The Church and the Global Orphan Crisis

Matt Capps, Associate Pastor for Connections at Calvary Baptist Church, Winston-Salem, N.C. shares a word about the global orphan crisis and the role of the church. I couldn’t agree more. Click below to read his whole post and watch a video their church put together for Orphan Sunday.

As Christians we are adopted as sons and daughters and God uses us as the vehicles by which he demonstrates his love to a lost world. Think about it, the church is the community that gives the world a foretaste of the renewed creation, when all things will be “made new”. We have the responsibility of living now in light of what will one day be. And, who is more fully equipped to address the global orphan crisis than the church is?

We are the people who have been entrusted with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the eternal message of hope. We understand that “one day the very word orphan will be eliminated from the human vocabulary.” But until that day comes we as a church have a responsibility to proclaim the gospel not only in word, but in deed. Remember what James wrote, “religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”

Read the whole post here.

Tags: , , ,

Orphan Statistics

These are the most recent and reliable statistics on the global orphan situation.

  • The most recent estimate is that there are approximately 145 million orphans in the world (UNICEF 2008). For this number, an orphan is defined as a child who has lost one or both parents.
  • More than 15 million children have lost one or both parents to AIDS, over 11.6 million of whom live in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • In 2007 67.5 million Children in South Asia and East Asia had lost one or both parents due to all causes.
  • Included in the 2008 estimate of 145 million orphans are more than 92 million that have a surviving mother—-with whom they most likely live.
  • Another 38 million have a surviving father.
  • The UNICEF orphan numbers DON’T include abandonment (millions of children) as well as sold and/or trafficked children.
  • The UNICEF orphan numbers DON’T include many non-reporting nations (namely, Middle Eastern Islamic nations) where shame and divorce abandonment are rampant. 200,000 + orphans in Iraq, for instance, are not part of the count.
  • We are looking at a number quite higher than 15 million “double orphans.” Best guess is somewhere around 40 or 50 million.
  • According to data released in 2003 as many as eight million boys and girls around the world live in institutional care. Some studies have found that violence in residential institutions is six times higher than violence in foster care, and that children in group care are almost four times more likely to experience sexual abuse than children in family based care.
  • As of 2002 in Europe and Central Asia, over one million children lived in residential institutions.
  • Worldwide an estimated 300 million children are subjected to violence, exploitation and abuse, including the worst forms of child labour in communities, schools and institutions, during armed conflict, and harmful practices such as female genital mutilation/cutting and child marriage.
  • In the US there are approximately 500,000 children in foster care (Based on data submitted by states as of January 16, 2008)
  • 130,000 of those children in foster care are waiting and available for adoption. Children waiting to be adopted include children with a goal of adoption and/or whose parental rights have been terminated. Children whose parental rights have been terminated, who are 16 years old and older, and who have a goal of emancipation are excluded from the “waiting” population. An individual child is included in the count for each year that he or she has these characteristics on the last day of the year.
  • Approximately 51,000 children are adopted from the foster system each year.
  • That leaves 79,000 children annually in the US needing an adoptive family.
  • Each year, an estimated 20,000 young people “age out” of the U.S. foster care system. Many are only 18 years old and still need support and services. Several foster care alumni studies show that without a lifelong connection to a caring adult, these older youth are often left vulnerable to a host of adverse situations:

Outcomes
Earned a high school diploma         54%
Obtained a Bachelor’s degree or higher     2%
Became a parent                 84%
Were unemployed                 51%
Had no health insurance             30%
Had been homeless                 25%
Were receiving public assistance         30%

Sources: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/stats_research/afcars/trends.htm, http://www.unaids.org/en/KnowledgeCentre/HIVData/GlobalReport/2008/2008_Global_report.asp, http://www.unicef.org/sowc09/docs/SOWC09-FullReport-EN.pdf, Young adults ages 18-24 years old 2.5 to 4 years after leaving foster care: Cook, R. (1992). Are we helping foster care youth prepare for the future? Children and Youth Services Review. 16(3/4), 213-229. Cook, R.; Fleishman, E., & Grimes, V. (1989). A National Evaluation of Title IV-E Foster Care Independent Living Programs for Youth (Phase 2 Final Report, Volume 1). Rockville: Westat, Inc., http://chrisitianallianceblog.org/?p=74, http://abandoned-orphaned.typepad.com/paulmyhill/2009/08/the-count.html

I list these statistics with a broken heart and realization that each number represents a real, living child who is in desperate need of care and a family. We can become easily overwhelmed with these statistics but I pray for my self and for the church that they would lead us to pray more specifically and passionately for them. I pray they will move us to act with greater urgency to see each one of these children cared for in the name of Christ.

“Learn to do good; seek justice, reprove the ruthless, defend the orphan, plead for the widow.” Isaiah 1:17