This past week you may have seen an email or Facebook post about Orphan Sunday, which is coming up on Sunday, November 12th. Orphan Sunday was originally inspired by the efforts of a church in Zambia. An American pastor was visiting the church, and sat in awe as people who were struggling themselves all answered their pastor’s passionate call to care for the orphans in their community by bringing forward food and money. Some members of the congregation even gave the shoes off their feet. Orphan Sunday then became a movement throughout churches in Zambia, and was brought to the U.S. by Every Orphan’s Hope (a trademark of the Christian Alliance for Orphans).
CAFO (Christian Alliance for Orphans) wants Orphan Sunday to be a local effort, led by individual churches. They hope to see each church discover the best way for their congregation to get involved with addressing the needs of children in foster care and orphanages both here in the U.S. and abroad. Orphan Sunday events vary, for example, events in previous years included special messages on God’s heart for the orphan, prayer gatherings, fasts and simple meals, student-led fundraisers, foster family recruiting and live concerts.
A story found on the testimonials page of the Orphan Sunday website details how one church was transformed by its participation in Orphan Sunday.
“Clay and Tami joined Emmaus Church in Redlands, CA along with their two daughters adopted from foster care. Tami approached her pastor about doing an Orphan Sunday event and he was very supportive of the idea. The last few years Orphan Sunday at Emmaus Church has involved a message about “God’s Heart for the Orphan” and a panel of adoptive and foster parents. Emmaus Church encourages everyone to participate. Clay relayed a story of a young single man who doesn’t feel he’s in a place to adopt but knows he has a part to play in supporting families who do.
Orphan Sunday at Emmaus is one of the largest attendance Sundays of the year. It has grown the church as well, from 2 adopted children in Clay and Tami’s family to over 20 children who have been placed in families from U.S. foster care and international adoption. They even joke that there was a couple who didn’t come on Orphan Sunday because they knew if they did, they’d be signing adoption papers. Turns out they didn’t attend but months later adoption papers were signed!
What’s encouraging about Emmaus Church is the ethos of “everyone has a part to play.” Not everyone is called to adopt and there are numerous ways to support Christian orphan care, from respite care to preparing meals, and mentoring a child in foster care to financially supporting an orphan care ministry or organization.”
Agape Villages Foster Family Agency would love to partner with any church or other faith-based community that would like to do an Orphan Sunday with their congregation. We can have someone come and speak about foster care in your church’s community, the need for foster families, and ways to get involved. If you belong to a church or other faith community, and would like to participate in Orphan Sunday, please contact Katy Partan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Orphan Sunday engages God’s people to put our FAITH into ACTION…as we unite to advocate for the most vulnerable.”
– ANDY LEHMAN, Vice President, Lifesong for Orphans
CAFO has put together a lot of great materials that offer ideas and ways to get involved. Click HERE to view their resources and suggestions for involvement in the foster care system.