FORT MYERS–Every man, woman, and child. This is not just another catchy tagline, it is the mission of Summit Church.
With three campuses across the southwest Florida region, Summit is making bold strides in caring for vulnerable children and supporting families that answer the calling. Each year, hundreds of churches dedicate one Sunday, known as Global Orphan Sunday, to advocate and raise awareness for the plight of the fatherless.
“Global Orphan Sunday is always a day that we look forward to,” said Orlando Cabrera, elder of the University Campus at Summit Church. Each year, the church pauses to “consider the plight of vulnerable children all around the world, God’s heart for the vulnerable, and what is it that God has called us to.”
However, with a burning desire to care for the most vulnerable, the church created an initiative that goes beyond a once-a-year calling. “Caring for vulnerable children has been a part of and something that has been central to Summit Church even since the early days,” said Cabrera.
Summit Church has taken Orphan Sunday, which took place on Nov. 8, one step further and created what is known as the Every Child Initiative. According to the church, the emphasis “exists to glorify God by envisioning, equipping, and empowering disciples to have gospel impact in the lives of vulnerable children.”
“Our Every Child Initiative is central to our ministry because we believe its central to the heart of God,” said Cabrera. “We have been so grateful for so many in our church that have stepped in and taken that huge step of faith to advocate for vulnerable children and that is a great thing.”
In their Every Child Initiative service, Cabrera challenged his church to have a proper understanding of orphan care and caring for the most vulnerable. Referencing the book Orphanology, by Tony Merida and Rick Morton, he states that “the greater work of grace is not our adoption of kids, but God’s adoption of us through Jesus Christ.”
“This reflection of God’s love for us should give each person a desire to love the orphan as God has loved us,” he said. “This same gospel compels us to advocate for the needy, the broken, the vulnerable, and the orphan among us.”
The church also hosted a panel discussion on Orphan Sunday that included several of their southwest Florida partners, including One More Child, Lifeline Children’s Services, Better Together, Living Hope International, and various local pregnancy and resource centers.
“Better Together is a private alternative to foster care,” said Megan Rose, CEO of Better Together. “We help equip the church to come alongside families that are in crisis and care for them. Biblical hospitality is our heartbeat.”
“We are not just providing a service through our foster care program. This is absolutely a ministry,” said Janelle Hanaburgh, serving at One More Child. “Children are in Christ-centered homes and being prayer over.”
Cabrera called on every Summit member to accomplish the task of caring for the orphan by praying, advocating, giving, and considering their next step. “All of us are called, in some measure, to fight for the vulnerable,” he said. “God’s people, the church, have always been the ones who have stood on the frontlines to protect, serve, defend, and care for the most vulnerable amongst us.”