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Your Kid Wants to Take a Mission Trip. Now What?

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Your Kid Wants to Take a Mission Trip. Now What?

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Your son just returned for fall break—a week off from his first semester at college. He tosses his duffel bag on the floor and walks into the kitchen, a grin spreading across the width of his face, "Mom, I want to go on a mission trip." 

Your mind alternates between sheer panic and overwhelming pride, "Okay. Let me discuss this with your father, do some research, and-"

He's not listening. The fact that you didn't say, "no," was deemed to be a "yes." He's already texted three friends, and he's halfway through an Instagram story about his upcoming mission trip to an unknown location. As he exits the kitchen, face submerged in his phone, you hear, "Thanks, Mom!"

Well, now what? Where do you even begin?

After you collect your family members for a heart-to-heart about this upcoming mission trip, discussing motives, desires, expected outcomes, etc., then it's time to determine an organization.

Picking an Organization

If you haven't done so recently, take a couple deep breaths.

The Standards of Excellence (SOE) in Short-Term Mission is an accrediting and resourcing body for those who send, receive, facilitate, and support short-term mission (STM) endeavors. When it comes to determining an organization to take a short-term trip with, SOE has created seven standards that can help guide your decision-making process.

  1. God-Centeredness:  An excellent short-term mission seeks first God’s glory and his kingdom.
  2. Empowering Partnerships:  An excellent short-term mission establishes healthy, interdependent, on-going relationships between sending and receiving partners.
  3. Mutual Design:  An excellent short-term mission collaboratively plans each specific outreach for the benefit of all participants.
  4. Comprehensive Administration:  An excellent short-term mission exhibits integrity through reliable set-up and thorough administration for all participants.
  5. Qualified Leadership:  An excellent short-term mission screens, trains, and develops capable leadership for all participants.
  6. Appropriate Training:  An excellent short-term mission prepares and equips all participants for the mutually designed outreach.
  7. Thorough Follow Through:  An excellent short-term mission assures evaluation, debriefing and appropriate follow-through for all participants.

For additional information, you can review the detailed online booklet that unpacks these standards.

World Orphans is an accredited SOE member; therefore, we meet the highest best practice standards established for short-term missions, showing our commitment to quality and excellence in STM. World Orphans offers two types of mission trips.*

 

Preparation

To get a better understanding of how to prepare your son or daughter for his or her trip, we invite you to learn from Sr. Director of Mobilization Kate Borders. Kate has served with World Orphans since 2009, and she is passionate about mobilizing teams with excellence. 

What can a parent do to help his/her child mentally, emotionally, and spiritually prepare for a mission trip? 

Kate with children in Kenya 

Kate with children in Kenya 

Kate: Make time and space for preparation. Our culture is so fast paced. We want to be able to check a box that says, "we’ve prepared," but good preparation takes time. Whether it’s committing to team meetings or simply making time as a family to read books, think, talk, and pray, look at the preparation as part of the journey. There are a lot of really wonderful resources, but one of the most important things a parent can do is make plenty of time and space to read, study, talk, and pray. 

Are there specific things you would advise parents to avoid prior to their child leaving? 

Kate: Read and research plenty in advance. Choose one quality source for information, and then try not to exhaust yourself by reading too much. Travel is always risky, and international travel is even more risky. This is simply a fact. If your child wants to go on a mission trip, and you’re concerned about safety, read the State Department travel warnings right away and talk with the people leading the trip to decide—as a family–if you’re comfortable with the level of risk. At World Orphans, we work as hard as we can to minimize risk, but we know we can’t eliminate the risk. Get to know the organization your child wants to travel with to be sure you’re comfortable with their approach and make an informed and prayerful decision as a family. Then, stick to the decision.

Can you briefly describe the process that World Orphans walks trip participants through prior to departure?

Kate: We start with an application process in order to build a team. For Journey Trips, we personally interview each candidate and review their references. When our US church partners are putting their teams together for Church Partnership trips, we collect applications and encourage church leaders to be sure they feel confident about the composition of the team. Just because someone desires to go on a trip doesn’t mean they should go. We encourage team leaders to feel the freedom to say, "no," to an applicant if they are not a good fit for a team.

Once the team has been selected, training and preparation begin. Our Journey Trip teams have six pre-trip training sessions via conference call to go through the World Orphans Team Handbook. Our Church Partnership teams are often able to conduct their pre-field training in person. 

The goal in training and preparation is heart-level preparation, so our teams spend time with our international church partners from a posture of humility and learning. We desire trip preparation to be part of bigger-picture discipleship in a team member's life.

Kate and her husband with a woman in Kenya 

Kate and her husband with a woman in Kenya 

Practically, a few of the key pieces are: trip insurance, STEP registration, ensuring team members understand emergency response protocol, ensuring everyone feels confident about packing, discussions on expectactions in transit, etc.  

If I'm a mother, and I've just told my child he can travel to Ethiopia—and perhaps all of that is suddenly hitting me—what would you say to me? Do you have any words of encouragement or assurance for the parent whose child is about to take his first STM? 

Kate: Coming from a biblical perspective, it’s about trust and control. I was 16 when I traveled internationally without my parents for the first time, and I was 19 the first time I went internationally to a place that was tagged "risky." Both times, I was probably pretty unaware of how significant it was for my parents to be so supportive of my desire to travel and see the church around the world. As I got older, I became increasingly grateful that my parents were supportive of my growing passion for missions. And now, as a parent myself, I realize the enormous step of trust it was for them to let me travel as a teenager and young adult (and then continue to be supportive as I became an adult and made decisions more independently). I know I will struggle with letting my children travel internationally if that's their desire (maybe I’ll just have to go with them!). I pray I will be wise, and I pray I won’t be fearful. I pray I will trust the Lord’s good plans for my children, even if that makes me nervous. So my encouragement would be to think about the big picture, make an informed decision that you’re comfortable with, and then look to your local community as you determine what it looks like to trust the Lord in the midst of being nervous, knowing that this may be the first of many letting-go experiences as your child grows.  

Welcome Home

Amie in Ethiopia with Ehetinesh, a local mother

Amie in Ethiopia with Ehetinesh, a local mother

Welcoming your child home may feel almost as overwhelming as preparing them to go. To assist you with this, we invite you to take a couple minutes to learn from Mobilization Director Amie Martin. Amie has been on staff with World Orphans since 2014. In this role, she manages and oversees all details and logistics of casting vision for, planning, preparing, and implementing all World Orphans Church Partnership and Journey Trips.

A person returning from a mission trip certainly has a lot to process. What are some ways that parents can gracefully and intentionally engage with their children when they return from their trip?

Amie: I would say there are six really important things. First of all, listen. Really set aside intentional time to listen without having other distractions. Secondly, ask thoughtful questions to help your child process their experience, not just logistical questions about what they did, but, "In light of the Gospel, how are you feeling and thinking through what you experienced?" Ask, "What did God show you about who He is? What did God teach you about yourself and your role as a child of God?" Thirdly, look for ways to point them to Jesus for those hard places where they may be emotionally struggling. This is a huge opportunity to disciple your own child. Fourth, encourage them to get plugged in somewhere in the local community to help the hurting and vulnerable. Fifth, before they traveled with an organization, you probably checked out the organization to determine if they offered any pre-field training or debriefing that included a handbook or journal. Look for additional resources online to help them process the experience. Finally, if you feel like you are not equipped to help them process the experience, hook them up with a spiritual mentor at church or someone with a knowledgeable and passionate heart towards missions that can walk with them and help them process the experience.  One of the biggest weaknesses of short-term trips is a wasted experience, so strive to help them process it well.

Amie with children in Ethiopia

Amie with children in Ethiopia

What surprising behaviors might parents witness from their recently-returned children?

Amie: They may cry or get angry at situations and circumstances that used to be normal. They may isolate themselves. They may try to make big changes in their personal life that seem out of the ordinary. Some may be really positive changes, though, and we certainly want to encourage that.

In addition to practical things parents should do, are there things parents should avoid?

Amie: Avoid minimizing the experience and their emotions. Listen to what they think God might be leading them to and where God might be calling them to serve. Support them and come behind them. Try to see this process as more than a mission trip experience, recognizing it can be an opportunity or jumping off point for deeper engagement with the Gospel and loving marginalized people.

What does World Orphans do to assist and process with those returning from a World Orphans STM?

Amie: We take time to debrief the team as a group and individually, continuing relationship with them through multiple venues, and encouraging them to have a mentor at their home church or someone they are in relationship with in an ongoing face-to-face way. We point them to next steps and other active ways to engage post-trip with hurting, marginalized people both locally and globally. We create social networks, where they can stay in touch with each other to process the experience and continue being encouraged by one another.

Amie with a Journey Trip team

Amie with a Journey Trip team

If I'm a father whose daughter just returned from Haiti, and I'm struggling to connect with her or feeling overwhelmed by her changes in behavior, what words of encouragement could you offer me?

Amie: Breathe. Many trip-goers think that the only people who can relate to how they are feeling are the people that went with them. Be patient, be gracious, and be gentle. Pray for her, and point her to Scripture. Instead of pulling away from her, press in to the struggle and intentionally make a place and plan to help her process.

Resources

We know that it can be overwhelming—regardless of how you feel about missions—when your child wants to pursue a mission trip opportunity. We hope these resources—all recommendations from Kate and Amie—are an encouragement to you and your son or daughter. 

Books

Articles

World Orphans Resources

 

Questions?

We're eager to hear from you! Share your stories, other resources, and thoughts below. You may also comment below with your additional questions about mission trips or traveling internationally with World Orphans. 

 

*World Orphans does not allow minors to go on a Journey Trip without a parent. On Church Partnership trips, we recommend that at least one parent travel with a minor, but this is not a requirement. 

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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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Economic Empowerment & Orphan Care

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Economic Empowerment & Orphan Care

Moses was a child conceived through rape and abandoned by his mother, but he is now in the care of his grandmother. Twins, Sarai and Andrea, were left orphaned when their mother was imprisoned and their father left them, but a neighbor took them in, welcoming them into her home. Rachel's father died in a sudden accident, but she has continued to be raised by her mother, Veronica. Adriana and Daniella care for Camila—a woman left paralyzed by an accident—and her two sons. 

Uganda Mother

The families receiving care through our partner churches have a variety of stories. Some children are being raised by biological mothers or fathers, while others have been welcomed into the homes of grandmothers, aunts, or friends. A commonality you will find among these stories (in addition to a child being orphaned or at risk for abandonment) is poverty or a severe lack of economic resources. Poverty is the leading cause of family disruption; therefore, it is impossible to talk about stabilizing families without also discussing the economic implications of such an effort. 

So, what does this imply about orphan care? Well, the term "orphan care" itself is perhaps somewhat confusing . . . at least the way we use it at World Orphans. Orphan care at World Orphans typically looks more like family care, as we believe a child's well-being directly hinges on the stability and physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health of the entire family. As churches partner with vulnerable families in their community, pastors and congregation members are not merely coming alongside a child, but they are standing alongside families in the midst of turmoil, heartbreak, and transition. 

Thus, our belief in and desire to see strong, stable families has shaped and informed our economic empowerment efforts over the years. Guided by knowledgeable and caring pastors around the world, we've been embarking on a journey that—while it may not be easy—has been filled with joy, hope, and profound dignity for our caregivers, mothers, and fathers. We believe that economic empowerment is building the capacity of the men and women in our programs to participate in, contribute to, and benefit from economic opportunities in ways that recognize the value of their contributions, respect their intrinsic dignity as image bearers of Christ, build stronger families, and improve the quality of life for all members of the family.

As we rely on local leadership to guide our efforts in this area, the reality of economic empowerment varies based on location.

Ethiopia

Economic empowerment initiatives were first launched in Ethiopia in June 2015, and began with savings groups—clusters of caregivers that met to discuss daily life, eat a meal together, and begin to save money. From those humble and simplistic beginnings, economic empowerment initiatives in Ethiopia have grown substantially.

  • Savings Groups: All of our caregivers from all seven of our churches are participating in savings groups that give them the ability to save money monthly despite their inability to access formal financial institutions as individuals. 
  • Micro-loans: Eligible caregivers received a 500 birr (approximately $25) micro-loan to start or expand their businesses, and plans are underway to implement a second phase of micro-loans this year.  
  • Literacy Program & Empowerment Packs: Packs of supplies for literacy, education, basic first aid/hygiene, feminine hygiene, and nutrition are distributed at training seminars provided to the churches and families involved in our program.  
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Zeritu | Ethiopia

 

When she entered the program, Zeritu was desperate, hungry, and suicidal. She couldn't afford to put shoes on her children's feet. Now, she is teaching others in the program her secrets to entrepreneurial success and willingly giving up her spot in the program to provide space for another family to benefit from the same programs that allowed her to transform her life.

[Read more.] 

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Ehetinesh

 Ehetinesh is a widowed mother of seven children, and grandmother of three. Through the economic empowerment program, Ehetinesh has been able to craft and sell handmade jewelry—delicate pieces of art that she is eager to display and sell in her community. In addition to the jewelry, Ehetinesh also sells vegetables. This work allows her to provide for her children, despite previous economic struggles.

May 2017: A nutrition class was presented to Ethiopian caregivers.  After the class, the caregivers prepared a meal to eat together.

May 2017: A nutrition class was presented to Ethiopian caregivers.  After the class, the caregivers prepared a meal to eat together.

Spring 2017: Ethiopian caregivers from Addis Alem Berhane Wongel Baptist Church and Leku Keta Kale Heywet Church completed business training.

Spring 2017: Ethiopian caregivers from Addis Alem Berhane Wongel Baptist Church and Leku Keta Kale Heywet Church completed business training.

Guatemala

In 2017, economic empowerment initiatives were launched in Guatemala through partnership with local businesses, organizations, and the guiding wisdom of our local pastors. While our efforts in Guatemala are still in the early stages, it's already been a joy to see the confidence and joy that empowerment can bring to caregivers.

  • Savings Groups: We are in the process of hiring a Savings Group Coordinator to oversee the implementation of the Restore:Savings Curriculum developed and tested by the Chalmers Center with our savings groups.  
  • Youth Savings & Education: A matched youth savings program will be launched in 2018 in conjunction with the financial literacy education that is already part of the curriculum at the AMG school in Guatemala City.
  • Skills Training for Women: In collaboration with Women’s Partnership Marketplace, we are striving to implement a year-long curriculum to train women as artisans and business owners, equipping them in multiple areas from goal setting to the intricacies of being an entrepreneur.
  • Supporting Existing AMG Programs to Empower Women and Youth: We are investigating ways to provide support to AMG efforts to facilitate financial education, artisan and business training, and job placement for youth.

Yoselin* lives in a small, single-room rented home with her children. Her hard work and assistance from a local World Orphans church partner, Sendero de la Cruz, has allowed her to send her two oldest sons to boarding school. Through the boarding school, the boys not only receive an education, but they are receiving healthy food and learning practical information about basic hygiene. Yoselin's two young daughters are cared for daily through the church's nursery, allowing Yoselin to start a small business selling chips outside of schools. The family has begun to faithfully attend Sendero de la Cruz, and they have gotten involved in home groups and other ongoing church activities. 

Women's Partnership Market

These women are meeting together to create goals for their future at the Artisans Thrive training program in Guatemala City. Over the next couple months, these women will be investing time and energy to learn personal skills, gain understanding of how to start a business, and learn the process of bringing a product to market.

[Learn more.]

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Estefanny | Guatemala

20-year-old Estefanny (third from the left) is employed at Grønn, a socially-conscious start-up using recycled glass to create drinking glasses. The company owner, inspired by Estefanny's work ethic and determination, recently promoted her to director of production. In addition to working at Grønn, Estefanny is a caregiver in the Home Based Care program, a volunteer at Sonrisas (a church-based outreach program for children), and she is attending school to earn a business administration degree. 

Economic empowerment is changing the way we care for orphaned and vulnerable children, and it's building confidence in our caregivers, as they now have opportunities to pursue a better life for their families. While these efforts are young and we're only beginning to see the first beautiful fruits from these programs, we've already been captivated and inspired by the stories. Even more beautiful, in an effort to come alongside additional vulnerable families, we recently launched economic empowerment initiatives in Haiti and will update you as the program grows.

 

*Identity changed for protection

 

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On Refugees: More than Escape

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On Refugees: More than Escape

Nothing seemed to bring about more rage in her than finding him with a newspaper; she’d rush at him in fury and snatch it from his hands. She used to be so tenderhearted–one of warmest people he’d ever met. She had welcomed him into her home and instructed him in his early reading lessons, but had become a stone–convinced by her husband’s warning against his learning.

“He should know nothing but to obey,” he reprimanded the boy and his wife, “and to do as he is told to do.” Anything more than that would make him unfit for them, and there would be no keeping him; for learning would make him immediately unmanageable, rebellious–even dangerous. Plus, he would grow terribly unhappy–a nuisance with which no one needed to be bothered.

The very decided manner in which the man spoke convinced the boy that he could rely confidently on the results of his learning. Whatever was kept hidden in books was to be sought because it would make him unfit to keep–the outcome the man most dreaded and the boy most desired. He was shown the door, the gateway to freedom from beneath the man’s tyranny. However trying the challenge, he decided to learn to read and write. His very life depended on it.

On his errands, he’d sneak a book and take a piece of bread along with him. He’d finish quickly, just in time to exchange a lesson for bread from one of the street boys who could read. With chalk, he’d scratch letters onto brick walls and pavement and copy the words from a spelling book until they looked just right. 

It wasn’t long after he’d learned to read that the discontentment forecasted through his learning rushed over him. His bondage now had words, yet no remedy. He was tormented by the ache for freedom, yet all the more determined to have it one day.

At sixteen, he met two men who wanted to read and write, but like him, they weren’t permitted. He devoted himself to teaching them in secret. Friends got word of it, and in time, over forty people began to sneak weekly into their makeshift school, hoping with all their hearts to learn to read. The great light shed on their mental darkness was–to them–well worth a wretched beating should they be caught.

Decades later, this boy became one of the most prolific writers, orators, and intellectuals of his day, advising presidents and lecturing thousands both at home and as a diplomat. It was he who held the highest appointed public post in Washington. It was he who became the first African American citizen nominated for Vice Presidency. And it was he who was the most prominent abolitionist and civil rights advocate in American history.

His name was Frederick Douglass. And he was a runaway slave. 

Out of all his accomplishments and positions, he recalled the humble days teaching fellow slaves in a makeshift school as the sweetest engagement to which his whole life was blessed; for it was his greatest privilege to make them fit to forge difficult passes into free states, as the illiterate and unlearned were left vulnerable and more susceptible to capture and torture. Likewise, his own education was the means to his own freedom–and later, the freedom of 3 million enslaved people through his paramount role in Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.

"Proceeding to tell him who I was, and what I was doing, he promptly, but kindly, stopped me, saying, ‘I know who you are, Mr. Douglass [...] Sit down. I am glad to see you.’ " -Douglass, on President Lincoln after their meeting

"Proceeding to tell him who I was, and what I was doing, he promptly, but kindly, stopped me, saying, ‘I know who you are, Mr. Douglass [...] Sit down. I am glad to see you.’ "
-Douglass, on President Lincoln after their meeting

Douglass understood that the unlearned mind was an injustice that begot injustice. “It’s easier to build strong children,” he noted, “than to repair broken men.”  And, indeed, he is evidence of this–that education can shift an impossible current, free people, and change an entire nation.

It makes me stop and think. With the millions of people displaced and enslaved today by war, are we–as a well-intentioned international community–so attuned to meeting immediate needs with measurable results that we are blind to what might come in the next century?

Are we blind to the obvious repercussions of millions of children growing up without so much as a primary and secondary education? Are we blind to the power of education in shifting an impossible current, freeing people, and changing the future of nations? Education during displacement is not a new concern, but it is certainly an increasingly relevant one, as the world faces mass exoduses of people in recent years unlike any other time in history.

At the end of 2015, the U.N’s refugee agency reported that the number of displaced people, asylum-seekers, and those uprooted within their own country totaled 65.3 million people globally–one out of every 113 people on earth, compared to 59.5 million people only one year prior. “It is the first time in the organization’s history that the threshold of 60 million has been crossed”–reaching its largest figure since World War II, roughly equal to the population of the United Kingdom.  (UNHCR

And in Iraq alone 4.7 million people out of the 10 million in need of humanitarian assistance are children–1 in 3 children–numbers that are rising quickly as the conflict there continues. From within the country, 3.3 million have been displaced, and virtually half of them are children (UNICEF). And children of war are the most vulnerable to abduction, enslavement, recruitment into fighting, and sexual violence.

Education has the power to fortify young refugees for their unforeseen future in the same way it did 19th Century American slaves as they forged dangerous passes to freedom. Regular engagement with committed teachers and peer relationships provided through schooling can be a lifesaving intervention for refugees right now, while also serving to guard their futures. Without a doubt, it is a personal catastrophe to forgo education during displacement, but millions–even hundreds–going without education creates a civil catastrophe and devastation that extends well past the current decade.

Of course, schools–specifically in Iraq–are not equipped to handle the ongoing influx of students because of the strain on their already limited resources. Schools and teachers are overextended. We have to give attention and commitment to the acute and assiduous work of educating children to strengthen the backbone of a country towards self-sustainment and needed change.  

Lastly, it’s worth considering who among the children uprooted by war are the next national leaders, thinkers, doctors, scientists, and great poets...the Frederick-Douglass-types. They need only a hand and means to learn and grow despite their current circumstances. Perhaps it is they who are most equipped to lead and influence us all, not in spite of their current circumstance, but because of it.

Please consider giving to The Refuge Initiative in their efforts on this front. They have built a school in Soran, Iraq to educate up to 600 IDP children from Mosul, Fallujah, and the Sinjar region in Iraq. 

 “Books, not bombs, are tangibly changing the course of Iraq.” 
-Tim Buxton, Iraq Country Director

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Presidential Update: Exciting News from Iraq

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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.

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Looking Back : 10 Posts to Celebrate 2015

Well, we're about two weeks into those resolutions. The holiday festivities have ceased. It's back to work and back to reality. The decorations have been stashed until next year (hopefully). As we dive into 2016, though, we'd be amiss to not rejoice in the challenges we faced, lessons we learned, and victories we celebrated over the course of the last year. Without further adieu, we invite you to reminisce with us as we look back on ten of our favorite blog posts from the last year:

  1. Jeremy gave us the opportunity to travel to Ethiopia, where we saw women empowered and children being given the gift of hope.
  2. We stepped back in time with David, as we learned about the heart of the early church for children who have been orphaned.
  3. Kathy ushered us through the doors of secondary schools in Kenya, where we met children who are not merely surviving, but thriving!
  4. We discovered what's different about a trip with World Orphans.
  5. Kevin taught us practical ways to deal with conflict.
  6. We considered the beauty in the brokenness as we reflected on the Haiti earthquake of 2010 and the hope that springs anew there.
  7. Why a home rather than an orphanage? We looked at that question.
  8. With loud shouts of joy, songs of praise, and tears of happiness, we took a closer look into Iraq and saw God moving in powerful ways.
  9. As Matthew guided us through the process, we considered what it means to love each other well, to abide in Christ, and to be the kind of father that magnifies our Heavenly Father.
  10. We learned more about the orphan crisis and we considered what the church's role should be in caring for those that have been orphaned.

God is working in powerful ways across the globe, and we are thankful for the privilege to be his hands and feet as we equip, inspire, and mobilize the church to care for orphaned and vulnerable children. Let's press on...

...until they all have homes.

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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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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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Preservation to Empowerment

By Jeremy Resmer | Senior Director of Projects

If you pay close attention, you’ll see poverty everywhere you look. If you don’t, it could be that you’re only viewing poverty through an economic lens. While material poverty is only part of the story, it seems to be the most observable and difficult to hide (especially in developing countries). It’s a leading cause of family breakdown that often results in separation of family members and placement of children in orphanages, among other issues.

When we carefully consider the best interests of a child, there is no greater need than to be in a loving family. Truly, a loving family is more important than shelter, food, education, medical care, and so on. Yet these things are also needed, and children trust family - usually mom and dad - to provide these basic financial resources in order to experience shelter, adequate food, clothing, medical care, and attend school.

There are a lot of organizations involved in various forms of family preservation. Some are doing incredible work and making a real impact. It’s unbelievable how big our hearts are to give financially and to go and serve. To be sure, we must continue and do more. But it’s time that we utilize our brains as much as our hearts.

While I believe real transformation comes through Jesus Christ, we need to bring more than Bibles and fish to our brothers and sisters in need. We must bring fishing poles too. You see, the church (individuals and collectively) is responsible for meeting the spiritual and, at times, physical needs of its people. The church has a critical role to play in family preservation.

To preserve is to exist. To empower is to advance. And until we develop and implement local solutions that go from preserving and stabilizing families to empowering and strengthening families, we will continue to bang our heads against the wall trying to reduce poverty and, ultimately, keep families together. If the root cause of our problems is sin, then poverty is one of its most effective weapons. In the same way that we can’t take on sin without Jesus Christ, we can’t take on economic poverty without relationship. Through relationships with local leaders and the people themselves, we create conversation. Through conversation, we include the very people who understand the problems and, more importantly, the solutions. As our relationships deepen and trust builds, we begin imagining a better world and casting vision together. Until we can imagine a world we desire to see, we will never be able to develop a plan to get there.

Here’s where I’m going with this. Now is the time for individuals, churches, NGOs, and governments to put aside our agendas for the greater good. We talk about it but it seldom happens. Every single one of us has unique personalities, skills, knowledge, and resources, but none of us can do everything. Instead, we do a little bit on our own when, in reality, we can be far better and accomplish much more by working together.

World Orphans strength is to partner international churches with US churches to encourage each other and work together to serve vulnerable families. In addition, we are effective at equipping and mobilizing churches to care for orphaned and abandoned children. We hope both churches inspire each other and serve their communities around them more effectively and compassionately as a result of that partnership. We play a role in family preservation, whereas other organizations excel in the areas of vocational education, business training, apprenticeships, and microloans. Every day we work with the MOST vulnerable families in the communities where we work. We do our best to encourage them, pray for them, share scripture, and meet physical needs, but without fishing poles we can’t teach them to fish.

What’s encouraging is there are many individuals and organizations out there with fishing poles that could teach marketable trades to single mothers and youth so they can provide for themselves and their families without becoming vulnerable to prostitution, drugs, labor exploitation, and all sorts of other dangerous activities. Yes, helping to pay for school fees, medical expenses, food, clothing, and housing, when appropriate and led by local leaders is essential, but family empowerment initiatives that improve the economic outcomes of parents and children including skills training, leadership development, financial stewardship, business training accompanied by access to credit, and apprenticeships are equally important. It’s not an either/or but a both/and. Can you imagine the impact we could realize if we put aside our own biases and agendas and actually witnessed NGOs working with other NGOs working with churches working with governments?

This dream is happening!  Two organizations World Orphans is currently partnering with are AMG Guatemala and Bethany Christian Services in Haiti.  Next week’s blog is dedicated to sharing about our new partnership with BCS.  Through these partnerships, children are restored and communities transformed by the Gospel.  Won’t you join us?

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12.10.15_AMG_Scott Chad and Pastor

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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

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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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Strategies To Preserve Families

By Jeremy Resmer | Sr. Director-Projects

James 1:27 reveals God’s heart and desire for his people to look after orphans and widows. Throughout scripture, the church is called to respond with compassion to all sorts of needs. These include and are not limited to the needs of orphans, vulnerable children, and families. But how do we find ways to help without unintentionally hurting, while remembering that how we give and what we do matters? In addition to prayer and discernment, our strategies should include both good practice and biblical principles.

In his book, The Poor Will Be Glad, Peter Greer states, “The church is the best distribution system in the world.” In many countries, local churches are often best positioned to identify and minister to those in their communities who are in greatest need.  Pastors, church members, and community members can work together to motivate and lead by establishing relationships, offering care and support, and mobilizing local resources.

In our home based care model of orphan ministry, we partner with the local church to support vulnerable families. The church has ownership of the program and provides leadership and guidance. Volunteer committees are recruited and trained to visit the most vulnerable families in the community, share scripture verses, build relationships by talking about life, and praying for one another. The interaction is two-way and encourages both the family and the visitor. Through relationship, cultural context, and leadership of local pastors, we ensure that our responses will appropriate and contribute to real and lasting change.

Efforts to support orphans and vulnerable children should incorporate the importance of family and a wholistic approach that addresses each aspect of the children’s well-being: physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual. Here are a few key principles and ideas to keep in mind when launching or supporting an orphan care ministry:

  1. Focus on the most vulnerable children – those in greatest need.
  2. Preserve, stabilize, and strengthen the capacity of families and communities to care for children – is it possible to help inspire and equip the local church with biblical teaching and practical training?
  3. Reduce stigma and discrimination of the orphaned children – focus instead on the whole family and all the biological and “adopted” children equally. Pastors and community leaders can downplay these social attitudes, bring dignity, and elevate self-worth to those in need.
  4. Increase the ability of caregivers and youth to generate income and support the family – it is estimated that 88% of the children in orphanages are not “true” orphans. Poverty is the leading cause of family separation and reason for placement of children in orphanages. Our church partners understand that families need basic financial resources to provide adequate food, housing, clothing, medical care, and to send children to school. Savings programs, microloans, and business, vocational, and stewardship training can help caregivers and youth provide for their families.
  5. Ensure access to health care, medicine, and home based care – adequate health care reduces the risk of family separation. Churches can initiate home based care programs to visit vulnerable families and offer emotional and spiritual support, encouragement, and monitor the wellbeing of the caregivers and children.
  6. Support schools and provide daycare and other services that ease the burden on caregivers – women, in particular, are often limited in their ability to generate income to support families if they do not have access to daycare. These services allow children the opportunity to learn and grow while allowing caregivers to work. This strengthens the family and protects children.
  7. Become a mentor  – get involved in the lives of vulnerable children to model paternal care, teach them about good decision-making and build confidence
  8. Support the emotional needs of children – orphaned and vulnerable children need help coping with trauma: loss of a parent, separation from siblings, violence and sexual abuse. By demonstrating God’s love and care, the church supports the healing process. Counseling, support groups, and art programs also provide children with encouragement and support.
  9. Engage children in decisions that affect their lives – invite children to participate and allow them to bring valuable ideas, information, and viewpoints to decisions that will affect their lives. They will feel less fearful and a greater sense of ownership.
  10. Protect children from abuse and exploitation – the church can help caregivers better understand the needs of children. Pastors can promote the protection of children as a shared responsibility of the community. Children can be taught how to recognize and report abuse when it occurs.

 

This post was inspired by From Faith to Action: Strengthening Family and Community Care for Orphans and Vulnerable Children

 

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How do you feel when you know that someone prayed for you?

By John Rakis | Director of Development

I find it fascinating how a seemingly “little” comment could have such a big effect on me.

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Image 1

I was in Haiti recently with some of our World Orphans team meeting with our pastors in that country. I learned a lot about how God is using World Orphans to reach and care for children. We spoke with the pastors about how they are helping orphans and vulnerable children to have families and to live in homes that care for them. The focus of the discussion was making sure the kids and families were being cared for mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually. I gained a lot of head knowledge. 


BUT…maybe the biggest impact moment came unexpectedly. One of the afternoons we had a chance to spend time with a couple of gentlemen from a church in Michigan that were down to visit their church partner. They were working on plans for a trip in July.
A part of one of the conversations was about praying for our children and how often that happens. AND THEN, one of them men said that it really hit him on a trip to Haiti when his church partner pastor said that these kids don’t have anyone praying for them; that these kids needed a family so that someone would pray for them. 

I can’t get this out of my head. I pray for so many people by name—especially my family, my kids. I ask so many things of God for them and on their behalf. But, these kids who have become orphans, have no one praying for them by name.
Their parents are gone for whatever reason, they are hurt, they have emotional issues and need help, and yet no one prays specifically for them.
 


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Image 2

I am so thankful and humbled by families who have brought one of these children into their homes, their families. Some are in their own communities in homes that World Orphans partner churches have helped find and some end up being adopted by loving families in other parts of the world.

What could be more loving and beautiful than having someone pray for you by name? Someone who daily thanks God for you and asks for His blessings on your life. 
I am so blessed to be part of what God is doing through World Orphans, and I am so blessed to know so many families who were willing to listen to what God put on their hearts and have adopted a child in need.

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Ethiopia Church Program Brings Families to Christ

By Mark Gumm

What an encouraging story of how God is using the church in Ethiopia to meet both physical & spiritual needs of people in their community through the Home-Based Care program.  While in Addis Ababa last month, I spent the afternoon with our World Orphans partners, Kore Berhane Wongel Baptist Church.  I visited with Pastor Fekadu, the head of the denomination and with the local lead evangelist at Kore Church, Tesfaye  and a couple of the elders.  We talked through some of their progress since we were there.

The Home-Based Care program began in May of 2011 and has blossomed into a thriving ministry since my last visit in June. They recently had an event at the church for family members of HBC program and 10 family members accepted Christ as their savior and four of them have already started attending the New Believers class on Saturday, and they hoped the others would start within the next week or so.  The entire leadership at Kore Church is excited about the impact of the Home-Based Care program in their church and their community and they have done an excellent job at incorporating evangelism and outreach into the core heart of the HBC program and it is really exciting to see.

They have added two grades to the church-run school, 3rd & 4th grades, and several new classrooms since we were there.  They now have 266 students in Pre-K thru 4th. The church has added scholarships for four needy children to attend the school, paying the school fees from their offerings.

We did visit a couple families, including Etenesh who was praising God that He answered the prayers from our last visit - her daughter, who had been gone for 10 years, came back home and she is praying for her to accept Christ.

Our thanks to Chino Valley Community Church for your heart of love for our brothers & sisters in Ethiopia and all of you for your leadership.

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Rebuilding With Faith

By Jesse Blaine

In a country still recovering from the earthquake, our staff and U.S. church partners are constantly amazed by the faith and resilience of our Haitian church partners.

For some time, one of our Haitian church partners has been worshipping in a makeshift tarp church - without real walls or proper seating - where many people stand in the hot sun during services. It also effects the way the church uses it's "facility" for clinics and school during the week.

Seeing the need, a group of faithful partners in New York began to think and pray about ways they could help to rebuild some of the structural components of the church building.  They decided to send a husband and wife team on a trip to assess the effectiveness of their ongoing partnership and have a better understanding of how they could assist in the future construction process.

I don't think they were prepared for what they saw.

As a result of caring for children, conducting medical clinics, and faithfully spreading the gospel in their neighborhood, the Haitian church has experienced amazing growth over the last six months.  The children are being cared for well and given access to love, food and education. The clinic the U.S. church sponsored is helping alleviate the issues of hundreds in their community. Most importantly, people are being baptized and discipled!

Thisvibrant community is really living out what it means to "let your light shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven!"

Another result of all this amazing activity is that the church is now receiving more tithes. Guess what they used the money to do?  Buy the pastor a new cell phone?  No!, They used their own extra money, faithfully given by some of the poorest people in the world, to rebuild their church!

What a privilege it is for us, and for our U.S. church partners to be apart of these amazing stories God is unfolding all around the world.

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Living Hope in Haiti

Darla, Christella, and their mom were trapped in the rubble of the January 2011 earthquake in Haiti in January 2010, unable to get out for some time. Their father/husband died in the earthquake and the family who had little before the earthquake now was left with nothing. Both of the girls have scars from being covered in cement and rock. Christella, who broke her jaw, is unable to open her mouth more than a quarter inch. Through this tragedy their family has found a way to survive and build a one-room tent home in the mountains of Port-au-Prince.

Both Darla and Christella are “vulnerable children”. As single orphans, not only are they too poor to afford education, food, medical care or other daily necessities, but there is little hope for their future without a steady job for their mother and no father to help support them. Typically a few things happen in these situations - the children become very sick and possibly die from malnutrition and lack of medical care; the mother gives the children up to an orphanage or someone else who might be able to care for them better; or they barely find a way to survive. If they survive, it is very likely that the cycle of poverty, lack of education, and spiritual, physical, and emotional wounds continue generation after generation.

These are common situations all over Haiti and all over the world. We find countless children and families that are not lazy or incapable of taking care of themselves, but are simply born into extremely difficult situations and have been given little to no resources or opportunity to change their lives. This is so difficult to get my mind around because from the time I was born, I was provided everything I needed, and opportunities to make something of myself were overwhelmingly available.

I believe God’s heart breaks for children like Darla and Christella, and I believe that the church’s heart should break for them as well. They are the people in need that Jesus talks about in Matthew 25:40 when he says, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” When we care for people like Darla and Christella we are caring for Jesus. And who better to care for these kids than the local church who cannot only give them bread and water, but can tell them about the bread of life and the living water!

Because of Christians who have decided that these people matter, and churches that have decided they want to be part of caring for orphans and vulnerable children, we have been able to care for Darla, Christella, and many more children and families like them. Even more incredible, is that thousands of children and families like this one are regularly hearing and believing the gospel through the local church in their community. God is using the church all around the world to answer the prayers of people in need of someone to care and the hope only found in Jesus.

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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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Bethel Gospel Farm Helps Community

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.

 

Bethel Gospel Farm from World Orphans on Vimeo.

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Future Dreams

By Matt Mehaffey | Regional Director of Advocacy, Southeast

Matt was in Haiti in July and wrote this report of his time there.

Friday - After a couple cups of coffee at the guesthouse we set off for a Haitian church that is partnering with World Orphans called New Jerusalem. School was in session when we arrived and we spent the next hour hugging on kids. A couple young guys loved my DSLR camera and so I gave them a quick lesson, and in turn they taught me phrases in Creole.

New Jerusalem is led by Pastor Yvon, and under his leadership many members of his church have adopted children who were orphaned after the earthquake. Through their U.S. church partner, New Jerusalem provides support for those adoptive families so they aren't stretched beyond what they can handle. This is a beautiful picture of the unity churches should have even when oceans a part.

Saturday - This morning we were invited by New Jersualem to attend their school's graduation. You can tell the church puts a very high value on their children. It struck me while watching the kids sing songs and read Bible verses that many of these kids on stage knew what it was like to be orphaned, but now they are receiving a good education and have families who were cheering them on in the audience. Awesome.

Later in the day we built 24 water-filtration systems to take to the homes of the adoptive families in New Jersualem. The system is two five-gallon buckets on top of one another with a filtration system that looks a bit like a Brita water pitcher.

We divided up into three teams (each with an interpreter) and began making the trek on foot to the homes.

Givland

The first home we visited we met Givland. She was a beautiful eight year old girl who loved to draw and design clothes. Her Aunt took Givland in, along with her little sister and brother, after the earthquake killed their parents. This addition meant there were now eight people living in a house with two 10x10 rooms.

Woodly

Our next stop was the home of a shy, six-year-old boy named Woodly. Same story as Givland. It's the same story for all these children. I knew the earthquake of 2010 was bad, but today I saw the true aftermath. Woodly was being cared for by his godfather. Before I left for Haiti my sister, Daria, gave me a bag full of unopened McDonald's Happy Meal toys. The first smile I saw Woodly give was after he received a Batman toy from my bag of goodies. Thanks sis!

Woodson

One of our last homes belonged to another six year old boy named Woodson. When we asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up he said, "I want to be President." I followed up with, "Woodson, WHEN you become President what will be your first action?" Woodson listened to the interpreter and thought for about twenty seconds before answering. Then he said, "I will make this place beautiful."

I'd vote for Woodson.

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