Web-Banner-for-CAFO-SiteOn Orphan Sunday, November 2, 2014, we have the chance to celebrate all the ways God is reaching His children! Circumstances of relational brokenness, financial poverty, natural disasters and widespread illnesses have brought them to this point, but God doesn’t leave them there. He is coming for them, lifting them up, defending their cause, making them a home, inclining his ear, and executing the dozens of promises He has written for them.

Here are ten ways you can celebrate Orphan Sunday in your home this year:

  • Pray. Pray for children in a specific country, age group, or gender group. Pray for their health, their friendships, and their futures.
  • Sponsor a child. Consider our child sponsorship program and bring a child into your extended family. As Andy Stanley says, “Do for one what you wish you could do for all.”
  • Reach out to a missionary and encourage them on this day. Send an email, a message over social media or a care package. They would love to know you are thinking of them!
  • Take fifteen minutes and look up God’s promises to orphans. As you read God’s Word, ask Him to share with you how you participate with Him in this mission.
  • Post, tweet, and activate your social networks. Let them know how you are using this day to pray and sacrifice for the fatherless. View sample tweets and Facebook posts designed to help you spread the word.
  • Build awareness in your local church. Ask your church if you could put something in thebulletin or church website, raising awareness of the plight of the orphan.
  • Look up an adoption agency online. Most agencies have a waiting child photo listing. Scroll past the pictures and pray for the waiting children. Is there anyone you might be able to forward the link?
  • Take a meal to an adoptive or foster family. There are 400,000 kids currently in foster care. You might not be able to care for their child, but you can always bring them a meal.
  • Explore Safe Families. There is an all-volunteer alternative to the foster system. Volunteers can provide temporary homes, support these host families, and also aid birth families.  Learn more about Safe Families.

However you spend this day, please know we are grateful that you are joining in this work!

Beth Guckenberger is the mother of a bunch of biological, adopted and foster children.  She and her husband, Todd, direct Back2Back Ministries.  Beth is the author of several books on the journey of their life abroad.

B2Bblog_SilentNight1Bear with me for a minute while we do some Christmas chronology. Zechariah and Elizabeth are parents of John the Baptist. Zechariah is in the priestly division of Abijah (their priestly duty was in June). Elizabeth is pregnant “shortly after”, presumably late June. (Luke 1)

Six months later, during Hanukkah, the baby leaps in her womb at the newly conceived Jesus. Jesus, the Light of the World, was conceived during the Festival of Lights. He was born nine months later, in September, when Jews celebrate Sukkoth, the Feast of the Tabernacles. It makes all the sense in the world now why, when Luke writes about the baby’s arrival, he literally writes, Jesus ‘tabernacled’ among us. To tabernacle means ‘to dwell among’ and of all the places Jesus could have chosen to dwell, he picked the stinky animal shack. All that darkness makes the light shine even brighter, and He has been seeking out the darkest corners and dwelling there ever since.

In these tabernacle moments when we feel Him near, we can sense His dwelling among us. To borrow a phrase from the fifth century Christians, we are in a thin place, where the boundary between heaven and earth is especially thin, and we can sense the divine more readily.

Last Christmas, I had one of those moments at a children’s home in Monterrey, Mexico. We were in the hillside chapel at Casa Hogar Douglas, singing Christmas carols and watching children in animal costumes and girls with bells perform a few numbers they had rehearsed. We culminated the evening with a candlelight service (yes, we temporarily lost our sanity and handed fire to 75 children), and sang Silent Night together in two languages. At the last moment, I decided to FaceTime my dear friend, Judy Morand. She had sang with children many times in that chapel, but on this particular night was receiving chemotherapy in the U.S. for a disease that has since taken her life. Once the connection came through and she ‘joined’ us in that chapel, I walked over to her sponsor child and together they sang Silent Night, in the dark, with a candle, praising a God who connected these two lives in friendship, who shouldn’t even know each other, let alone, love one another. But that is what happens when Jesus tabernacles among us – He makes space between relationships where love fills in.

I could hardly speak as I watched a young orphan boy get his ‘cup filled’, as his heart was touched by Judy’s life and love for him. I watched Judy’s eyes lift above her circumstances to a place where love and relationships count more than anything else. In reaching out, and loving each other, they honored the Christ child who tabernacled among us. “Noche de paz, holy night…” We sang together, finding ourselves that evening in the thinnest of places.

This advent season, when shopping and noise, parties and feasting threaten to crowd out the thin places, just stop. Remember He has come to tabernacle among us. He wants to shine His light in our darkest of corners and fill the space with love.

Beth Guckenberger is the mother of a bunch of biological, adopted and foster children.  She and her husband, Todd, direct Back2Back Ministries. Beth is the author of several books on the journey of their life abroad, including Reckless Faith (Zondervan).