Orphan Care Summit: Mobilized Church Solution to Global Crisis

One of the leading advocates for orphan care is hoping that the Christian Alliance for Orphans' annual summit at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., this week will be a step closer toward mobilizing churches globally to end the worldwide crisis.

Elizabeth Styffe, who is Saddleback's director of Global Orphan Care Initiative, told The Christian Post that her hope for Summit VIII is that those in attendance and watching online would be given a "whole new vision."

"The orphan crisis is the only crisis where we are only medicating it instead of trying to cure it. The only one that can do that is the Church," Styffe said. "So, what every child needs is a church and a family. While we are doing nice things like food, and clothing, and education – all important things – I think we've lost the goal."

Styffe, who will be one of the speakers and workshop teachers at the event, added: "My greatest passion is that we end the orphan crisis and that if the summit can be a step closer to that, that's worth being a part of."

Organizers of the conference that begins on Thursday say the Christian Alliance for Orphans' annual Summit has "become the national hub for what Christianity Today recently called, 'the burgeoning Christian orphan care movement.'" About 2,000 people are expected to attend in person, in addition to an online viewing audience of the free webcast available for viewing on Saddleback's website.

More than 80 workshops are scheduled and speakers planned for the plenary sessions include Francis Chan, Rick and Kay Warren, Crawford Lorritts, Dennis Rainey, and Steven Curtis Chapman.

The summit is designed to inspire, equip and connect for adoption, foster care and global orphan ministry, organizers said.

Styffe explained that the conference is a joint effort with the Christian Alliance for Orphans, and Saddleback's Orphan Care Initiative, which is part of the church's PEACE plan. Saddleback's Pastor Rick Warren envisioned the plan several years ago as a way to help mobilize Christian churches throughout the world in an effort to tackle key issues.

The acronym for the PEACE plan is based on the five actions Jesus modeled: Promote reconciliation; Equip servant leaders; Assist the poor; Care for the sick; and Educate the next generation.

Styffe said the Orphan Care Initiative and the summit is a natural extension of what Saddleback already does.

"We believe that God's heart is for the orphans. Our passion is to equip churches to care. We have a local initiative and a global initiative, and then adoption and foster care," she said.

"It is really about what can I do in my own neighborhood and what can churches do all over the world? Not only doing something, but doing the right thing to make the greatest, longest impact," she continued. "There are 163 million orphans in the world today, but there are 2.3 billion believers, so let's get it (orphan number) to zero.

"We really believe that every child has a right to a family. We need to do for the orphans physically what God has done for us spiritually."

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