Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Re: 4th annual Christian Alliance for Orphans Summit

I had the great opportunity to go with my dear friend Aimee to Ft. Lauderdale last weekend for this awesome event. I am still trying to process all that I heard and learned. I want to take a few minutes to recap the highlights.
The Summit started 4 years ago with 38 leaders in Adoption/Orphan Care ministries. It has doubled each year and this year there were around 600 participants. About 200 were laypeople like Aimee and I that either lead adoption/orphan care ministries at their church or are looking to start one (that would be us!). The Alliance was formed in November of 2007 and it's goal is to "motivate and unify the body of Christ to live out God's mandate to care for the orphan". The Alliance includes Focus on the Family and Family Life Ministries and many other organizations focused on adoption and orphan care. You can check out their website here.
Our first keynote speaker was Dennis Rainey - President of FamilyLife
He spoke of the orphan crisis as a GIANT! And the church as being the PIVOTAL institution to handle the crisis. He gave us a CALL TO ACTION - to not be gluttons of God's Word, by filling up on it, without living it out! He challenged us not to be sold out to a lesser loyalty (comfort, materialism, etc)
The second speaker was Kay Warren - Director of the HIV/AIDS initiative at Saddleback Church and wife of Rick Warren.
I have just recently read her book Dangerous Surrender, so seeing her speak was one of my major highlights! She shared that in all of her international travels she has found that a mother's greatest plea is: "WHO WILL TAKE CARE OF MY CHILDREN WHEN I DIE?" Although I have yet to look death in the face, this resonantes in my heart as I have often thought how devastating it would be for my children to lose me. I feel almost funny to even say that, but in these younger years, their world's revolve around me being there 24/7. Kay asked us what keeps us from moving on behalf of these mother's of the world who will and are leaving behind their children. She says that it will take becoming "seriously disturbed", by all that we learn and see, then making a "dangerous surrender" to God and the work He has called us to. And then we will become "gloriouly ruined" - meaning that normal life will never satisfy in the ways that it previouly did! She was a wonderful storyteller and she was transparent and inspiring! I really admire her, as I believe the work that the Lord has done in her life has affected the evangelical church as a whole to "wake up" to the social justice issues that the church has been all but ignoring (I am generalizing here).
The other keynote speaker that I was IMPACTED by was Bob Coy. He is the Pastor of Calvary Church Ft. Lauderdale which was the host church. He shared about how 10 years ago there was a crisis in the foster system of South Florida. There were many headlines about foster kids sleeping in office buildings, and there were also reports of sexual abuse and children missing from foster homes. ONE women from his church was "seriouly disturbed" about the situation and came to him about it. I loved his honestly in that he did not respond to her initially in fact he said that she "wearied him" about the issue. So as a church they started to get involved, by coming alongside foster parents with babysitting, donating supplies such as cribs, diapers, etc. This led to the pastor challenging the congregation to consider becoming foster parents, which lead to training classes, etc. After a time they bought some local houses and renovated them to become foster homes with houseparents. Ten years later they are 4Kids of South Florida and they have significantly impacted the foster care system. Check out their website - watch a few of their videos and you will be AMAZED! At this session they also had 2 young ladies (now in their early 20's) share about how their lives were transformed by loving foster parents and this program! Both came into the system as teens - I was so challenged as I would tend to think at that point it was too late to really make a difference in that child's life. They both said that even though there were 16 years old they still longed for a family.
I really think God had a great purpose in having the conference at this church and exposing so many of us to the plight of the "modern-day orphan" right here in our own backyards.
It was so encouraging to be with a large group of people with a passion for orphans - so many have worked tirelessly for so long on their behalf. It is exciting to see this FRESH NEW WORK that God is doing. Local churches all over the country are starting adoption/orphan care ministries and GOD IS ON THE MOVE!
Our flight home was quite bumpy as we were flying over a cold front most of the way back. I was able to have some time talking with God as we were flying through the clouds. I had one of those moments where I really felt He was affirming this new passion in my life and letting me know that He would lead my steps and equip me to be a voice for the orphan. As we came down through the clouds, I saw my city all lit up and it took my breath away. God gave me a deep love for the children of this city and an excitement of a new beginning of a new chapter in my life and service for Him!


kenzsethia said...

Haven't read anything yet! Just checking ya out!


Lauren said...

Thanks so much for sharing. I am so excited about what the Lord has planned for our adoption ministry. Reading about the foster care ministry gave me goose bumps. Thanks again.