By Kathy Davis | Director of Wholistic Care
It's Christmastime The Christmas season is upon us. Glistening lights and decorated trees adorn my small and cozy town. The scents of fresh pine and apple cider cause my senses to connect with the warmth of family and the love we share. The ringing of the Salvation Army bell at the local grocery store compels me to remember those who are hungry as I purchase another round of groceries. Evenings are filled with crowded shopping malls, Christmas parties, and gift exchanges. Anticipation, joy, and wonder sparkle in the eyes of young children. Christmas is ‘in the air’ and is most beautifully shared with one another in the context of family and friends.
In contrast, I just returned from Haiti where the Christmas season is marked by continued poverty and hardship. Nearly 80% of Haitians are poor, living on less than 2 dollars a day. Half of the children under five years old are malnourished and 50% of children are not enrolled in school. The streets in Port-au-Prince this December are packed with people who awaken each day to the reality of mere survival. Instead of children attending school, they are found on the streets wiping the windshields of cars with the hope of eating one meal that day. The reality is hard, the need is great, and the desperation is palatable.
World Orphans Response Because of the great need, World Orphans is committed to partnership and exists because we believe what Scripture says about the church, the orphan, and the expansion of the Gospel. Following the earthquake of 2010, churches were identified and mobilized to engage through partnership and expand their reach into the lives of orphaned and vulnerable children. We have found the fragrance of ministry focused on the Gospel is HOPE and the person of hope is JESUS. This hope came at great cost. Jesus, the One who was born in a lowly stable and with humble means would be the Hope for mankind and the Savior of the world.
“She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins" (Matthew 1:21).
The incarnate Christ provided salvation for those who would believe and made His home with the poor, needy, and vulnerable. Children matter to Jesus and his exhortation to us is to:
“Allow the children to come to me, for the kingdom of God belongs to them” (Matthew 19:14).
A child's transformation is part of a spiritual adventure that is empowered and guided by the Holy Spirit as churches engage through the grace of Christ. The fruit of partnership is the loving and wholistic (spiritual, physical, emotional, and mental) care of children, extended through a willing body of believers. What a joy to see the global church actively participating in the rescue and care of orphaned and vulnerable children who are being transformed through the pursuit of love and family.
“You shall give to him freely, and your heart shall not be grudging when you give to him, because for this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in all that you undertake. For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘you shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land'” (Deuteronomy 15:10-11).
Orphaned and vulnerable children suffer from the effects of poverty and abandonment, and the devastating outcome of these issues leave children exposed, exploited, vulnerable, and in deep need of protection. The ministry of the church to care for the families and children is both grueling and glorious. The exhilaration of precious brothers and sisters who began this program almost five years ago have become exhausted by the depth of ongoing care that is necessary for their continued development, yet they continue to give.
A Wonderful Announcement and Partnership I am pleased to share that this Christmas season marks the beautiful beginning and gift of a collaborative effort between World Orphans and Bethany Christian Services. Together, we have entered into partnership with the goal of empowering the church and deepening the scope of care to the families and children within our OVC (Orphaned and Vulnerable Child) program. This collaboration has come at a great time!
Bethany provides a wealth of resources in the areas of clinical emotional care and family preservation.
"Across the globe, many circumstances conspire to fragment families — poverty, illness, violence, catastrophes. At Bethany Global, we believe that families can weather these challenges with the right support. Our innovative family preservation programs target the underlying causes of family disintegration, strengthening families so that they’re better able to protect their children. Understanding the cultural influences on a community and family is essential to providing support.” - Bethany Global
This collaborative effort reminds me of the profound and biblical quote that "no man is an island", written by the great English poet, John Donne. May I also add "no organization is an island"? We are clearly 'better together'.
No man is an island, Entire of itself, Every man is a piece of the continent, A part of the main. (John Donne)
“Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many” (1 Corinthians 12:12-13).
I am delighted to announce that World Orphans, in collaboration with Bethany Christian Services, has hired a Haitian Social Worker to come alongside the church and further equip those caring for children. Recently, World Orphans and Bethany Global spent a week in Haiti training our new Social Worker in the areas of Child Protection, Physical/Sexual Abuse, Trauma Care, Attachment, Child Development, and Assessment. We also spent a day hosting and facilitating an open forum and needs assessment with the Pastors and OVC Committees for our 14 churches in the OVC Program.
World Orphans Social Worker, Cassandre Mathieu, will be responsible to:
- Support the ongoing work of the church to care for emotional issues like physical and sexual abuse.
- Provide specialized training and empower OVC (orphaned and vulnerable child) committees.
- Train OVC committees to perform assessments and ongoing evaluation for all the children in the program
- Develop monthly trainings on wholistic care topics with each church partner.
- Set measurable benchmarks for development and care.
Meetings and planning are underway as we assimilate the feedback from the Pastors and OVC Committees. Equipping and training in the areas of physical/sexual abuse, trauma care, child protection, biblical parenting, pastoral encouragement, and family connection are all on the docket for 2015.
My heart is deeply impacted by the many regions of our world that are impoverished and oppressed. Christmas may look no different than any other time of year. Hopelessness and affliction may likely be the drink on their table and a portion of rice as their meal for the day.
So as I sit in the comfort of my living room, enjoying a hot cup of coffee and remembering my dear friends in Haiti who are ‘spending themselves’ for the sake of needful children, I am overwhelmed with emotion and even further compelled to loosen my grip on the things of this world. The Kingdom of God is at hand and the reward of caring for orphans is eternal.
O Come, O Come, Immanuel. Our God is with us and we are indeed, better together.
You Too Can Get Involved! Would you join me in seeing the church further mobilized to care for orphaned and vulnerable children this year? Click here to see how you can become involved.
As we celebrate the birth of Christ this year, would you join us through becoming a Rescue Partner to the least of these?