The goal of Show Hope’s Student Initiatives program is to educate and mobilize students. From the origin story of Show Hope to each of the different student programs throughout the years, we have repeatedly witnessed the power of students and the potential they hold when they unite to create change. Church youth groups are one of the biggest opportunities we have to engage students and get them involved in orphan care and adoption advocacy. However, church staff members have full plates, volunteers are already spread thin, and curriculum is planned far in advance. If this is your current situation, you may be thinking, How do I get my youth group involved with orphan care?
To answer the “how to” of getting a youth group involved, we must first address the “why.” When we understand more clearly why we should be involved, we’re in a better position to take action. Youth groups should be involved with orphan care for, at least, the following three reasons:
1. To follow God’s Word
“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world”(James 1:27).
This familiar passage is not a suggestion but a command. It is not an idea but a calling. To serve God in a way that is “pure and undefiled” requires serving, loving, and caring for the most vulnerable. James also does not include any caveat that this is only for adults. If students want to love and serve God in a way that is true and genuine, they, too, will love and care for the vulnerable.
2. To follow Jesus’ example
The life of Jesus is the greatest example of how we are called to serve the vulnerable, broken, and forgotten. To the children who were seen as culturally unimportant, Jesus said let them “come to me” (Mark 10:14). To the man with leprosy who was shunned from society and deprived of human interaction, Jesus touched him and healed him (Matthew 8:3). Throughout the gospels, Jesus exemplifies what it looks like to see, heal, and love those who are thought of as the “least of these” to the world (Matthew 25:40).
3. To set an example for others
“Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity”(1 Timothy 4:12).
This exhortation from Paul to his younger disciple Timothy serves as an excellent reminder that age does not hold you back from setting an example for other believers. The global orphan issue can feel overwhelming.. It’s far too big for one person to “fix” on his or her own. However, the ripple effect students can create by focusing on how they speak, act, and love can spur others on to action as well. This will create a far greater impact than one student could ever achieve on their own. Step out in faith, trusting that God will use whatever efforts you offer to serve the vulnerable in his name to do far more than you could imagine.
Now that we have a greater understanding of why youth groups should be involved with orphan care and adoption advocacy, let’s look specifically at how to get your group involved. There are two main ways you can engage students in caring for vulnerable children.
The power of education cannot be overestimated. When students become aware of a need, they then have reason to care. Once teenagers and young adults have their eyes opened to problems, this can shape the way they utilize their time and resources for the rest of their lives. Show Hope’s current Student Initiative, Pause Campaign, is centered on the idea of educating students as to ignite awareness which leads to action. Pause Campaign is a wonderful tool for youth groups because it provides everything needed for teens to spend a week learning more about the needs of children who have been orphaned and what the Bible says about the call to care for them. During Pause, students are encouraged to step away from the daily distractions of social media to create time to read, reflect, and pray about how they may be able to help stand in the gap for vulnerable children. Show Hope’s goal is to make student education and mobilization as easy as possible for churches. Change starts with education; once the knowledge barrier is addressed with students, mobilization will follow.
Once mobilized, possibilities are endless for ways students can begin making a difference in the lives of others during this unique time in their lives. This list contains four ideas that any youth ministry can use to engage.
– Prayer Night
The power of prayer is where true change begins to take place. Having a night focused on praying for waiting children, waiting families, biological families, and child services professionals can be incredibly impactful. A prayer night is also an awesome opportunity to invite your entire church community to participate in and allow students to begin setting an example for others to follow!
– Respite Care Night
Foster and adoptive parents need support and time to rest and refresh. By offering a parents’ night out for foster and adoptive families in your church, students can be an encouragement and blessing to families.
Adoption is expensive, ranging between $25,000 and $50,000. In fact, the financial barrier is one of the most prominent standing between waiting children and families. When students volunteer their time to host a carwash, bake sale, or movie night, the funds they raise can be donated to Show Hope to help support families in the adoption process.
– Befriend a fellow student impacted by adoption and/or foster care
One of the greatest ways you can show your desire to love and support individuals whose stories are impacted by adoption and foster care is by befriending them. When you encourage students in your youth group to be intentional about listening to student adoptee’s stories, seeking ways to honor their journey, and finding ways to connect with them as a fellow student, they can make an impact that lasts a lifetime.
As followers of Jesus, we are called to care for vulnerable children. To get your youth group involved in orphan care, first educate students. Once students understand the need, the biblical calling, and the opportunity, assist them in taking an action step. At Show Hope, we believe students can make a difference not just someday but today.
If we can partner alongside you in educating and mobilizing your youth group, please email us at email@example.com.