Adventist Church Calls for Safeguarding Orphans and Vulnerable Children

Delegates to Cambodia event commit to empowerment of those who most need it.

Edward Rodriguez, Southern Asia-Pacific Division, and Adventist Review
Adventist Church Calls for Safeguarding Orphans and Vulnerable Children
Edward Rodriguez, Southern Asia-Pacific Division, and Adventist Review

Driven with the purpose of compassion and commitment, delegates convened for the first Orphans and Vulnerable Children’s (OVC) Ministries Global Congress, held February 21–26 in Siem Reap, Cambodia, and themed, “Learn, Seek, Defend, and Disciple.” More than 80 delegates representing Seventh-day Adventist organizations and institutions involved in OVC ministries joined the gathering.

Amid fervent discussions on pressing social, political, and moral issues around the world, attendees echoed a singular imperative: safeguarding society’s most vulnerable — orphans and vulnerable children. In a demonstration of unwavering commitment, the international assembly united in a plea resonating with empathy and advocacy, embodying the core values of the Adventist community.  
Linda Koh, retired General Conference children’s ministries director, opened the congress with a poignant address. Her stirring words served as a profound reminder, urging attendees to invoke the presence of the Holy Spirit to illuminate a broader perspective of the mission ahead. Emphasizing the imperative of inclusivity, Koh’s message resonated deeply, urging collective action to uplift the vulnerable and neglected among us.
“The mission transcends borders. As stated in Acts 26:18, God beckons us to open our eyes ‘so that they may turn from darkness to light,’ ” Koh eloquently emphasized. She urged participants to view this ministry through the lens of fostering an environment of acceptance and belonging.

Unfortunately, across the globe, millions of children find themselves orphaned due to a myriad of reasons, including the ravages of war, famine, displacement, disease, and poverty. It is depressing to learn from statistics that out of the more than 132 million children who are considered orphans, a staggering 13 million have experienced the loss of both parents.
The profound impact of these staggering statistics prompted the organization of a historic congress, drawing together church leaders, ministry pioneers, and humanitarian advocates for a pivotal gathering aimed at deliberating, discussing, and raising awareness about the crucial role of every Adventist church member worldwide. At the core of each Possibility Ministry lies a fundamental objective: the restoration of dignity and personal worth in those they serve. Central to this mission is the recognition and cultivation of hidden talents, directing them toward selfless service for the betterment of others. Possibility Ministries strives to extend understanding, hope, and belief in the individual while at the same time opening doors of opportunity for meaningful engagement, following Jesus’ compassionate example. Ultimately, the essence of all Possibility Ministries lies in their dedication to restoring purpose and significance to the lives they touch.

Under the theme, “Learn, Seek, Defend, and Disciple,” delegates representing Seventh-day Adventist organizations and institutions involved in Orphans and Vulnerable Children’s Ministries joined the gathering. [Photo: Southern Asia-Pacific Division]

“We’re not only tasked with identifying the vulnerable; we’re also called to send them,” Larry Evans, retired assistant to the president for Adventist Possibility Ministries (APM), emphasized. “Our objective is to empower them so that they, in turn, can uplift others,” he said.

As an initiative of the Adventist world church, APM stands as one of its four major endeavors. It embodies an integrative and collaborative approach, seeking to engage every facet of the church in its mission. This inclusive ministry actively involves pastors, laypeople, and individuals of all ages and backgrounds, recognizing that through collective effort, a broader community can be reached and ministered to effectively.

The Cambodia event delved into crucial topics concerning the protection and support of orphans and vulnerable children. With contributions from OVC Ministries across hardship-stricken regions, the meeting was more than presentations, group discussions, prayer sessions, and heartfelt testimonies.

“This congress offers a diverse array of activities, encouraging delegates to actively engage in discussions and recognize the profound significance of OVCs work,” Doug Venn, current assistant to the president for APM, said. “Our ultimate aim is that each participant departs with a transformed perspective on this ministry, embodying God’s compassion and instilling a genuine sense of spirituality in every child we encounter.”

The meeting attracted speakers from the global church network, thus affirming their solidarity and support for the congress’s mission. With a clear understanding of the challenges inherent in this field, the event set forth ambitious aspirations. Organizers fervently pray that it will ignite widespread awareness, thereby extending the reach of OVC initiatives to embrace every member of this marginalized community.

The original version of this story was posted on the Southern Asia-Pacific Division news site.

Edward Rodriguez, Southern Asia-Pacific Division, and Adventist Review