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Guatemalan Conference Moves the Local Church
by Ronne Rock
Posted on Sunday, July 07, 2013
This June, history was made in the Central American country of Guatemala. For the first time ever, 300 pastors, seminary students, and NGO representatives gathered to address God’s mandate to care for orphaned and vulnerable children.

Simply called “The Orphan-The Church’s mandate to care for the least of these,” the conference partnered the expertise of United States-based orphan care ministries including Christian Alliance for Orphans, Hope for Orphans, Legacy Orphan Ministry of LifePoint Church, Orphan Outreach, and, with Guatemalan ministry leaders Central America Theological Seminary (SETECA), Amor del Nino, and Vida Real Iglesia Cristiana. Additionally, the National Council for Adoption (CNA) and the Office of Social Affairs for the Municipality of Guatemala offered insights on both current and future initiatives to promote adoption and foster care.

Conference topics were comprehensive, ranging from the theology of adoption and the role of the local church in orphan care to working with at-risk children and foster care as a positive alternative to institutional care.

One of the most compelling moments in the conference came when Noah Pennington, youngest son of Hope for Orphan’s Paul Pennington, spoke about his own adoption (pictured bottom right). Born in South Korea, Noah received loving care from a foster family for 18 months before becoming part of his forever family.

"The purpose of the conference was to awaken the Guatemalan church to see its place in orphan care in Guatemala,” shares Tiffany Taylor Wines, Orphan Outreach Director of Marketing and Development. “In 2012, only 70 children were adopted domestically in Guatemala – and hundreds of waiting children are longing to be part of a family. Even more children could be placed in homes through foster care. We’ve seen the impact that can happen when the local church invests in the lives of the discarded. Our community of ministries in both the US and Guatemala believes real life-giving change is possible here."

It is that vision that now drives an even greater purpose–mobilizing the Guatemalan Church to provide holistic care for orphaned and vulnerable children through an alliance of NGOs, ministries, and government partners. Says David Hennessey, Director for Global Movements for the Christian Alliance for Orphans, “At the end of the conference, we met with a group of about 25 leaders to discuss developing the Guatemalan alliance. Several Guatemalan leaders committed to meeting again to develop a leadership team, inviting other Guatemalans who were not present at the conference.” With David at the helm, the Christian Alliance for Orphans has committed to coaching, sharing expertise and best practices, and most importantly, providing ongoing prayer support. Mike Douris and the Orphan Outreach leadership team will be actively involved in the development of the alliance.

Wines is encouraged by the enthusiasm shown by all who were part of the conference. “We ask now that those who serve with Orphan Outreach pray for all of the organizations actively involved in the creation of the Guatemalan alliance. Pray for unity and for favor. And pray also for the children whose lives will forever be changed as we together live out the mandate of James 1:27.”


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