Last week, I had the wonderful opportunity to attend the Christian Alliance for Orphans (CAFO) Summit for the first time. Hosted in Nashville, Tennessee, the two-day summit was jam-packed with worship sessions, workshops and hundreds of booths to check out. It was overwhelming at first with SO many people and SO much to do! I was stationed at AGCI’s booth where we were promoting our “Join the Party” birthday fundraiser for orphans.
I went to this conference imagining that I would help change the lives of at least a few attendees by opening their eyes to the orphan crisis and explaining how they could help. I never imagined that it would be the people that stopped by my booth that would change me. Their hearts and passion for helping the fatherless struck me in a way that I didn’t expect. Their dedication inspired me to realize that together we can make a world of difference for children living on the streets and in institutions all over the world.
There were a few people whose stories especially stuck with me. The first was Raquel. Raquel lives in Mexico and has fostered 7 boys. Some of them are now in college and some are still at home. She called them “my boys” and proudly told us what the older boys were studying in college, things like dentistry and engineering; majors that will help them transition into independent adults with steady jobs. You could see the love in Raquel’s eyes for these boys. When we expressed surprise that she had 7 boys in the home at once, she humbly said, “This is what I was called to do. It’s not always easy, but it’s my calling.” Wow, talk about a hero.
The next individual was Bob. Bob and his wife adopted their now 6-year-old son through AGCI about 2 years ago and he just loved telling us stories about his son. Bob told us all about how his son loves to lay between his parents in bed and give them big kisses. He told of the strong bond the family has developed and how secure his son is in their family. Working in inquiry, I’m rarely able to be in touch with post-adoptive families. I loved having the opportunity to hear how well families are doing and that they are still committed to orphan care work in their son’s native country.
Lastly, a group of 5 college girls stopped at our booth intrigued by the line on our banner “Join the Party! Give your birthday to an orphan.” As I explained how they could get involved by encouraging family and friends to give to orphan care in honor of their birthdays, their eyes lit up at the opportunity. Each was pursuing a different major, but all were related to helping children and each expressed a passion for orphan care. It was inspiring to see young women looking for ways to help children.
My two main takeaways from the conference were:
1.Together we can accomplish more.
2. Anyone can help. You don’t have to adopt to make a difference in the life of an orphan. Here are some things that anyone can do to help:
- Join our prayer team
- Sponsor an orphan
- Donate your birthday
- Raise awareness of the orphan crisis and help others understand what they can do to help
- Help a friend who is adopting by raising funds
There are so many needs in our world and so many causes that are important, but caring for orphans is something we are all called to do. Maybe you feel like you have nothing to offer—but you do! Maybe you don’t feel equipped–God will equip you! There is something everyone can do to help with the orphan crisis; all you have to do is be willing to help.
-Lindsay Mader, Inquiry & Communications Intern