Four Things We Learned at CAFO2016

June 10, 2016

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Every year the Christian Alliance for Orphans (CAFO) hosts a global summit intended to bring together individuals and organizations all over the world who uphold the cause of the orphan.  It’s a two-day conference with invitational workshops and collaboration in the days preceding the summit.  This year, Palmer Home attended the conference in order to debut Whole Child Initiative, our comprehensive approach to caring for children.  I had the privilege of attending the CAFO Summit this year, and would love to share with you a few things I learned and experienced there.

1. God’s heart is for the orphan.
One of my favorite verses has always been the passage in Matthew where Jesus tells his followers that whatever they have done for “the least of these” was actually for Him.  In any civilization, vulnerable children most certainly constitute the “least” of society.  It’s easy to get bogged down some days in the hard parts of caring for a child with a traumatic past, or to lose heart considering all of the evil things a child may have seen in their young life. I find there is tremendous hope and joy when my focus returns to the simple fact that God’s love for these children is overwhelmingly deep, and every menial task done for them is actually done for Him.

2. The Church must rise up.
In response to God’s love for us and his equal love for the orphan, there is but one response for the Christian church: Love like Jesus.  During CAFO I had the privilege of speaking to individuals from Kenya, Democratic Republic of Congo, El Salvador, Mexico, Ukraine, Haiti, South Carolina, and everywhere in between.  Around the world, the plight for vulnerable children worsens, yet around the world it is Christians who are rising up to make a difference.  While it is true that governments have a responsibility to their citizens, the Church often has the resources and passion to be a large part of the solution.

3. Training is needed.
While the Church is more and more willing to meet the needs of these children, we heard again and again that training was needed to help equip caregivers to understand the special needs of children from hard places.  Whole Child Initiative is excited to be able to provide the type of resources that will help individuals around the world through our online training and our community-based discussion forums.  We’ve learned through over 120 years of experience that care must look at the “whole child”; that is to say, no one area can be neglected without it affecting all other areas of a child’s life.  We love being able to address the needs of a child physically, educationally, emotionally, and spiritually, and we are so glad we can share this resource with others.

4. We are not alone.
There are amazing organizations all over the planet who are working hard to be the answer for every child in need. While the statistics are often daunting and the task before us may seem overwhelming, it’s so encouraging to see that we are not alone in our efforts. While our friends in Democratic Republic of Congo work to equip grandmothers to care for orphans whose lives have been ravaged by war, and while our friends from Ukraine strive to be a safe place for children living on the streets, our neighbors here in the U.S. search to find ways to increase the odds of success for children aging out of foster care.  Whole Child Initiative will keep producing the best possible training and resources to equip those in our back yard and those a world away.
We each have a role to play.
What will your role be?