Attendees listen to presentation during congress held in Cambodia (Photo: SSD Communication Department)

General Conference, Southern Asia-Pacific

Adventists Convene in Cambodia to Advocate for Orphans & Vulnerable Children

Global Adventist Leaders and Advocates Gather to Address Shaping the Futures of the Forgotten.

Cambodia | Edward Rodriguez

Amidst an estimated global population of 1.3 billion individuals grappling with diverse disabilities, the opening of the Orphans & Vulnerable Children’s Ministries Global Congress in Siem Reap, Cambodia, is hoping to emerge as a spark of inspiration. The congress aims to spread awareness and encourage the 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 (OVC) Ministries worldwide, symbolizes a concerted effort to address not just 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 towards inclusivity and empowerment.

From February 21–26, 2024, the congress unites global church leaders, frontline ministries dedicated to serving at-risk children, advocates, and humanitarian groups under the Adventist World Church (General Conference) 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.

The Children’s Ministries department and Adventist Possibility Ministries 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 from the General Conference.
Pastor Doug Venn, assistant to the president for Adventist Possibility Ministries in the General Conference, explains how valuable it is for everyone in our church to understand the sense of belongingness 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," Venn concluded.
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. With a steadfast conviction that "all are gifted, needed, and treasured," the convention underscores the fundamental belief that personal worth lies in Christ’s love and purpose for every individual, transcending limitations, and abilities.
The Adventist Church in Southern Asia-Pacific is poised to host this inaugural global congress. 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 Adventist Possibility and Children’s Ministries, a powerful response is cultivated, one that shares the message of hope with everyone, including those marginalized and neglected.

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