Christians worldwide are uniting today for Orphan Sunday, where congregations will not only learn about the plight of orphaned children, but also discover ways in which they can help in their own communities and globally.
The first Orphan Sunday was held at a church in Zambia 11 years ago and expanded to events in two countries in 2009. A documentary about the first event titled, “Zambia’s Gift to the World,” can be seen here.
“This year, churches in 92 countries will participate — celebrating God’s special love for vulnerable children, and how ordinary people can reflect that love in action,” Jedd Medefind, president of Christian Alliance for Orphans, told The Christian Post on Friday. “It’s beautiful to see how God has taken a simple idea born in a small church in Zambia and used it to grow, love and care for orphans and foster youth among Christians all over the world.”
The number of children orphaned worldwide is 140 million, according to estimates from Christian Alliance for Orphans. Those who are “double orphans,” meaning children who’ve lost both parents, is estimated to be 15.1 million. Children who are living either on the streets or in residential care is between 2 million and 8 million.
“As we often express, not everyone is called to foster or adopt,” Medefind said, “but everyone can play a part in living the ‘pure religion’ that the book of James says includes caring for orphans and widows. That could range from serving as a court appointed special advocate or a mentor for a child in the foster system, to bringing meals or running errands for an adoptive or foster family, to supporting a struggling biological family in their efforts to reunify.
“The need is indeed great, but there’s one statistic that matters more than any other — it takes just one caring relationship to change a life forever.”
The Orphan Sunday campaign, which is led by the Christian Alliance for Orphans, has more than 180 participating organizations, including: Family Life, Bethany Christian Services, Show Hope, Focus on the Family, Buckner International and Compassion International.
“All of this isn’t just a cause, driven by duty or guilt or even idealism,” Medefind stressed. “It’s a response to the love and care of the God who welcomed us into His family at immense cost to Himself. Simply put, we love because He first loved us.”
This year’s theme for Orphan Sunday is “God sets the lonely in families,” from Psalm 68:6.
Sebilu Bodja, the director of Africa Operations for Bethany Christian Services, noted that while churchgoers were aware that vulnerable children were living among them, many didn’t know how to allocate their resources and organize a response to support them. Now, they have plans in place to support orphans and struggling families.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Melissa Barnhart