Rick Warren: ‘Orphans are not a cause’
Posted by faithandthelaw on May 25, 2010
LAKE FOREST – Groups of parents, children and adopted children walked across the stage at Saddleback Church carrying signs.
The signs read: “Teenage mom pregnant in Korea.” “New family.” “I love my life.”
“I’m here to speak for those who have no voice,” said Andrew Quickle, 16, who was adopted by an Orange County family from an orphanage in Ukraine. “Far away in the U.S., my parents were praying for a child. Feb. 6, 1988. I got adopted. Even though we didn’t speak the same language, I knew they were my family.”
Pastor Rick Warren on Monday night focused on orphans and adoption during Saddleback’s Civil Forum. Warren dispelled myths about adopting children and talked about the importance of orphan care illustrated in the Bible. More than 800 filled the church’s main sanctuary. The event was broadcast live on a webcast.
“Orphans and vulnerable children are not a cause,” said Warren. “They are a biblical and social mandate we can’t ignore. A country half the size of the U.S – that’s how many orphans there are in the world. We’re not talking about a small problem.”
The forum featured testimonies from Russell Moore, dean of the School of Theology at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky.; Susan Hillis, senior HIV researcher at the Centers for Disease Control; Michael Riley, chief deputy director of the Orange County Social Services Agency; and Elizabeth Styffe, Saddleback’s director for the Orphan Care Initiative.
Riley said that last month his agency received more than 4,000 calls on alleged child abuse. The main reason children are taken into protective custody is because of severe neglect and sexual exploitation.
“The myth is that if you have dirty dishes in the sink, we’ll take the children.” said Riley. “That’s not true. We have only taken 5 percent.”
Riley said many parents who abuse children still love their children, but they just don’t know to take care of them.
“Orange County is more than the OC,” Riley said. “Santa Ana is more densely populated than New York City. The mean age in Santa Ana is 26. That approaches Third World standards. It’s not just adoption and foster care. But it’s care from the community to support these families.”
According to UNICEF and USAID, the global orphan crisis affects the lives of 143 million children every day. The latest figures show that there are 463,000 American children in the foster-care system, of which 123,000 are waiting for adoption. About 3,000 children are in foster care in Orange County, with about 300 children waiting for permanent homes.
Warren challenged his membership, saying that if one person in each of Saddleback’s 4,400 small group ministry involved themselves in the lives of a child, the Orange County need could be eliminated.
The topic has become a focus of the Lake Forest-based church due in part to its work on HIV/AIDs awareness.
“I didn’t know the statistics were that high,” said Alicia Rantos, who is working on becoming a court-appointed special advocate for children and attended the Monday night event. “I came here because I wanted more information about what else I can do.”