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Hope for Orphans

Paul Pennington believes that loving orphans is like catching a virus. And, once you've caught it, you can't help but infect someone else.

Pennington, a former manager for Kraft foods, and his wife, Robin, are well acquainted with the "Orphan Love Bug." Not only did they catch it, but they adopted the kids that gave it to them. Six kids and five adoptions later they launched Hope for Orphans, a three-year-old ministry of Family Life , a division of Campus Crusade for Christ.

When Paul became acquainted with Family Life president, Dennis Rainey and his wife Barbara, he approached them about FamilyLife's being their mentor to help launch the then basic vision for Hope for Orphans. After several meetings and with the passion that Dennis and Barbara had for adoption, FamilyLife ultimately adopted Hope for Orphans.

The working relationship has led to a dynamic effort to encourage and educate Christians about caring for orphans and considering God's call in adoption, as mandated in Scripture.

"Our goal is to help 1000 churches establish an orphan care ministry by 2010," says Pennington. The task may be huge but not impossible. Why? Because, orphans are at the center of God's heart.

James 1:27a defines caring for orphans as "pure and faultless religion." And, adoption was instituted by God. Anyone who belongs to Him has been adopted by Him. (Ephesians 1:4-5, NIV)

New York City full of orphans?

New York City could be repopulated seven times with the number of orphans worldwide. According to Pennington, statistics show there are a total of somewhere between 50 and 70 million orphans in the world and the U.S. In the U.S. foster care system alone, 135,000 children are currently available for adoption.

"Fundamentally, we believe the problem of orphans can only be helped if we get the entire church involved," says Pennington. "This Sunday, 40 million Americans will attend one of 300,000 church services. And, this year the total number of kids that will be adopted from countries outside the U.S. will be about 23,000. Of those 23,000, I would be surprised if more than half went to Christian families."

Churches get involved

Pennington's passion has been caught by numerous churches. In fact, last year Hope for Orphans worked closely with twenty churches that have or are launching orphan care/adoption ministries. The varied approach of each church is a plus as Hope for Orphans wants to maximize their collective knowledge to help launch effective orphan care programs.

Adoption is often seen as a way to help someone else. Pennington has a refreshing perspective: "The church needs orphans as much as orphans need the church. It's not about what I get on Sunday morning. It's about being available to how God wants to use you in investing in the lives of others. And, what happens when we love orphans? It reconnects us with authentic Christianity."

How it happens

Hope for Orphans provides information by PDF download on How To Start Orphan Ministry in your church in the resource called His Heart Our Hands. Hope for Orphans also provides a very practical introduction to a Biblical view of adoption in its Welcome Home resource (also available by PDF) and adoption education thru its If You Were Mine workshop

Information on the above is available from their web site,

Or you can call 1-800-FLTODAY

Perhaps God is calling you to catch the "Orphan Love Bug" and pass it on.



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