Sometimes it's the roaring expanse of the ocean or the limitless heights of the mountains; however, sometimes it's the rhythmic cracking of a few logs in the fire and the laughter of a stranger-turned-friend.
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When words may fail, simple things like concrete pillars and plaques can speak loudly.
When new mother, Dayna Mager, poured out the broken pieces of her heart on social media, the masses responded. Her story quickly went viral. Dayna attended a worship conference, where a missionary spoke about visiting an orphanage while in Uganda. The orphanage, filled to the brim with 100 babies, was eerily silent. She was crushed when she learned that the babies are conditioned to stop crying. A small staff against 100 babies that become hungry, tired, and dirty at varying times throughout the day is a tough scenario.
Dayna relays the missionary's story, "They stop crying when they realize no one is coming for them."
Dayna continues by sharing about the change in her maternal perspective, no longer frustrated or inconvenienced by the sound of her newborn baby's cry, but thankful for that cry. That cry means her child is learning that Mama will come when she's hungry, tired, dirty, or discomforted in any way.
Babies need to cry. We need them to cry. Crying means proper development is taking place.
Stories like these offer a glimpse into why we approach orphan care in the way that we do.
Our Home Based Care Program (HBC) is a family-based program that both addresses and prevents the rise of the orphan population by caring for children in a home environment. Administered through our Church Partnership model, World Orphans partners US churches with international churches that wholistically care for orphaned and vulnerable children. These children are being raised by single mothers, extended family, neighbors, friends, or church members.
The goal of the program is to equip, inspire, and mobilize the local church to build relationships with at-risk families in their communities. Relationships grow through frequently visiting these families in their homes to offer prayer, Gospel training, counseling, and overall encouragement. To empower this wholistic approach to orphan care, World Orphans and US churches connect relationally with international churches to provide Gospel-focused training and funding. The funding for the HBC Program ensures that these children are being cared for wholistically.
Wholistic Care meets:
- Physical Needs – Protection, shelter, food, nutrition, access to clean drinking water, and medical care.
- Mental Needs – Access to, and support of, education and vocational training.
- Emotional Needs – Ongoing care through counseling and home visits.
- Spiritual Needs – Discipleship towards a relationship with Christ, transformation, and a restored image of dignity and true identity in Jesus Christ.
A child who has faced tremendous loss needs to know that his cries will be heard. A baby who has experienced tragedies untold needs to know she will be answered.
Orphan care will never be an ideal, flawless, beautiful operation because the very word "orphan" speaks to the loss, neglect, or abandonment that a child has faced. Though it will never be perfect, we should be pursuing excellence.
Let's create and support environments where a baby's cry is answered by loving arms. While we do this, let's continue hoping, praying, and dreaming of the day they all have homes.
CONTACT THE AUTHOR
We like the notion of doing it all on our own, don't we? In a nation that celebrates self-starters, independence, and the "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" mentality, we've glorified individualized efforts and often missed out on the vast opportunities afforded by working together with one another. To be clear, individual work ethic is important and there is–of course–work that only you can do. However, are we missing the bigger picture when we do it all on our own and forget about the incredible network of people that God has made available to us? When we tackle it alone, are we accomplishing less instead of more?
3 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. 4 For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, 5 so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. 6 Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; 7 if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; 8 the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness. Romans 12:3-8
We often look at verses like these, smile, think, "what a nice thought," and then go on with our day. The idea of fully embracing our community of believers and engaging with them in authentic ways is a beautiful concept, but we often fail to pursue it.
What would it look like to embrace our role as the Body of Christ? What would it look like if we brought our different personalities, gifts, talents, strengths, and backgrounds together and used them for good? The global church has an extravagant amount of talent, wisdom, and resources when we work together.
153 million orphaned children need us to work together to find solutions to the orphan crisis, and the solution is rooted in relationship, partnership, and the firm belief that the Body of Christ is a beautiful, powerful force. We need to hold hands on this one. The future of orphaned and vulnerable children is dependent on the global church working together . . .
Until they all have homes.
Watch our newest video to learn how we can work together for orphaned and vulnerable children.
Find out how your church can get involved in Church Partnership.
By Bailey Kalvelage | C2C Mobilization Director Isn’t it true - “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35)? If this is the case, the giver in fact becomes the receiver - of joy, contentment, wisdom, and much more. Join me to peek into the lives of five US churches most often viewed as the givers. In this blog we’ll see how they have, in fact, become receivers.
Ladies and gentlemen, put your hands together for five fabulous US churches from Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Tennessee. These faithful followers of Christ have partnered with World Orphans to lovingly care for orphaned and vulnerable children. With a combined 24-years of partnership experience, these churches will share how World Orphans short-term mission trips have impacted their own hearts and communities.
Our interviewees include…
- Suzanne of Lakewood Christian Church (McAlester, OK): Co-leader of their 5-year-old partnership with Eglise de Dieu D’Andullan of Haiti.
- Bethel Korean Presbyterian (Ellicott, MD): 3-year-old partnership with Eglise Baptiste Bellevue Salem of Haiti.
- George of Temple Baptist Church (Hattiesburg, MS) – Leader of their 5-year-old partnership with Eglise de Dieu de la Bible of Haiti.
- Kim of Calvary Chapel of Troy (Troy, MO): Leader of their 5-year-old partnership with United Community Methodist Church of Uganda.
- Kathy of River Oaks Community Church (Maryville, TN): Leader of their 6-year-old partnership with Fountain of Hope of Kenya.
We asked our panel of all-stars to describe the impact that World Orphans short-term mission trips, within their partnerships, have had on both the goers, as well as their church.
Four major themes emerged…
DYNAMIC IMPACT #1: Deeper Understanding | One can be rich in spirit, regardless of material possessions and circumstances.
“I think on an overall level, our eyes have been opened to what it looks like to live for Christ in a different culture. We have seen families, with little worldly goods, live a life of love and community in Christ… Personally, I have learned so much from my Haitian friends. God used a woman to show me that while her day-to-day life may look different than mine, we are both mothers just trying to do the best for our kids in the best way we know how… I've seen sacrificial love lived out, I've seen hospitality done well, and I've seen faith, hope and love lived out well" (Suzanne of Lakewood).
“The Haiti trips have given me a greater understanding of God's people, and have shown me what truly loving others is supposed to be like. I've seen how God works in the lives of people who have close to nothing, yet have so much joy. This has changed the way I view circumstances in my life. I always remind myself that no matter what I go through, God is with me and He is enough" (Danielle of Lakewood).
“[I have been impacted by] the home based care visits. I thought we would be a blessing, but I came away so blessed by them and their strong HOPE in Christ in the midst of such poverty...” (River Oaks Team Member).
DYNAMIC IMPACT #2: Lives Transformed Eternally
“Once a person chooses to obey God's calling to go, God starts His transforming work with that member. Obedience and submission lead to transformation” (Kim of Calvary Troy).
“[The trips have] made eternal differences in the lives of our students. Some have focused their career paths to social work, ministry, language, medicine, or civil engineering as a result of these trips” (George of Temple).
“It's made me more aware of other needs in the world. I am more thankful for what I have and have an increased desire to be a better steward of what God has blessed me with” (Brett of Lakewood).
“Tracey, who has been our team nurse for the past 3 years, never felt led to evangelize at our medical clinics. However, this year she felt called to spend time in prayer with some of her patients… She and her husband spent one whole day at the medical clinic praying and sharing the gospel with those waiting to be seen. They led several people to Christ, including a few Muslims” (Calvary Troy Team Member).
“Gene has been transformed from a germophobe who highly valued his comfort zone into a man who totally trusts God in all circumstances” (Calvary Troy Team Member).
DYNAMIC IMPACT #3: Hearts Stirred to Love and Action
“[The trips have fostered] increased motivation to act on behalf of vulnerable children - both here and there - by the significance and beauty of hands-on ministry” (Kathy of River Oaks).
“Fred has been transformed from a borderline racist to a man who wants to live in Africa. He now considers our church partners his brothers and can't wait to see them again soon” (Calvary Troy Team Member).
“Our ministry has helped encourage other members of our church to think and move outside the four walls of the church building” (Kim of Calvary Troy).
“The teams often return with a deeper sense of perspective regarding 'what matters most', increased faith in the God, increased passion for the fatherless, increased willingness to serve those in need, and an increased willingness to give” (Kathy of River Oaks).
DYNAMIC IMPACT #4: Authentic Partnership Within the Body of Christ
“Every year a team goes [to Haiti], it is really the whole church that is sending us. Even just in fundraising, we would not have been able to raise all the funds we needed without the support of our church in donations and helping with fundraising events. Every year we go, we add new people that are interested in going to Haiti. We also hold monthly prayer meetings to pray for the children and to get updates on status” (Leader of Bethel Korean Presbyterian).
“Short-term mission trips don't have to be about projects or about entertaining the visiting church or making us feel good about what we're "doing". Visiting your partner church is about people. It's about developing a relationship, loving and encouraging one another, glorifying God together. … We have connected with people in another country who were once strangers to us, but who are now our family. We miss each other throughout the year. We pray for each other. And when we see each other again, it's like a family reunion” (Suzanne of Lakewood).
World Orphans is blessed to serve alongside these rock-star church partners! We are encouraged to hear how Christ pursues and transforms willing hearts among those who have traveled on a partnership trip. We praise the Lord who has taken our simple act of visiting each other on short-term mission trips and created moments that will impact lives for all eternity. He enables us to love well, give selflessly, and receive humbly.
If you are interested in joining one of our dynamic trips, check out JOURNEY!
If you want to learn more about how your church, too, can partner in international orphan care, check out WO PARTNERSHIPS.
What a joy it is to serve together with brothers and sisters around the world to care for children!
By Scott Vair | President At the end of 2013, World Orphans sharpened its vision and mission statements to more accurately reflect the ministry we believed God created us to be. The change in language didn’t as much represent a change in direction as it did an attempt to put language to who we already were and have always been.
Our Vision: To empower the church to care for orphans - until they all have homes!
Our Mission: We equip, inspire, and mobilize the church to care for orphans and vulnerable children. Churches engaged. Children restored. Communities transformed by the Gospel of Christ.
Recently, I hosted Pastor Kanukolanu Sudhakar from Hyderabad, India for a few days. Pastor Sudhakar is a long-time partner of World Orphans and over the years has become a good friend. We enjoyed catching up about family, ministry, and the highlights of both Bethel Gospel Church and World Orphans.
During our time together, Pastor Sudhakar recounted the story of when he met World Orphans founder, Bob Roosen, over a decade ago. Sudhakar had been invited by a friend to meet Bob at his home in Colorado Springs. Bob gave him a tour of the World Orphans office (located in his home at the time) and showed him many photographs of orphan care projects World Orphans had started over the years, in over 50 countries. The pictures were of churches, and homes, and children.
Bob then expressed great sympathy about a story he had heard of a tragedy in India at a school. Evidently there had been a fire at the school and many children had perished. As he talked about this with Sudhakar, he wept, overcome with sadness at the loss of such innocent life. Bob was an extraordinarily compassionate man.
The meeting had a tremendous impact on Sudhakar. Pastor is part of the Acts 29 Network and has a passion for church planting. He is a tremendous leader, and is committed to seeing a church planted in every village in his state. And yet, he and his church were not caring for the orphans in their community. He explained that he was shaken by the fact that a man living halfway around the world – whom had never even been to India – cared more about the children in Hyderabad than he did.
Sudhakar was inspired.
From that day on, he became committed to caring for vulnerable children in his midst. He formed a partnership with World Orphans through Bob that has withstood the test of time. Today, his church cares for 200 orphans at 12 locations.
Sudhakar also explained that I too have inspired him. In 2010, after several conversations about sustainability, he started a farm offsetting the cost of caring for children by producing their own eggs, milk, and rice. Additionally, a few years ago I had the opportunity to preach in his church. I spoke of the beauty of adoption – our adoption into God’s family - the permanency and security we receive as co-heirs with Christ sealed by the Spirit. Sudhakar explained as a result, they started to rethink their commitment to the children for whom they are caring, that their commitment does not end when the children reach a certain age. These children are part of their church family, permanent parts of their family. They have since implemented vocational and life skill training projects for children in their care.
As President of World Orphans, I am grateful for our founder Bob Roosen. I am grateful he cared so passionately about the church, the orphan, and the expansion of the Gospel. I am grateful for all the churches and pastors he equipped, inspired, and mobilized to care for orphans and vulnerable children. I am sure there were times Bob saw the fruits of his efforts quickly, but even when he didn’t, seeds were planted.
Bob Roosen has an amazing legacy. He has inspired thousands. I am grateful his inspiration continues today through our vision to empower the church to care for orphans - until they all have homes!
By Matthew Hanks | Project Manager: Africa
Longing for More
In the midst of all the political talk and opining on Facebook about the Syrian refugee crisis, and as it relates to the recent Paris attacks, I’ve been thinking about how people wind up in lands other than the ones in which their genetics are tied. For example, what were the circumstances surrounding my Scottish great grandfather who brought his young family to the US? Or my Venezuelan sister-in-law, living in central Texas, and ethnically part French? This will no doubt be an ongoing thought of my Ethiopian born son growing up in Monument, CO … especially when he reads in the bible of his people’s ancestral connection to King David and God’s ‘Chosen People’ through the Queen of Sheba. For all of us, something different incites our need for an exodus, but at some level, I believe, there is a thread in all of us that is the same. As a follower of Christ, these thoughts lead me Hebrews 11:13-16:
All these people died still believing what God had promised them. They did not receive what was promised, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed it. They agreed that they were foreigners and nomads here on earth. Obviously people who say such things are looking forward to a country they can call their own. If they had longed for the country they came from, they could have gone back. But they were looking for a better place, a heavenly homeland. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them (NLT).
We all desire a better country. It is written in our code. Whether we are aware of the longings or not, we are all looking for a heavenly city (see Philippians 3:20).
Two Cultures Connect
There are over 1 million ethnic Indians in South Africa. Brought there first as slaves by Dutch settlers in the late 1600’s, then as indentured servants in the 1800’s, the Indian population is a hodgepodge of culture that comprises South Africa. Yet, this people group has somehow stayed very homogenous and maintained many of the cultural practices, traditions, and religions of their homeland.
Earlier this month I took five ethnic Georgian’s (the state, not the country) along with a couple of cultural nomads to Durban, South Africa, where World Orphans partners with a church who’s congregational make up is almost 100% Indian. I don’t think there could have been two other cultures on this planet that share the same language but are more different from one another. Yet after spending two weeks with together, much to my surprise, Georgia peaches and Indian curry go quite well together.
Two Cultures Serve One Another
The Christian Life Center (CLC) is a vibrant and thriving church community strategically planted among the poor to minister to the people of the Zulu tribe in that region along with their own Hindu relatives. As a church, with a great force of volunteers, they take care of 20-orphaned children from the surrounding communities. Most of these children are Zulu children who were orphaned by HIV/AIDS. One of the world’s largest concentrations of “AIDS Orphans” is in this part of South Africa, propagated by the traditional Zulu practice of polygamy. The children live in four family-style houses and are cared for by “Nannies” who are typically widowed grandmothers or “Go-Go’s”. The church is led by Pastors Siva and Roni Moodley, who shepherd the church with great care, love, and do a wonderful job equipping the church members for ministry (see Ephesians 4:11-12). They also did an amazing job equipping us.
In addition to the Children’s Homes on the church property, there is a primary school, a bakery, a sewing/shoe making facility, and a coffee shop that the church uses to facilitate many types of conferences and events. During our time there we were given opportunity to serve and participate in all of these ministries. CLC has a great relationship with some of the poorest of the poor from the Zulu tribe who are out in the “Mountains” where they are doing amazing work bringing the love of Christ to them through medical clinics, delivering Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes, food supplies, and visiting them in their homes. They’ve also set up 'fair trade’ markets for the beaded craftwork that many in this community create to support their families. They have been given a piece of land and have a great vision to begin caring for orphaned and vulnerable children directly through building a daycare center that will also function for church services and other ministry use. Let’s pray the Lord helps them fulfill this vision.
One of the most meaningful ministry activities they provided for us was the organizing and facilitating of a 3-day “Grieving Retreat” for 44-orphaned children. There were eight of us from the States and we had 59 consecutive hours to fill for these children.
It’s still shocking to me how much a child can forever mark a soul in just 59 hours. I am forever grateful to CLC for the gift of ministry they gave us. And, I will never look at Ephesians 4:11-12 the same:
Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ (NLT).
Now That We’re Home…
Since returning I’ve pondered how different my faith community would look if we all lived on mission looking for every opportunity to help others ‘do his work’. What if the majority of our serving was to help others serve? Discovering the blessing in this will radically advance the Kingdom and could bring a much needed transformation to our churches. Often when we return from short-term mission trips we feel like we’ve found that ‘better country’ and that ministry can only be found ‘over there’. However, the reality is that God’s mission field for you, for me, will always be the space between our two feet. This space is that better country. And in times like this, be prepared for the harvest to come to you!
“Now may the God of peace… equip you with everything good that you may do his will…” (Hebrews 13:21-22, ESV).
By Kathy Davis | Director of Wholistic Care The question is universal. When tragedy strikes and comfort seems a million miles away, where is hope found?
An Annual Trip Like No Other
As a member of River Oaks Community Church (ROCC) in Maryville, TN, and a staff member with World Orphans, every summer I experience the joy of leading our annual partnership trip to Fountain of Hope Church (FOH) in Nairobi, Kenya.
I recently returned and much of our itinerary looked the same as in previous years. We visited widows and families in distress. We spent valuable time with the precious vulnerable children we have come to know and love, all of them being cared for through the ministry of the church. We facilitated and served in a church-based medical/dental clinic where over 500 impoverished people were physically treated and spiritually encouraged. Souls were saved. Teeth were extracted. We worshipped. We prayed. We laughed. We shared meals.
And, this year, we wept.
Previous to our arrival in Kenya, I received tragic news that a family member, who is part of FOH's Home Based Care (HBC) program, was severely injured in an automobile accident. His arm was severed at the shoulder, yet we were informed he was in stable condition. We were scheduled to visit and pray for him.
Profound Reflections from a 15-year-old Team Member
One of our team members, Ella Pearl, recounted this experience. She eloquently writes about our team’s most impactful moment together, the moment where sorrow’s sting intersected the beautiful hope of Jesus.
My name is Redeemed, and I have been born again.
I believe in Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection, and have grown up in a strong Christian family and church body.
I believe the entire Bible is God’s Word, which as a result is inerrant and infallible. But that doesn’t mean I lack confusion or gain context in every verse. I am human. I make mistakes for which I’m forgiven through the blood of His Son, but this isn’t a story about my life or my accomplishments. It’s a story about what the Holy Spirit has worked in my heart to see, and He has given me the ability to write it down.
Every year since 2010, my church has held a youth event called Mission 1:27, a twenty-seven hour fast to raise money for the medical camp we help facilitate with our sister church in Kenya. Mission 1:27 was taken from the passage of scripture, James 1:27, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”
Previous to my trip, two of my closest friends traveled to visit with FOH for our annual partnership trip. Both were captured by their experience and exclaim, even to this day, of their desire to live there. I had never quite believed them until my dad and I felt led by the Holy Spirit to join this year’s 2015 partnership trip to our sister church. The team leader (a close family friend and World Orphans staff member) has asked my dad to come for years because of his heart for the vulnerable and his dental expertise. He had previously declined, but this would be the year that the Holy Spirit would say 'go'. I was very excited, for I had only been to Honduras on family mission trips, and yearned to meet our church family in Kenya. I would be my dad’s dental assistant yet again.
We had worshipped on Sunday, and now we stepped into Monday with a bit more rest than the days before.
Our schedule had been to visit a dentist in Nairobi to discuss the equipment we would need for the clinic, eat a quick lunch, and then continue to visit some homes involved in FOH’s Home Base Care program.
Terrible traffic, a late lunch, and general mishaps delayed us.
After lunch we were told that the father who had experienced a terrible accident had suddenly passed away leaving behind three children and a very sickly wife.
We were invited to visit and pray for the new widow (Veronica) and to attend the youngest daughter’s (Mercy) discovery of her father's death. I felt sorrow, but nothing compared to their grief at his loss.
We made it through a Holy Spirit filled afternoon visiting other families with the bluntness of poverty thrust in our faces and the power of Christ’s family encouraging our souls.
Due to all the delays, we weren’t able to make the trip to the grieving family until late in the evening. We were soon lost on the dark roads weaving through the community. Eventually a young boy was invited into our van, giving us directions with a proud, straight form. The widow greeted us outside with a melancholy countenance.
She led us into her faintly lit home, a stark contrast to the dark alley entrance.
A tiny living room with a middle aged woman and young girl met our foreign eyes. They stood, allowing us to squeeze our party of nine into a very small space. When we were settled, a quiet presence engulfed the warm air.
An Aunt turned to Mercy. Although she spoke in the complicated tongue of Swahili, we knew what she was saying.
We watched Mercy become orphaned in front of our eyes.
My dad rarely ever cries, but he and the rest of the team joined me in silent tears as we witnessed a ten-year-old girl’s heart shatter.
In the background Veronica’s close friend wept.
Our team leader sat with the widow, for she had known this family ever since the partnership had started. Veronica’s head rested on the kind leader’s shoulder, and our leader spoke in a soft tone to the widow.
“We have informed our church of what happened, Veronica. They are all praying for you.”
Veronica opened her eyes, her raspy breath and weak body reflecting the pain inside.
“They are all aware?” Came her reply in a barely audible voice.
“Yes. They are all aware.”
Our team leader couldn’t see the widow’s face, and I don’t know if the rest of the team saw what I did.
Veronica’s countenance, despite the grief-filled eyes and worn soul, changed. Relief flooded her face. This relief represented that someone knew, and was praying to an almighty God for her.
That feeling stemmed from the relationship sowed by many years of communion between our churches. I knew then that this wasn’t about going on a mission trip and changing the world. It wasn’t my proud American sacrifice for a good cause. The partnership was about the honorable privilege to pray and encourage a fellow believer in the midst of sorrow.
To be a part of the Body of Christ and obey his words no matter what the cost.
“...To visit the orphans and widows in their affliction…” Not to gain some shining medal or mark for my good sacrifice, but to sacrifice and gain nothing in return. And why didn’t this sink in before? I understood in part, but never knew until I experienced the context. Suddenly I had a face and life story.
Could some of us be afraid to reveal God’s love and the awesomeness of His plan?
Cannot we, those privileged with an abundance of wealth, give our love and prayers for those afflicted?
Can we defy the cultural barrier, the flames that could burn, and become a warrior of faith and brother to a brother?
Or are we like the people of old, who turn on brother and sister for personal gain?
Visit the orphans and widows in their affliction, and keep oneself unstained from the world.
There is so much left to imagine.
I never could have thought of the ten-year-old girl weeping for her dead father would be witnessed by a fifteen-year-old American girl with her father beside her, alive and well.
And I never would have dreamed that American would be me.
I am blessed by the hand of the Holy Spirit to become a witness of affliction through a Church Partnership in the body of Christ.
Special thanks to: Fountain of Hope Church, World Orphans, and River Oaks Community Church.
"Bwana asifiwe!" (Praise the Lord)
- Ella Pearl Evans
When Suffering Has A Name
The Christian response to suffering engages human emotion where Church Partnership brings us face-to-face with suffering and tragedy. It is an honor to hold one another in grief and weep compassionate tears in loss. Jesus, who suffered and is sovereign, is our greatest living example of compassion and hope.
World Orphans wholistic approach to ministry sees the orphans’ need for food and education and, most importantly, recognizes the power of the Gospel as the greatest help and hope, both in this age and the age to come … until they all have homes.
by Kathy Davis | Director of Wholistic Care Reuniting! Wholistic educational impact! Quality family time! Are we there yet?
Summer is in full swing and in less than four weeks, River Oaks Community Church (ROCC) will embark on their 6th annual partnership trip to Fountain of Hope church (FOH) in Nairobi, Kenya. What began with willing hearts and a common goal to care for orphans and vulnerable children has become a significant friendship and family bond between two churches from across the globe. It is precisely what we hope every one of our partnerships become.
I have had the joy of participating with a team from ROCC, which happens to be my home church, every summer. Our short week together is a personal highlight and a deeply anticipated family reunion. The icing on the cake is found in the time we spend with our beloved brothers and sisters. Christ’s love, and willingness of the church, is impacting the development of precious children who began with a deep need of rescue, nurture, and care. I love my Kenya family. I love their love. And today, as I anticipate this trip, I can’t wait to see their faces.
So, you may be curious, “What is happening after six years of partnering with a church in Nairobi? What difference does church partnership actually make in the lives of orphaned and vulnerable children?” I'm so glad you asked!
FOH has been extending their arms and hearts to 24 vulnerable children, and their persistent love is making a difference. Any given day will likely include both laughter and tears, as caregivers seek to understand how to most effectively care for the ongoing needs of the children. The restorative development of orphaned and vulnerable children, through the church, is continually empowered by the Holy Spirit and the loving commitment they demonstrate every day.
One of the wholistic provisions of Church Partnership is education. FOH provides a loving and safe environment for the children to heal, grow, and learn. Precious young lives are continuing to be encouraged with the truth that their past does not have to determine their future. The remarkable result is that four children passed their primary exams last year and another eight have passed this year!
How significant is this? It is nothing short of miraculous! Half of the children have surpassed the statistical odds and have gained entrance into secondary school.
A little more background: the Kenyan education system is similar to what we have in the United States. The system is referred to as an 8-4-4 system of education. Primary school lasts for 8 years. Following primary school, there are 4 years of secondary school. Then, there may be 4 years of university for those who can afford it and have high enough grades. Sadly, enrollment drops dramatically after the primary level. Secondary schools, unfortunately, are not as well attended as primary schools, mostly due to the high cost of tuition and selective admissions process.
After primary school, children are required to take a national exam (Kenya Certificate of Primary Education) in order to progress to secondary school. Only those with high enough scores are admitted to the government’s secondary schools. These schools are boarding schools and the score of each child’s exam determines the selection of the school for each child.
As a result, the children at FOH will often be found studying in the middle of the night as they realize how significant education is in regards to breaking the cycle of poverty.
You see, what is extraordinary is that all of the children who entered the program have come from heartbreaking circumstances. Some have experienced physical and sexual abuse. Most have suffered abandonment and neglect. Every single one of them has obstacles to overcome.
And this is where we come in. World Orphans wholistic approach to ministry seeks to care for the whole child (spiritually, physically, emotionally, and mentally) and the development of the 'whole' child is of great value, including a child's ability to learn.
2 Peter 1:3 – “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence.”
"Studies about early childhood development indicate that the brain develops in response to experiences with caregivers, family and the community, and that its development is directly linked to the quality and quantity of those experiences. The brain develops at an incredible pace during the early developmental stages of infancy and childhood. Meeting a child’s needs during these early stages creates emotional stability and security that is needed for healthy brain development. Repeated exposure to stressful events can affect the brain’s stress response, making it more reactive and less adaptive. The following are some of the possible effects of child abuse and neglect on a child’s mental health: Anxiety, depression, dissociation, concentrating, academic problems in school-aged children and adolescents, withdrawal and/or difficulty connecting with others" (Psychological Trauma and the Developing Brain, Stien and Kendall).
Clearly, it is no small victory that the first 12 children who have tested for the National Primary Exam have passed and gained entrance into secondary school.
Last year we spent a day traveling to all four of the children's secondary schools, hug their necks, and visit with them for a few minutes. This year we’ll do it again! I can’t wait to pile in a van, bring a picnic lunch, and trek across the countryside to celebrate the turning of a new page with the brothers and sisters I love.
My heart skips a beat as I ponder the descent into Nairobi and land into the loving embrace of the family we love and the partnership we share. Please pray for our trip, for FOH, ROCC, and for the amazing 24 children in Kenya.
Enjoy "meeting" the children from FOH and seeing a few photos from previous years trips...
By Bailey Kalvelage | C2C Director of Mobilization
For this post, I’ve called in two reinforcements. I’m honored to introduce you to our World Orphans Mobilization Team! Amie Martin, our Journey Trip Mobilization Director, is new to our team but is a seasoned traveler and traveled on a Journey Trip before coming on staff. Kate Borders, Senior Director of Mobilization, is our leader extraordinaire who has spent several years mobilizing teams and diagnosing how best to do trips according to the Standard of Excellence in Short-Term Missions and beyond. And then there’s me, Bailey Kalvelage, C2C Director of Mobilization. I’ve had the privilege of working alongside our Church Partnership Directors the last two years to send out teams to visit their church partners.
Here is a compilation of our thoughts on the top five reasons to travel with World Orphans!
- And oh yes, partnership!
But in all seriousness, we present the top five reasons to travel with World Orphans…
1. Join in Partnership
Whenever signing up for a short-term mission trip, the logical question is, “Why go?” It is wise to ask, “Why am I going or what is the purpose of my trip?” As North Americans especially, effectiveness and outcomes are often two of our top priorities.
Gladly, when traveling with World Orphans there is a built in “why” - one that is refreshingly bigger than any one person. All of our trips support World Orphans overall vision of partnership: “To empower the church to care for orphans – until they all have homes!” So, as an individual, when you decide to partner with World Orphans by going on a short-term trip, you are linking arms to fight the global orphan crisis with churches around the world that are already fighting the fight.
As Kate puts it, “Trips are most effective in the context of long-term relationship… There’s so much potential for trips to be harmful if not done in the proper context. That is the best thing about our trips - they are done in context of relationship with churches and are a part of the greater whole.” A built-in safety net, if you will.
So why travel with World Orphans? You enter into the trip knowing the reason and purpose of going is to encourage and strengthen work that is already impacting children and will continue to do so long after you have gone home. Your efforts are multiplied 1,000 times over because World Orphans short-term mission trips are not about you but are about Christ’s work within ongoing partnership!
2. Experience the Beauty of the Global Church
I’m just going to step aside and let Amie handle this one. She writes:
“I have been on several missions trips throughout the course of my life. One thing that stood out to me after going on a [World Orphans] Journey Trip is the beauty of the global church. Through a Journey Trip we were able to learn about, come alongside, encourage, and serve with the global church. The global church is already in the trenches doing the work of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the lives of orphans, families, and communities. It had a powerful impact on me! I was able to witness the bride of Christ, the church, in action as we observed what they come face to face with every day. In America, we don't see what the global church deals with from day to day. I was humbled and astonished as I saw church partners who were solid in their faith, humble in their service, and reaching out into their communities dealing with multiple facets of poverty on a daily basis…. Who wouldn't want to experience a trip like this and grow in a deeper knowledge and understanding of how the global church, the bride of Christ, is bringing glory to God throughout the earth?”
When traveling with World Orphans, we’ll admit it’s less about “doing” and more about relationships - engaging your heart with your international brothers and sisters to encourage and learn from each other. Our trips take very seriously the importance of educating team members and providing a chance for them to witness the global church and how we’ve been uniquely designed and commissioned to care for the orphaned and vulnerable together.
Join us and sign up for a trip! Experience first-hand the awesomeness and beauty of Christ’s church!
3. Be Challenged to Act
Up to now, you can see that both Church Partnership and Journey Trips are designed within World Orphans ongoing Church partnerships to educate and empower individuals and the church to care for orphans.
Often, the most immediate thought is that our teams go “there” to encourage those on the ground to do the work Christ has called them to – and you are absolutely correct! However, the second piece that we hasten you not overlook is that World Orphans desires each team member to also become educated on the global orphan crisis and advocate for the orphaned and vulnerable. Further reflecting on her trip with Journey, Amie writes…
“Pastor Carlos told our team, "You coming here to serve and encourage us is such a gift to us!" He then went on to say that he would encourage us to go back to our homes and fight the good fight of faith doing these same things in our communities. We may encounter different types of struggles (US church and the global church), but we all are called to die to ourselves daily and take up the cross and follow Jesus to the ends of the earth. That to me is one of the beauties of Church partnership and a very strong reason for going on a Journey Trip or committing to a Church partnership trip: we learn from and grow alongside each other, and bring glory to God.”
World Orphans educates and equips team members to act not just on a trip but also when they get home on behalf of the orphan. Just as James 1:22, 25 urges – “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says…. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.”
4. Engage in a Gospel-Centered Mission
One of the most compelling reasons that my husband and I decided to link arms with World Orphans five years ago, was that the Gospel is truly the core driving force behind each program, each partnership, and each trip. Even if over the next 100 years World Orphans could indeed care for each child, each community, and each church, it’s all for naught if Christ is not lifted high and the saving power of His love is not made known.
When you jump on board and travel with World Orphans, you might be taken aback at first that the principle concern of your team is not to build or paint. Rather, whether on a Church Partnership or a Journey Trip, your goal is to be an empty vessel used by God to draw others unto Himself.
Last summer, I had the pleasure of traveling with one of our C2C teams, Temple Baptist, on their yearly trip to see their Haitian church partner, Pastor Thony and Eglise de Dieu de la Bible. On the trip we discovered that, “… last year’s medical clinic helped pave the way to have 2,000 people from [Pastor Thony’s] community join in a month-long revival service. In addition, this team helped provide funds to help feed the people at the revival, which helped the local church impact their community” (Kevin Squires, Senior Church Partnership Director).
The medical clinic and financial gift provided by the team were just means to an end. God used the team’s efforts to help spread the Gospel to children and families in Pastor Thony’s community – “…to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever” (Eph. 3:21). What an impact!
5. Find Fellowship and Support
First, It was not intended that our faith journey be walked alone. On a World Orphans trip, you have the unique opportunity to join with others who also have a passion for the orphan and for Christ’s work. You find fellowship in this dark world.
Scripture urges us to, “… encourage one another and build each other up…” (1 Thess. 5:11). As a team prepares pre-trip and then travels away from their daily lives, they form a support team and are challenged individually and as a group to learn, grow, and act in response to God’s calling. This is sweet, sweet fellowship.
Second, World Orphans ensures that each team member is well supported before, during, and after a trip. Our Mobilization Team works hard to provide practical resources that will aid you physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually throughout your trip experience.
Whether it’s making sure you are registered with the State Department’s Smart Traveller Enrollment Program, that you don’t forget your toothbrush, or that you are prepared to enter and re-enter your host and home countries, World Orphans Mobilization is there each step of the way to help carry the weight of the multi-faceted details that come with international travel. You are in good hands!
I’d say that’s a pretty hearty top five reasons to travel with World Orphans! If your soul is being stirred to check out more about our trips, a great place to start is by learning more about our Church Partnerships and our Journey program and trips. Or, if you’d rather simply talk through your options of ministry engagement, connect here!
Have you traveled with World Orphans and have another reason you’d encourage someone to travel with us? We’d love to hear from you below!
By Bailey Kalvelage | Director of Mobilization
There is an ongoing debate of whether short-term mission (STM) trips are helpful or hurtful. Are these trips “spiritual tourism” or do they in fact leave a lasting impact to the glory of God?
As a sending organization of 30-40 STM teams each year, World Orphans has much invested in the answer to that question. Additionally, as the Church Partnership mobilization director, whose job is to intently focus on equipping teams for travel, I personally have much invested in this question, as well.
It’s a question that cannot be ignored.
“Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, …”
This statement is not an option or something Jesus gave to His disciples to consider, it is a command. As Jesus’ modern day disciples, we, too, are to go into our communities, our country and our world to teach, spread the Gospel, and make disciples.
World Orphans is honored to mobilize 36 US churches to “go” and serve alongside their international partners. Why do we send these teams? We have a heart to mobilize the church to care for the orphaned and vulnerable. World Orphans understands that STM trips are a bridge within partnership, the connecting piece for God’s global church to unite in doing His will.
In January 2014, Daybreak Community Church visited their Haitian church partner, Mission Eglise El Schaddai. Alongside Pastor Pierre, the team united with their Haitian brothers to hold two medical clinics and children’s camps, enabling them to draw more than 500 people into the church to hear and feel the love of Jesus. It brings a smile to my face thinking that because of God’s work through this team, children and families were cared for and heard the Gospel. Praise Him!
“…baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you…”
As I consider if it is best for STM teams to go, how they go must be equally deliberated. Jesus’ disciples are called to baptize, teach and obey. He calls His disciples to engage in relationship.
As World Orphans mobilizes the church, the emphasis is not on work projects or task; the emphasis is relationship. While medical clinics and outreach events are planned and implemented, all are done within the context of relationship. Of utmost value to World Orphans is the US and international churches connecting to fellowship, pray, learn and serve with one another – to build relationship.
The same church, Daybreak Community Church, spent New Years Eve with their Haitian brothers and sisters. Over a pot of Blessing Tea, they sang, danced, praised God, and prayed together. In their time together, whether being serious or having fun, both churches were equipped and inspired as one united body to care for children, each other, and their community. What a beautiful picture of the hands and feet of Jesus reaching across the nations!
“…And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Last, as Scripture teaches, Jesus is with us as we go. With Christ as the cornerstone of C2C partnerships, teams travel with a heart to make Him known. All clinics, seminars and outreaches are done under the umbrella of the local church, allowing the church to minister to the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual needs of each person. As immediate needs are met with the help of the short-term team, long-term relationships amongst the community are established for the international church to nurture the love of Jesus.
Jesus, our Savior: where would we be without Him? I certainly never thought that I would be helping people travel around the world from my little house in Michigan. When we surrender our jobs, our families, our churches, and our STM trips, He takes them and makes them a beautiful work for His glory.
When the church is actively caring for the needs around them, Christ is glorified.
World Orphans will continue to send STM teams in 2014 to nurture relationships and care for children, to the glory of God. You can join with us in sending these teams by praying or going. Specific ways to pray for our teams include: deepening of relationships within each partnership, sensitivity to the culture and the leading of the Holy Spirit, humility to love and receive love, and safety. If you desire to join us on a short-term trip this year, click here.
What are your thoughts about short-term mission trips? Do you believe they are helpful or hurtful?