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Growth in Guatemala: An Interview | Chris Turpaud

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Growth in Guatemala: An Interview | Chris Turpaud

Tacy: When did you move to Guatemala?

Chris: October 2015.

Tacy: What prompted you and your wife to pursue that in the first place? Where did the heart for Guatemala come from?

 Lauren & Chris Turpaud on their wedding day 

Lauren & Chris Turpaud on their wedding day 

Chris: Lauren and I both began attending Colorado State University. I started as a freshman. She was a sophomore when she transferred to CSU. We started dating halfway through my sophomore year. 

After we graduated, Lauren and I got married in 2012, and missions had been an ongoing conversation. I remember approaching my pastor shortly after we were married and saying, "I'm really unhappy with my job." He asked us to do a couple StrengthsFinder tests and things like that to get a better idea of who were as a couple and who we were as individuals, and I sat on that for about a year. Lauren and I continued praying about it, continued thinking about it, and we started to have this idea that we didn't want to live on our provision anymore. We weren't really giving back a whole lot, but we were coasting through life, and we felt like we needed to start praying, "How can we live lives that are more dependent on your provision, God?"

We started doing that, and we decided to quit our jobs. Right before we quit, our pastor came up to us and said, "How do you feel about moving to Tanzania?" And we said, "Well, we don't know. I guess we'll think about that." (laughs)

Tacy: (laughs) That's a hard thing to answer on the fly.

Chris: Yes. So, we were like, "Well we don't really know what to do with this. It sounds cool. We'll think about it." And that was probably a few weeks before we decided to take a four month road trip across the United States.

Tacy: Oh, fun. I didn't know you guys did that. 

Chris: Yeah. We wanted time to pray, to think . . . both of us really feel God's presence when we're in nature. It's away from the hustle and bustle of daily life. And I think it was a tangible way for us to get the experience of just how well God can provide.

We'd spent the better part of our marriage planning for this trip. We'd saved quite a bit of money. We had our route planned out. We had our vehicles stocked. We had all the gear we thought we could possibly need, but two weeks into the trip, we lost our engine . . . We spent probably half our savings just trying to get back on the road, so I think the Lord really used that moment to kind of put us at a crossroads and say, "Are you really willing to pursue me? Are you really willing to follow me . . . even if it doesn't look like your plans are going to come into fruition?"

And at that point—when we were getting our engine fixed—we were thinking, "It might just be better to turn around and go home. We've lost so much money. We really don't know if it'll be worth it to keep going." After praying and talking with friends and family, we felt like the Lord wanted us to continue. So, we kept going, and about two months into our trip, we were both feeling kind of like, "Wow. This is awful." 

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Tacy: Really?

Chris: We were tired, hungry, cold all the time. We had still been relying on our own provisions, our own plans, and our own savings to get through. We traveled to Alaska and came back down the West Coast, and we had mechanical problem after mechanical problem. We almost ran out of money. But we got back to the US, and everything just changed. The Lord had let us wander through the wilderness for awhile, and then he said, "Now, for the last two months, I'm going to let you see what it's like to live on my provision." And he started providing money for us from friends and relatives, places to stay, and random people would give us food. We were put up for the night in several places. We were given jobs picking pears for a week, and that earned us a bunch of money to get home. One family put us up in their Airbnb for free, fed us three meals a day, and invited us to their church and small group. It was really just eye opening. We saw what we could accomplish, which was really just depressing. And we saw what God can do if we just let go a little bit. So after that, we came home ready to figure out how we could get into missions, whether Tanzania or another avenue. During our time praying about Tanzania, we realized it wasn't a good fit . . . obviously . . . that's why we're not there.

Tacy: Right. (laughs)

Chris: Scott Vair goes to our church, and right before we left, we had started to have conversations with him and our pastor. When we got back, we continued having more regular meetings with Scott and Pastor Paul, and they really challenged us to start exploring opportunities in our community as well as internationally. We started serving a refugee family from Kurdistan here in Denver, and I think that really opened up our eyes to what it's like to be in a different country. When you're not from that culture, and you don't know the language very well, food is different, the way people drive, the way people talk, the way people interact . . . everything is just bizarre and strange and uncomfortable. I think that really set the stage for us to go to Guatemala in some ways. We knew kind of what to expect, even though you never can totally prepare yourself.

From the time we got back from our trip to the time we left for Guatemala, that was about two years. During that time, Scott invited us to go to Ethiopia to check out the World Orphans model. What we saw in Ethiopia just blew our minds wide open . . . that you could do orphan care like that. I mean it just makes sense when you think about the role the church has in the biblical sense and globally how they should be caring for kids and families. It just made sense. We took a little trip to Guatemala in January 2015 to check it out . . . three days on the ground I think. We met some of the people we would be working with, and then we got back home and started fundraising. We left for Guatemala nine months later. 

 Belginesh Tena and Lauren Turpaud in Ethiopia

Belginesh Tena and Lauren Turpaud in Ethiopia

Tacy: Can you tell me a little bit about the work that World Orphans is doing in Guatemala from a program overview standpoint? 

Chris: Lauren and I hold different, yet overlapping roles. When there's a team on the ground, we're both functioning somewhat as team leaders. She's the church partnership director for Guatemala. On a daily basis, she is communicating with churches in the US and churches in Guatemala to coordinate details and communication. She handles family profiles, ensuring that those are translated. She works a lot with Jenny, the psychologist, to actually delve into the family situations. And then she's also involved in pre-trip planning. She follows up with the teams after they've left—finances, discipleship training, debriefing. She's got a very multifaceted job in that sense. And when a team is on the ground, I join forces with her so that we're able to coordinate teams well, whether that's her going off to do something with some of the ladies from the church and I do stuff with the guys or just coordinating debriefings . . . it works better when we can work together. 

 Chris and Lauren Turpaud with World Orphans Board of Directors

Chris and Lauren Turpaud with World Orphans Board of Directors

When I'm not doing that, I work day in and day out with Pedro who is our new sub-coordinator for economic empowerment. He's my right hand man, and basically our objectives have been to start savings groups, to start a youth savings match program in 2018, and to do this sewing cooperative that's been going on for two months now, whereby we teach ladies from the community to sew, to run a business, and basic things like hygiene and childcare, education . . . the importance of things like that. All of this we do through an organization called Women's Partnership Market. We oversee the project, but Stephanie from Women's Partnership Market has been doing a fantastic job of handling it. 

Tacy: So, are these savings groups being run through churches there in Guatemala?

Chris: Yes. That's the plan. We may be tweaking things going into the next year, but the idea was to start savings groups in each of our four churches in Zone 7. And then after we had those established, we would start a new cycle in Zone 7 and a new cycle in Zone 18, but we may be tweaking that a little bit. Right now, we have one savings group of seven people, and it's a combination of two churches in Zone 7. 

Tacy: I know we rely heavily on local leadership to speak into our work regardless of the country we're working in. How does that play out for you? How do you benefit from working alongside local leadership that's already established?

Chris: When considering working alongside AMG, I think it's provided us with an incredibly varied and diverse network of individuals and organizations within Guatemala that we would not have access to otherwise. From a programmatic basis, that has been incredibly helpful.

Working with the churches—the Guatemalan churches—their expertise within their own communities has been invaluable. I mean, these are areas that we wouldn't be able to go into at all because if you're not a known member of the community you may be targeted either as a resource for extortion or something worse. So having those relationships and connections allows us to actually do work. Even the different departments within our team offer different skill sets and advantages. Our psychologists—their resources, their abilities, their training in Guatemala, their community experience, and the AMG team of psychologists that they're plugged into—has just been an incredible resource for us . . . probably the best resource that we have.

Tacy: That's awesome. So, in what ways does that come into play? What are the psychologists doing?

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Chris: They work with all of our families. Jenny and Auri are the two psychologists that are directly associated with World Orphans, and each of them handles cases with children and families. So, this could include mom and dad or the entire family. They work with them to help them process things in the past and things that they are going through day-to-day. Some is trauma, but a lot of it is simply dealing with waking up every day in these situations. Maybe last night you heard a lot of gunfire; how do you process that type of thing? Having that resource has been huge. I don't have the rapport with them or the respect in this area to do that, but—going through Jenny or Auri–I can get a feel for what's best for the community and even say, "Can you ask these community members what would be best for them?" This allows us to structure our programs to best fit the needs of the families. That's their role—to support those families in that way, but they've also provided me with the means to get these programs launched. They've connected me to the participants. All the ladies from the sewing program that are working with Stephanie right now are ladies from the local community that were referred to us by the psychologists—ladies that they handpicked and said, "I think this woman would really benefit from this based on the work we've done with her." So with their help, we're really able to cater our programs to what the community needs. 

Tacy: So, what's it been like to live in Guatemala? Is living in Guatemala different from what you anticipated or is it kind of what you expected? 

Chris: Ummm . . . it's not as different as I thought it was going to be in some respect. There is so much "Americanization" that's gone on. If you were to visit, you'd see Starbucks, KFC, Pizza Hut, Papa John's . . . lots of name-brand clothing from the US. Cars from Germany, the US, Japan . . . it doesn't look that different in some respects, depending on what area of the city you are in.

There are two things that have been very difficult for us. Finding community—I think that's partially because missionaries are often so busy with their work that it's hard to connect, and other times, those missionaries . . . the only thing you have in common with them is that they're missionaries, so all you end up doing is talking about your work and ministries, and it never feels like you get to build a real relationship. And then there is the language barrier. While we speak Spanish well, to go deep with somebody . . . or even to have this conversation where I can be sort of frank and vulnerable . . . to have this conversation with someone in Spanish right now is not attainable for me, or it's very difficult. So, that's hampered some of our relationship building. It's not stopped us, but it makes the relationships feel a little less deep in some respects.

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The other thing that's been difficult . . . and this is just cultural . . . When you talk to Guatemalans, they're a very non-confrontational society, and I wouldn't say that most people in the US love confrontation, but we tend to value more direct responses. So, when you ask a question, you tend to get a direct answer unless it's personal, and then they may beat around the bush. In Guatemala,  you never really know what the person is thinking. I'll ask a question like, "Would this be good for you?" and the assumption is, "If you're asking, you must think it's good for me, so I think it's good for me." 

Tacy: And that's hard when you're planning out programs and processes.

Chris: Exactly. So, you plan out your program based on their response because you think you got a direct answer . . .  (laughs) . . .  and they're thinking, "I'm not going to show up for this because it's not really what I want, but I think that's what he wants." So, then you get everything set up and nobody comes. (laughs)

Tacy: (laughs)  

Chris: There's just a difference there.

Tacy: Earlier you mentioned going to Ethiopia with World Orphans. It sounds like when you went to Ethiopia, your perception of caring for orphans and vulnerable families was really turned on it's head. How has your perception of orphan care and partnering with vulnerable families changed since living in Guatemala? Does it look different than you thought it would? Do you feel like you value things that perhaps you didn't before?

Chris: Ethiopia really transformed the way I viewed church care—the way we are to care for families, and I think Guatemala has taken that to a whole new level. The churches here have been so effective in caring for their communities. And because of AMG's many years of experience with these churches, there's been this recognition that dignity is of the utmost importance when dealing with these families, and I think that's something I've really internalized. I think I believed it before, but now I've seen just how powerful maintaining their dignity can be and how detrimental it can be when that dignity is removed. I really love the way our psychologist, AMG, and our team protects the families. We've been really overprotective of our families, and I think it's helped me check my ego. Everything is done through the church to the point where I have very little involvement with the actual families. We want to show them that they have value to Jesus, and we're not going to parade them around or show them off like some prized animal. 

Tacy: We talked a little bit about the challenges that you've faced while working in Guatemala—the cultural differences, the obstacles that you've had to overcome. What would you say you've enjoyed the most about working in Guatemala? 

Chris: There's been a lot. I think, as difficult as relationships have been on a personal level, . . . we're really blessed to work with nine different churches in Guatemala, which means that we have connections with different pastors around the city, different committee members, different families, different kids. It provides this plethora of relationships and really has enriched us. There have been a few churches that we've really connected deeply with—their committee members, pastors, families.

 Chris Turpaud with Iglesia Ministerios Gracia Y Verdad congregation members and their US church partner, Ainsworth Evangelical Free Church

Chris Turpaud with Iglesia Ministerios Gracia Y Verdad congregation members and their US church partner, Ainsworth Evangelical Free Church

When I was leaving Guatemala to go back to the states temporarily, I felt this weight. Even though it was temporary . . . just the outpouring of love on behalf of the church blew me away. In our context, we didn't realize how close these people were to us. We didn't realize that they had grown to consider us part of their family . . .  the things they did for us, the prayers they sent our way . . . it was just mind-blowing. I realized we have become part of these families, and they've become part of ours. That's why I felt so sad leaving, knowing I was going home to family, but I was also leaving part of my family, too.

This may sound like a cliché answer, but the people of Guatemala have really stolen my heart, and I think they've stolen Lauren's, too. The battles they fight every day are things that I'll never ever experience. For example, Pedro. He comes from a small farming village in the mountains of Guatemala—the things that he's had to overcome in his life to get to where he's at . . . it's built such strength of character and perseverance and this rock-solid faith in God. You know, I get shaken pretty easily when things aren't going my way or I feel like I'm out of control, but Pedro pushes through it. I know he gets upset, too, but the reality is that his faith has really strengthened mine. 

Tacy: I think for me—as someone who works behind my desk most days—this really shows me that the World Orphans vision comes into fruition. We talk a lot about how it's all about relationships, but at the end of the day, it's one thing to say that, and it's another thing for that to be the reality. It's very affirming to me to hear that it is the reality. It really is all about relationships. 

 Chris & Lauren Turpaud with a US mission team

Chris & Lauren Turpaud with a US mission team

Chris: And I think we have such an advantage in some ways. When churches come down from the US, they get this mountain-high experience, but they don't even understand the kind of encouragement they've left behind with the church here in Guatemala. They leave on a high note thinking, "We've done good for them, and we feel encouraged by them." But, we feel it even more because on our end we get the constant feedback from the pastor. We have ladies in the community saying, "When are they coming back? I can't wait to reconnect with them. When are they coming back? Are they bringing their kids? Are their kids going to be married?" They just become so welded together.

Tacy: How neat to see the ripple effects of Church Partnership. 

Chris: Absolutely.

Tacy: How do you see World Orphans efforts growing, changing, and expanding in Guatemala in the coming years? 

Chris: I think that World Orphans is going in many directions right now in Guatemala, and I think all of them are good. I think . . .  with the international team members we've added recently . . .  we have the increased capacity to be able to handle it. We've got a lot of change coming down our pipeline. We added four new churches in May, and Sam is really excited about adding a bunch more in 2018, which is good. That growth is positive, and it's a natural consequence of doing things well. I think a lot of our growth right now is happening in Zone 18 because things are going so well. We've learned so much from Zone 7, that we started off on such a good foot in Zone 18. The pastors are very connected and they're talking to each other. The ones in the program are talking to others, telling them how great it is that they're able to work with these families now. So, you have additional pastors saying, "I want to do that, too."  The economic empowerment—there's still a lot of things that need to happen; it's still very much a fledgling program. There have definitely been growing pains with that. 

Tacy: So, for people that want to get involved through prayer . . . Can you give them some prayer points? 

Chris: I touched on some of the programs we're trying to get launched in the next  year. One that we're very passionate about is this youth savings match program. It's going to kind of partner with AMG in a way that allows kids—as they're learning about savings, investing, small business, etc.—to have a practical means of applying this to their lives . . . through a savings program that will be operated through AMG and a match program that will match dollar-for-dollar what they've saved to allow them to further their education, start a business, etc. That will start hopefully in 2018. It's been a slow process to get this going, and we need the Lord's guidance in this. That's something people could pray for for sure.

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The savings groups—we really need to rely on the Lord for progress in these, for his timing. We really do feel like this goes alongside wholistic care and is—in many ways—the last step for families to start achieving independence financially and to begin transitioning families in order to help others. This program still needs some tweaking, and I need prayer for wisdom as I help guide this process. Pedro and I could both use prayer for encouragement, and reliance on the Lord.

A praise would be the way that this cooperative has been going with this sewing group. People can definitely see God's hand at work in this. Even though it's being run by a secular business development group out of Denver, they very much have principles in line with ours, though they are missing the spiritual piece. It's been amazing to see that even in the absence of that part of their curriculum, the women have started their own Bible study, and God is blessing them. I hope that God continues to bless them. The hunger that they have to learn how to sew and to start their own businesses . . . it's captivating. To see how so far they have been so committed, continuing to come back every single week . . . that's provided a spark of hope for us.

I would ask the people also pray for Lauren, as she'll be managing her responsibilities while also caring for our newborn baby. She's already been such a good mother. I'm just praying for wisdom for her as she navigates this new season. 


Get Involved

  1. Pray
  2. Start a Campaign to support economic empowerment in Guatemala
  3. Donate by mailing a check or giving online with " Guatemala economic empowerment" on the memo line
  4. Talk to your church about becoming a church partner for a Guatemalan church
  5. Become a monthly supporter

 

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Glimpsing Iraq: An Interview | Billy & Dawn Ray

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Glimpsing Iraq: An Interview | Billy & Dawn Ray

We've taken all our cues from the mayor. He's directed us to build the community center. Later on in the story, when the refugee crisis hit, he directed us to help the Shabak Kurds that had just fled Mosul. Later on, he asked if we'd be able to build a school. 

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A Quiet & Grateful Soul

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A Quiet & Grateful Soul

In late September in Estes Park, Colorado, the morning air ushers in a crispness like the first bite of a Granny Smith apple. The mountaintops become a mixture of snow that refused to melt and the year’s first dusting, while the aspens have exchanged their leaves of green for gold and orange hues that sparkle when the light shines through them. Afternoons here feel like summer but taste like winter. And when the sun sets, we are all children again, staring into a star-covered sky and considering the universe in all its vast wonder. 

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Meet Becky Hoffman

Director of Rescue Teams

Becky_2_SistersIt is with exceeding joy that we introduce to you a new teammate, Becky Hoffman. We met Becky when she traveled overseas with us to India on a Journey Trip in 2013. As our new Director of Rescue Teams, Becky will spend her days recruiting and equipping teams of people who will raise awareness and funds for World Orphans. You’re invited to get to know this incredible woman with whom we are honored to serve.

WO: How long have you worked for World Orphans?

BH: Since February 2, 2015.

WO: What are some of the highlights of your role?

BH: The major highlight is recruiting and equipping teams of people who will raise awareness and funds for World Orphans. I believe Rescue Teams will create a ripple effect by getting more people involved in advocating for orphans. It is exciting to empower people to do something they enjoy for a purpose. There is a lot of creativity involved in Rescue Teams.

WO: What was your previous work experience and/or education background?

BH: I have worked and volunteered with and on behalf of children my entire life. I attended Liberty University and received a degree in Integrated Studies in Elementary Education. Before joining the World Orphans staff, I was a first grade teacher for three years.

WO: What would others find surprising about your role?

BH: People are often surprised that the teams I recruit and lead do not travel overseas. Many people initially think that I will be leading short term mission trips. In reality, Rescue Teams are based in the US with the goal of raising awareness and funds for World Orphans and the children in our care. They are an opportunity for people to make a difference while in their own communities.

WO: What countries have you traveled to with World Orphans?

BH: I have traveled with World Orphans to India twice. Apart from World Orphans, I have traveled to the Dominican Republic, Canada, Mexico, and many countries in Western Europe. I love to travel and hope to go to more places with World Orphans soon.

WO: Tell us about your family.

BH: My family consists of my father, mother, older sister, brother-in-law, and younger brother. We are spread across three different states, so I do not get to see them as much as I would like. However, I have great friends and church community around me in New Jersey.

WO: What are some of your favorite hobbies?

BH: I love to bake and am getting better at cooking. Vegan food has become a favorite lately even though I am not vegan. I also enjoy working out, especially lifting weights.

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Welcome Becky with us! Share some encouraging words or a prayer below to bless her as she begins her work as Director of Rescue Teams. 

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Meet Lindsay Allen

Project Manager for the Americas

This precious little girl could not stop smiling after being given her first Bible!

It is with exceeding joy that we introduce to you a new teammate, Lindsay Allen. As our Project Manager for the Americas, Lindsay will spend her days communicating with brothers and sisters in Christ around the world, coordinating details and providing a profound communication link between projects and World Orphans. You’re invited to get to know this incredible woman with whom we are honored to serve.

WO: What was your previous work experience and educational background?

LA: My degree is actually in vocal music education. I worked as a middle school and high school choir teacher for a few years before God called me into full-time ministry.

WO: What would others find surprising about your role?

LA: People are always surprised when I tell them I send and receive several emails in Spanish, even though I don’t know the language! Thank goodness for Google Translate!

WO: What countries have you traveled to with World Orphans?

LA: So far I have only traveled to Haiti with World Orphans, but I will hopefully be visiting our church partners in Guatemala and Nicaragua soon.

WO: Tell us about your family.

LA: I married my incredible husband Blake in July of 2010. I’m convinced he is the best husband on the planet!

WO: What are some of your favorite hobbies?

LA: Even though I no longer teach choir, singing will always be a big part of my life. I also have a food blog called Normal Cooking that has become quite popular! I love to cook and am learning a lot about food photography.

Our awesome team put our money together to provide lunch to these children in Rwanda.

Learning how to eat mangoes like the Haitians do!

On our second trip to Rwanda, it was so good to see familiar faces and laugh along with those we had met the year before.

My first trip to Haiti and the kids could not stop giggling about their pipe cleaner glasses!

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Meet Amie Martin

It is with great joy that we introduce to you a new teammate, Amie Martin. As our new Journey Trip Mobilization Director, Amie will work with World Orphans staff, network partners, and in-country contacts to schedule and plan all World Orphans Journey Trips. You’re invited to get to know this incredible woman with whom we are honored to serve. Amie_JourneyWebsite

WO: What are some of the highlights of your role?

AM: Conduct Journey Team discipleship and training sessions for pre-trip, in-field, and post-trip sessions. Cast vision for the Journey Trips, ensuring their fit and support of the overall vision and mission of World Orphans. Develop relationships with campus leaders, mission directors, and other community leaders to promote Trips.

WO: What was your previous work experience and educational background?

AM: Attended Johnson Bible College and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Bible and Missions. I also attended Lincoln Memorial University and graduated from their Post Baccalaureate Teacher Program (K-8). I previously worked in the field of Human Resources for an international company for 6.5 years, coordinating benefits, compensation increases, employee relations issues, and community events. I also served as a Product Care Team Coordinator for the warranty division for 2 years. I am also a certified K-8 teacher in the state of Tennessee and taught K-5 grades for 6 years.

WO: What would others find surprising about your role?

AM: I guess what others might find surprising is that I really enjoy organization and administration and how the details play an important role in the scope of the big picture. I love to disciple and encourage others and this role is a great match for the giftings the Lord has given me for all the above mentioned parts of this role.

WO: What countries have you traveled to with World Orphans?

AM: I have traveled to Haiti with World Orphans. I also spent a summer in Ukraine, as well as taken trips to Puerto Rico and Zimbabwe (not with World Orphans).

WO: Tell us about your family.

AM: I am married to James Martin, a wonderful man and father.  We have been married 12 years.  I have three children (Bobby - 20 years old and attending Johnson Bible College to obtain his degree in missions; Mykala -19 years old who is a naturally funny person who makes me laugh at the creativity & uniqueness at the way she views life; and Levi - 17 years old who is a junior in high school.  I have one grandchild, Dawson, who is less than a year old.  

WO: What are some of your favorite hobbies?

AM: I love to hike, spend time with people where I really get to know them and build relationships, and I love to swim.

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Feel free to contact Amie at amie@worldorphans.org if you are interested in traveling internationally with World Orphans on a future Journey Trip!

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The Gift of Love

By Ariel Alire | Administrative Assistant

 

 

“Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.”

James 1:27 (NLT)

 

This verse powers my life, as my heart burns for orphans all over the world, especially in the Middle East. Throughout my time in college, majoring in Intercultural Studies, I heard a lot about other cultures, domestically and internationally, and I have chosen to devote my life to helping orphans worldwide.

 

Right now, it is by working in the office at World Orphans. Although I am not (yet) the one who gets to travel and see the children and our projects firsthand, I know I play an important role in the big picture of this organization. Although I serve behind the scenes for now, someday I hope to have a more hands-on role in helping orphans.

 

“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!

And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.”

1 John 3:1

 

When we are saved from our sins and “adopted” into the body of Christ, it doesn’t matter what we have done in the past. We cannot even truly comprehend how much we are loved. This is such an amazing gift! My prayer is that more people would come to realize how blessed and loved they are by their Creator.

 

I’m so glad to work with an organization that works every day to serve others, to help orphans, and to share God’s love so that He may be known.

 

“I will not leave you as orphans. I will come to you.” John 14:18 (NIV)

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Meet The New Team Member - Darci Irwin

In continuing with our “Meet the Team” blog series, we are introducing you to several people who are in the process of raising support to join the staff of World Orphans.

Over the past several years, World Orphans has been a trailblazer in global orphan care, partnering churches together to rescue orphans and change the world.  In continuing with that vision, 2012 brought new opportunities for us to expand our mission to a wider audience.  One of those opportunities was the formation of Orphan Advocacy Teams, a small group ministry designed to empower and equip teams to advocate for the orphan while raising funds for World Orphans projects.  In order to roll out such an innovative program, we needed a dynamic person who could take this idea to the next level and beyond.  Through many prayers and much fasting, we jotted down the qualities that we were looking for in our search for the ideal candidate.  Within days, God let us know what He thought about “our list of qualities” by sending us someone who far surpassed our wildest expectations.  He sent us Darci Irwin.

Darci comes to us from Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids, MI, where she has served as the Director of Alumni Relations.  She has been responsible for encouraging and championing alumni, helping them reconnect and stay connected to the ministry, and recruiting people to get active in their ministry.  With all of this and so much more, we are ecstatic and patiently waiting to officially welcome Darci on staff at the end of the year. We look forward to the many contributions she will make to further expand the mission of World Orphans to a larger audience.

To further introduce you to Darci, here’s a glimpse that will take you deeper into her life behind the blog…

What attracted you to the ministry of World Orphans?

Throughout my life I have felt drawn to the cries of orphans but have felt directionless and confused about how to help.  Although they may feel their cries go unheard, many of us have heard them.  Even now I hear the wailing of 163 million orphans in my heart and it gives me strength and courage to fight for the joy, acceptance, safety, and love they crave… the love God has for them that they desperately need to know.  And since Christ is in the process of healing me - revealing his love, faithfulness, compassion, and acceptance in fresh ways - I am inspired and enlivened to offer the same to these little ones.

Where do you live and do you have a family?

I live in Grand Rapids, MI, with my husband/best friend/life partner, Jay.

List 3 unique experiences in your life.

1. Although I don't live near the home office of World Orphans, I was born in Colorado.

2. My knuckles are so double jointed that I can put a penny in them, flip over my hand, and the penny stays.

3. Speaking of pennies, every time my husband and I find a penny we pick it up and pray for each other.  We've done this for 13 years. And we've kept them all.

What hobbies do you enjoy?

Spending time with family and friends, quaint coffee shops, traveling, being on the lake, laughing, learning, reading, writing, decorating, and practicing a healthy lifestyle.

Follow Darci on Twitter:@darciirwin

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Meet the NEW Team Member - Greg Gentry

By Mike Krick | Sr. Director of Advocacy

I had the opportunity to meet Greg Gentry and his wife, Amy, at our World Orphans staff retreat earlier in the year. They were prayerfully considering what Greg might do post-retirement from the military. Orphan care had been on their hearts for quite some time, and they had adopted twice from China.

World Orphans interviewed Greg, and we liked what he had to offer. Funny thing is, we liked what Amy had to offer as well. Two for one! Greg attended our staff retreat earlier this year, before he had made a decision…sort of interviewing all of us! Watching him relate with our team for those three days assured me he would be a great fit.

I just returned from Nicaragua with Greg and am even more encouraged and excited about his involvement with World Orphans. He is passionate about children, passionate about the church, and desires to make a Kingdom difference.

Greg writes about his second adoption this way:

“We decided to step out in faith and adopt a child with medical special needs.  Her name is Chloe and we were matched with her on the day I deployed to Afghanistan.

While deployed, Amy would forward me pictures of Chloe sent by the orphanage. Almost always pictured with her were two of her friends, named Noah and Rhys. Every time the pictures would arrive, I enjoyed seeing these two boys nearly as much as Chloe. Half way around the world, Amy was developing the same affection for these boys. As we prepared for our trip to pick up Chloe, Amy and I decided to inquire about Noah and Rhys to see if there was a possibility of bringing them home as well.

As it turned out, Noah and Rhys are trafficked children. They were kidnapped as toddlers and were to be sold, but the Chinese police broke up the trafficking ring, and when the parents could not be found, they were turned over to an orphanage to be cared for. Because of this status, they are deemed by the government as un-adoptable (both locally and internationally).  There are millions of children in similar or worse situations throughout the world. Many will never break free of a life of poverty, crime, or slavery and millions will never hear the gospel of Jesus Christ. My heart breaks for these children and I know that God has called me to do more."

As a military member for 24 years, Greg has the opportunity to continue serving his country by doing a number of different things, in a number of different locations, with a very comfortable salary. He is taking the road less travelled, and doing what is “crazy” in his colleagues’ eyes, but doing what is righteous in God’s eyes.

As Greg joins World Orphans as a Director of Advocacy in Colorado, I am excited and proud to serve alongside him. Welcome aboard Greg…and Amy!

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Meet the NEW Team Members - Matthew Hanks

By Alan Hunt | Vice President of Advocacy 

It is my pleasure to introduce you to Matthew Hanks. Matthew is in the process of joining our World Orphans staff as a Director of Advocacy. I first met Matthew and his wife, Amelia, in Ethiopia, where he and his family were finalizing details for the adoption of their son, Kaleb. I am not sure how Matt found out that a World Orphans team was staying at this particular guesthouse, but it seems that God surely orchestrated that unlikely meeting in order to start a conversation. That conversation has allowed me to see and hear Matt’s heart for the orphan and vulnerable child and to understand the journey that He has Matt on.

Matt met Amelia while in Haiti. Matt describes it like this:

“Having met (Amelia) on a mission trip to Haiti where we worked with orphans, it’s remarkable to look back and see the common thread that God has woven into our story; poured into the foundation of our marriage.  The Lord’s command to take care of the needs of the orphan has always been very near to our hearts, and we’ve often felt that we would be involved in orphan care at some level.”

Matt and Amelia attended the Christian Alliance for Orphans Conference in California following our meeting in Ethiopia as God continued to prompt Matt to take the next step. I met with him here in Colorado a few weeks later and had the pleasure of hearing more of Matt’s story of how God keeps stirring his soul with a sense of yearning to do more.

Matt and Amelia are deeply involved in orphan care as adoptive parents, as orphan care small group leaders in their church, and now as advocates for the ministry of World Orphans. As a successful small business owner, Matt knows how to recruit, train and lead. I am confident that Matt will make a significant impact on the ministry of World Orphans.

Please join us in prayer for Matt and his family as he goes through the process of training and raising personal support to join our staff.

You can read more about Matt’s journey at: http://mattandamelia.wordpress.com.

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Meet the NEW Team Members - Holly Glenn

By Alan Hunt | Vice-President of Advocacy

A little over three years ago, I received this email from Holly Glenn:

Hi Alan,

We met at CAFO Summit on the last day (I’m sure you remember me…hehehe). I am trying to start an Orphans Ministry at Pantego Bible Church here in Ft. Worth TX. I have been fasting and praying since the conference about direction and wisdom, and I can’t seem to get your organization out of my mind. I was just wondering if I could get with you and find out how you can help me (that sounds SO selfish). Hopefully in the end we can help y'all. I just need to talk through some things. Would that be possible?

What followed this email is a journey that only God could have orchestrated. As Holly learned to speak, advocate, and cast vision about the global plight of the orphan and the responsibility of the church to respond, she gently but consistently encouraged her church leadership to consider the World Orphans model and strategy for orphan care. Over a period of time, a trip to Ethiopia, and numerous meetings with pastors and elders at her church, she led the way to a Church-to-Church partnership as a World Orphans volunteer advocate while continuing her job as a full-time police officer in Arlington, Texas.

When Holly makes up her mind about something that God has prompted her to do, don’t mess with her! That became evident as she and her husband, Kevin, embarked on a journey that necessitated Holly to live in Ethiopia for nearly three months to finalize their adoption of Sahara.

Along this journey, God began speaking to Holly about a job change, and after prayerful consideration and the support of a loving husband and church community, Holly gave notice to the police department that she dearly loved and stepped out in faith to go through staff training and begin the process of raising support for her position as a Director of Advocacy for our ministry.

Now I’m not a betting man, but if I were, I would bet that Holly will continue to move forward in obedience to God’s call on her life. Please join us in prayer for Holly, Kevin, and Sahara as Holly prepares to join our staff.

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Meet the NEW Team Members: Nate Livesay

By Kevin Squires | Senior Director of Advocacy

In continuing with our “Meet the Team” blog series, we are introducing you to several people who are in the process of raising support to join the staff of World Orphans.

In December 2011, I led a team to Ethiopia where we served over 500 children throughout the cities of Addis Ababa and Woliso. In the midst of that trip, one of my team members, Nate Livesay, felt the call to be more like Jesus and wondered, “What better way is there to be like Jesus than to serve as part of an organization that wants to rescue orphans, strengthen churches, and impact communities?”

So, Nate took the plunge into mission work and starting this fall will begin serving as a Director of Advocacy for World Orphans. For years, Nate has coached basketball on the high school and college levels, seeking to get the most out of his teams. Now, he will help coach and transition people from short-term mission trips into being long-term advocates for orphaned and vulnerable children. Likewise, he will coach and motivate churches across America into making that next step into caring for the needs of those who cannot care for themselves by forming partnerships with international churches living on the frontlines of some of the darkest places in the world.

We are ecstatic to have Nate join our team!  And with that, we are thrilled to introduce you to him. Here’s a glimpse of the man behind the blog…

Where do you live and do you have a family?

I live in Sumter, South Carolina, with my wife of 12 years, Leandra, and my 7-year-old daughter, Elizabeth, and 5-year-old son, Tyler.

List 3 unique experiences in your life.

1) I was once part of a day trip to Greece that included hopping a fence to explore an ancient archaeological site and then getting lost and eating an "authentic Greek meal" at a McDonalds in Thessoliniki because our translator didn't speak Greek.

2) 2012 will be the first year since 1990 that I won't have been on the bench as a player or coach in a high school or college basketball game.

3) I played in 4 state championship games in high school back in Tennessee. (2 basketball, 2 baseball went 1-1 in both)

What hobbies do you enjoy?

I love to read, watch sports, and be close enough to the ocean to see and hear the waves.

Other than the Bible, what is the best book you have read in the past year?

7: An Experimental Mutiny against Excess by Jen Hatmaker and Lead for God's Sake by Todd Gongwer

Follow Nate on Twitter @natelivesay or his blog at www.adangerousquestion.wordpress.com.

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Meet the NEW Team Members: Bailey Kalvelage

By Kate Borders | Senior Projects Director

As an extension of our “Meet the Team” blog series, over the next few weeks we’ll be posting about our new team members, people who are in the process of raising support to join the staff of World Orphans.

It is with great joy and excitement that I get to tell you about Bailey Kalvelage.  Bailey lives in Nebraska with her husband, Mat, and is in the process of raising support to be our Church-to-Church Mobilization Director.

As our C2C Mobilization Director, Bailey will oversee all of our church partnership trips.  With church partnerships at the core of our model, this is a crucial position for our ministry.  In addition to making sure all the logistics and details of these trips are handled with excellence, Bailey will also be responsible for encouraging, supporting and equipping our staff team leaders and our US church partner team leaders.

Bailey’s background in both ministry and administration makes her an excellent fit for this position. I know she'll serve World Orphans, our church partners, and our teams very well. Having filled this role for several years myself, Bailey will bring added capacity, efficiency and effectiveness, as she helps to ensure our teams' positive impact on the churches and children we serve.

Because short-term teams are such an integral part of our ministry, when you join Bailey’s support team through prayer and giving, you are partnering with our ministry in a very real way. You will be impacting the lives of orphaned and abandoned children all over the world.

So it is with heart-felt gratitude that I thank Bailey for responding to God’s call on her life by joining the World Orphans team, and I thank her supporters, both current and those to come, for partnering with our ministry.

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Meet The Team - Matt Mehaffey

Name and position with World Orphans.

Matt Mehaffey, Director of Advocacy.

What attracted you to your current position?

My wife and I adopted two boys from Taiwan and through that journey God opened our eyes to the global orphan crisis. Soon after we were connected with World Orphans because of our shared passion for helping vulnerable children through the local church.

Where do you live and who do you live with?

Janie and I live in Orlando, FL with our two boys, Chase and Jackson.

If you could give your 18-year old self one piece of advice what would it be?

Never stop being a learner.

List three unique experiences in your life.

1. I was a contestant on the NBC prime time game show The Weakest Link (I placed 2nd).

2. Five months after bringing home our first son from Taiwan, the orphanage called to tell us Chase had a baby brother who wanted to come home too. So we adopted two brothers in less than a year.

3. I once rode in an elevator with Milli Vanilli.

What hobbies do you enjoy?

My hobbies are all over the map. I enjoy photography, writing, painting and drawing. I also like watching and playing sports. I am always reading at least three books at any given time. But hanging with my family at Walt Disney World is my favorite though.

One thing you always have on your person is...?

Nikon 7000 DSLR.

Other than the Bible [duh] what is the best thing you have read in the last year?

The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt

If you could live anywhere, where would it be?

The suite in Cinderella Castle at Magic Kingdom!

Follow Matt on Twitter at: @mattmehaffey.

Read Matt's blog at: www.DaddyMatt.com.

"Meet the Team"

is a weekly blog series showcasing the people who make up the World Orphans team. Every Thursday morning, grab a cup of coffee and meet another team member who is using their unique talents and gifts to care for orphans and strengthen churches in the U.S. and abroad.

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Meet the Team - Billy Ray

Name and position with World Orphans.

Billy Ray, Middle East Director.

What attracted you to your current position?

God gave me a heart for the people of Northern Iraq.

Where do you live and who do you live with?

I live in Northern Iraq with my wife and 3 boys.

If you could give your 18-year old self one piece of advice what would it be?

Practice being a little more patient while proactively waiting upon the Lord.

List three unique experiences in your life.

1. Born in London, U.K.

2. I was raised by incredible parents. My father was a decorated Air Force fighter pilot.

3. Baylor University and my involvement with Antioch Community Church during my years in Waco, Texas totally changed my life.

What hobbies do you enjoy?

Reading, wrestling with my boys, playing tennis, soccer, hiking, photography, playing app games, and windsurfing.

Describe yourself in three words.

Precisely Going Forward.

One thing you always have on your person is...?

My wedding ring.

If you could live anywhere, where would it be?

Right here is pretty good for me!

 

Follow Billy on Twitter at: @ResQIraq.

Read Billy's blog at: www.Rescue-Iraq.com.

"Meet the Team" is a weekly blog series showcasing the people who make up the World Orphans team. Every Thursday morning, grab a cup of coffee and meet another team member who is using their unique talents and gifts to care for orphans and strengthen churches in the U.S. and abroad.

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Meet the Team - The LaBranches

Name and position with World Orphans..

Rick and Phyllis LaBranche: Ethiopia Country Director and Guesthouse Manager.

What attracted you to your current position?

The Lord led us into a joint ministry of hospitality while we were serving with Africa Inland Mission at Rift Valley Academy from 2004-2008. We had hosted a work team from one of our supporting churches and discovered an incredible passion connecting people from two worlds for the love of God. World Orphans was a natural fit for us as we have lived our lives fostering, adopting and caring for orphans.

Where do you live and who do you live with?

Our permanent address is in New Hampshire. We have one teenager left at home with us. She’s the last of six. The three of us will be leaving for Ethiopia in August.

List three unique experiences in your life.

Rick: I am on my third career. We lived and worked in the bush for a year. We adopted internationally.

Phyllis: When I was in my 20’s we fostered at risk teens while raising toddlers. Then I went to school and graduated with a MSW at age 46. I have seen mountains move.

What hobbies do you enjoy?

Rick: Working on cars, helping others.

Phyllis: Gardening, cooking, decorating, creating, writing, reading, conversation.

Other than the Bible [duh] what is the best thing you read in the last year?

Rick: Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God by Francis Chan

Phyllis: Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth by Richard Foster

One thing you always have on your person is...?

Rick: NOT my license.

Phyllis: Money.

If you could live anywhere, where would it be?

Rick: Africa

Phyllis: at the coast, any coast…there’s just something about where land meets sea.

 

Follow the LaBranches on Twitter at: @labranche603.

Read the LaBranche's blog at: www.rplabranche.wordpress.com

"Meet the Team" is a weekly blog series showcasing the people who make up the World Orphans team. Every Thursday morning, grab a cup of coffee and meet another team member who is using their unique talents and gifts to care for orphans and strengthen churches in the U.S. and abroad.

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Meet The Team - Kathy Davis

Name and position with World Orphans.

Kathy Davis – Director of Holistic Care

What attracted you to your current position?

The opportunity to be specifically involved with seeing the church equipped and encouraged to ‘holistically care’ (spiritually, physically, emotionally, and mentally) for orphaned and vulnerable children.

Where do you live and who do you live with?

I live in Maryville, TN and I live with my husband of 25 years and 2 of my 3 daughters. (Husband: Keith – Daughters: Amanda, Anna, Amy – the ‘A team’)

If you could give your 18-year old self one piece of advice what would it be?

Don’t take yourself too seriously but be serious about knowing Jesus and making Jesus known. There is hope in no one else!

List three unique experiences in your life.

1. I’m from TN, my husband is from Alaska – we met in TX and married there!

2. I have run a full marathon and several half marathons. Nope, didn’t enjoy the running part so much - but loved the finish!

3. I would love to say I’ve jumped off cliffs, skydived, bungee jumped, scaled the tallest mountain…but I hate heights.

Other than the Bible [duh] what is the best thing you have read in the last year.

by Tim Keller

One thing you always have on your person is...?

Lip-stuff! (lipstick, lip gloss, blistex, carmex, etc.)

If you could live anywhere, where would it be?

Love where I live – Maryville, TN.

Read Kathy's blog at: www.kathyblessedtobless.blogspot.com

"Meet the Team" is a weekly blog series showcasing the people who make up the World Orphans team. Every Thursday morning, grab a cup of coffee and meet another team member who is using their unique talents and gifts to care for orphans and strengthen churches in the U.S. and abroad.

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Meet The Team - Jeremy Resmer

Name and position with World Orphans..

Jeremy Resmer, Project Manager.

What attracted you to your current position?

The opportunity to work with great people and for an organization that makes a positive impact in the world.

Where do you live and who do you live with?

I currently live in Denver, Colorado with my wife Lori and my newborn son, Justice. Later this year we will be moving to Tennessee to finalize our adoption and welcome two more babies from the Congo into our family.

If you could give your 18-year old self one piece of advice what would it be?

If you do something you love that brings out your passion and purpose you’ll never work a day in your life.

List three unique experiences in your life.

1. I played basketball in college for Michigan Tech.

2. I lived in the bush in Kenya for 6 months and nearly crashed into a herd of elephants one night while rushing a sick child to the hospital.

3. I started an apparel company in Los Angeles when I was 27 years old.

What hobbies do you enjoy?

Lift Weights, Run, Golf, Pick Stocks

Other than the Bible [duh] what is the best thing you have read in the last year?

The Poor Will Be Glad: Joining the Revolution to Lift the World Out of Poverty

One thing you always have on your person is...?

Chewing Gum.

If you could live anywhere, where would it be?

Southern California.

Read Jeremy's blog at: www.radicalheart.com

"Meet the Team" is a weekly blog series showcasing the people who make up the World Orphans team. Every Thursday morning, grab a cup of coffee and meet another team member who is using their unique talents and gifts to care for orphans and strengthen churches in the U.S. and abroad.

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Meet The Team - Lori Resmer

Name and position with World Orphans..

Lori Resmer, Director of Journey 117.

What attracted you to your current position?

God has given me a passion for missions mobilization. I love to journey with people from the beginning of their calling to serve and help catapult them into the place that God is calling them to go. It normally requires a lot of faith to take these steps, so it is such a joy to link arms with someone and empower and equip them to take venture out into the unknown. Journey 117 allows me to do this and work with individuals all across the States who are discovering their role in ministry and orphan advocacy.

Where do you live and who do you live with?

I currently live in Denver, Colorado with my amazing husband, Jeremy, and my newborn son, Justice. Later this year we will be moving to Tennessee to finalize our adoption and welcome two more babies from the Congo into our family.

If you could give your 18-year old self one piece of advice what would it be?

Don’t grow up too fast and make decisions that you could potentially regret for the rest of your life! Be wise and prayerfully seek God’s heart for your life. Don’t think you have this whole thing figured out now – you’re young and have MUCH to discover about life, relationships, the world and your calling.

List three unique experiences in your life.

1. I met my husband while serving in a very remote area of Kenya.

2. I flew around the world on my first overseas mission trip…literally.

3. I have horrible knees: I have torn my ACL 3 times. The most recent time was on the slopes in Steamboat Springs on the day that my husband had arranged to propose to me. Instead, I tore my ACL again and we ended up in the hospital before he had the chance to pop the big question.

What hobbies do you enjoy?

I enjoy playing sports such as basketball, softball and Ultimate Frisbee. Love being outdoors when I get the chance to do things such as hiking and camping. I love to travel and experience the world’s various cultures. I also love to sing (even though it’s just a “joyful noise”) and play the guitar.

Describe yourself in three words.

Passionate. Adventurous. Sarcastic.

One thing you always have on your person is...?

My iPhone.

If you could live anywhere, where would it be?

Africa – love that place and hope to one day do life there with my husband and kiddos.

Follow Lori on Twitter at: @loriresmer.

Read Lori's blog at: www.radicalheart.com

"Meet the Team" is a weekly blog series showcasing the people who make up the World Orphans team. Every Thursday morning, grab a cup of coffee and meet another team member who is using their unique talents and gifts to care for orphans and strengthen churches in the U.S. and abroad.

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My Impression...

By Debbie Vair

We have been tremendously encouraged of late by the staff and volunteers of World Orphans. Many have agreed the February staff retreat was a wonderful time of fellowship and learning more about World Orphans and each other, and we are still seeing the fruit of it months later. In some cases, the retreat was an opportunity for co-workers to meet for the first time; for some it was putting a face with a name of a person in close communication but never having met; and for still others, it was the joy of seeing old friends with like-minded and like-hearted passion for serving the church and the orphan.   So here we are, two months later, and I continue to be impressed (it is making an “impression” on me) to see the mutual support, affirmation, burden sharing, equipping, praying, and simple friendship continue. We see and believe that the Lord has gathered a truly amazing group of people for this very time to do this very work, for His kingdom, seeking Him first. The fruit is becoming quite evident.  

Romans 12:9-13 says, “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.”

  I see these verses played out in the lives of our staff, not only through their service, but also in their relationships. As our team reaches out to tell the stories of the fatherless, and as they work together within our ministry, it is a beautiful thing to see them reflect this call of scripture.  

1 Peter 4:8-11 says, “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.”

  What a delight it is to serve alongside these brothers and sisters and to see the fruit of the Lord’s spirit in the lives of our team. I so clearly see His hand uniting us, so together we can praise His name as we share His truth throughout the world. We trust in His provision and grace as we speak for those with no voice, bring hope to the hopeless and love to the unloved, through the promise of Christ.  

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20

  I truly believe this is a work pleasing to the Lord, and that He will indeed put to good use these hearts devoted to Him and to His work, carrying His blessing and hope as they go.  

“I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Phillipians 1:3-6

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