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Compelled To Serve and Empower

By Jeremy Resmer | Senior Director of Projects

Working in orphan care, I frequently hear people talk about the latest orphanage and residential care models and how they are different from the ones that came before them; how the homes replicate a small, family environment where a widow (or house parents) cares for five or maybe up to ten children and provides the love and affection of a mother (and father). The children receive adequate shelter, food, medical care, and education. At times, they even take classes to learn important life and vocational skills and, in some cases, attend university. To be sure, these are good things. I get especially excited when I hear that these children are given opportunities and training that empower them to be economically independent and help themselves and their communities as they grow up.

Families Are Best However, the fact remains, children grow best in families. Biological families to be exact. This idea is backed up by years of evidence-based research as well as scripture. Any attempt to replace the love and care of a permanent biological (or extended) family should be secondary. Truly, orphanages of any kind are not a permanent solution to the complex challenges and needs facing orphaned and vulnerable children, especially when the children in orphanages have living parents. For those that do not, many have extended family members in the community or nearby that are willing and able, albeit financially, to care for these kids. It may not look exactly like we, in the West, typically expect and there may be economic hurdles the family will face, but it keeps children in families and connected to their communities. We believe that children growing up in financially-challenged families are better off than children growing up in freshly, painted orphanages with nice beds.

At World Orphans, we talk a lot about preserving and strengthening families and working with the local church to develop appropriate solutions in the context of the culture and, particularly, the community. We believe, wholeheartedly, that the church maintains the relationships and, in connection with local governments, NGOs, and businesses, has the experience to offer encouragement and the best solutions for vulnerable families.

An Example: Verbo Sur Let’s look at one of our partners in Nicaragua. Heyler Rodriguez is the pastor of Verbo Sur Church in Managua. He has an incredible vision for families in his community. Not only is he passionate about sharing the gospel, he wants families to experience a better life in this world. Right here. Right now. He lives in his community and knows it well. Pastor Heyler is constantly listening and looking for ways to serve and meet real needs. His ministry isn’t focused inward toward his church property but rather pushes outward, overflowing into the community of Colinas del Memorial Sandino.

A few years ago, Pastor Heyler noticed several problems facing single mothers. There were no options for affordable daycare. Every day, many single mothers were forced to make very difficult decisions: stay at home and care for the kids with no income, go to work and leave the children home unsupervised, or take the children to work. As you can imagine, each of these creates problems. The family has to pay rent and eat. Not working is seldom an option. Leaving the children at home exposes them to significant risks including physical and sexual abuse. Taking the children to work prevents them from attending school and receiving an education that is so desperately needed.

Based on his observations and discussions with members of the community, Pastor Heyler was determined to help. Through partnership with World Orphans, Verbo Sur Church created a child development center that offers very affordable, and in some cases, no-cost daycare for families in the community. This ministry allows parents to drop off their preschool-aged children at the church for the day and enables mom and/or dad to go to work and earn a living or attend school in hopes of obtaining better employment opportunities. The child development center provides nutritious meals, quality classroom instruction, and teaches stories from the Bible. It focuses on meeting the physical, spiritual, mental, and emotional needs of the children in a familiar community setting while freeing parents and caregivers to earn livelihoods and meet the financial needs of the family. There are between 12 and 25 children in the program at any time.

This ministry eases the burden on parents, especially single mothers, protects the children and offers early childhood education while strengthening the family unit. Most of all, the child development center gives families options and flexibility, not to mention an open door to the gospel of Jesus Christ. We believe that every church is equipped with unique skills, relationships, resources, and the biblical mandate to minister to the physical and spiritual needs of their community. There’s no better delivery mechanism than the local church and Verbo Sur is one of countless examples of the Church being the Church, utilizing its creativity, resourcefulness and compassion to advance the Kingdom.

Would you pray with us today for the continued ministry and fruitfulness of Verbo Sur Church?

As you pray, enjoy viewing the precious children at the child development center.

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Gratitude and Great Anticipation

By Bailey Kalvelage | Mobilization

Reflecting seems to always be part of the festivities of a new year. Whether in the quiet of the morning or between errands, we tend to ponder the past year, retracing steps both large and small. I invite you to journey with me through a few testimonies from World Orphans 2013 partnership trips. Relationships were deepened, kids and families were cared for, and the Gospel was spread…

“One of the events we did was a sports outreach where we took four buses of people to a sports complex. The day ended with testimonies from some of our team and then Jairo Jr. (pastor’s son) gave an invitation to accept Christ. The first girl that came forward was Abigail. She is 8 years old. When she was born, her mom had her dedicated at Verbo Sur (church), but her mom died a couple of months later. Her dad later died, and her grandmother is raising her. Verbo Sur has stayed close to her with the Community Development Center and feeding programs, and she comes to church each Sunday. This is a great example of the church stepping in and helping to raise an orphan right in their community."  – Partnership between Verbo Sur of Nicaragua and Gaylord E-Free of Michigan

“Every day at noon, Eglise de Dieu D’Andullan has intercessory prayer time. What an experience for our team: to take time each day to come together and pray! Oh, how we have things to learn from our Haitian friends! When I first walked into the church, prayer time was already in progress, and it took a little getting used to at first…most people were praying aloud, some quietly. Several were pacing up and down while calling upon Jesus, some kneeled and rocked, some reached their hands toward heaven, and one woman was kneeling and wailing. To me, it was an intimate picture of how we all come to the Lord in a very personal way. Without understanding their language, I could only see their love, their desire for the Lord, their relationship with Him…beautiful!”  – Partnership between Eglise de Dieu D’Andullan of Haiti and Lakewood Christian Church of Oklahoma

“In the afternoon, our team came up to the front of a house with seven young men out back. One team member walked up and shook hands and introduced himself. He started telling them his story, ‘I know what it’s like to be a young man…I want you to know you can have courage and salvation and all the freedom I have in my life. You will still mess up but you know Jesus.’ One young man said, ‘I’m a Muslim, but I’d like to have that Jesus.’ He prayed and accepted Christ. The US team member has prayed for him since then.”  – Partnership between Hope Home Care Cyegera of Rwanda and HOPE 221 of Tennessee

Whether it was hundreds of people being treated and prayed for at a medical clinic or a little boy sharing the victory at his choir concert with his US friends, God’s faithfulness has reverberated throughout trips in 2013. Each partnership has unique stories of salvation, worship, service, and love.

Baileysblog
Baileysblog

“All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them.” Acts 4:32-34a

In 2013, special churches in the US and around the world continued to join in partnership through World Orphans to care for children who are orphaned and vulnerable. This reflecting brings gratitude and great anticipation of what is to come in 2014!

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Vision Under Construction

By Jacques Sadie | Nicaragua Country Director

In February, my wife and I led a team from two churches in Missouri to visit their church partner, Verbo Bluefields, in the town of Bluefields on Nicaragua's Atlantic Coast. This partnership started taking shape when Pastor Ed from Verbo Bluefields met Pastors Jim and Bob from Missouri on a visit to Nicaragua in 2010. A visit to Bluefields followed in April 2011, with the two pastors being joined by five of their church members. This time around, there were 15 people on the team, coming to see and learn about Bluefields and to share in the great work that God is doing through His church here.

Pastor Ed and his church are doing an amazing work in caring for the vulnerable and orphaned children of this community, specifically through a Christian school, a feeding program, and Sunday school classes. For many years, they have also had the vision of building a children's home for those who live in horrible circumstances, or worse, have no refuge. When Pastor Ed first met with Pastors Jim and Bob, he was able to share this vision with them, and they were excited to help Verbo Bluefields make it happen.

Now this vision is under construction--the foundation for the home has been laid, and the walls are going up a little higher every day. And, even though no children live there yet, it has already been of benefit to the community by giving nine local construction workers regular employment. There is another vision under construction here--the vision of partnering churches with each other. It is a remarkable thing to see churches working together well, whether from the same community or across the world. These churches are joining hands to share not only resources, but LIFE! John 13:35 tells us that this is how the world will know that we are Jesus' disciples, "if you (we) love one another."

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Child Development Center Provides Safe Place for Nicaraguan Kids

By Amanda Sadie

My husband Jacques and I have spent the last six months living in Nicaragua, working for World Orphans. We have learned a lot, witnessed much, prayed hard, listened often and asked a lot of questions.

About half of Nicaragua’s population lives in poverty (earning less than $2 a day) and one in five live in extreme poverty (IMF, 2010). This number hasn’t shown marked improvement over the years. Public policy, traditionally favoring the small elite class, along with low levels of technological progress, poor education and health programs, inappropriate natural resource development, a number of natural disasters, and recent global recessions have all factored into what some say is an increase in poverty.

Nicaragua doesn’t have the highest orphan population in the traditional sense of the word. The country hasn’t been as affected by AIDS as many African countries. But economic, political, natural and culture factors leave many children in Nicaragua vulnerable to abandonment when the family doesn’t have enough money to provide for them. Sometimes, children are forced into child labor so that their earnings can help support their family. Many of these children will be kidnapped or lured into the sex trafficking industry. (Nicaragua is a principle ‘supplier’ of trafficked children.)

While a child’s parents are walking the streets trying to sell copied CDs or perfume, or digging through the area landfill to see what’s sellable, the child is left alone - vulnerable to accidents, house fires, or to the abuse of people from the neighborhood. Many children are forced to work or beg instead of going to school.

In our travels to different neighborhoods around Nicaragua we’ve seen many of these children. We’ve seen a tiny four-year-old carrying around her baby brother while her mother and older siblings worked in the landfill. We’ve seen a child who suffers from epilepsy have a seizure on the street while alone and not medicated. We’ve met seven-year-olds who spend the day selling candy, gum and cigarettes in street markets. We’ve heard of an eight-year-old boy being sexually violated by gang members who found him alone in the streets. We’ve seen the scars of a four-year-old who's mosquito net caught fire and burned most of his body when he was left alone by his mother. We’ve watched as small children juggle at the traffic lights and then beg for money hoping to have some to take home to their families.

One church in a poor neighborhood, strongly affected by crime in the capital city of Managua, has a response to caring for the vulnerable children in their community. The pastor and his family at Verbo Sur wanted to open a Child Development Center - a place where children could come while their parents were at work, a place where they would be safe and cared for, where they would get an important head start on learning, and learn about Christ’s love for them. Through a partnership with World Orphans the Child Development Center at Verbo Sur opened at the beginning of September.

Yesterday we visited the center to see how it was going after being open for a few weeks. The teachers were full of smiles, and told us they already see the fruit of their labor. They see the children stop crying and become accustomed to being at the center; they see children begin to break out of their shells, to hear them talk and laugh; they dance together, paint together, read together, and pray together. As they told me about the kids being kids – running around the room or fighting over the crayons - the teachers' smiles remained, their love for the children and for the Kingdom work they’re involved in very apparent.

We feel blessed to be in Nicaragua and to witnesses not only the poverty, but also the love of Christ being preached loudly through the Church’s love for the children in their communities.

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Wo Welcomes Sadie Family To Our Nicaragua Project

World Orphans is excited to introduce two new members to our international team, Jacques and Amanda Sadie. The Sadies, who currently live in South Africa, will start raising support to move Nicaragua as the In-Country Development Coordinators in early 2011. “For the past 7 months, Jacques and I have been praying that God would direct us where He would like us to go.  We feel as if He’s answered saying there’s a need in Nicaragua that we could help fill,” Amanda Sadie said in a letter to WO.

Amanda, who lived in Nicaragua for 19 months in 2001, said she fell in love with the country and felt an immediate burden for the thousands of orphaned children living on the streets.

And in a country where 48 percent of the population lives below the poverty line, the number of orphaned and abandoned children increases each year.

The Sadies will bring a number of invaluable skills to the WO team including Amanda’s training in social work, her experience as an elementary school teacher and Jacque’s skills as a licensed physical therapist.

“(World Orphans) has a clear vision and mission, which is based on the world-altering and unconditional love of Jesus Christ for the unloved, and that is something that I want to be a part of.  We have but one life here on earth,” Jacques wrote.

WO is currently partnered with a Nicaraguan transition home for former orphaned and abandoned children through VERBO ministries.

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