February 22, 2024

Adventists Convene in Cambodia to Advocate for Orphans and Vulnerable Children

First global conference seeks to raise awareness, create content to share.

Edward Rodriguez, Southern Asia-Pacific Division
Orphans and Vulnerable Children’s Ministries Global Conference is taking place February 21-26 in Siem Reap, Cambodia. [Image: Adventist Possibility Ministries]

Amid an estimated global population of 1.3 billion individuals grappling with diverse disabilities, the opening of the Orphans and Vulnerable Children’s Ministries Global Congress in Siem Reap, Cambodia, emerges as a spark of inspiration, organizers said. The event aims to spread awareness and encourage the Seventh-day Adventist Church to be part of a movement to build relationships with often neglected individuals around the world.

This global congress, dedicated to Orphans and Vulnerable Children’s Ministries worldwide, symbolizes a concerted effort to address not only physical limitations but also the pervasive challenges of stigma, discrimination, poverty, and exclusion. In a world where access to education, employment, and mental health support remains elusive for many, this initiative marks a significant stride toward inclusivity and empowerment.

From February 21 to 26, the congress is uniting global church leaders, frontline ministries dedicated to serving at-risk children, advocates, and humanitarian groups under the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists umbrella. Delegates come together to promote inclusion, focus, and possibility thinking for marginalized people in the church and society, particularly those who are suffering from a disability or have experienced a personal loss.

Children’s Ministries and Adventist Possibility Ministries (APM) have joined forces to provide care for orphans and vulnerable children. The congress theme, “Learn, Seek, Defend, & Disciple,” is inspired by the Bible text found in Isaiah 1:17, 18. 

“Our collaboration as a church is crucial in making this outreach work. This is not a program, but a lifestyle we need to live by as we intentionally create a safe space of inclusivity for orphans, vulnerable children, and the differently abled,” said Orathai Chureson, Children’s Ministry Department director of the General Conference (GC) of Seventh-day Adventist.

Doug Venn, assistant to the president for APM in the GC, explains how valuable it is for everyone in the church to understand the sense of belonging and inclusion, particularly for those who are often neglected in society.

“God, in His time, actively sought out those who were forgotten and marginalized. Christ’s call for us today is to care for orphans and other vulnerable children around the world. Jesus engaged with people with a genuine desire for their well-being, showing empathy, ministering to their needs, and earning their trust. Following Christ’s method of outreach, He invited them, ‘Follow Me,’ ” Venn emphasized. “It is imperative that we reflect this compassionate character, making sure that those who are physically challenged also have the opportunity to know Jesus,” he said.

This joint venture aims to identify and coordinate ministries of compassion, purpose, and hope by bringing a focus that seeks to inspire, equip, and empower these individuals for personal fulfillment and service to the church and others, organizers said. With a steadfast conviction that “all are gifted, needed, and treasured,” the convention seeks to underscore the fundamental belief that personal worth lies in Christ’s love and purpose for every individual, transcending limitations and abilities.
Event organizers said that part of the objective of this event is to create content for both online and print platforms, aiming to raise awareness about the ministry’s existence and reach the most vulnerable population, which is children. “Through the collaboration between APM and Children’s Ministries, [it is possible to] share a message of hope with everyone, including those marginalized and neglected,” they said.

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