Reflections on The Orphan Summit
Post written by Jenni Ramsey
This month I was thrilled to attend the eighth annual Summit, hosted by Christian Alliance for Orphans. The Summit is held in a different city each year and this year it took place right in our own backyard (at Saddleback Church). Last year I flew to KY to attend The Summit, and next year I hope to travel to Nashville for The Summit IX. For more information on Christian Alliance for Orphans or The Summit, visit:
Christian Alliance For Orphans
One of the highlights for me personally this year was being able to attend The Summit with so many friends and family members as well as members of our So Cal Orphan Care Network. We shared lots of tears, laughter, and joy as we experienced The Summit together! We were moved and challenged by speakers like Pastor Rick Warren, Francis Chan, Steven Curtis Chapman, the Honourable Susan Jacobs from the US State Department and The Honourable Inymba Aloisa, Minister of Family Promotions, Rwanda. Rwanda's goal is to be the first country to place every orphan into a permanent home and they are close to achieving their goal. The story of God's healing in Rwanda after a horrific genocide, which left one half million children orphaned, is unparalled. We were absolutely amazed to hear unforgettable stories throughout The Summit of the miracle of adoption and the father heart of God.
It's nearly impossible to summarize what I learned, felt and was inspired by in one blog post. But I'll try to express a few thoughts. The overall sense that we all walked away with is the fact that adoption is the heart of the gospel. As Christians, our calling to adoption is gospel led and gospel centered. Our heavenly father reached down from Heaven and adopted us as His sons and His daughters. He adopted us in our sin, rebellion and brokenness. We therefore love orphans through foster care, orphan care and adoption out of His marvelous love for us. We were reminded again and again of God's love for His children and the redemptive miracle of caring for the fatherless. The Church has been given the incredible privilege and responsibility to display God's love to the world through caring for His precious children. We are not the "rescuers" of children. God is. And we are privileged to be His hands and His feet as we care for His children.
I was extremely honored to attend an all day, pre-Summit training on attachment led by world-renowned attachment specialist, Karyn Purvis and marriage/family therapists Milan and Kay Yerkovich. I loved learning about the hope of healing in the midst of trauma through brain development and trust-based relational intervention. One of my favorite quotes from Karyn was that "Science catches up with God." It was incredible to grasp how certain foods, sensory activities, appropriate touch and connection can actually heal the brain of a traumatized child.
Rick Warren challenged us with the fact that if one person in one out of every four churches in the US adopted out of foster care, foster care would no longer exist in the United States. Wow! We learned that 80% of the men in prison in the US lived in foster care as children. He also challenged us with the fact that the Church is the only answer to the orphan crisis. Why? He listed the following reasons:
(1) We have the largest participation (2.4 billion Christians)
(2) We have the widest distribution
(3) We have the longest track record
(4) The church has the fastest expansion (60,000 people come to Christ every day)
(5) We have the highest motivation - LOVE!
(6) We have the strongest authorization - THE GREAT COMMISSION!
(7) We have the simplest administration
(8) We have the greatest conclusion
There are many stories, thoughts and experiences that I continue to process after attending The Summit. One thing is for sure, I can't wait to get on a plane to El Salvador this Saturday and love on the precious children who we sadly call "orphans." They have been forgotten, abandoned and abused. But our team will bring hope, joy, laughter, loving touch, gifts and the reminder that their Heavenly Father loves them. He has not forgotten them. He is right there in their midst. And that's what it's all about!