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One Small Step for Your Church: Observe Orphan Sunday

Did you know that globally there are more than 150 million orphans?

On Sunday, Nov. 11, churches around the world will be asked to consider our calling to support, adopt or do whatever we can to encourage kids who are a part of the foster care or orphan care institutions around the world.

I want to tell you why I’m so passionate about this cause.

My story of connection to orphan care 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.

Kevin has a different job now. However, 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 like-minded churches, pastors, leaders – anyone really – who were engaged in orphan care. In my search, I encountered dead end after dead end.

While I found hundreds of more conservative churches and groups with elaborate conferences, ministries and networks solely focused on orphan, foster care and adoption, in my own tradition – the progressive Christian camp – there were few resources.

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 and foster care was a practice meant for Christian churches because it helped to save souls alone (without concern for the whole child!). Gasp.

And when I asked my progressive Christian friends why more congregations weren’t talking about orphan care, I got a lot of “I’m not sure” responses.

I knew I wanted to be a part of the change I longed to see in the world and to bring this message to the churches I knew and those I served.

So, this is what I want to tell you most of all today: The work of orphan care needs us. We can’t be silent anymore. There is so much unmet need.

Foster children, would-be adopted children and kids living in international orphanages need us to know their stories, connect with their stories and share our family life with them.

This is why I started Our Courageous Kids in 2015 – this foundation with the mission of helping more orphaned children be able to go to college, high school or share in other life-enrichment experiences.

Orphan care can be an overwhelming calling, I know – 150 million children feels like a huge number.

But, I believe one easy way to plant those seeds in your congregation would be to observe Orphan Sunday. We can all do something for one child.

Orphan Sunday is always on the second Sunday of November and 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.

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

We will mark the occasion at the church I lead, The Palisades Community Church in Washington, D.C., and invite your faith community to do the same.

The vulnerable children of our nation and around the world need more champions. We can be those people. I believe in what we can do together. I really do.

Editor’s note: A version of this article first appeared on the news page of Our Courageous Kids. It is used with permission.

Elizabeth Evans Hagan

Elizabeth Hagan is senior minister of The Palisades Community Church in Washington, D.C. Other hats she wears are as a preacher, author and executive director of Our Courageous Kids, a foundation dedicated to orphan care.