We often get asked how people in all circumstances and from all walks of life can get involved in orphan care. How can single people who aren’t married get involved? How can college students get involved? How can families who don’t feel called to adopt get involved? How can we get our kids involved? The good news is that there is truly a way for EVERYONE to get involved in orphan care, and it’s probably a lot easier than you think.
Today, we want to focus on involving your small group (life group, community group, etc.) in orphan care. There’s strength in numbers, and it can be really gratifying to walk alongside those people in your life you already care about deeply and come together in a common cause. The cause being, of course, caring for orphans. It doesn’t have to take a lot of time or money to truly make an impact. Today we want to share ten realistic ways your small group can get involved in orphan care, starting right now!
1. Read a book together // There are many great books on orphan care and our call to serve the orphans and widows. Pick one to read together as a group over the next month, and discuss. Reading books as a group can lead to much richer discussion and thoughts than reading alone, and everyone will come away with new ideas or at least a renewed perspective about what orphan care means and how to “do” it. The world needs more people who are educated and passionate about orphan care who can share that knowledge and passion with others! Some book recommendations include Orphanology, Orphan Justice and In Pursuit ofOrphan Excellence.
2. Listen to a podcast or a sermon as a group // Dedicate an upcoming meeting to listening to a sermon or podcast episode that focuses on orphan care. Discuss the sermon or podcast afterwards--do you agree or disagree with it? Are you fired up to care for orphans? How did the sermon change your mindset or convict you to get involved? Maybe each person can commit to sharing the podcast or sermon with one person outside of the small group afterwards! Some great sermons and podcasts can be found here,hereand here.
3. Pitch in to sponsor a child’s education // Choose an organization that facilitates child sponsorship, find out how much it it will take to sponsor a child’s education for a year, and split that cost up among the everyone in your small group. Each person or family commits to giving a set amount, and together as a group you’re responsible for providing that education for a child for a year. It’s super easy, oftentimes very affordable (especially when the cost is shared) and it makes an incredible impact in the life of a child. Some great organizations for sponsoring education include Christ School Bundibugyo and Elpis Ministries, two organizations we worked with on Media Missions over the last couple months!
4. Donate a gift card to a family that is fostering // Often times, parents who foster children, especially in addition to having other children in the home, never get out or away for a date night or quality time together. The demands on their time are so high that this is one of the first things to fall by the wayside. As a group, pitch in to get a giftcard to a nice restaurant, and gift it to a family you know that is fostering. Write a note as a group, thanking the family for what they’re doing for their foster children, and let them know you’d like them to go to dinner on you. A $50 or $75 gift card might not seem like much and won’t be hard to split up among 10 people in a small group, but it will definitely touch the lives of parents who are fostering--and likely feeling weary, exhausted and sometimes very alone.
5. Have a change jar at each meeting and donate the collected change to an orphan care organization // Those nickels and dimes really add up, and even a minimal amount by our standards can make a huge impact when it’s put to use by orphan care organizations. Use an empty glass jar (or beer growler!) and have it out every time your small group gathers for the next month. Have everyone bring their loose change, and at the end of the month, donate the amount in the jar to an orphan care organization.
6. Pack a care package for an adoptive family // Whether it’s a family from your church or a friend across the country, rally your small group to create a box to bless this family. The package can include a movie or DVD if the family has kids already in the home, some nice bath or beauty products for mom, treats for those tough nights when all they want is some really good dark chocolate, a gift certificate to a restaurant for a date night, coupons for free babysitting or home maintenance, performed by your small group (if the family is local to you), gift cards to stores like WalMart, Target or Amazon for buying essentials after their child comes home, a deck of cards for long plane rides, a journal and pen for writing down the memories and feelings from this precious time in their life.
7. Volunteer to do babysitting or home maintenance for an adoptive or foster family // One way that people can bless and support adoptive or foster families is to make their life easier, even if that’s in really small ways. Get in touch with an adoptive or foster family in your church or area, and ask if you can help them with free babysitting or home maintenance. Things like shoveling snow, mowing the grass once a month, paying their gas bill once a month, babysitting one night a month, etc. Decide on one or a few things that your group would like to do, and create a schedule. Commit to mowing the family’s lawn once a month for a year, and trade off the duty among the small group members. Or perhaps you pay the family’s gas bill once, and split that cost among members. These little things will go such a long way in blessing the family that is trying to figure out their new normal with an adopted or foster child (or children) in their home.
8. Pray // Write a prayer as a group that focuses on orphan care, and pray it each week together. Make copies for everyone in the group for them to display in their home, so they can continue to say the pray on their own or with their families.
9. Organize a drive for your church to collect items for foster children // Contact your local Department of Child Services and ask what they need. Often, this includes clothes, shoes, stuffed animals, backpacks, and toiletries for the kids in their care. Host a collection for these items among your small group, or host a larger collection one Sunday to involve your whole church.
10. Host a shower for an adoptive or foster family // Many times, adoptive parents aren’t given baby showers like biological parents, especially if they are adopting an older child. With the parents’ permission, host a shower to bless this family with what they’ll need for their adopted child. You can do the same for foster families--often times they'll need extra beds, sheets, clothes, shoes and other items for the foster children they'll be caring for.