In a perfect world—a world we dream about frequently—these words would never have to be uttered. Children would have homes, healthy families, and environments within which to thrive.
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By Becky Hoffman | Director of Rescue Teams Growing up. Leaving the nest. It is something most of us have done or will do. The time comes when we leave our parents behind and set out on our own. Free. Independent. Terrified. Some will attend college, while others join the workforce. Many will rent apartments or buy houses. Bills are now addressed to self, not parent or guardian. Though the process of entering adulthood is daunting, it is also exhilarating. Well, it should be.
Others experience a different story: aging out. An 18th birthday means it is time to go. You are out of the system. Out of the orphanage. Out on your own. Whether you are leaving foster care or an institutional orphanage, the process is abrupt and final. No one is required to care for you anymore. Your bed will be filled by another.
In an interview with Neal Conan on NPR, Dr. Mark Courtney, Research and Development Director of Partnerships for Our Children, describes the status of the former foster children he has been following into young adulthood. He says, “…less than half of them are employed at 23, very high rates of involvement with the criminal justice system, lots of struggling parents, rely on public assistance…”
Not a pretty picture. If that is what happens in the United States, imagine what it must be like for children in impoverished nations. The fear of being left to fend for oneself must plague the minds of many 17-year-old youths.
This does not have to be the case. In fact, it is not the case for the six young women in India who are cared for by the local church in partnership with World Orphans. These young women have a different story.
After losing their parents to tragedies, including accidents, abandonment, and illness, these women were brought into the loving home of a pastor’s daughter and son-in-law. There they grew up as sisters and formed a tight bond with each other and their guardians. Now, at 18, 19, and 20 years old, they have not “aged out". Instead, there has been a gradual, natural transition.
Each young woman attends university and they share an apartment above the church. After nursing school, Ujala comes home to help her new mother sew beautiful wedding gowns and sarees to sell. Aalia and Mahla have taken on many of the church’s administrative responsibilities. Each one has her role.
What is even more special is that Ujala, Mahla, Aalia, Heli, Prema, and Aahna* were recently baptized. Not only are they growing in independence, but in faith. They are truly blossoming.
None of this would have happened without the local church stepping up to care for the fatherless. It would not have happened without the US church providing finances for food, school fees, medical care, and other necessities. It would not have happened without three-fold partnership between these churches and World Orphans.
We love our church partners and praise God for all they are doing to show Christ’s love to orphans. We invite you and your church to jump in and be part of changing the story for orphans who otherwise would have aged out of the system.
*Names have been changed to protect privacy.
Written by Bailey Kalvelage • Director of Mobilization
“You are the salt of the earth…. You are the light of the world…” These familiar words found in Matthew 5:13-16 had my ears perked as I listened in church last Sunday. I’ve heard this passage so many times, but like Scripture often does, these words are having a fresh effect on me.
13 “You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless. 14 “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. 15 No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.” Matthew 5:13-16
You are the salt of the earth…
Salt in ancient times was a valuable commodity. At times, it was even traded weight for weight with gold. Two of its values were preservation and its ability to slow down disease and impurity…. Further, gé, the Greek word for “earth” in verse 13, means “the earth, soil, land, region, country, inhabitants of a region.” So when we put it all together, Christ is telling His followers, the church, that they are agents of preservation and disease fighters for the inhabitants of a region, our communities. Even more simply, the church is to preserve and slow down the disease and decay within our communities.
You are the light of the world…
Jesus continues with declaring His church is also the light of the world. The transliteration from Greek of “world” is “kósmos: the world, universe; worldly affairs.” This is something much bigger than the previous reference to “earth”; it goes beyond our community and speaks to our influence on today’s worldly affairs, the culture. As a bright light points and directs everyone’s attention to a speaker on a stage, so our faith in Christ is to draw the attention of our culture to Christ.
So what does this have to do with World Orphans?
World Orphans exists because we believe what Scripture says about the church. We believe that Christ’s followers are meant to be the salt and light of their communities, countries and our world; in Ethiopia, Uganda, Cambodia, Iraq… you get the picture. So when we look closer at our model of church partnerships, we must do so through this lens, striving with each effort to put into action Christ’s call for His followers to be salt and light.
We deeply desire that our international and US church partners will unite in purging evil from our midst and nourishing righteousness. We pray that as partners, they will join together in the common cause of the Gospel, reaching out to their communities to ease pain and shine the light of Christ’s love. The cool part is, as partners, they are able to influence their own communities and each other, further impacting our world and culture as a whole. The reach of partnership is so much farther than when we try to work alone!
Foundation of Partnership
As the Director of Church Partnership Mobilization for World Orphans, one of the best parts of my job is reading feedback from our short-term trips. Just as two are called partners when they dance the tango together, so partnership is personified when our US churches visit our international churches. This is when they get to fellowship, serve together and teach each other -- to be salt and light together. So naturally, hearing from them after their trips about the impact of these partnerships is most encouraging.
But before we get to the salting and light-shining part, I want to share a few testimonies of how vital this foundation of partnership is…
“The US Partner visit was really a blessing to us the host Church, the Orphan Home and the Community at large. It worked to strengthen our relationship and gave us the opportunity to serve each other.” Pastor Sam, Uganda
When we arrived in Haiti, we went to the guesthouse planning on relaxing and getting acclimated to our surroundings. However, the OVC team and pastors from church came to greet us at the guesthouse. It really meant a lot to us that they would all come to see us so soon. They were excited to see us… The warm welcome was unexpected and appreciated. We felt appreciated and valued because of their eagerness to engage with us. The meeting set the tone for the coming week.” –US Team Leader, Michigan
The presence of our brothers in the E-Free Church Gaylord USA, was something very special and it exceeded our expectations. I think we clearly notice the advantage that two churches are allied and united in preaching the gospel. During the visit we felt very supported and with the certainty that we have support from another church in the same task, that is, to win souls for Christ.” Pastor Heyler, Nicaragua
Salty, Light-Shining Partnership
Just like the great duo of Tom and Jerry (whether your preference is cartoons or ice cream), I believe that these churches are better together. When they speak of the impact of their partnership, the resounding fact that they are indeed the salt of the earth and light of the world shines through. Take a look at what has happened this year as a result of the church living out this great call of Christ.
“One story [from the trip] that was powerful involves a young man named Pius who has lived 18 years with a club foot. His mother, Helen, is a mama and a church leader. Through connections with a nurse [at the guesthouse where we stay when we visit], we were able to get Pius enrolled in a program that will allow him to have surgery to correct his foot at no cost to his family or the ministry. They are waiting until a break in the school semester, but he should have the surgery before the end of this year.” –US Pastor, Arkansas
“The two Sunday services were a great blessing. Pastor/Bishop Kawa and the team served along side us very well…. We had two-day medical camp where reach some over 300 patients who were evangelized, prayed for and treated for different ailments.” -Bishop Julius, Kenya
“We also had a Pastors and Leaders’ Conference in which over 300 Leaders attended from various Churches in Jinja and beyond. We had a Medical Camp Outreach for 3 days and over 800 people were given free treatment and about 300 tested for HIV/AIDS. We also had an Official Launch of our Christian School and about 1000 people attended including Government Officials.” –Pastor Sam, Uganda
“…the Little Lambs Baskets provided a relational break through that [the international staff] could continue to build on. The ladies on our team got to visit Kurdish women in their homes and pray for them. These women are living very restricted lives under Islamic tradition. To show them love and spend time with them is critical to forming meaningful relationships. Several have and several are close to putting their trust in Jesus.” – US Pastor, Texas
I never get sick of reading about these trips. You see, all year long these partners pray for each other and support each other from afar, and then once a year they come together to serve and actively engage together in ministering the Gospel. This time together has very tangible moments of salting people and communities with the life-giving, disease stopping love of Christ and shining the light of His love in dark, hopeless places, just as Christ calls us in Matthew 5. And the interesting part is, it challenges and encourages each partner to continue doing so as they say “see you later” and live in their individual communities the remainder of the year. The church doing exactly what the church is meant to do, in their communities, in our culture and around the world.
It was said of the great partnership of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis: “Although there had been a number of hugely successful film teams before, Martin and Lewis were a new kind of team. The fun they had together set them apart from everything else being done at the time. Both were talented entertainers, but the fact that they were such good friends on and off stage took their act to a new level.”
Our hope, as World Orphans continues to partner churches and plan partner visits, is to foster and encourage deep, lasting friendship within the church across borders and that this friendship would multiply the success of the global church in salting this world with the Gospel and hope of Christ – just as Jesus encouraged years ago.
Are you interested in learning how your church can become a church partner? (Email Kevin at firstname.lastname@example.org)
How are you salt and light within your circles of influence?
We’d love to here from you!
By Scott Vair | Vice President of Projects
I recently traveled to India to visit one of our church partners who has a great vision for church planting and orphan care. They are also committed to finding ways to help their ministries become self-sustainable through gardening and farming activities.
Below is a "tour" of their largest self-sustainability project - Bethel Gospel Farm.
Last week marked the opening of a new children's home in India.
The Bethel Children's Home is built next door to a cell church. The pastor and his wife will move into the children's home with 8-12 orphans from the community and become their family.
The home was built with the generous gift from a World Orphans donor. Monthly financial support for the home is being funded by an Orphan Advocacy Team.
Construction on the next children's home in India will begin this fall.
With more than 26 million orphaned and abandoned children in India, the orphan crisis seems overwhelming. Widespread poverty and HIV/AIDS compound the problem and millions of children are vulnerable to disease, starvation and exploitation. But Bethel Gospel Church in Chandragiri Nagar is making a difference, one child at a time. Pastor K. Sudhakar, his wife and their church are meeting the needs of these children through a slum-child education program and a street-children feeding ministry.
In addition to these outreach programs, the Chandragiri Nagar church operates a children's home for 10 former-orphans that provides food, medical care, counseling and most importantly, the love of a family.
The cost to support these 10 children is only $385 a month (or $38.50 per child). This is a great opportunity for a U.S. church or group of individuals to partner with Bethel Gospel Church and transform the lives of 10 children.