6 Things to Celebrate on Orphan Sunday

Orphan—it’s a word with a decidedly sad connotation. The United Nations Children’s Fund and its global partners define an orphan as a child under 18 years of age who has lost 1 or both parents to any cause of death. Nearly 140 million children around the world meet that definition. So what is there to celebrate on Orphan Sunday, November 12? Plenty.

1. Celebrate adoptive families in your church and community. Enlist 1 or 2 adoptive parents to share their story of how God used adoption to grow their family and their faith. Ask them to speak during a morning worship service or another churchwide event for this special emphasis, or record their stories and show the video during the service or post it, along with prayer requests, on the church’s Facebook page or website. Pray for these families as they seek to train up their children. Pray for those going through the adoption process as they wait to bring their children home. Ask about other ways your church can support these adoptive families financially, emotionally, physically, and spiritually.

2. Celebrate foster parents in your church and community and the role they play in helping hurting children heal and providing stable, loving homes. Pray for them to follow Christ’s example and recognize opportunities to demonstrate Christ’s love. And pray for the children they foster to come to know Christ. Seek out a former foster child willing to tell the congregation about his or her experience in foster care. Encourage church members to consider going through the training necessary to become respite care providers, filling in for foster parents when they need a break or when emergencies arise and a child in their care requires a temporary placement.

3. Celebrate mentors who reach out to fatherless or motherless children (functional orphans). Pray for these mentors as they instill life lessons and build relationships that could impact future generations. Ask a mentor from your church or community to share best practices for connecting with these types of orphans and ministering in this situation. Challenge adults and even students in your congregation to pursue a relationship with a functional orphan and care for that child and his or her family intentionally, consistently, and passionately.

4. Celebrate the work of your state Baptist children’s home. Share what it does to serve children and families and how your church can get involved through praying, giving, and serving. Consider creating a bulletin board featuring the children’s home and the opportunities to make an impact or inviting a speaker to be part of an event.

5. Celebrate what God has done through Mully Children’s Family (MCF) and join the Mully movement. MCF was born out of Charles Mully’s life-changing decision to give up his multimillion-dollar businesses to rescue more than 12,000 orphans from the streets of Kenya with his family. Thank God for this family’s commitment to orphan care, and pray for His sustaining grace.

Support MCF by purchasing the Yatta Purse and the Yatta Necklace, made by artisans freed from sex trafficking and employed by MCF’s Yatta Vocational Training Centre; the book Orphanology from New Hope Publishers; a Support Freedom catalog from WorldCrafts; a prayer guide. Set up a display in a high-traffic area of your church with the purse, necklace, and catalog. Encourage church members to look through the catalog and consider making a purchase to support MCF or another ministry devoted to freeing women trapped in sex trafficking. Share Orphanology’s real-world ideas and illustrations for engaging in orphan ministry with the congregation and determine what ideas you could put into practice as a church, in small groups, or as individuals. Find creative ways to share the prayer starters from the prayer guide on Orphan Sunday and throughout the year, keeping the importance of orphan care before your congregation.

The Mully movement is just beginning, so stay tuned for exciting announcements about how to get more involved.

6. Celebrate, enjoy, and love all the children in your church and community. Pray for the children to come to know Jesus as Lord and Savior and the plans God has for each one of them. Teach them to obey all that God has commanded, including how to care for widows and orphans (in keeping with James 1:27).

As you can see, there is much to celebrate when it comes to orphan ministry but also much to do. Find more ideas for ministering to widows and orphans in this blog for small groups by Orphanology coauthor Rick Morton.

Raise awareness in your church with a free, downloadable bulletin insert for Orphan Sunday on the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission’s website.

Kathleen Penton is an assistant editor with national WMU.

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