USA (MNN) — Some estimates show there are roughly 153 million kids worldwide who have lost one or both parents. UNICEF defines them all as orphans.
To put that in perspective, there are more orphans in the globe than there are people in all of Russia.
Through the years, organization after organization has been established to help orphans, to put a damper on poverty, and to excel global education. With hundreds of governments and NGOs dedicated to helping the world's orphans, the problem should be decreasing, right?
That's hardly the case.
"The need of orphans worldwide is still growing, especially for adoptions even here in the U.S.," says Amy Norton with Orphan Outreach. "There are still way more children that need families than there are families for them."
It's an overwhelming problem to tackle, and it can be difficult to know where to start. But at the same time, Orphan Outreach and a number of other Christian organizations and churches know believers have to try.
"This is the call of the church. This is the requirement and the mandate of the church," notes Norton, referencing James 1:27. "We need to get more churches involved both domestically and internationally."
Orphan Outreach is one group in a sea of 2,000 people who will try to create that involvement next week. Pastors, families, churches, and ministries will gather May 3 and 4 for the Christian Alliance for Orphans eighth annual Summit (known simply as Summit VIII), this year at Saddleback Church in southern California.
The two-day gathering could make a significant impact on the church's response to the orphan crisis. Orphan Outreach will be there to help educate people on the needs orphans have around the world, connecting with families and churches who may want to even get involved with Orphan Outreach's ministry.
But more than that, the Summit will provide Orphan Outreach with opportunities to network with other ministries, so they can better work together and share resources to respond to the issue. Norton says previous years have even resulted in partnerships to deliver much-needed humanitarian aid to Orphan Outreach-affiliated orphanages. Friendships and partnerships have been built left and right.
Besides educating believers on the issue and making connections, the Summit also provides times for sojourners in orphan care to re-energize and relax in each other's company.
"It's a wonderful work that we do, but it's also very exhausting work that we do. The needs are endless, and they're growing," says Norton. "Part of [the Summit] is just nurturing and fellowshipping with each other."
By caring for those fighting for orphans worldwide, connecting various groups together, and educating the church at large, the Summit will undoubtedly be a catalyst for a Kingdom-sized impact on this issue. Pray for attendees to come with open hands. Pray that their hearts will be stirred next week to reach out to "the least of these."
There is still time to sign up for the Summit if you would like to go. Click here for more information.