USA (MNN) — Unaccompanied minors in the United States. It’s child refugee problem and it’s a growing problem. According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the number of apprehended children who are attempting to cross the U.S. border without a parent is up 92% compared to last year. These children are from Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras.
President of Orphan Outreach Mike Douris, says, “They’re coming because of poverty, lack of hope, lack of opportunity. And if we can help Guatemalans or Hondurans take better care of [their] most vulnerable, then it helps the issue of them having to traverse very dangerous territory to get to the United States.”
Douris is one of the founding members of Christian Alliance for Orphans (CAFO). It’s a group of like-minded Christians formed to educate the church about the need to care for widows and orphans.
Douris says God cares for the orphan, as stated in more than 40 verses in the Old Testament, and more in the New Testament. “In almost every judgment against Israel, it’s mentioned that they didn’t care for the widow and the orphan. [God] calls Himself the Father of the fatherless. And that continues in the New Testament in James.”
Since the heart of God doesn’t change, churches need to take notice. “If you have a mission strategy out of your church, there should be intentional ministry to orphans if you’re where God’s heart is. That’s the heart of the ministry of CAFO: to alert the church to this and equip the church.”
Other CAFO movements have been started in Ukraine, Russia, South Korea, South Africa, Kenya, and now in Guatemala. Last year, CAFO started in Guatemala following an orphan summit which featured more than 250 pastors and leaders.
Much has happened in a year, says Douris. CAFO Guatemala is planning another orphan summit in August. “This year we’re planning on 500-750 pastors and Christian leaders to talk about the issues of orphan care. The day before the summit, the First Lady has agreed to host an influencers meeting.”
Out of that, Douris is hoping influential leaders there will catch the vision for orphan ministry and begin working with organizations who are doing the work well, like Orphan Outreach partners.
Douris says, “Some of the mega churches have caught our vision for this and really want to jump on board and say, ‘What can we do to push the message,” but also get involved with kids.'”
Is this part of the Great Commission mandate? Not according to Douris. “Really, you don’t care for orphans to do evangelism. You care for orphans because it’s God’s mandate. But because of who we are, we also share the Gospel, and many of those kids come to Christ.”
Orphan Outreach is an organization that can help your church establish an orphan ministry. It can include regular trips to care for orphans around the world or supporting children through sponsorship.