“Religion that God the 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.”
- James 1:27
According to UNICEF there are over 143 Million Orphans and 400 Million vulnerable children in the world. If they were a country, Orphans would be the 8th largest country in the world – larger than Russia.
Does the Church of Jesus Christ have an answer to 143 Million Orphans?
It has the ONLY answer. Christ in YOU.
Grace 1:27 is the Orphan Care ministry of Grace Chapel, including programs for adoption, adoption funding, orphan care, foster care and mentoring. There is a wide variety of ways to be involved and a place for everyone. As you can see above, the need is HUGE. Here are some of the ways Grace Chapel is involved and how you can get involved.
When people think about orphans, often they think the only way they can be involved is to adopt. Grace 1:27 has several programs to help with the adoption process if this fits you...but adoption is not for everyone...but everyone can participate. Whether it is through physically adopting a child, helping to fund the adoption, being a resource for the adoptive family, or volunteering to help along the way you can be involved. Below are several ways.
Adopting A Child
Research shows us that 33% of Christians consider adoption...only 1% ever do, leaving more than 120,000 children each year in the US alone without a stable long-term loving family situation. Adoption is a noble calling, but a challenging one. There are issues of family fit, availability, long term resources, and funding that must be considered. Most people consider the funding to be the biggest barrier. In reality this is the easiest. If you are considering adoption, there are several ways to do that: private adoption, international adoption, foster to adopt and others. We invite you to begin your journey here http://www.adoptionjourney.com/ which is filled with great resources. In addition, an absolute MUST for you is to visit www.empoweredtoconnect.org for terrific videos and resources to help you know what to expect in the adoption process. We would be happy to speak with you about this. Please contact the church office to connect to the ministry leader.
Adoptive Mom Support Group
Whether you are considering adoption or have already adopted, having a support group to walk with you along the way is extremely important. There is an adoptive mom's support group that meets often to encourage each other, share ideas, and love on each other. For more information contact Amy Spencer at email@example.com or 615-504-0886. There is also a Facebook Group setup for sharing questions. Go to this link for for more information.
Funding the Adoption
Most people stop their adoption journey simply overwhelmed at the cost of adoption up front. Don't let this stand in your way. Adoptions can range in cost from $1,000-$40,000 depending on the location of the child. But funding is easier than it seems. First, the US government provides a $13,360 tax credit (not deduction - which means this is $13,360 reduction in your tax bill which is now refundable). Grace Chapel also has a grant program for families that are adopting. To get an application for this matching grant, contact Greg Buzek at firstname.lastname@example.org or call +1.615-591.2955. Other sources of funding include the following organizations:
LifeSong for Orphans - LifeSong provides no interest loans to Christian families in adoption process.
Both Hands - Provides a fundraising opportunity where you raise funds by having your friends and family get sponsored for fixing a widow's home. One family at Grace raised $24,000 with this single fundraiser. We love this one.
Show Hope - Show Hope provides adoption grants to families wishing to adopt.
Abba Fund - Abba Fund provides no interest loans to families for adoption. Loans are paid back from the proceeds of the tax credit.
Helping Families to Adopt
You may not have the ability to adopt, but you perhaps have the resources to help a family financially that is raising money for adoption. You can contribute to the overall Grace Chapel Adoption fund here. The program is administered by LifeSong for Orphans. Simply put "Grace Chapel Adoption Fund" in the memo line and that money will go to help families in Grace Chapel. If you prefer that directed towards a particular family, mention "preference" that family in the memo line.
Orphan Care/Foster Care Locally here in Tennessee
Sadly, less than 1% of all orphaned children worldwide are available to be adopted here in the US. A much larger issue is orphan care, providing care and resources for children in an ongoing manner. You have a choice to get involved locally or internationally. There are numerous ways to get involved locally.
Safe Families - One of the greatest ways to get involved is to be a Safe Family, a family that provides respite care to an at-risk family who finds themselves in a situation that could potentially deteriorate to them losing their kids. For instance, if a mom needs to go to rehab or escape an abusive relationship but there is no safe place for her kids to go...either the state takes the kids or she doesn't get help. The statistics are stunning. State custody, meant to be a safety net is often a trap door. 80% of all prison inmates spent at least some time in foster care. Safe Families are Christian Families who step up and say..."We will watch your kids so you can get back on your feet and this family can be put back together." It brings the mission field home. The average placement is a 4 year old for 45 days. Contact Bethany Christian Services here locally at 615-242-0909 to get involved.
Safe Room - The Safe Rooms is a partnership with Davidson County DCS where volunteers from local churches staff a room to minister to children who have just been removed from their home. So while the case worker is trying to find a placement, you spend time with the child, loving on them, helping them pick out some toys, games, etc. Volunteering is 1-2 days a month on call. For more information, contact Rees Greenman at Rees.Greenman@tn.gov.
Foster Care - You can be a foster parent. There is a great need for foster parents. Please note that in Williamson County, the need is for foster parents who are willing to take teenagers. There are plenty of volunteers for younger kids. But 60% of the teens in the county are housed outside of the county now because of a lack of foster parents.
CASA Volunteer - If you like NCIS or some of those shows, CASA might be for you. Court Appointed Special Advocates are volunteers who advocate and research for the best interests of children in cases that the state are investigating to see if abuse or neglect has taken place. You do the research, meet the teachers, doctors, family, and recommend on the best care situation for the child to the court. CASA in Williamson, Maury, and Davidson counties are in desperate need of volunteers. For more information go here.
Be a Mentor - Mentoring a child at risk is a great way to be involved. Particularly children who have been removed from their biological parents and are in a foster care. You may be the only adult that doesn't change in their life. The power of a mentor is HUGE in the life of a child. Click Here for more information on the mentoring program.
Middle Tennessee Orphan Alliance - MTOA is a group of churches and ministries around the cause of the orphan and foster child. This group meets the 4th Thursday of every month at Brentwood Baptist Church in Room 2008 from 11:30am-1pm (bring your lunch). This is a wonderful way to see all the different work going on not only here, but around the world. This can help you network and find the best place for you to plug-in to where God would have you get involved. To get on the mailing list, send a note to Cheryl at Jlc5928tn@gmail.com.
Orphan Care Around the World
The largest need in orphan care is worldwide. Of the estimated 143 Million orphaned children in the world, over 142.4 million of them reside outside of the US. Most all live in family situations where income is less than $2 a day. Grace Chapel or ministry leaders are affiliated with a number of organizations we are directly funding or that we recommend.
Josiah's House - Josiah's House is a ministry of hope for homeless and destitute boys living in the Dominican Republic. The home is a beacon of hope for the impoverished community of San Pedro de Macoris.
LifeSong for Orphans - Along with being our partner in the adoption fund, LifeSong provides orphan care in many countries such as Liberia, Ukraine, Zambia, Honduras, India, and many others. They offer numerous vision trips - short trips to understand the ministry and get involved. This a great organization for lay leaders and business types to get involved, as they leverage your skills to make a difference.
Sweet Sleep - This ministry is based in MiddleTN but they provide bedding and mosquito nets to children all over the world with an emphasis on Haiti, Moldova, Uganda, and other places where mosquito born illnesses kill hundreds of thousands of kids a year.
Joseph School - The Joseph School is a new school being built for orphaned children to help produce a new generation of leaders in Haiti. Education, if available, ends at 6th grade in Haiti. This program would allow for private school education through high school.
Show Hope - Maria's Big House of Hope. Show Hope is a ministry founded by Steven Curtis and Mary Beth Chapman. Along with adoption assistance, they have a special needs hospital and home in China. Trips are offered and sponsorships needed for these children.
Warm Blankets - Warm Blankets provide orphan care in an innovative way. They hire widows to staff group homes in impoverished countries and bring in between 15-40 children into those church orphan homes. $1,500 a month can take care of 40 children and caregivers in some of these countries. This is a really cool ministry, with opportunities around the world.
Starfish Foster Home - Starfish rescues cleft pallette and spina bifoda children from Chinese orphanages that are left to die, gets them surgeries and works to get these children adopted. They are saving lives every day.
Reece's Rainbow - Reece's Rainbow works to get children with Down Syndrome within institutions to get adopted. Unfortunately in some countries, if these children are not adopted by age 3 they are placed in mental institutions for the rest of their lives. This wonderful ministry actively looks for parents for these children.
This is just a short list of those organizations we recommend. There are many, many others.
General Links To Help Your Journey
Hope for Orphans - Minstry of Family Life Today with great resources on adoption and orphan care.
I Care About Orphans - Ministry of Focus on the Family
Dave Thomas Foundation - Terrific Site for adoption information, foster care, etc.