Orphan Sunday brings awareness and hope

By November 4, 2011

International (MNN) — The
latest estimates are that there are roughly 163 million orphans around the
world.

These are the most vulnerable
members of the population who have experienced poverty, tragedy, hunger, abuse,
lack of schooling, and hopelessness. 

November 6 is Orphan Sunday, a
day set aside to focus not only on the plight of the orphan, but also on the solutions. Bright Hope International President,
Craig Dyer says being aware raises the level of compassion.  "Our heart goes out to the innocent child
who is struggling, the sense of wanting a child to feel a sense of belonging to
a family. Even the spiritual context of us being adopted into the family of God
has connotations of belonging."

Bright Hope currently serves over 2,000
orphans and vulnerable children in the poorest regions of the world in Haiti,
Kenya, Uganda, and Zambia, and the ministry is asking churches, groups, and individuals to
get involved in Orphan Day  "God instituted the family, and we want to go after what is proven to be successful ways to raise these children in
homes that sets them up for success in life and brings them a part of the family."

Caring for orphans and vulnerable children
is one of the top priorities Bright Hope shares with its indigenous church partners. It was the idea of community that led to a new model of outreach. Dyer explains, "Bright Hope has
been exploring these, particularly through helping poor families to care for
orphans, to adopt and to bring orphans in, and to raise them up, particularly
through the use of microloans."

Changing the way ministries care for children without
families can represent a paradigm shift in thinking.  Is it effective? Dyer thinks so. "We've seen an
incredible shift in some of the villages in Africa and Haiti, (in) other parts
of the world where we're just starting this; orphans that are coming into these
homes are accepted are loved, and are seeing improvements in their education, improvements
in their health. "

Dyer believes that Orphan Sunday is a call to action. "Can
I pray for orphans of different countries? Can I support an orphan? Can I support
a project caring for orphans? Is it giving resources  is it giving time? Is it going an even greater
distance and being open to adopting?"

Whether a church, group, or an
individual, there are ways that believers can serve, support, and make a spiritual
impact on these children. Dyer
encourages those who are considering a response to go beyond what is
comfortable. "Let's not
settle for second best, but let's give these orphans our best shot at caring
for them and raising them up in Christian homes."

Bright Hope has some
suggestions:

  • –   Make a
    Donation: You can donate online at BrightHope.org to support Bright Hope's work serving
    orphans in Haiti and Africa.
  • –   Run a
    Hope Pack Campaign: Hope Packs are hand-decorated boxes full of school
    and hygienic supplies plus a Bible in the child's native language. We distribute
    these through our local indigenous partners. Filling and decorating Hope
    Packs is a fun and meaningful activity that has a direct impact on a
    child. It costs $30 to sponsor a box; Bright Hope will fill the boxes for
    you. The cost to fill a box with your own supplies is $15 per box.
    Supplies include: pens, pencils, erasers, pencil sharpeners, memo
    notebook, crayons, soap, tissues, toothbrush, toothpaste, Band-Aids, T-shirt,
    and a small toy.
  • –   Orphan
    Day Offering: Dedicate an offering, or have a special collection towards
    serving the needs of orphans.
  • –   Sponsor
    a Feeding Program: As a long-term partnership, your church or group can
    adopt one of our numerous feeding programs that serve orphans in some of the
    poorest regions in the world.
  • –   Engage
    Friends and Family: November 6 is Orphan Sunday, but Bright Hope is using
    the whole month to serve as Orphan Awareness Month. Join us using
    Facebook and Twitter to share information about orphans around the world.
    Follow us on Bright Hope's Facebook and Twitter.
  • –   Take
    Immediate Action: Text BHOPE to 85944 to instantly give $10 towards
    helping these children.

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