With 427,000 children in US foster care and 17.8 million worldwide who’ve lost both parents, thousands of churches will echo a united message across 80 nations on Orphan Sunday 2016. Spanning languages, cultures and time zones, on November 13 Christians worldwide will celebrate God’s special love for orphaned and vulnerable children – and what ordinary people can do to put that love into action.
Special events, prayers and activities on Orphan Sunday invite individuals to consider adoption, foster care, mentoring and/or support for orphaned children around the world.
The Impact of Growing Up Without a Family
In the United States, there are more than 425,000 children in the foster system today due to abuse and severe neglect. About one quarter have been permanently removed from their parents. To For these children, the wait for a family often exacerbates trauma the child suffered in their own home. Every year, more than 20,000 “age out” into adulthood without a permanent family.
Foster youth face immense difficulties. Children aging out of the system without the support of a family are far more vulnerable to traffickers, prostitution, homelessness and a host of other ills. A 2013 human trafficking raid by the FBI found that 60 percent of child victims came from foster care.
Globally, an estimated 17.8 million children have lost both parents, and countless others live in orphanages or on the streets due to abandonment or abuse. Like foster youth, these children face dramatically increased risks of human trafficking, hunger, disease and other ills. A study in Moldova found that girls who grow up in orphanages are ten times more likely to be victims of human trafficking than other young women.
Seeking to change these numbers, faith communities across a wide range of Christian denominations unite on Orphan Sunday to challenge churches to be an answer for these children. If every church in America adopted just one child from foster care, there would be more families waiting for children than children waiting for families. More information and statistics state by state can be found here.
For materials and event ideas specifically for children in foster care, visit www.standsunday.org.
Children praying for children
To encourage even more participation this year, churches will be encouraged to share the newly released children’s story Farmer Herman and the Flooding Barn during children’s services. Based on a true story, the book chronicles the impact that can be made when large numbers of people work together for a single cause. Proceeds from the book will help fund the National Foster Care Initiative. The book and an accompanying prayer guide for children and family devotional will be available beginning November 1, 2016.
Thousands of events worldwide
The national Orphan Sunday campaign, led by the Christian Alliance for Orphans (CAFO), has helped grow this vision. More than 800 local Orphan Sunday events took place nationwide in 2015. The campaign aims for more than 1,000 events, in 2016, across America on the second weekend of November. A list of Orphan Sunday events is available here: https://cafo.org/orphansunday/check-in/
“The size of the need can feel paralyzing. But Orphan Sunday reminds us of the single statistic that matters more than any other,” said Jedd Medefind, President of the Christian Alliance for Orphans. “Whether through adoption, fostering or mentoring, just one caring person or family can change the life of a child forever.”
The website www.orphansunday.org serves as a hub for the campaign, offering event ideas, downloadable materials and ways individuals can partner with orphan-serving organizations to hold local events. The first Orphan Sunday was held in a small church in Zambia, Africa, where the local pastor urged his church to share what little they had with local children who had been orphaned by AIDS. The church responded with immense generosity, and some even removed their own shoes as gifts for orphans. In 2009, American churches began following Zambia’s example. The idea of helping orphans quickly spread around the country and eventually the globe.
For more information on Orphan Sunday, visit www.orphansunday.org.
If you would like America World Adoption booklets to share on Orphan Sunday, please email your request to firstname.lastname@example.org.