Family is The Answer: Saddleback Santa Rosa and Victory Fort

Marc Paredes

Everyday, countless children are orphaned and abandoned. At the same time, an immeasurable amount of humans have an overflowing capacity to love these kids; to adopt them. However, even before we were put in the picture, it was God Himself who first thought of adoption. The God of the universe who created everything, who is good in all measure and ways—this God who is infinitely perfect had always wanted us to be a part of His family. In His master-plan of loving and saving all of humankind, adopting us was never something he second-guessed. His solution has always been and will forever be to adopt us into His family.  

Ephesians 1:5-6 says, “In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.” Out of His undying love for us, and because He himself is love, adopting us into His family was never a mere afterthought or passing idea. It has always been at the very heart of God.

This is the impetus of ROHEI Foundation’s (RF) forum series called Family is the Answer. The goal of this series is simple: to help families and churches all over the Philippines to have a deeper understanding of the life-changing message of adoption and to equip them to actively take ownership in caring for the orphaned and abandoned.

Saddleback Church Santa Rosa

The foundation kicked the series off at Saddleback Church Santa Rosa last April 28, 2019. It began with a video message from Pastor Rick Warren, founder and senior pastor of Saddleback Church in California, with his wife, Kay Warren. This inspirational video essentially talked about how families and churches were—and continue to be—the solution to end the orphan crisis around the world.

Following this moving message from Pastor Rick, our Managing Director, Chrina Cuna-Henson, alongside Rachel Escosar, one of RF’s volunteers, shared their own personal testimonies. Chrina imparted how the foundation came to be and what its vision is: to see a world where every orphan is adopted into a family, breaking the generational cycle of illegitimacy and poverty. On top of this, she also shared her own heartwarming story of adopting her daughter, and reiterated how all throughout this process, she and her husband were not extraordinarily special. They were simply, but faithfully, saying yes to God. On the other hand, Rachel shared her own struggles and triumphs from the lens of someone who was adopted. She narrated how the world will try to twist what God meant to be beautiful but throughout all of those societal stigmas, her family accepted her wholeheartedly. Rachel shared how she has been adopted twice—once here on earth and the other by Jesus Christ. (Read more of Rachel’s story here.)

After these powerful testimonials, the program pivoted to another video, featuring the Tica Family that is comprised of Pastor James Tica, his wife Issa, their five sons and two foster children. In the video, the Tica family shared their experience on how their family and their church community radicalized two things. First, they took on, head-and-heart-strong challenge of fostering children. Second, they equipped the youth through education, mentoring, discipleship and livelihood initiatives in order for them to have a better shot at a brighter future. It is through the story of the Tica family that the iFoster program of the non-stock, non-profit organization, Operation Compassion Philippines Inc., was introduced. Operation Compassion envisions a society of progressive and empowered families and communities passionate for God and country. Together with DSWD, they work hand-in-hand in providing technical and logistical aid on how to legally foster and adopt in the Philippines.

Next, Ardy Roberto, a prolific and acclaimed author, esteemed entrepreneur, and a sought-after speaker, shared his own testimony on the adoption journey of his son, Joshua. He recounted that early on in his life, he knew that God wanted him to adopt. This was something that God planted deep in his heart. And although the adoption journey of his son was long and difficult, the moment that he held Joshua for the first time made everything worth it.

After Ardy’s testimonial, an open forum was conducted to give the audience the chance to ask their questions. The panel consisted of Chrina from the foundation, Minnette Gonzales from Operation Compassion, Kristine Rabino from DSWD Region IV-A, Gerald Clark from The Home For Good Foundation Adoption Ministry, and Ardy Roberto. The open forum and the entire event was hosted by Pastor Jo Caipang from Saddleback Church Santa Rosa.


Victory Fort Bonifacio

The second leg of Family is the Answer was held on May 4, 2019 at Victory Fort Bonifacio. The flow of the day was essentially the same as the first leg, but the central message for this event was given by Pastor Jun Escosar. Pastor Jun is the World Missions Director of Every Nation and has been a long time pastor, preacher and teacher in Victory. He is also the loving father of Rachel Escosar. In his message, Pastor Jun talked about adoption and the heart of God. He shared the beautiful adoption journey they have had with Rachel, and all the while drawing parallels on how God wants to adopt us all into His own family. He described that their decision to go the legal route of adopting Rachel was expensive and tedious but undoubtedly worth it. He told the audience that they intentionally did this so that the court would recognize Rachel as having full rights as their daughter. Similarly, Pastor Jun hinged on this image that those of us who are adopted into the family of God now possess the full rights as children of God. And now, we can call Him “Father”.

To further discuss Operation Compassion and the iFoster program, the president of the organization, Jose Marie “Butch” Albert, was in attendance. Butch encouraged everyone to carry the mission of adoption and fostering into their homes, allowing for a space where one-on-one personal discipleship could be the norm. Furthermore, the businessman-philanthropist also motivated the church to intentionally work together with the government.

Just like the first leg of the series, the program concluded with an open forum. The panel for this leg consisted of Chrina, Pastor Jun Escosar, Butch Albert, a representative from DSWD NCR, Minnette Gonzales from Operation Compassion, and mom and advocate Chary Mercado. The event was hosted by Pastor Paolo Punzalan of Victory Fort.

Galatians 4:4-5 says, “but when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law,  to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons and daughters.” Adopting all of us has always been at the heart of God. And this fact will forever remain unchanged. God continues to reach out to each and every single one of us so we could be a part of His family, so we could call Him, “Abba! Father!”

As His body and church, God poses the same challenge to us. He calls us to reflect His heart to the fatherless, to the abandoned, and to the orphaned. He commissions us to share His heart to every person in our lives. He disrupts our mindsets and perspectives so we could see how through the miracle of adoption, we perceive not only how loved we are by our Father but also and especially how we have the same capacity to love others as well.

We thank everyone who has participated and attended our forums. It is truly encouraging to witness individuals, families, and churches catch this mission and commandment from God. Let’s work together in advocating for adoption and building a positive attitude towards it. If you would like to hear us speak in your church, please do let us know, and we would be more than happy to be there. Each added heart and mind makes a stronger front for this worthwhile fight.

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