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  • Voices: You Are Needed: Orphan Care, by Elizabeth Hagan

    by Elizabeth Hagan

    Elizabeth Hagan.jpeg

    Alliance friends, we are known for our justice work. In the area of immigration reform, Israel/ Palestine and Cuba relations and so on, we shine!

    But like our fellow progressive friends, when it comes to orphan care, foster care and adoption, I’ve noticed we don’t talk as much about this. Though current stats tell us this story of a great area of need.

    • Globally there are an estimated 150 million orphans
    • In the US over 400,000 children are in foster care with over 100,000 actively waiting for adoption
    • 70% of children trafficked in the US are foster youth

    My story of connection to this type of work began in 2012 when my husband, Kevin became President of Feed the Children. Over the course of three years, my life within this organization became immersed in the stories of children caught in cycles of poverty and abuse. Though Kevin has a different job now, the children we met, the need we saw and the bonds we forged with kids living in orphanages remained a big part of our lives. I wanted to keep doing more.

    I’m a communal person so of course my next step was to try to find other likeminded churches, pastors, leaders, anyone really from the progressive world that were engaged in orphan care. In my search, I encountered dead end after dead end. Though I recently learned that two Alliance affiliated groups Journey Partners and Shalom Children's Center in Ghana are connected to orphan care.

    But, in contrast, I found hundreds of more conservative churches and groups with elaborate conferences, ministries and networks solely focused on orphan, foster care and adoption.

    When I investigated all of this evangelical interest in orphan care, I found some of it stemmed from a true humanitarian desire to be good neighbors, to love as Jesus asked them to do—but some said adoption/ foster was a practice meant for Christian church because it helped to save souls. Gasp.

    So this is what I want to most tell you today: the work of orphan care needs us.

    Foster children.

    Would be adopted children.

    Kids living in international orphanages need us to know their stories, connect with their stories and share our family life with them.

    Such can be an overwhelming calling, I know. But, I believe one easy way to plant the seeds of such in your congregation would be to observe Orphan Sunday this year on November 13. Orphan Sunday is a national emphasis sponsored by the Christian Alliance of Orphans geared toward helping churches remember the calling of James 1:27 which says, “Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress.”

    If you observe it, it’s a great day to share statistics about the need for foster parents in your community. It’s a great day to have folks who have adopted domestically or internationally share stories about this faith journey in their lives. It’s a great day to speak to God’s heart for the vulnerable children in the children’s time or in the sermon.

    On November 13, I’ll be preaching at Alliance congregational partner, Broadneck Baptist Church in Annapolis, Md. The children will be helping to lead worship and the congregation will take up a special offering to support an orphanage in Zimbabwe, Journey Partners, an Alliance ministry partner. I believe other Alliance congregations might be interested to do the same.

    If you would like more information about planning your own Orphan Sunday, you can read more here or feel free to contact me.

    The vulnerable children of our nation and around the world need more champions. We can be those people!

    Elizabeth Hagan is the founder of an orphan care foundation called Our Courageous Kids which provides grants for educational opportunities and scholarships for children living in international orphanages. And she’s an author of an upcoming memoir called Birthed: Finding Grace Through Infertility available on December 6 through Chalice Press.