International (MNN) — Over 143 million orphans worldwide long for the love of a real family.
According to the United Nations, there are 80 million orphans in Africa alone, a number that is only rising. Even in the United States, 122,000 foster children are legally eligible for adoption, waiting for a family to love them enough to adopt them.
When surveyed, over 50 percent of people said that if they were looking to adopt, they would go to their church for information. Unfortunately, most churches don't know where to direct people when asked. This Sunday, their questions may finally be answered.
November 8 is Orphan Sunday. Orphan Sunday is a day set aside for churches to recognize the needs of orphans internationally, to begin thinking of ways to implement adoption information into their congregation, and to learn more about adoption.
It's a day "to get as many churches and pastors as possible to really focus on the need that's out there, educate our congregations, and then of course give them some action steps to be able to move forward in the future," says Johnny Carr, National Director of Church Partnerships for Bethany Christian Services. Carr helps churches to establish orphan care and adoption ministries to educate and engage the church in adoption and orphan awareness year round.
On Orphan Sunday, Bethany will hold informative meetings about adoption and orphans at various churches. Bethany is the largest adoption service in the country and believes that adoption is really the best way to help orphans.
"God has called us to care for orphans," says Carr. "And we know that one specific way we can care for orphans is through adoption."
Christian adoption in particular not only provides orphaned children with a home, but it also allows children the opportunity to hear the Gospel who may never have heard it otherwise. It's a way to multiply the Kingdom in a way that, Carr reminds us, God clearly declared as "good" in His Word.
"We need to be there to bring [orphans] in our families, no matter what color they are, no matter what kind of challenges they may have," notes Carr. "As the Church, that's a missional way of stepping forward when we look at this picture of adoption."
But the adoption process has never been classified as easy. Many people get overwhelmed when searching through the internet to find the right fit. Part of the purpose of Orphan Sunday is to eliminate some of the trouble in searching through all this and match families to orphans, either domestically, internationally or through foster care.
Plenty of resources go along with Orphan Sunday to learn more about adoption. Visit www.orphansunday.org and learn more about orphans around the world and how to best find an organization through which to adopt. If your church is recognizing Orphan Sunday on November 8, look for more information there.
To work specifically with Bethany in the adoption process, visit www.bethanychampions.org. If your church is not recognizing Orphan Sunday (or even if it is), feel free to check out the Bethany Web site on November 4 to watch video streaming of a few events, including a concert by Steven Curtis Chapman.
Above all, pray for God's guidance in the adoption process and for those who may begin it this Sunday. Pray for willing, able and godly families to provide homes for the millions of helpless orphans around the globe waiting for both a family and a Savior.