Monday, May 13, 2013

Christian Alliance for Orphans Summit #9 pt. 1

 So I didn't get to meet everyone I wanted, but I did meet quite a few people!  YEA!!!  The above picture is with Andrea Biggerstaff- who I know through All God's Children International.  She just brought home her son- YEA!! 
 This is someone from Louisiana- but I never met her while we were there.  Crazy huh??  Ashley Gray has done a homestudy for one of my Christian Adoption Consultant clients.  Love the crazy world of this person gets connected through this person....etc.!!!!  It's wonderful!!  I didn't really get tons of time to talk with Ashley, but some day!!! 
 This is a picture of me with Kate McDodson who works for All God's Children International!  Finally got to meet someone from AGCI in person!  :)  She has been with AGCI for quite a while and was involved off and on with our cases. 
 Picture of some of the other sweeties there playing and running around :) 
 Steven Curtis Chapman of course was there- ONE OF MY ALL TIME FAVORITES!!!!!!!!!!! 
 AND- while I was there I was blessed enough to get to stay with Kristi Johnson!  Our whole family stayed with their family a few years back when Joanna was just a babe.  LOVE THE JOHNSON FAMILY!  For those of you who have read her blog (she is not really blogging anymore- seems like having 6 kids has taken up all her time? - he he he he....) they have 6 children all close in age and 2 of them are from Ethiopia. 
I got to go to CAFO with Melissa Lazzara and Gretchen Sloan!  Some awesome moms from our Loving God's Children local ministry.  We have a once a month get together at Mimi's Cafe and we rarely miss it.  Loving God's Children does A LOT of things, but this is one that is important to those living in our area of Brandon, FL because it is a vital support system!  Go check out the page to see the many other things this nonprofit does!

OK So the conference:  was soooo AMAZING!!!!!  Hearing the line up of speakers and going to the break out sessions filled my head to overflowing!  But I will try to recap some of what they said so you can benefit :). 

The first thing I want to say is some really amazing statistics from the Summit.  The very first Christian Alliance for Orphans Summit had 39 people.  Summit #9- had 2,500 and they had to turn people away!!!!!!  WOW OH WOW!!!!!!!!!!!  Does that open my eyes to the fact that the church is definitely getting involved.   People are now seeing that orphan care is not just adoption or foster care, but soooo much more!  It has definitely taken on a new meaning and I love that! 

So what is Orphan Care then?  It is adoption, foster care, sponsoring children, mentoring children, protecting children from others- as in human trafficking, and trying to support those orphans and widows in any way humanly possible!  Education is key!  If we don't know a problem exists we can't deal with it.  If we don't know about special needs adoptions, what is the truth about HIV adoption, how can we support children aging out of foster care, how do we homeschool effectively children from hard places, how do we connect with children from hard places- Empwered to Connect!, and on and on the list goes. 

The first speaker was Stephen Ucembe from Kenya.  He grew up in an orphanage setting.  This is what he said about his experiences.....
He never had more than a 5 minute conversation
Told he was lazy
He grew up with more than 50 other children
He couldn't be different
He never cried until he was 20
Was over the age of 20 when he got his first hug
He would kill for food or a shower
Didn't see the outside world- ever
Was a number in a crowd
Never heard the words I love you
One day.......he received a the package were some small gifts and a letter from someone from England.  The letter said- I love you!  ??  He held onto that memory......and still has that etched in his mind even today. 
There were many short term missions that came in, but they always left making it hard to trust, hard to be consistent.  They always liked to play with "the cute ones". 

So what can you and I do?
Some missions are all about the numbers.......not about helping people......MAKE IT ABOUT PEOPLE!!!!  The most important thing is you CAN HELP!  So what is the best case scenario?  CHILDREN IN FAMILIES!  Pure and simple.  Think about what would be best for your child or your neice, nephew or grandchild.  That is what ALL children need no different because you don't know them yet or you don't have a picture of them.  They still need a family! 

Other powerful things from someone who lived through this- you can't give what you dont' have.  Make no mistake you will be judged for what we do.  **No we don't get to heaven by works, but works should be the fruit of our faith! 

The hunger for love is more than the hunger for bread! 
We NEED to call them by their names!  Just as God calls us by ours.  An orphan is easy to ignore before you know their makes it real.  Don't remember the sad story- just do something!  Remembering a story won't help other children. 

One of the most powerful statements he made that caught my attention: 
"The pain of losing a parent is not as painful as living without one."   

Let that sink really take some time and reread it.  Write it down and stick it in a place you will brought me to tears. 


His point was that we alone can not solve the world's orphan crisis, but we can - WITH OTHERS!  We can make a huge difference.  By getting involved, finding a niche, finding our passion (so many to choose from see my small list above), and simply DO IT! 

Now you see why this period of 2 days blew me away?  This was just one speaker!!!  He lived through the experience of growing up in an orphanage and has dedicated his life to helping others who have to live through the same thing, but is determined to help make that difference!  PRAISE GOD!!!!  You see it isn't just people from the United States....the whole world sees the problem, and with each other's help we can through Christ care for all of God's children! 

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