her, our contact had a difficult time finding her as she often struggled to pay her rent and was forced to move around a lot.

Josephine lost her husband in the genocide and has one biological child. Her circumstances have not stopped her from taking in four orphans from different families. I was so touched by her grateful heart despite the fact that her family often has days where no one gets to eat.

When we got to her home she was crying tears of joy that we were there to visit her. The living conditions in her mud brick home were SO tight we all had to shimmy past the corrugated tin door to crouch together on the dirt floor. It struck me that this family has no running water or electricity. Regardless of these conditions, Josephine was thankful to God and only focused on the good in her life. She never complained, but only expressed to us how blessed she is by her children. She was a proud mama bragging about how smart and polite her five children are. It was so touching to see her focus on the gifts God has given her rather than focus on what she doesn't have.

Now, thanks to the gifts of people like you, Josephine is a part of the orphan sponsorship program. She can feed her children, send them to school, and enroll them in medical insurance with fewer financial hardships.”



·      On World AIDS Day weekend, members from all the Saddleback campuses commemorated the 31 million people who have died from HIV&AIDS and the over 14 million children orphaned by AIDS in Africa.

·      During World AIDS Day weekend, Saddleback members also reaffirmed their commitment to the “Getting to Zero” goals, including the goal of zero children in Rwanda orphanages by 2014. Many stepped up to begin sponsoring a family!

This summer, the Orphan Care PEACE team did some heartbreaking home visits in Kigali, Rwanda. Their job was to identify potential orphans in need who were not yet on the sponsorship program. They witnessed first-hand widows and orphans in distress, families struggling each day for survival. Words cannot describe the conditions they live in, and the problems they face each day. It was on this trip that they met Odetta. 

Odetta’s husband was killed in the genocide 19 years ago. She then watched, horrified and heartbroken, as her daughter and son-in-law died of AIDS, leaving her two baby grandchildren parentless and alone. Odetta stepped in, becoming a mother to the infants so they would not be sent away to the orphanage. Remarkably, she has also taken in three other orphans from the community, raising all five children as her own.

The Orphan Care PEACE team visited Odetta’s home for the first time with members of her local church. As they were talking, her grandson would not stop crying. Nothing would calm him. Finally, one of Odetta’s older kids made some rice meal from a bag of staples the team had brought. The sweet little baby ate so fast – he couldn’t get enough! Odetta informed the team that her family was out of food and hadn’t eaten in a day. The team was shocked that their little meal was feeding this entire family for a day!

Friends, because of Saddleback sponsors like you, the Orphan Care PEACE team was able to get Odetta connected to our sponsorship program. The sponsorship funds she receives through her local church allow her to provide her family with enough food to survive from day to day, and her little boy no longer cries from hunger. She thanks God that she has also been able to enroll all her children in medical insurance and pay for their school fees.

Your $38 makes a difference EVERY month in the lives of orphans in Rwanda. Even though we can’t link you directly to a child, we hope you feel connected to families like Odetta’s who need your help.




·       The Rwanda PEACE office has a full time person on staff to coordinate Orphan Care efforts across the country.

·       Pastors from one of the largest churches in Rwanda came to Saddleback this month for training in Purpose Driven, PEACE and Orphan Care. They are returning home excited to begin implementing Orphan Care in their church.

·       Saddleback families from all the Saddleback campuses united on Orphan Sunday to learn about God’s heart for the orphan.



O God, when I have food, help me to remember the hungry children;

When I am with my family, help me to remember the orphans;

When I have a home, help me to remember the children who have no home at all;

When I am without pain, help me to remember those who suffer,

And remembering, help me to destroy my complacency;

bestir my compassion, and be concerned enough to help;

By word and deed, those who cry out for what we take for granted.?Amen.

Years ago, a 13 year old boy in Rwanda named Emmanuel suffered the loss of both his parents. Left without an adult caretaker, he then watched as his infant siblings - just two and three years old - were taken away and placed into an orphanage.

Today, Emmanuel has grown into a young man living in a rural section of Kigali with his wife and their three-year-old son. A loving couple of little means, when they heard that the Rwandan government is working to empty all the orphanages, they agreed to adopt their very own long-lost younger siblings and bring them home. After a history filled with so much loss, these siblings now live together once again as a family! No longer on their own, once lonely children are now secure in the care of a family that loves them. Their story is like that of hundreds of other children in orphanages in Rwanda for whom there is a loving relative available but unable to care for them without help.                              

With the financial support of Saddleback sponsors, this couple has been able to reunite with children who would have spent their entire childhood in an orphanage, perhaps never knowing they had family in the community. This is just one example of the amazing transformation that is taking place across the country as a result of the partnership between the Rwandan government, local churches and the generous support of Saddleback families like you who have given to the Rwanda Sponsorship Program.

Children are still waiting to leave the isolation of an orphanage to be reunified with family. Returning to family has proven to rescue children and reverse the damaging effects of the orphanage. Studies have also shown that family care is 6 to 10 times more cost-effective than institutional care.1 Your gift makes a difference.

Williamson, J. & Greenberg, A. (2010). Families, Not Orphanages.Better Care Network.




  • The Orphan Care team joined Pastor Rick Warren in Rwanda at a large stadium event and in churches across the five districts of Rwanda. 2,000 members received the message “Every child deserves a family.” The message was proudly displayed on wristbands all over the country.
  • Two Orphan Care PEACE teams served in summer – working to train churches and families in how to bring children home. Teams also visited families who have brought home children from the orphanages. if you are interested in going on an Orphan Care PEACE trip to see sponsorship in action!
  • The PEACE Plan has been meeting with the Rwandan government, and the government is grateful to have the churches on board as a resource for families that have adopted or reunited.
  • Within the local churches, members are increasingly excited about the mission of getting children into families, and pastors are preaching to their members about the call to adopt.


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