Viewing entries in
Presidential Update

Presidential Update: Exciting News from Iraq

Comment

Presidential Update: Exciting News from Iraq

by President Scott Vair & Assistant Middle East Director Tim Buxton

Shabak Women at Kawlokan Village
Shabak Women at Kawlokan Village

It has been almost two years since ISIS swept through the Nineveh plains in brutal fashion, taking control of Mosul, the second largest city in Iraq. For those who managed to escape to relative safety, the task of putting together the shattered pieces of their lives is often too much. The armies of ISIS are still in control of Mosul, and although the Peshmerga Kurdish Army, with the support of the US military and other Western allies, has retaken key territory in the region, the battle rages on. The possibility of these hundreds of thousands of Iraqi and Syrian families returning home anytime soon is an unrealistic dream. 

One of the greatest casualties of the war with ISIS are the thousands of children robbed of their future, no longer able to go to school to simply learn how to read, write, or just have fun. Guns, grenades, and untold acts of merciless violence have stolen so much from these innocent children.

Realizing the importance of education, our team in Iraq began to dream and plan a response. What began in July of last year as a couple days per week of fun games, learning activities, and informal English classes for 130 Yazidi and Shabak children (ages 3-18), has now grown into a full-fledged school that meets five days per week.

Today, there are five teachers of mixed ethnic backgrounds and two social workers (who are Syrian refugees) that provide English, math, art, science, geography, music, and sport classes.

These classes are held in six classrooms on the ground floor of our community center, where there is also a library, a large multipurpose hall, and an outdoor soccer field used by the children on a daily basis. Students are transported to and from the school by bus and are given daily refreshments that include fruit, cookies, juice, and water. 

If it weren’t for this school and other programs like it, these refugee children would be stuck in their camps, and likely be forced into child labor. Overcrowding and language barriers keep local schools from being an option for most refugee children. In some cases, the Iraqi and Syrian governments will not allow the students who miss more than two years of school to rejoin the classroom, forcing many students into the adult workforce prematurely. Without education many of these children will be left behind.

But, instead of losing all hope and missing out on their opportunity for an education, these children are now learning, growing, and dreaming in a caring environment. They are excited to come to school and their only complaint is that they cannot attend school more often. God has been gracious to give us this opportunity to make a difference in the lives of these precious children.

Unfortunately, our classrooms are busting at the seams. In just six months, the school has outgrown our community center. Without increased capacity, we will not be able to provide education for new children as we continue to expand our refugee ministry.

So, we are building a school!

Laying the foundation for the new school building

Laying the foundation for the new school building

Work is underway for the construction of a 16,000 square foot school that will have nine classrooms. The school will be built on a vacant area of land adjacent to our community center and soccer field. Not only will we be able to triple the size of our current student capacity, we will be able to provide more age-relevant education to the children, as we no longer have to combine multiple age groups into shared classes.

The community center will then be free to operate as an additional learning facility, providing various programs like trauma counseling, and sewing, cosmetic, computer, and trade classes.

We are grateful for all who have joined us on this journey to care for refugees and their children during these times. Would you consider joining us in prayer? Would you consider financially supporting this project as construction continues. It is both a daunting task and a wonderful opportunity, and we would be honored to have your support.

Comment

Comment

Responsible to Steward

By Scott Vair | President Last month I traveled to Guatemala, along with the rest of the World Orphans Board of Directors, to visit our projects and ministry partners. Over the last several years, we have developed an amazing partnership with AMG Guatemala, a Gospel and child-focused ministry located in Guatemala City with whom we have many shared values.

World Orphans Board of Directors with staff in Guatemala
World Orphans Board of Directors with staff in Guatemala

While at the main AMG Guatemala campus, we spent some time with their President, Brian Dennett. For the sake of our board members who hadn’t met Brian or heard the vision of AMG, he shared a bit about their decades of ministry in Guatemala, where they have largely focused on education and medical care.

“We did not start this ministry, but we have the privilege and responsibility to steward it well.”
— Brian Dennett, President AMG Guatemala

Brian explained that he and his staff are not the founders of AMG Guatemala, (nor am I and my staff the founders of World Orphans), but we both have, as Brian stated, the privilege and responsibility to steward the ministries well.

During my nine years at World Orphans, I have seen families pack up their belongings and move to foreign countries to help facilitate our ministry. I’ve seen incredibly talented people faithfully raise personal support from family and friends in order to lend their expertise to this ministry. I’ve seen thousands of donors sacrificially give, from change collected by children to tens of thousands of dollars donated by foundations, churches, and individuals who believe in what we are doing. As a result, thousands of orphaned children, vulnerable families, and refugees have received love and care from the local church.

What a privilege to be part of this.

What a responsibility to steward.

We have worked hard to do just that - to steward well, in a way that honors God and those who have sacrificed much to give, go, and pray for World Orphans.

It is one of the reasons we obtained and maintain our accreditation with the Evangelical Counsel for Financial Accountability (ECFA).

ECFA-Seal
ECFA-Seal

“ECFA enhances trust in Christ-centered churches and ministries by establishing and applying Seven Standards of Responsible Stewardship™ to accredited organizations.

Founded in 1979, ECFA provides accreditation to leading Christian nonprofit organizations that faithfully demonstrate compliance with established standards for financial accountability, transparency, fundraising, and board governance.

ECFA’s Seven Standards of Responsible Stewardship™, drawn from Scripture, are fundamental to operating with integrity.

The ECFA standards are infrequently changed, providing members a steady baseline for consistent application of the standards to members. The standards have been described as simple, but not simplistic. The brief statements included in the standards have significant implications for organizations that pledge to follow these standards. They are not standards that allow for grading on the curve. Rather, they are pass-fail standards. ECFA members must comply with all of the standards, all of the time.”

We take these standards seriously, and we are committed to following them. We trust that in doing so, we give confidence to our supporters that their gifts are being used well, and that we are an organization worthy of their time, talents, and treasures.

"For we are taking pains to do what is right, not only in the eyes of the Lord but also in the eyes of men."  2 Corinthians 8:21

It is a privilege to serve at World Orphans. We pray that our words, our actions, our thoughts, and our plans bring honor and glory to the Lord.

Comment

Comment

Inspiring Others to Action

By Scott Vair | President At the end of 2013, World Orphans sharpened its vision and mission statements to more accurately reflect the ministry we believed God created us to be. The change in language didn’t as much represent a change in direction as it did an attempt to put language to who we already were and have always been.

Our Vision: To empower the church to care for orphans - until they all have homes!

Our Mission: We equip, inspire, and mobilize the church to care for orphans and vulnerable children. Churches engaged. Children restored. Communities transformed by the Gospel of Christ.

Recently, I hosted Pastor Kanukolanu Sudhakar from Hyderabad, India for a few days. Pastor Sudhakar is a long-time partner of World Orphans and over the years has become a good friend. We enjoyed catching up about family, ministry, and the highlights of both Bethel Gospel Church and World Orphans.

During our time together, Pastor Sudhakar recounted the story of when he met World Orphans founder, Bob Roosen, over a decade ago. Sudhakar had been invited by a friend to meet Bob at his home in Colorado Springs. Bob gave him a tour of the World Orphans office (located in his home at the time) and showed him many photographs of orphan care projects World Orphans had started over the years, in over 50 countries. The pictures were of churches, and homes, and children.

Bob then expressed great sympathy about a story he had heard of a tragedy in India at a school. Evidently there had been a fire at the school and many children had perished. As he talked about this with Sudhakar, he wept, overcome with sadness at the loss of such innocent life. Bob was an extraordinarily compassionate man.

The meeting had a tremendous impact on Sudhakar. Pastor is part of the Acts 29 Network and has a passion for church planting. He is a tremendous leader, and is committed to seeing a church planted in every village in his state. And yet, he and his church were not caring for the orphans in their community. He explained that he was shaken by the fact that a man living halfway around the world – whom had never even been to India – cared more about the children in Hyderabad than he did.

Sudhakar was inspired.

From that day on, he became committed to caring for vulnerable children in his midst. He formed a partnership with World Orphans through Bob that has withstood the test of time. Today, his church cares for 200 orphans at 12 locations.

Sudhakar also explained that I too have inspired him. In 2010, after several conversations about sustainability, he started a farm offsetting the cost of caring for children by producing their own eggs, milk, and rice. Additionally, a few years ago I had the opportunity to preach in his church. I spoke of the beauty of adoption – our adoption into God’s family - the permanency and security we receive as co-heirs with Christ sealed by the Spirit. Sudhakar explained as a result, they started to rethink their commitment to the children for whom they are caring, that their commitment does not end when the children reach a certain age. These children are part of their church family, permanent parts of their family. They have since implemented vocational and life skill training projects for children in their care.

As President of World Orphans, I am grateful for our founder Bob Roosen. I am grateful he cared so passionately about the church, the orphan, and the expansion of the Gospel. I am grateful for all the churches and pastors he equipped, inspired, and mobilized to care for orphans and vulnerable children. I am sure there were times Bob saw the fruits of his efforts quickly, but even when he didn’t, seeds were planted.

Bob Roosen has an amazing legacy. He has inspired thousands. I am grateful his inspiration continues today through our vision to empower the church to care for orphans - until they all have homes!

Comment

Comment

Servant Leadership

By Scott Vair | President Recently I traveled to Haiti and participated in a two-day training conference for World Orphans church partners, including their pastors and OVC (Orphan and Vulnerable Child) teams. I started our time together with a devotional on servant leadership.

I explained that I want my leadership at World Orphans to be characterized by servant leadership; I want to be known as a servant leader in my church; I want to be remembered as a father that modeled servant leadership for his children.

So, I asked, “What is servant leadership? And when I say servant leadership, what comes to mind?”

Answers included:

  • Serving first – leading second
  • Serving those we lead instead of expecting those we lead to serve us
  • Caring for those we lead
  • Loving those we lead

The pastors and leaders gave examples of characteristics a servant leader possesses:

  • Humble
  • Caring
  • Helpful
  • Loving
  • Joyful
  • Peaceful
  • Patient
  • Kind
  • Gentle
  • Faithful
  • Self-controlled

Then we looked at what scripture has to say about servant leadership:

  • “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).
  • Jesus washed his disciples feet and then said to them, “For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you” (John 13:15).
  • “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being the very nature of God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant” (Philippians 2:5-7).

Jesus is the example of servant leadership.

Pastor Jack Miller in his book, The Heart of Servant Leader, writes beautifully about servant leadership.

Paraphrasing, he says that in order for us to be servant leaders we must have a deep understanding of the gospel. We have to admit we are desperate sinners in constant need of grace. He says we must live a life of vital faith and humility, instead of pride and self-reliance keeping us from having a significant part in the work of Christ.

Miller notes that we must model repentance, saying that repentance is not a once-in-a-lifetime experience but a whole way of life. Miller does not think repentance was optional in the life of a Christian leader. He also points out that we are not to spend all our time thinking about our sins; rather, repentance drives us to a deeper reliance on Christ and his work on our behalf at the cross.

And finally, Miller insists that a servant leader is known by his or her commitment to prayer. As leaders, we are connected to Christ through prayer. Like repentance, prayer is a whole way of living. Pray, pray, and pray some more.

We concluded our time together confessing our desire to be biblical servant leaders, praying that our lives would be marked by:

  • A deep understanding of the Gospel
  • Vital faith and humility
  • Repentance
  • Prayer

May it be so!

Comment

Comment

Yazidis: ISIS Ran Them Out—We Are Welcoming Them Home!

By Scott Vair | President

In my nine years with World Orphans, I’ve traveled to 25 countries to meet with pastors, leaders, and government officials to talk about the poor, the marginalized, the vulnerable, and, most often, the orphan. I’ve been to Asia, Africa, South America, Central America, China, and the Middle East, and in those travels, I’ve experienced many different cultures and people groups. But, until last August, I’d never heard of the Yazidis.

4.8.15_TheRefuge

So who are they? What’s their story?

In early August 2014, their story gripped much of the world, as they became a primary target of the terrorist group ISIS. They were forced to flee their homes; thousands were stranded on Sinjar Mountain in Northern Iraq. Major news agencies were suddenly taken with this ancient people group, and they quickly began to report their terrible situation.

“Singled out, threatened, chased at gunpoint from their homes. Pursued purely because they are members of an ethnic and religious minority. Iraq's Yazidi Kurds are no strangers to persecution. Their faith teaches them that throughout history, they have been subjected to 72 genocides. Many world leaders fear they are on the brink of a 73rd massacre, this time at the hands of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, which calls itself the Islamic State” (Ivan Watson, CNN, Aug 18, 2014).

“The Yazidis are a ethnic minority in Iraq made up mostly of ethnic Kurds and isolated from the rest of the population due to their ancient beliefs. Best estimates put the group's worldwide membership at approximately 700,000 people and while they have members living in Sweden and Germany, the vast majority are in the Middle East. Members of the group believe in an ancient religion linked to Zoroastrianism and are considered “heretics” by radical Islamists. This label has led to decades of persecution and now that ISIS has become more powerful in the region, they have targeted the group, forcing them out of their homes and into the mountains” (Meghan Keneally, ABC News, Aug 8, 2014).

“That renewed attack began at dawn on Monday when Islamic fighters attacked the southern part of the Mount Sinjar using Humvees and armored vehicles. Yazidi civilians were forced to retreat up the mountain where they are now trapped. Earlier this year, thousands of mainly Yazidi civilians were trapped by Islamic State fighters, prompting the U.S. to pursue an airstrike campaign against the militant group. ISIS has killed hundreds of Yazidis and has forced tens of thousands of others to flee for their lives since sweeping across Iraq, according to The Associated Press” (Fox News, Oct 24, 2014).

4.8.15_TheRefuge2

We watched in horror as reports of rape, murder, starvation, dehydration, and kidnapping flooded our news feeds. The US military got involved as they dropped water, food, and supplies to those stranded on Sinjar Mountain and provided air support to Kurdish Peshmerga forces battling ISIS.

Seeking refuge, the Yazidis fled to Northern Iraq, and that is where World Orphans enters the story.

As many of you know, World Orphans built our first refugee camp last September for 20 Shabak families from Mosul who also had also fled ISIS. It has been an amazing opportunity to serve in ways we never expected. The Lord has been gracious, indeed, giving us such a platform for ministry. Support for our work has been extraordinary—gifts large and small, from people, businesses, churches, authors, filmmakers, a major university, other ministries, and even Kurdish Regional Government officials—we couldn’t be more grateful.

4.8.15_Akoyan

This support has made it possible for us to join the story of the Yazidi people. We’ve just opened our second refugee camp, and 16 Yazidi families (about 100 people) have moved into their new homes.

Today, construction of camp #3 is well underway. Land is being leveled, and rock … lots and lots of rock … has been brought in to allow for proper drainage and a solid foundation. Kitchens are being built, bathrooms installed, electricity and water supplied. The construction is moving fast, and soon 55 more Yazidi families (nearly 250 people) will call this home.

All three of these are micro-camps; intentionally small so family leaders can manage them on site. They are being empowered to govern themselves, provide their own security, find their own food, get jobs, and support themselves. We are providing them with a safe place to live, a place to call home, for as long as they need. We are encouraging, building relationships, and living out our faith alongside them.

We are reminded in Deuteronomy 10:17-18 that “…the Lord your God is the God of gods and the Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God who does not show partiality nor take a bribe. He executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and shows His love for the alien by giving him food and clothing.

4.8.15_TheRefuge3These Yazidi families and their children are in desperate circumstances. They’ve been attacked, they’ve been persecuted, they’ve fled their homes, and they are in danger. They must be preserved and protected.

Much of our focus at World Orphans is toward the preservation of highly vulnerable families, keeping them together, preventing orphaning from happening in the first place. The care of these Yazidi families fits perfectly into that strategy.

With the completion of our third camp, nearly 500 refugees have found safety and shelter in Northern Iraq. In each of these camps, World Orphans will be actively serving, loving, providing care, and walking alongside these families.

In these last seven months, we’ve found amazing favor with local leaders, and our staff in Soran has been working non-stop. So many efforts and hearts have come together—from prayers, to giving, to going, to serving, to thinking, to strategizing, to acting. What an amazing seven months this has been. And the next seven may be equally so!

We are endlessly grateful for how the Lord has positioned us and now led us into this incredible opportunity to serve and love in the midst of such great turmoil and tragedy. The fact that we are present and able is truly remarkable, and clearly the work of His hands. May He find glory and honor as we seek to do His work for His kingdom.

Comment

Comment

Family Empowerment: What It Is and How You Can Be Involved

by Scott Vair | President

 

The Story of Belnysh

In Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Belnysh lives in a corrugated metal house on the side of the street with her two boys, Dawit and Beniyam. As a widow, she’s struggled to provide them with the basics needed to survive - food, clothing, shelter, and education. Five years ago, Belynsh was so desperate that she took her youngest Beniyam (only four years old at the time) and left him at an orphanage, fearing she would not be able to provide for both of the boys.

Desperation, death, anguish, helplessness, hopelessness, extreme poverty – all culminating in a mother abandoning her child to an orphanage, hoping for a better life for him.

Avoiding this exact scenario is one of the primary goals of our Home Based Care (HBC) Program, as we seek to work with local churches to preserve families and keep children out of orphanages. Study after study points to the dangers, inadequacies, and developmental delays associated with institutional care. To put it bluntly: a child belongs in a family.

Two years later, Belynsh missed Beniyam, who was no longer recognizing her when she went to visit. Her family was broken, and she wanted him back. There had to be another way.

Fast forward to today. Belynsh has Beniyam back in her home, they are part of our Home Based Care Program at Lafto Kale Heywet Church, and Belynsh is running her own teashop. She works six days a week to earn enough money to keep the boys at home, with a little help from the HBC Program that provides some food, medical care, and education expenses for the boys.

The teashop was started through a small business loan Belynsh received through a savings plan as part of the HBC Program at the church. Through the encouragement of the HBC Coordinator, Belganesh, the Home Based Care participants started a savings program where they each put in the equivalent of about $1 a month. A few months ago, World Orphans staff members matched what had been saved so far, allowing the group to start issuing small business loans. Each loan is about $25 and is paid back over 10 months. So far, 8 of the 22 caregivers in the HBC Program have received such a loan.

While it doesn’t seem like much, a small loan like this was enough to help Belynsh start the teashop and begin to earn a living.

Belnysh

Belnysh grinding coffee.

The Story of Pastor Siva

In Chatsworth, South Africa, World Orphans partner, Pastor Siva Moodley, has been caring for orphans through his church, Christian Life Centre, for over a decade. He too has a passion for seeing caregivers empowered to earn a living so they can take care of their children. In the past, they’ve taught widows how to make and sell jewelry. Today, they are in the final stages of completing a Training Center. This Training Center is a two-story building that will house a sewing project.

Most sewing projects I’ve seen over the years are designed to employ people. Women come to the project and work at sewing garments that the project then sells. The project is the employer.

The sewing project at Christian Life Centre has a different vision. They too will have women come to the project, they will be in community as they learn to sew, but the goal is to teach them a skill. Christian Life Centre will then network with factories to get them jobs at the end of a six-week training program. They will bring women in (many are widows), teach them to sew, find them a job, send them out, and bring in others. The cycle repeats. Women given skills and help so they can support and care for their families themselves.

The sewing room.

111.24.14_sewing5

Pastor Siva explaining the training program.

This is me receiving a sewing lesson from Pastor Siva's wife, Rani.

Family Empowerment

This small business loan program in Ethiopia and sewing project in South Africa are both examples of what we call Family Empowerment.  This form of empowerment, deeply rooted in the Gospel, not only invests in the family but also walks families through the ongoing process of providing physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual care for those they love.  Each step is intentional.  It’s dynamic.  It demands mutual respect, economic accountability, and constant engagement in the local community.  But the greatest part of it all, it transforms families and communities for generations to come!

Our goal is to see families empowered to raise their children physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. We believe this starts with, and is found in, the Gospel of Christ.

This past August, we conducted our first caregiver training in Haiti for the 200+ caregivers in our HBC Program. Caregivers were trained in child protection, oral hygiene, and biblical discipline – all undergirded by the Gospel and identity found in Christ. We believe the work of the Gospel is foundational. Our hope is only found in Him. The Gospel has much to say about all areas of life, including economic empowerment. When sewing projects and loan programs designed to empower caregivers are a function of the church, where community is established and the message of Christ is primary, real family transformation takes place.

When talking about economic empowerment, two of the more popular topics in missions today are “dependency” and “self-sustainability”.

These are indeed important topics, but also very complex issues that aren’t as easy as we’d like them to be. As Daniell Rickett points out in his must-read book, Building Strategic Relationships, there is both healthy and unhealthy dependency. Obviously we must be cautious to avoid unhealthy dependency (where the sole focus is on the exchange of money rather than on the complimentary contributions each party makes). But, we must also embrace healthy dependency (where each partner is willing give and receive, to teach and to learn, to lead and to follow).

We have several projects that have, over the years, spent considerable time, energy, and resources on “self-sustainability” projects – chickens, gardens, farms, bakeries, transportation companies, etc. – and these projects have generated some income. Yet even with the additional income generated, we continue to walk with these projects, continue our relationship, continue our partnership, and continue to provide funding. Partnership with these churches is more than the exchange of funds, it’s primarily about relationship; long-term genuine relationship working toward the accomplishment of the shared goal of caring for orphans. We can do so much more together than we could ever do on our own.

As we move into 2015, World Orphans is more committed than ever to see growth in our ministry in the area of Family Empowerment. These areas are where we believe we can have the most impact. We want to see more families like Belynsh and her boys stay together. We want to see more children stay with their parents and/or relatives - not sent to orphanages. We want to see more caregivers given opportunity to support their families with dignity, honor, and respect.

Do you share our passion for raising-up men and women through Family Empowerment? Do you know a business, foundation, or church that might want to get behind such an initiative? Are you able to help us see more women like Belynsh selling tea to support her children instead of resorting to sending them to an orphanage?

You can be part of empowering caregivers and families, and in the end, providing solutions and alternatives to some of the most difficult challenges in orphan care today. Supporting families to keep their children in their care. It’s a real-life solution. Family Empowerment.

Comment

Comment

Iraq, ISIS, and The Refuge

Written by Scott Vair, President/CEO of World Orphans

ISIS Was Coming

Rosum is the leader of a group of twenty Shabak families from a small village outside of Mosul, Iraq. Shabaks are Kurds that have Iranian roots, speak Arabic, and are some of the persecuted minorities being targeted by ISIS.

On August 7, Rosum received word ISIS was headed toward their village. To make matters worse, Sunni Iraqi’s from a nearby village were joining forces with ISIS and were descending on them from the north.

With only two hours to spare, Rosum and these twenty Shabak families escaped, taking only a few belongings, traveling the dangerous Mosul Highway to Kalak.

They stayed in Kalak for two days, but they knew they needed to escape further (ISIS stormed Kalak the next day). Rosum suspected Erbil would be inundated with refugees, so their path led them to Soran – a town of 100,000 in the mountains of Northern Iraq. The mayor of Soran made arrangements for them to temporarily stay in a partially constructed building, but they knew their journey was not yet over.

ISIS Was Near

Billy Ray and Tim Buxton, along with their families, serve with World Orphans in Northern Iraq. Soran, nestled in the mountains near the borders of Turkey and Iran, has become their home. Erbil is the closest major city where they do all of their banking and major shopping.

On August 7, a rumor spread through Erbil that ISIS had entered the city. That rumor proved to be false, but the terrorists were nearby and the threat was growing. The US began airstrikes to protect fleeing Yazidi families and to protect “American assets” in Erbil.

Uncertain of how effective the airstrikes would be and not wanting to wait until it was too late, the Rays and Buxtons temporarily evacuated to Turkey via a safe corridor around the front lines.

Bolstered by air support, the Kurdish Persmerga forces pushed ISIS back from Erbil and retook the strategic Mosul Dam, turning the tide.

The Refuge

The Refuge Tents
The Refuge Tents

Mayor Krmanj Dergali of Soran has been a friend to World Orphans for the past five years as we have developed the acre of land the city gave World Orphans to serve widows and orphans. Today the property includes a community center and soccer field. Mayor Krmanji has the unenviable task of finding shelter and providing care for over 2,000 displaced families who have fled to his city. Many are staying in schools and unfinished/abandoned buildings.

When the Rays and Buxtons returned, they immediately met with Mayor Krmanji and asked him how World Orphans could help. Mayor Krmanji said, Billy, I have 20 families living in a partially built apartment building that have to move, they cannot stay where they are. Can you set up a refugee camp on your property for them? They need to move in a week.

World Orphans is not a refugee ministry. We do not have experience in setting up or running a refugee camp. But we know that God has us strategically placed to be able to make a difference in the region. In fact, we named the community center “The Refuge” years ago praying it would become just that to people in need.

We also know that the refugee/alien/sojourner is listed with orphans and widows in Scripture as those we are to care for.

He executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and shows His love for the alien by giving him food and clothing.
— Deuteronomy 10:18

So, we said yes!

We began to transform the remaining unused portion of our property into a refugee camp:

  • 98 dump truck loads of debris were hauled away
  • 102 dump truck loads of gravel were put down
  • 22 tents were assembled, including electricity and lights in each
  • 13 aluminum water tanks were positioned
  • 22 air coolers were purchased
  • 1 bathroom and shower block is being constructed

Welcome

Children of The Refuge
Children of The Refuge

On September 9, I had the privilege of being in Soran to welcome Rosum and his twenty Shabak families to The Refuge.

I told Rosum we were sorry for what they have endured, that they had to flee their homes in such uncertainty, not knowing when they will be able to return.

But I also told Rosum that we wanted them to feel welcome, that we hoped this would be their temporary home – not a camp. I told him we cared about them and that we were here to serve them.

Their path is uncertain. Their village has been looted and littered with landmines, and their homes have been booby-trapped. They do not know when it will be safe to return. Rosum wept that evening, overwhelmed by the weight of the past month.

World Orphans will stand with them. God has graciously connected our paths, and we are honored to be a part of their story.

Thank you for partnering with us as we care for these precious families, our journey is not yet over. Will you join us? We would be honored by your support.

Iraq Emergency Fund

Comment

Comment

Letter from the President

What a joy it is to share with you the work we have accomplished together in 2013.  We exist because we believe what Scripture says about the church, the orphan, and the expansion of the Gospel.  We hope you will take a moment to read this letter from our President.  Know we value your prayers and partnership.

----------

Against the darkness of poverty, hunger, abandonment, injustice, and sin shines the bright light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the hope of full redemption for those who believe.

It is our hope and prayer to see orphans and vulnerable children restored to innocence, joy, and delight. As Jesus said, “The kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” We want to help them recognize their value and true identity in Christ, to help them understand that their past does not determine their future.

Food, medical care, education, and emotional support - these are all critical pieces of a wholistic approach to orphan care. And yet, short of the transformational work of the Gospel, it is for naught.

At World Orphans, we are unashamedly Gospel-focused.  All that we do is rooted in the fact that we are loved by a holy God who cares about us perfectly, who cares about us wholly.  Our approach to orphan care seeks to reflect that.

As you read this report and we share a few of the amazing things that were accomplished in 2013, we hope that you too will celebrate the lasting restoration that is only accomplished through the limitless power of the Gospel.

We are thankful for your faithful prayer and support as we continue empower the church to care for orphans - until they all have homes!

Grace and Peace,

Scott Vair

President & CEO

----------

To read the full Annual Report, click here.

Comment

Comment

Am I a Father Worth Celebrating?

By Scott Vair | President

Sunday, June 15, is Father’s Day.  It’s a holiday that will be celebrated in over 50 countries.  As I contemplate the day and what it means, this morning I asked my daughters what Father’s Day means to them.  As we were walking to school, their response was that it’s a time of celebration.  As 7-year-old Norah put it, “It’s a time to celebrate what a great dad we have.  You’re smart, you’re strong, you do stuff with us - you’re awesome!”  My response was of course a big smile and to give a hug.

But for others, I realize, Father’s Day is a time of grieving, a time of regret, a time of wanting, a time of bitterness.  It can be a time when those without fathers feel the loneliness and emptiness of death or abandonment, and possibly for others the weight of sin.

As I was talking to Norah about Father’s Day, I got to thinking - what makes a good dad?  What makes me worth celebrating?  What are the characteristics of a good father?  Evidently being “strong, smart, and doing stuff” are on the list (in reality I’m neither very strong nor am I all that smart – but I guess those qualities change in the eyes of a 7-year-old).  But what else what makes a good dad?

So, I looked for answers in Scripture.  What are the characteristics of God the Father, and how do they speak to being a father?

In my study, despite how often I disappoint and stray from what He desires from me, Father God is compassionate, forgiving, and He desires goodness for me.  He is faithful, never leaving or abandoning me, never casting me aside.  He is merciful, saving me when I don’t deserve to be saved.  He is just, providing loving correction when I need it most.

But most importantly, He loves me - no matter what - with a love that flows from grace that I do not deserve and cannot earn.  No matter what I do, he will love me forever.  I am a permanent part of his family.

As a Dad, clearly I am to love my kids, unconditionally.  But frankly, that’s not always easy.

I mess up – a lot.

I don’t love – a lot.

I don’t forgive – a lot.

I am selfish – a lot.

I will, without a doubt, let them down.

As much as I want to be the perfect Dad, I am far from it.  There is only one who is. Only our eternal Father in heaven can meet the needs of my children perfectly.

This year for Father’s Day, it is my prayer that I can help my kids celebrate the perfect Father.  The one who really is strong, who really is smart, and who really does love perfectly – all the time, without exception, without ceasing, and without them having to do a single thing to earn it.

On June 15, over 100 million children will wake up with no earthly father.  No cards, no gifts, no celebration.  But that is not the full story.  They too have a Father in heaven that loves them perfectly, always and forever.

“How great is the love the Father has for us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” - 1 John 3:1

“A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.” - Psalm 68:5

This year, will you join me in celebrating the Father to the Fatherless?

Will you pray with me that the millions of fatherless children around the world will come to know their Father in heaven who loves them, who will never forsake them?

While we work to serve these children, while we seek to help restore and provide hope and help, it is God, our Father and their Father – who heals the wounds of all hearts.

And for those of us with this great privilege to be called “Dad,” will you pray that we would be the men He has called us to be, through Him who strengthens and sustains us?

He is a Father worth celebrating!  May we be a reflection, a small taste, of His great love for our own children…and for those without.

--------

To celebrate the fathers in your life this Father’s Day, won’t you consider partnering with us to raise $3,000 for Ebenezer Bible Church in South Africa?  The money will help provide food, medical care, education, love, and the hope of the Gospel for 22 children in the partnership.  Give now and receive a printable certificate to present on Father’s Day to the special men in your life.  Click here to donate.

Also, please enjoy scrolling through these photos of children and caregivers at Ebenezer Bible Church.

6.6.14_photo4
6.6.14_photo4
6.6.14_photo3
6.6.14_photo3
6.6.14_photo5
6.6.14_photo5
6.6.14_photo6
6.6.14_photo6
6.6.14_photo1
6.6.14_photo1
6.6.14_phoot2
6.6.14_phoot2

Comment

Comment

Our Mission and Vision

By Scott Vair | President

Our Vision: To empower the church to care for orphans and vulnerable children – until they all have homes!

Our Mission: We equip, inspire, and mobilize the church to care for orphans and vulnerable children.  Churches engaged.  Children restored.  Communities transformed by the Gospel of Christ.

These statements matter.  They’re our North Star; our guide that helps to keep us on track.  They articulate our vision for the future and how we are ministering to get there.

They articulate where we believe the Lord is leading us as a twenty-plus-year-old ministry.  Our belief in what Scripture tells us about the church and the orphan lead us to our vision, and that plays out in our mission.

Pretty straightforward – intentionally.  But the last part may require a little unpacking, so here goes.

What do we mean when we say, “churches engaged?”

New friends made during a Church-to-Church partnership trip to Uganda.
New friends made during a Church-to-Church partnership trip to Uganda.

Too often international relief, development, and even orphan care organizations go into a country, set up shop, hire staff, and go about doing their ministry.  We believe this model misses a huge opportunity to empower the existing resource of the local church.

At World Orphans projects, our primary caregivers are locals.  Through our international church partners, Home Based Care teams go and meet with families regularly to mentor, disciple, love, and care for families that have taken in orphans and vulnerable children.  These teams are from the local church (groups of believers meeting regularly to worship, fellowship, pray, teach/preach, and break bread). These groups are mobilized as agents of God’s grace to proclaim the hope of the Gospel and to wholistically care for orphans and vulnerable children in their communities. They are uniquely positioned and know their culture and families best.  They do the teaching.  They do the feeding.  They mentor, disciple, and love.

World Orphans equips and enables this ministry.  We believe in doing so, we’ve not only effectively used available resources, but also empowered the local church into broader ministry, even to the individual team member who now finds a place to express their own faith in service and care for others.

Through our Church Partnership model, US and international churches share relational, cross-cultural partnerships.  The churches are inspired to do life together by getting immersed into something greater than themselves - embracing true religion as described in the book of James:

“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world” (James 1:27).

Through partnership, these churches display love and compassion for each other as they engage in prayer, support, and care for orphans.  As a result, they are stronger together than they ever could be apart.

And, finally, in US churches here at home, World Orphans works to open doors of understanding, knowledge, and response to the needs of the world.  Many believers today are still unaware of the number of orphans and vulnerable children in the world and of the issues surrounding orphaning and abandonment.  We believe education and knowledge are powerful, and that the reality is quite compelling.  So we tell the story of the orphan over and over again, providing opportunities for believers to reach out in love … until they all have homes.

What do we mean when we say “children restored?”

A little girl we met while in India.
A little girl we met while in India.

We believe that lasting restoration can only be accomplished through the limitless power of the Gospel.  At World Orphans, we are unashamedly Gospel focused.  All we do is rooted in the fact that we are loved by a holy God who cares about us perfectly, who cares about us wholly.  Our approach to orphan care seeks to reflect that.

We strive to see the church and caregivers equipped and mobilized to provide each child in our program with food, education, medical care, and counseling - ensuring each child is on a path of lifelong development.  But, as important as those things are, we want to see children restored to innocence, joy, and delight.  As Jesus said, “the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”  We want to help them recognize their value and true identity in Christ. We want them to understand that their past does not determine their future.

We want to see children cared for the way God intended - in families.

“A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.  God sets the lonely in families...” (Psalm 68:5-6a).

We want to see children cared for in families in a way that points them to the hope of the Gospel so they can be restored eternally.  They can tangibly experience the hope of God’s kingdom by receiving the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual help they need through the care of a family.

What do we mean when we say, “communities transformed by the Gospel of Christ?”

Children having a blast at the new World Orphans soccer field in Iraq.
Children having a blast at the new World Orphans soccer field in Iraq.

We equip and train the church to transform and revitalize their communities through God’s calling to care for orphans and vulnerable children.  We inspire and encourage the church to see orphan care as the means of providing overall community transformation through Christ.

When churches are engaged and children are restored, Jesus is exalted and people are drawn to Him.  People are moved from darkness into light, from eternal death to life, from deception to truth, all through the saving work of Christ.

As churches are actively involved in their communities, establishing genuine relationships, they have opportunity to share the message of the Gospel, which leads to transformation of the heart.  As the community sees people in the church serving as the hands and feet of Christ, it gives a platform for the church to share why they do what they do, because of what Christ has already done.

When churches respond to God’s call to care for the orphan, children are helped, children find hope, and children meet Jesus.  When the people of the church step out and serve, communities witness the love of Christ in action, reaching out among them, and they are changed.  Christ, through His people, brings restoration and transformation.

Churches engaged.  Children restored.  Communities transformed by the Gospel of Christ.

This is the ministry of World Orphans.  Will you join us?

After having better understood our mission and vision, what are your thoughts?  We would love to hear from you.

Comment