Today, the Christian family is invited by the Christian Alliance for Orphans to place our focus on the many orphaned children around the world and our responsibility as Christians and as Church to care for them and to be family for them. They call it Orphan Sunday.
When we talk about our consumer habits in light of our slavery footprint, it is important remember that the world's orphans are the faces and names that we seek to protect. Orphans are one of the most vulnerable populations to become victims of traffickers, cheap labor markets, domestic servitude and other forms of modern day slavery, particularly teens who age our of orphanage systems in developing nations.
Statistics tell us that more than 90% of orphans in the Ukraine will end up in prostitution or in jail for other reasons. Up to 15% of kids who age out of orphanages will commit suicide during their eighteenth year.
There has been a bit of debate in the last months about what the Christian response to the world's orphans should be, if we are driving a market for orphans with our desire to save them. If we are responsible for encouraging adoption while ignoring ethics, failing to look at ways to care for families and prevent children from being orphaned, and by failing to make an overall impact for these vulnerable children who remain in orphanages alongside our efforts at adoption. This is important. If you want to advocate for orphans publicly, do a quick Google search and read the bevy of posts available on adoption ethics.
But today, let's take this in a different direction. This series' purpose is not to encourage adoption or educate you on the ethics. But just is case the Holy Spirit wants to tell you something today, go ahead and read this.
But for our purposes, can we commemorate today in our hearts and minds by making a commitment to give one gift this year that advocates and educates on behalf of the world's countless orphans? Here are some ideas:
Ornaments4Orphans is an organization that sells some of the most lovely hand-crafted ornaments and nativity scenes made in East Africa. The proceeds from the sales benefit children in Uganda. From their web site:
Ornaments4Orphans’ mission is to provide American Christians with a seasonal opportunity to support God’s growing kingdom work in East Africa. When individuals purchase an ornament from Ornaments4Orphans the funds are directed toward annual operational costs and development projects of gospel-centered orphan and children’s ministries in Uganda. As the ornament hangs on your Christmas tree, it serves as a reminder to you and your family to pray for the physical and spiritual wellbeing of the children of Uganda. Ornaments also make meaningful Christmas gifts for your family members, colleagues, and friends. All ornaments come specially packaged with information about the ministries and the children the proceeds benefit.
100Cameras is an amazing organization that empowers vulnerable kids through photography. From their web site:
100cameras empowers kids to create tangible change in their communities by teaching them to capture their lives through photography. We then sell their photographs and give 100% of purchases back to the community allowing kids to participate in the 100cameras program and to fund local lifeline, education, and healthcare needs.
One of their projects is using photography to provide lifeline services to the 118 kids at St. Bertholomew's orphanage in South Sudan.
They have some lovely Christmas cards available in their shop. And personally, I would be so, so happy if someone sent me this Sudan card set this Christmas.
For a completely non-consumer option, how cool would it be to adopt a camera in honor of your favorite photography buff?
This link offers you a list of ways to purchase gifts that help orphans. I have not had time to research all the organizations they are linking to, so I encourage you to look closely before you purchase. Know who you are buying from and why. Also, there are a number of options on the linked sites to give gifts to orphans. We so often talk about the perfect gift for the person who has everything. If you need a gift for a person who already has everything this year, how about giving a gift to a child who has nothing in his/her name?
Lastly, I would encourage to think about child sponsorship as an option this Christmas. It is a lovely way to honor someone who has made a difference in the lives of your children or family. It is giving the gift of friendship with another child to your child. As a mom who has suffered the loss of multiple children, I think it would be a lovely way to honor their memories. If someone in your life has suffered a difficult loss this year, giving life to a child in need would be a lovely way to offer them healing and hope. There are so many ways you could make sponsoring a child in another's name a beautiful gift.
There are no shortage of sponsorship programs out there and I have no doubt that many of you already have your favorites. I invite you to link them in the comments. There is no way I can highlight them all here.
Here are two I would encourage you to consider:
So now it's your turn to teach me something. Share your favorite Orphan Sunday posts, videos, your favorite orphan advocacy or child sponsorship program in the links below.
Today, I have some friends gathering in the Austin, Texas area for "A Different Kind of Christmas Party". A little holiday cheer focused on giving that gives back. This week I'll share more with you about how to plan a gathering that gives back. And we'll talk coffee. And there might be a coupon code or two for beautiful gifts that give back.
Don't forget that you can find all the posts in this series linked in the initial post. And grab the button below to share the series on your blog.