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The Campaign to Empty Orphanages in Rwanda

Watch the following videos from the work of Pastor Rick Warren at Saddleback. After doing so, answer the following questions.

Question 1: Do you agree with his approach of emptying orphanages in Rwanda? If yes why? If no, why?

Question 2: What are the pros and cons that you see in the approach he is taking?

The videos should give you all the information you need to answer these questions. However, if you need more information, feel free to Google it. Pastor Rick is arguably the most popular Christian leader in the world besides the Pope. You will find a lot of information on his work. You may also contact the Peace Plan or Orphan Care Initiative. You don’t have to.

Leave a comment below and let me know what your views are on emptying orphanages.

 

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27 Comments

  1. I do not completely agree with pastor Rick Warren’s approach to orphan care. I do love the idea and the heart behind this plan. Getting chidlren into loving, Christian homes should be the goal of most orphanages. However, I think we need to remember that as long as we live in this broken world, there will always be orphans, or homeless children, and maybe not enough families willing, able, or fit to take them in. While I love this solution, I don’t think it is the only solution to orphan care.

    I also believe that in some cases, it could be harmful to adopt children cross-culturally. I think the Lord has used cross-cultural adoptions for His glory and that He will continue to do so in the future, however, the needs of the child need to be considered as well. When an orphanage is done right, it can be it’s own family unit. The orphanage I lived at in Honduras, I even hesitate to call an “orphanage”. There is only a handfull of children there who are true “orphans” and so calling them orphans and telling them that they live in an orphanage is offensive and can be hurtful to them. The children and those who work there lovingly call this place “el hogar” meaning “the home.”

    Most of them don’t want to leave. They have their friends and their families there with them, and for those children whose parents are able to, come and visit them. They go to school and church, and the adult workers there are considered to be mother and father figures to the children, and help them with homework, do devotions with them, and eat and play with them.

    This particular ministry occasionally does an “English Immersion Program” where sponsors from the USA bring them to the US for English Immersion. Someday, they will be able to get better jobs in Honduras because they are bilingual. However, one year a girl came to the US and even though she loved her sponsor and her sponsor loved her, the girl got so homesick for the children’s home in Honduras where all of her friends and family were. Even though it was only for a few weeks, this girl could not wait to go back to “el hogar”.

    In this case, I think adoption, especially cross culturally, could be very damaging and harmful for the wellbeing of those children. I believe that adoption has it’s time and place, and I also believe that children’s homes have their time and place. I also believe that having rehabilitation programs to help the children’s real families to thrive and be reunited with their children again should be considered as well. As I said earlier, I don’t think there is any one solution to orphan/vulnerable child care. I know that I don’t have all the answers, but I pray that God will give us the strength and the answers that we need to be His hands and feet to those in need.

    Pros: The pros are that the children would end up in loving, Christian homes, in a family unit, and their needs will be met. It is true that there are a lot of bad orphanages out there, they would be removed from this situation.

    Cons: Children potentially getting separated from their siblings, or friends who are so close to them that they are considered adopted siblings. Children getting put in a bad or worse situation because of someone taking advantage of the adoption movement. Children having to move half a world away where they don’t know the language, food, customs, and clothing. Many of these children grow up and completely forget their native language, which robs them of the opportunity to go back and improve and minister to their own countries.

    Like I said before, if done right, childrens homes (orphanages) can be a solution. If done right, adoption can be a solution. Also, I think that family rehabilitation should be another option and can be a solution if done right. The main focus and goal here, is putting these children into loving families. We should be open to that loving family being an adopted family, their rehabilitated family, or a family made up of children and workers in a childrens home. Every culture is different, and within that culture, every person is different, with unique needs, personalities, history, and family. It would be a disservice to them to say whether one or the other is the “right way” and force them to do it that way. I think that the key here is to realize that there is more than one solution, but each solution needs to be done with excellence to ensure that the needs of those involved are being met.

    Of course, the only true solution here is Jesus. Through Him, all orphans can have a Father and through Him, we can find the answers to these tough questions.

  2. 1) I only agree with Rick, IF, and only if the children are being placed into good homes. Now, I know that it’s probably difficult to monitor that. But this is why I believe that adopting a child should be a somewhat rigorous process. I would want to ensure that the child is being placed into the best possible home and family. If they aren’t being placed into a home where their material, emotional, social and spiritual needs can be met, I personally believe it may be better for them to be in an orphanage. After reading “When Helping Hurts,” I can only think that bringing them from a place of hurt to another would only heighten their sense of vulnerability and possibly hurt them more. In fact, I know of orphanages personally that are a far better alternative to other living conditions. Which is why I stand by my view that children should only be taken out of an orphanage IF and only if they’re being put into a good, Christ-like family.

    2) Some of the obvious pros would be that they get to experience the model of a Christian family and get to experience love and the spiritual aspect of a family that they might not get elsewhere.

    If they get placed into a Christian family, I’m sure they would be able to attend church weekly and be a part of different children’s programs as well. So in that regard, they’d be experiencing the love of a local church body.

    In regards to a pro, one big one that immediately popped into my mind was those that would get involved, simply out of a moral obligation. While I think that Rick’s PEACE plan is great, I’m sure there would be those that would join, just to ease their conscience.

    After watching this video, I want the emphasis of my prayer life (in regards to orphans) to be one that prays for good, upright families, to step up and get involved. Not to make themselves feel better. Not out of moral obligation. But out of the compassion of their hearts. To be MORE than willing to come alongside of a child in need. To be Christ-like examples in that child’s life and to bring that child up in a way that glorifies God fully.

    • Mark, you make a good and clear point, and i strongly agree with you that there orphanages with a far better alternative to some living conditions. And also the fact that adopting a child should be a rigorous exercise. But whatever the case may be we just have to pray because even if it made rigorous there are still so many things that can go wrong which only God can fix.

    • Mark,
      I love that you concluded with how this changes your prayer life! I think that so often we jump to action rather than to reflection and petition to God. I can tell He is moving your heart and teaching you how He wants you to pray. Well done!

  3. 1) Yes I agree with Pastor Ricks peace plan. This is because i have lived close to an orphanage for quite a long time , actually i interacted with orphans a lot. I have never asked any of them if he/she will prefer a family to the orphanage but there’s this attitude i noticed with respect to their visitors and sponsors. Those who were lucky to have families who have taken the responsibility to care for their needs always spoke so highly of their God send parents and whenever any of them hear this parents will be coming to visit him/her, i notice a very anxious feeling as he/she wait for his God given parent. But most of them will always shy away or maybe run and hide in fact i notice that as they grow older they don’t like when a visitor comes to the orphanage to make contribution and they are all called to sing or say thanks to that person. And I concluded that this orphan prefer someone who will show a close and intimate relationship with them than someone who just comes to show them that he/she pities their situation. From this i believe that a family for an orphan will provide that close love and care relationship which they desire more than the whole orphanage setting.
    2) The pro of this is the fact that it sick to rebuild the originally intimate family relationship created by God for child, for we know man is relational being and a family is the most intimate relationship of humans created by God and place a great part in giving you an identity (shaping us). While the con of this is that most of this children turn to be abuse by their adopted parents or siblings especially in situation which the people who adopt are not believers.

    • Ambe,
      I experienced this as well during my time living in an orphanage in Cameroon! I would get so frustrated with some of the teenagers I lived with who seemed, to me, ungrateful and unwilling to thank the donors we had. In my mind I was so mad at them that they didn’t come to say thanks or show smiling faces and dances and songs like I saw at other orphanages we visited. However, when I took this Effective Ministry to the Poor course at Austin Bible Institute, and read “When Helping Hurts” I realized that I WAS WRONG. None of these kids are puppets or animals for us to tell to perform on command. The older teenagers didn’t want pity, they wanted compassion and love and relationship. They felt embarrassed to come out to hug and dance for strangers who they would probably never see again. It was a big lesson learned for me!

  4. I would like to add to my post below just to further emphasize the point I made about the fact that “changing environment does not change our hearts; God is the only One that can change our hearts through the gospel.”

    This class has really made me think a lot…about church and what my calling/responsibilities as a Christian is!

    In our discussion on ANY ministries (ministry to the teens, to the poor, to the engaged couples, etc.), we should keep in mind that “it is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables.” (Acts 6:2, NKJV), that is, that we must make sure that prayer and the Word of God remain the main focus of any ministries in a church.

    As we are learning about orphan care, we should make sure that our “ministries” do not start walking independently of the church’s “prayer and the ministry of the Word of God”.

    Even in our international support, the local churches that we support should not be a mere means to meet the physical/emotional needs of the community; we should be praying for them and holding them accountable that they are first and foremost the “house of God” where His ways are being taught. We should not be content in just giving money, or in doing the work of social justice, or in the report on the number of orphans adopted. We should be most concerned about whether the local churches we are supporting are praying, preaching the gospel, and making disciples. I think that we see little of that in many of the “ministries” we are involved. We are rather concerned about reports on how much we have given, how many mouths have been fed, and how many orphans now are a part of an earthly family.

    Serving food to the widows can be a godly ministry as it is in Acts 6, but it can easily become as godless if we start neglecting the prayer and the ministry of the Word. Helping the poor and caring for the orphans can be a godly ministry and meet the physical/emotional needs of so many, but it can easily become godless if we start neglecting the prayer and the ministry of the Word.

    These ministries to the physical/emotional needs of the community members should be an extension of our ministry to their spiritual needs –Jesus was not focused on the ministry to the poor without His preaching and teaching. In talking about the cost of becoming a follower of Jesus Christ, Jesus asks, “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Mark 8:36, KJV) I think that we can ask the same question to ourselves in our “ministries” –what really is the focus of our ministry? Are “the helped” hearing the gospel? Are they being taught the Word of God?

    Apostle Paul tells us that it was important for him to remember the poor (Galatians 2:10), and he also says:

    “To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.” (1 Corinthians 9:22, KJV)

    His focus was on people’s salvation unto eternal life.

    I am not saying that one person should do it all. Indeed, we may be the instrument chosen by God to “serve the tables”, but the point made in Acts 6 was that the prayer and the ministry of the Word should not be taken over by any other needs. That comes first. Any other “ministries” should be its extension. In Acts 6, the result of the Twelve dedicating themselves to prayer and the Word was:

    “And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.” (Acts 6:7, KJV)

    My prayer is that we would be such a church…where hearts are transformed, the gospel is preached BOTH in word and in deed.

  5. Q1: Rick Warren’s approach of emptying orphanages:

    I agree in some points and disagree in others.

    I agree with Rick Warren that we, as a church and individually, should support families to equip them in raising their children, because God designed it that way. According to some statistics, 80% of children living in orphanages are actually not “orphans” –they have at least one living parent(1). One of the factors contributing to these statistics is that the presence of an orphanage in a community gives the parents (or the relatives or community members) an option to give up their children to the orphanage when they see difficulties in raising them by themselves.
    Our goal in helping others is to restore them to fulfill their calling to glorify God in their lives (Colossians 3:17; Ephesians 4:12), and the presence of an orphanage could keep the parents from fulfilling their God-given calling (Deuteronomy 6).
    If a child is truly an orphan, I think that the first choice should be for the close relatives or a close community members to take care of him/her as their own member of the family.

    I agree that we should NOT support orphanages …but that is if our support is going to be abused by the owners of the orphanage. (Such orphanages should really be emptied!)

    I do think that there is a place for an orphanage. If an orphanage is owned and managed by godly Christian people, I think that the children can thrive, being raised in the way of God and having the security of being cared for at least till they turn 18. An example of this would be the command for the Church to care for widows/orphans/poor in the bible (Acts 6; James 1, etc.).

    Since we live in a fallen world, even good things like caring for orphans can be distorted. For example, some studies say that growing up in an orphanage causes developmental harm. These reports discuss orphanages that are run as businesses –in order for the owner to continue to receive donations, they encourage parents to give up their children; the children are intentionally kept in a poor living environment; or children are “sold” for international adoption. In these business mindsets, children’s needs are neglected, causing developmental issues(2).

    But even with this information in mind, we should not jump to the conclusion that there should be no orphanages.
    Not every parent is loving, but that does not mean that we should remove parents!! We should support them and disciple them to know God intimately and raise their children in His love and wisdom.

    In the same way, orphanages should be supported if it is going to allow the children to be raised by godly people. Yes, ideally, every child should have loving parents (biological or adoptive), but in the world where there are problems with wars, drugs, violence, human trafficking, distorted worldviews, some children would benefit from being raised in an orphanage, where they are loved and their needs are not neglected.

    Sometimes, foster care is suggested as an alternative to the orphanage, and it can be good, if it is just a one-time bridge to a permanent placement (either to an adoptive family or the original family), but there are issues when the children keep moving from a temporary placement to another before they “age out” of the system at 183. If that is likely to happen, I think that moving the child to “permanent placement” of an orphanage is good.

    Q2: Pros and cons in his approach:

    Pros 1 = we can equip not only the children but also the family as a whole.
    Mobilizing a church is good, because the church’s focus is preaching the gospel and making disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:15). By teaching Jesus’ followers to take care of their children (whether their biological or adoptive children), the children will hear the gospel and can be trained up in the way of God. Each local church should be equipping the families to raise their children and to care for the orphans in their community.

    Pros 2 = we can put an end to the terrible orphan business.
    Any orphanages that neglect children’s needs should be emptied. This would require a thorough investigation of each orphanage and an alternative caretaker for each orphan. I don’t think that all orphanages should be empties for this purpose though. (see Cons below)

    Cons 1 = It does not solve the fundamental issue that comes with donations.
    “Supporting families through local churches” is good, but the same issue of it becoming a business can happen as with “supporting orphanages”. The problem is that there is little accountability. Families or local churches that receive support should be accountable to their supporters. In the same way, orphanages that receive support should be held accountable. This could prevent people from making business out of orphans, whether by family or a local church or an orphanage.

    Cons 2 = Most importantly: Shutting down orphanages does not transform unredeemed hearts.
    Whoever takes care of orphans (whether an adoptive family or an orphanage) is a sinner, living in a broken world (as all of us are!). Shutting down orphanages does not mean that the children will grow up in a “better” environment.
    I think that, as Christians, we can support orphanages if they preach the gospel to children and disciple them. God is the only One that can transform our hearts through the gospel; changing our environment doesn’t change our hearts!

    Reference:
    1. Save the Children. “Keeping Children Out of Harmful Institutions.” The Save the Children Fund 2009 http://www.savethechildren.org.uk/sites/default/files/docs/Keeping_Children_Out_of_Harmful_Institutions_Final_20.11.09_1.pdf (Published in 2009, Accessed July 30, 2017)
    2. ibid
    3. Mckenzei, Richard B. “The Best Thing about Orphanage.” The Wall Street Journal. http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052748703510304574626080835477074 (Last updated in 2010, Accessed July 30, 2017)

  6. I love the heart behind what Rick Warren talked about in the first video. I even agree that we, as the church – the body of Christ, should strive to be families for these children. So, I definitely agree with Pastor Warren. My only fear with this would be people who look good and may seem to be great “Christians” or know all of the right answers trying to adopt, or take in some of these kids.

    As a movement, the hype would be high and things could potentially get over looked because of human error. Other than this worry, or fear, I love the heart behind closing all of the orphanages!

    A pro to this would be children would be in Christ loving and God fearing families! Families are always better than an institution! Some cons that I can think of, would be corruption. We can never know what is at the heart of a person, only God does. With human beings involved there is room for error. What happens if an error that is made allows a child to go with someone who does not have there best interest in mind? Another con would be children being “stuck” in homes, or families, that they may not fit in. What happens to the children if it does not work out with their family?

    • Amber,
      I love that you are thinking this through. Yes, this seems great on paper and it’s true that it would be fantastic if it could happen in reality. But another truth is that we live in a broken world and sometimes things don’t work out the way they should…despite our best attempts. These conversations are so instrumental to figuring out different ways to approach orphan care. I don’t think there is one blanket fix. Each child is different and therefore needs different solutions.

    • I love Rick’s idea also, but the issue is that sometimes it is difficult to figure out the best solution to an issue, by a single route especially when dealing with humans. Human are unique and so in cases like this especially when it has to do with orphans, i think God should always be at the center stage of any decision we are making because He is the only one who truly knows our hearts and desires. I love the idea but also i agree with Stephanie’s point that each child is different and therefore needs different solutions.

  7. Question 1: Do you agree with his approach of emptying orphanages in Rwanda
    I agree with Rick Warren’s approach to emptying orphanages in Rwanda. I believe that using the church is a great way to help orphans.. In my home church, the Alabama BaptistChildren’s Home has come in to teach fostering classes and find families who want to become foster parents. There are multiple families in my church that have become foster parents. one family is even adopting a child. . This is similar to what Rick Warren is doing in using the church and I think it is a great approach.
    Question 2: What are the pros and cons that you see in the approach he is taking?
    One the greatest pro to me I think is the fact that the children will have the opportunity to be put in a Christian home and get to go to church and be taught the gospel. Another pro is that the family will most likely be a loving family who will do a good job taking care of the children since they are from the church.

    • Calie,
      I love seeing things like this happening right here in the U.S. What a wonderful organization Alabama Baptist Children’s Home must be in that community. We have a Texas Baptist Children’s Home here nearby Austin that does wonderful work as well. I wish you would have shared more thoughts about some potential cons to this, however. It’s easy to be excited about such great work, but equally important to consider the downsides and difficulties as well.

  8. Question 1: Do you agree with his approach of emptying orphanages in Rwanda
    I do agree with Rick Warren’s approach to emptying orphanages in Rwanda. His emphasis of using churches to place orphans with families is proving to be very successful. I have seen firsthand that the placing children without parents or children with unfit parents can be successful when the church is utilized. The Alabama Children’s Home reaches out to local churches to find families willing to become foster parents. Then they provide classes to the parents and then facilitate the placing of foster children in these families’ care. Quite a few families in my own church have become foster parents. I have seen so much good come from this approach. I have seen an improvement in many of the foster kids education, behavior, and overall attitude. Recently one of the foster children was able to be adopted by their foster parents. Though this isn’t exactly the same as what Rick Warren is doing, I can easily see how a similar approach to orphans in Rwanda would work very well. I think that empowering the local church to step up and give orphans a forever home would be the best for the children.

    Question 2: What are the pros and cons that you see in the approach he is taking?
    I can see many pros. First the number of orphanages would greatly decrease because there would be less orphans. Second the children would be brought up in a loving home. Lastly and most importantly the adoption would show the children God’s love and be an example of how God has adopted His believers into His family. The cons of the church families adopting orphaned children would be much like other adoptions that take place. The burden of bringing a child into a home can be great. Such things as finances and the adjustment of a family to having a new member can be hard. If we take into account that God has adopted us into His family when we accepted his son as our savior and that throughout the bible it shows favor to adoption then I believe the pros greatly outweigh the cons.

    • Allison,
      I like that you talk about the experiences you have seen right here in America when it comes to a similar approach. So often, I think it is hard for us to imagine what this would look like in our own country or community, but it’s exciting to see it happening!

  9. Question 1

    I wholeheartedly agree with Rick Warren’s approach to orphan care in Rwanda. Cynthia prayed every night for a Mom and a Dad. I believe every child deserves a family. The Bible tells us that God sets the lonely in families. We know His heart is for adoption. I agree with Rick Warren’s approach because I believe it is in line with the Word of God. In my opinion, orphanages provide a short term solution to caring for the millions of orphans. I do not think that orphanages are inherently wrong, I know of many orphanages were the children are loved well and taught of Christ’s love for them. The problem is that not all orphanages are honorable. Also, even the best orphanages cannot provide the one on one care that every child is desperate for. It’s just not possible for an orphanage to provide love at the same level of a family. I think that orphanages should never viewed as a final solution. The goal should always be family, whether that is through the reuniting of birth families or the miracle of adoption. Orphanages should be simply part of the process, (and then only if need be) of giving the children what God intends for their lives.

    Question 2

    The pros are that children no longer live in stagnant institutions and they know the love of a family. It would break the cycle of people abandoning their children, leaving their children parentless though they are still alive. It would diminish the abuse of children, if it were possible to place every single child with a proper, loving family.

    That’s where the cons come in, the risk of placing children with families that are not the best for them. Sometimes, children are adopted and they do not bond well with their families for many reasons. What happens in those situations, with nowhere for them to return? Where do orphaned children go in the event of the loss of their parents, before they are found a new family? What is the transition period like for those children?

    • Karli,
      I love your thoughts here. I can tell that you have a great perspective on some of these issues and consider the difficult questions that come with some of the cons of this method. Very well thought-out!

  10. I feel the focus here is misplaced. The advertising for this program makes it sound as though getting children out of orphanages is the same as creating a country full of happy children who are well cared-for. This is very inaccurate as there is no guarantee that the children will be treated well in the homes in which they are placed.

    Pastor Rick Warren opens by saying that children will always say that they would rather live with a family than at an orphanage, but this very important article shows that this is a dangerous and untrue assumption since if we really do ask Rwandan children what they want, they say something quite different.
    http://www.pbs.org/newshour/updates/globalhealth-july-dec11-rwanda_10-20/

    Also, I feel it is misleading and unethical to use a biologically orphaned Rwandan child to teach people, in effect, that what makes orphans happiest is to be sent to live with an American family. Her experience is not even one we should be trying to replicate as ideally those involved would have first tried to place her with a family much closer to her Rwandan home/culture and there is no indication from her story that this was done. It adds to the misconception held by Americans and Rwandans alike that the best chance of a good life for someone in Rwanda is to be taken care of by someone from the U.S., which is unnecessarily dis-empowering to Rwandans. As an American who has been living in Rwanda for the past 10 months, it seems to me that this idea may be one of the biggest obstacles to offering true assistance that has an empowering effect, and I suspect this is an issue in impoverished communities worldwide. Even though presumably most of the children placed with families through this program are going to Rwandan homes, the imagery of the ad tells a different story.

    Just as the implication here is that an American family could provide this Rwandan orphan with the best possible life, on a larger scale there is also the idea that this American organization knows how to best solve these problems in Rwanda. This is another dangerous assumption which puts us at risk of over-simplifying a situation with many factors that may not be seen by those of us from another country and culture. The pastor says they are working with the Rwandan government on this program, but are they also working with and having conversations with Rwandan people (the orphans themselves, people who work at the orphanages, etc.) to make sure that they are actually doing a good thing?

    A better goal than emptying all orphanages would be, “Let’s make Rwanda the first country where every child lives in a home where s/he is loved and cared for and we have functional systems in place to provide preliminary and follow-up support for every child and family in need of it, especially for orphans and other children who are most at-risk.” Putting a child in any house with a family is *not* the same as providing good care for a child.

    I don’t know how all orphanages could be closed without at minimum providing transitional care to children as needed. If children are being horribly abused in their homes (by biological parents, relatives, or foster parents), but have nowhere else to go but the street because all of the orphanages have been closed, how is that progress?

    • JoAnne,
      Thanks for your comment! I think you make a lot of good valid points that should be brought up more often. It seems that two camps have formed surrounding this issue: one gung-ho to close all the orphanages and one just as passionate about keeping children in centers and opening more. I believe there needs to be a middle ground.

      I like what you mention when talking about children getting adopted by local families, or at least African families, rather than everyone assuming the best place for a child is in the U.S. This definitely leads to a co-dependency from the Africans who now look to Westerners to take in the children living in their own communities. As Westerners, we need to find our role in this “play”. We can’t all be on center stage taking in children and loving them…although that seems to be the concept so many of us are fed from an early age. Should we do something to help care for orphans? Absolutely! Does that mean putting them on a plane and taking them home? Perhaps…perhaps not. I think the first option we should consider is looking for a local family who can raise them to know the Lord, thrive in their own culture, give back to society, and turn to help out those around them in the country of their birth.

  11. I do agree with Rick, and also enjoyed very much your videos talking about starting up orphanages. I believe putting children in families is very important and did not realize that there were so many willing families available that your orphanage could place children in 53 homes very quickly. I also agree with your statement that instead of an American adopting a child and spending up to 40k, that this money would be better spent helping local families adopt these children.
    Many replies talk of being able to screen potential families. Let me tell you how this is currently going in the US, as the govt. has gotten completely bogged down in assuring children go to “good” homes. There are currently 160k children legally free for adoption in the US and I saw an article online in which the Massachusettes adoption resource exchange patting themselves on the back for placing 164 children in 2014. They feel incredibly proud to have placed “almost 3 children a week”!!!!! This is our pathetic system that prevents these children from having a family.
    In response to Megan, who says many Americans are blessed and should adopt, I can tell you that even with a huge burden to adopt out of the foster system, and even with a Christian family with ample resources, we have found it a huge challenge to get any children in our home. I live in a small town in Wyoming. A social worker will not place an African American child in my home because there is not enough “ethnic diversity” in my town or my state. I cannot adopt an American indian child because those only go to those in the tribal community, but those people don’t want to adopt. I have been trying to get 3 siblings from Colorado but the case worker won’t even consider it because I’m not in that state, even though I’m only 3 hours from the children’s grandparents. A 3 year old with mild cerebral palsy could not be placed in my home because I am 3 1/2 hours from a large children’s hospital, even though the child’s case was mild and he was medically stable, and I am within an hour from an excellent medical facility.
    I agree thought needs to go into where children end up but when children age out if the system because of parylization of the adoption process then something is very wrong!
    Another point to Megan is that we are all called to take the orphans. If you are over 18 then now is your time and you do not need to see others blessed by adoption before you take a child into your home.

    To use the church is an excellent idea and sounds like it is working quite well for them in Rwanda. I Think this model could be used effectively in many places around the world. The key to emptying orphanages seems to be developing a burden for adoption in a world that has grown to be very internally focused and selfish, and a world that knows not its responsibility. Prior to Josiah finding the book of Deuteronomy, the people had no idea how they were to act. I believe this is how the world is with orphans.

    • Kirk,
      Thanks for your comment here. You seem very passionate about this, which we love seeing on our blog! I’m sorry to hear that you are having difficulty finding a child that would be “eligible” to be placed in your home. That must be so frustrating and emotionally trying. We’ll keep you and your family in our prayers and we regularly raise up the fatherless before God and ask Him to place them in a loving, Christ-centered home. Trust Him in the midst of this season…His timing and ways are perfect.


  12. Absolutely, I agree with Saddlebacks approach to orphanages; after all the model of ‘family’ is a God established model. There is nothing more wholesome and healthy for a child to grow up in a loving home; especially a good Christian home. This would far increase the likelihood that this child would make a decision to follow Christ.

    In any orphanage environment, or any environment where there is a child to adult ratio is high (say any greater than 6:1) there will always be challenges to give each child the love, care and personal attention that they will need; each child has unique needs that must be engaged on an individual level; this requires time & personal connection.

    The concern I would have with this program is three fold:

    1. Is the spiritual relationship of the parents being monitored? Orphan children are prone to abuse, who monitors the children’s lives and ensures that they are not being abused or mistreated? Many people claim to be Christians, live their lives publicly of a good Christian but do not honor God in their personal lives. What about teachings? Will the children be given wholesome, God-honoring instruction, discipline and love? This type of monitoring is much easier in an orphanage environment.
    2. It is not a one size-fits-all program; while it may work in Rwanda where the Christian population is 26%1, what of nations like Afghanistan where Christianity is illegal2 or India where the ‘Christian’ population is as low as 2.3%3 (of this figure an approximate 60% are Catholic); it is not feasible to expect the minority to adopt the majority (ie for 10 Christians to adopt 30 orphans each).
    3. What of countries where adoption into Christian families is illegal? Many countries in the Middle East make adoption illegal to anyone who is not a blood relative. According to section 25 of the Constitution of India, Indians are granted freedom of religion, with a clause: conversion in many forms is illegal and a child cannot have its birth religion changed; this means that only when a person turns 18 they are able to officially change religions.4All Indian Christian Council5 has some great information on this however currently their website is down. These countries which make adoption difficult into a Christian home often have a much more relaxed stance on orphans going into a Christian institution.

    In conclusion, I believe that this movement by Rick Warren and the Saddleback church to emptying orphanages in Rwanda is a great one, when it can be achieved in full; it is important to note that their PEACE plan for orphanages goes far and beyond just orphanages and into the very fabric of the nation.6 This is the key, without the support of the church and local government this approach could be dangerous leaving children vulnerable to abuse, mistreatment and false teachings. I feel that in areas where this support, particularly the support of the government is not possible orphanages are the only remaining solution. I also firmly believe that an orphanage institution, done correctly, can be a very good substitute (not perfect) for the family model.7

    1http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/222297.pdf
    2 USCIRF Freedom of Religion report 2005 page 122
    3 http://www.censusindia.gov.in/Census_Data_2001/Census_Data_Online/Social_and_cultural/Religion.aspx
    4 http://lawmin.nic.in/olwing/coi/coi-english/coi-indexenglish.htm
    5 http://www.indianchristians.in/
    6 Youtube: Rick Warren attends Rwanda Shima Imana 2013(iTV)
    7 Just ask my kids... (www.indianorphanage.com)

  13. Question 1: Do you agree with his approach of emptying orphanages in Rwanda? If yes why? If no, why?

    Yes, I do agree because I believe that it is not too much to ask for Christian families, or any family in general to adopt. God speaks about the orphans in the Bible and He will help provide for the orphans that we adopt. James 1:27 is one of my favorite verses and it says, “Religion that God our father accepts as pure and faultless is this, to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” This verse clearly says that God wants us to care for orphans, so once again, yes, I agree with Pastor Rick Warren about his approach to emptying orphanages. I also feel as if there are many families in the United States that God has richly blessed and with their blessings they are more than able to adopt and provide for an orphan. Luke 12:48b says, “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” Most everyone who lives in the United States is better off than anyone in most other countries, so we should be more than willing to follow Pastor Rick Warren’s approach to emptying orphanages.

    Question 2: What are the pros and cons (if any) that you see in the approach he is taking

    I see pros in the way that he is asking Christian families to adopt; this will first of all bring the orphans to Christ and place them in a safe, loving family and atmosphere. Secondly, as I have already mentioned, I firmly believe that God will provide financially and in whatever other ways may be needed to make the adoption possible. I may be such a big advocate because I would like to adopt an orphan whenever I get to that stage in my life and I have been around other families who have adopted and I see how wonderful it is and how blesses the children and families are once they adopt.

  14. Yes I agree with what Pastor Rick Warren is doing in Rwanda. Orphanages are the last place we want to have our children. Children need to have a loving family that will be care for them and give them the attention they need and so rightly deserve.

    Some of the pros of Pastor Rick’s approach are that the children are going to Christian homes that are going to be able to take care of the immediate needs as well as start a foundation for their spiritual walk. It is so important for children to have seeds planted in them at an early age because it gets harder for them to change as they get older.

    Some questions I would have for Pastor Rick is what kind of training are the families going to get? I would imagine you would want the families to be able to lead a child biblically and that means a lot more than going to church on Sunday. Are they being prepped to handle a child from another country? Are they trained in the child’s culture and taught on how to introduce your culture slowly not for it to be too much too soon. Are the children getting any kind of counseling if needed? It’s got to be rough and I can only imagine what the children went through so is there anything set up for their mental state.

    I hope Pastor Warren and his staff is doing their best to find any kind of family members for these children in hope they could take them. Yes, we have better education and health care but in my opinion nothing could be better for the child than being raised by a capable family member.

    If all options have been extinguished, I truly believe that finding Christian families for these children are a better option than the orphanages they are in.

    • Jacob, I am glad that you asked those questions; I would love to know the answers to them also. It is one thing to get them out of the orphanages, but like you said, we must also be sure that they are going to capable families that will be the best for that child or children. We always need to keep the child’s best interest first and foremost. We want to love and nurture theses orphans and show them love and lead them to Jesus Christ our Savior. We do not want to place them in a home that they will be worse off in than the orphanage, that would destroy the point of adoption. I believe that God would lead us to the right families to adopt the orphans and care for them in a loving, Godly, family.

  15. Yes I agree with Rick about his approach of emptying orphanages in Rwanda. I believe it is true that children would rather be in a family than institutionalize.

    The church is one of the ways that can do this because they have families and I am sure there are some who would want to have a child to love and take care of. One of the reasons being, from a Christian aspect we all are adopted into God’s family and God is love so we can show love to the children.

    Another reason is the conditions of orphanages, most of the time there are so many children that they are not cared for properly. As far as, feeling loved, having stability in their lives. In an orphanage it is so easy to be taken advantage of by the people that should be taking care of them.

    Some orphanages see kids as a business, The bed is a foam mattress with an old sheet raped across it. The room smells of stale urine. It is absolutely filthy. Even institutions run by well-intentioned owners have their shortcomings compared to a good family home. ( http://www.voanews.com/content/rwanda-child-policy-spells-possible-end-of-orphanages-142619126/179890.html) Voice of America

    Some of the pros and cons of this concept of Churches taken in orphans is the children will be in loving homes and have a chance at a better life than in orphanage.. They will have a family that loves them and will take care of them not for money but to show God’s love. They will know what a real family is like and can grow to make a difference in life. Because they are in a family there is time spent teaching them, a comfortable place to sleep as well as a foundation to learn the Word of God. This will occur when churches are doing what God has called us to do. I believe that there should be no orphanage in Rwanda, and this is a good start.

    • Hope, I love how you talked about God adopted us into His family so we should be more than willing to adopt these orphans into ours. I think that is an aspect that people often forget when considering adopting or looking at families that have adopted. My prayer every night for children and orphans is that they would feel loved, special, beautiful, important, and most of all that they would accept Jesus into their hearts. I believe the best way for them to feel like this and come to know Jesus is in a Christian family. I feel as if some people make the excuse that they do not have the money to adopt and provide for another child, but I know that God will provide for them and help take care of that child financially.