Peter and Isabel O’Driscoll couldn’t ignore raggedy children wandering through impoverished trailer parks in Orlando’s inner city. In September 2002, with the support of faithful individuals who shared his vision, two rickety vans navigated through bleak streets of poverty and brought 10 children to attend the first sessions of Orlando Children’s Church. Today that humble outreach has grown to 14 school buses that pick up more than 400 elementary-to-high-school aged children to attend Saturday church every week.
The nondenominational Orlando Children’s Church is the beneficiary of the Ministry in Action project at CBA’s 2012 International Christian Retail Show (ICRS) at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla., July 15-18. CBA is the trade association for Christian stores, and their suppliers, including Christian publishers, music companies, and gift and specialty companies.
All ICRS attendees are invited to help fill backpacks with back-to-school items for these children. Retailers, suppliers, support companies, and others with a heart for children may drop by the ICRS Town Center any time when the exhibit floor is open to help with packing. A $30 donation would purchase a backpack filled with school supplies.
The completed packs will be given to O’Driscoll and his team 10 a.m. Wednesday, July 18, in the ICRS Town Center on the exhibit floor.
More than 100 church volunteers meet the children arriving on buses each Saturday hosted at the First Baptist Church of Maitland, Fla. Through the generosity of McDonald’s restaurants in the Maitland and Winter Park area — which have continued to support the church outreach from the beginning — arriving children enjoy breakfast and then outdoor recreational activities. Then teachers and activity leaders present spiritual food to the hungry hearts eager to learn more about God, His love for them, and His purpose and plan for their lives.
“Our message to these kids is this: You matter to God. He loves you so deeply that He sent His son, Jesus Christ, to die for your sin so that you can live forever with Him,” Peter O’Driscoll said. He said he tells the children, “Orlando Children’s Church is your church; it is your little world where you can learn that every action, every choice you make, and every word you speak makes a difference in this life. Then you can go out into this big world and unleash all your goodness and GODliness, and through Christ you can change it.”
O’Driscoll said the church, a 501(c)(3) organization, is dedicated to reaching at-risk students through physical nourishment, spiritual renewal, and the cultivation of authentic relationships. “Our mission is to see children being transformed by the power of the Gospel, making them world-changing leaders who positively impact their own communities,” he said.
“When we first met with Peter and Isabel we could see that the need was great and we wanted to help,” said Curtis Riskey, CBA executive director. “Over the past few years we’ve been trying to find ways to leverage all the ministries that support ICRS and give back to the host community of our show. We’re really excited to help meet some of the Orlando Children’s Church’s needs and see it thrive.”
To donate items for the backpacks, contact Stephanie Minkus at CBA firstname.lastname@example.org.
To donate $30 toward a backpack, go to: www.christianretailshow.com/documents/icrs12MIA_Backpacks.pdf.
To learn more about Orlando Children’s Church, visit www.Orlandochildrenschurch.org.
For ICRS details, visit www.Christianretailshow.com.