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Church-to-Church Partnership

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A Joy Filled People

By Lindsay Allen | Project Manager - Americas I recently read an article stating that a Gallup poll had been conducted to discover the world’s happiest (and saddest) countries. You might be surprised to learn that Guatemala actually ranked 4th in the world for happiest people! In fact, for the first time in Gallup’s 10 year history of doing the poll, all of the top 10 happiest countries are in Latin America. When I read that article, I remember thinking how excited I am to be visiting the world’s 4th happiest country, and what that culture might look like. The US landed at 15th on the list, by the way.

Knowing that Guatemala and other Central American countries suffer from a great deal of poverty, I was curious if maybe there were just pockets of really happy (and wealthy) people in an otherwise impoverished nation skewing the results. Today, my first day in Guatemala, I learned that the results were not skewed at all. This IS a culture of joyous, smiling people, but they are not relegated to the wealthy neighborhoods or the nicest schools. No, theirs is a joy that delights in one another and not in one’s possessions. (Which might partially explain why the US, a far wealthier and healthier country sits at #15.)

Now I have seen beautiful relationships and pure joy in each of the countries and cultures I’ve visited. So in that regard, Guatemala is not unique. But what IS unique  (from my perspective) is how quickly and easily these relationships are built. I typically feel like there is a barrier of trust between locals and American visitors (and rightfully so in some cases). It usually takes some time to overcome that hurdle of trust before a relationship even becomes a possibility. From my one day’s worth of visiting in Guatemala, they seem to be a culture much more open to cross-cultural relations. I’ve also loved seeing so many people, of all ages, assist and encourage one another and show humility to one another in everyday, mundane activities.

When you are aware of the hardships many Guatemalans face, their joy becomes even more beautiful. Our first stop this morning was at the city dump. Chad, our ministry partner director here, said that this is the largest dump in Central America and maybe even South America. Thousands upon thousands of people “make a living” from the dump. Whether it’s driving trucks, digging through garbage for recyclables, or panning in raw sewage for valuable items, many people rely on the dump for survival.

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It’s difficult seeing (and smelling) this place and imagining what life is like for these people. Chad shared a testimony of one man who used to work in the dump, who said, “When I was working and living there, I felt like I was garbage.” It’s easy to see why. Thousands of families live in a village right next to the dump, many of which have homes perched on a cliffside overlooking it, where they are in danger of mudslides. This is where almost all of the kids in the school we visited (run by our partner, AMG) live, and the majority of their parents work in the dump.

We also learned about the outrageous amount of violence that occurs in Guatemala City. Here, 94% of violent crimes go unprosecuted. And of the remaining 6% that do get investigated and possibly go to trial, many criminals can bribe their way out of jail. That’s how broken the system is. Gangs and organized crime are the main culprits of the violence. Chad said he sees dead bodies almost monthly. That’s a chilling thing to think about. This crime and violence is in large part due to the civil war that tore apart Guatemala for years.

In spite of all we learned this morning about Guatemala’s tumultuous history and the sobering realty of life in the city dump, our afternoon was spent learning about all the GOOD that AMG and World Orphans is doing together in the community, and we even got to spend some time laughing and playing with kids.

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I really enjoyed getting to know more about AMG and how they impact the community. They have a wonderful staff that I’m very excited to have the privilege of working alongside. On our team, there are a couple US pastors who are considered partnering with one of our Guatemalan churches. We were able to share a bit with them about what partnership looks like and how it works. Please be in prayer that the Lord leads US churches to partner with our Guatemalan churches!

While we were meeting, the band members on our team (for the two bands Bluetree and the Informants) did a radio interview. Afterwards, the PLAN was for us to grab a quick fast food dinner, then the bus would pick up a few families that were waiting at the AMG headquarters, and we would all meet at Sender De La Cruz, the church where Bluetree would be performing a concert, and also serve pizza to the families.

Well…things never go according to plan on mission trips. Our quick fast food dinner turned into an hour and a half because they struggled to get 33 orders right (and who can blame them?). So we were running late. And then one of the band guys discovered their laptop with their tracks was back at the guesthouse. And Rachel (another AMG worker who was guiding along with Chad) had to leave to pick up pizzas. And some of us still didn’t have our food. And then they overcharged us. And the bus left with the band and their team members, but got lost and the driver wouldn’t answer his phone. And so they couldn’t pick up the families. So we crammed like 15 children into our van that seats 7, along with all the pizzas. And we got to the church about an hour late. And my goodness it was like everything that could go wrong was!

But in spite of all of the craziness and the errors and the messed up plans, God knows what He is doing. We still had a great concert and time of worship. The church was packed. And I loved hearing everyone singing along to the worship songs, each person in their own language. It was beautiful.

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10 Values of Church Partnership

By Kevin Squires | Senior Director of Church Partnerships

God created man to partner. It’s in our DNA. Better yet, it’s in His DNA, considering His very nature is Three in One.

c2cDespite the common stigma placed on Americans as being self-centered, we are alarmingly drawn into partnerships as well. A 2010 Parade magazine poll stated that 90% of Americans believe it is important to partner with a cause they believe in, whether it be in their local community or the world at large.

Polls aside, it seems as if the need to partner with someone, or something, outside ourselves is almost magnetic. Writer and theologian Frederick Buechner once said, “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” Perhaps, the first step into knowing who or what to partner with is being able to identify that unique point where our deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger collide.

At World Orphans, our collision point is church partnerships, for nothing brings us greater joy and gladness than to see two churches, crossing cultures, to partner together to meet the needs of one another. Understandably, however, not all collisions are smooth. For that very reason, we established this list of our Ten Values of Church Partnership to ensure that each partner protects the integrity and dignity of the other.

  1. Relationship Over Resources

Many people assume the key focal point of church partnership is the transferring or sharing of resources. Although sharing resources is a valued and integral part our partnerships, it isn’t our primary focus. A true partnership implies the building and nurturing of a relationship over a period of time that transcends the collaboration on any particular project. When the relationship is valued above all, it allows for mutual participation, transformation, and equal participation.

  1. Equality Over Superiority

Many partnerships diffuse over time because of paternalism. True equality in partnerships allows each of the partners to function from a place of strength rather than of weakness. Each partner should feel they have a role to play and a service to provide that benefits the partnership as a whole. Healthy partnerships intentionally incorporate opportunities for dialogue, planning, assessing, challenging, and reflecting together, so they don’t fall into the “superior vs. inferior” trap.

  1. Reciprocity Over Control

True relationship is reciprocal, a constant give and take. It is vital in cross-cultural partnerships to understand that we all have ‘poverties’ that need to be addressed… they just wear different masks. Some poverties are dirty and reside in shacks, whereas other poverties might be overly clean and hiding in mansions. Fortunately, our poverties are an invitation to another to share their gift, thereby affirming their value and contribution. This requires a spirit of humility, recognizing that we are interdependent and in need of each other.

  1. Learning Over Teaching

If we are conscious to focus on the relationship, ask open-ended questions, and learn from our partner, we will often find that they will invite us in to see and understand their reality, including their joys and celebrations, as well as their sorrows and struggles. These open relationships will often lead us to discover the structures and systems that often trap people in poverty and injustice all throughout the world. Discoveries like that will often challenge us to confront our own role and contribution to injustice, whether through our inaction or more actively through our consumer choices, our levels of consumption, etc. Just as Christ came to make all things new, we too are called to change those systems, and even our own personal habits, for the sake of those we have come to know and love (and others who share the same challenges).

  1. One Body Over One Part

Church partnerships call us deeper into the image of the Church as one Body united in Christ, with many unique parts offering different gifts. As we come to know our cross-cultural partners, we learn new ways of understanding the Scriptures, and we see new models of participating in community. We experience our oneness in Christ, while simultaneously seeing the world through God’s eyes and our role in cross-cultural community… not only with our church partner, but also with the wide stretched arms of the global church.

  1. Affirming Dignity Over Serving Needs

Truth be told, serving others is NOT our primary calling at World Orphans; rather, we’re called to follow and imitate Christ, and in doing that, we discover three things: (1) Who am I, (2) How can I best serve others, and (3) How can I best be served? Duane Elmer, author of Cross-Cultural Servanthood, defines serving as the ability to relate to people in such a way that their dignity as human beings is affirmed, leaving them more empowered and equipped to live God-glorifying lives. One of the most vital attributes that drives churches to partnership is the desire to serve those in need. At first glimpse, “those in need” appear to be those living in extreme poverty – the impoverished, the orphaned, the vulnerable. But it doesn’t take long to realize the needs in America as well. Despite severely limited resources, the love displayed by our international church partners on their respective communities constantly inspires our US church partners to love more, worship more, and even serve more locally wherein dignity is affirmed. 

  1. Accountability Over Intentions

Mary Lederleitner, author of Cross-Cultural Partnerships, wisely states, “Good intentions are not good enough to ensure good outcomes in cross-cultural partnerships.” For that very purpose, World Orphans does its due diligence to determine which churches qualify for our partnerships. Building relationships and trust over time, while implementing financial systems to ensure fiscal responsibility, we are able to filter out a lot of the major issues that frequently invade partnerships. In addition, we have many guidelines set up to ensure healthy communication throughout the partnership.

  1. Healthy Dependency Over Unhealthy Dependency

One of the greatest fears in entering into a church partnership where one church lacks necessary resources is the fear of creating dependency. Unfortunately, that fear often paralyzes the American church and lulls us into a state of apathy where many refuse to get involved in partnership altogether. Martin Luther King, Jr. boldly challenged this state of paralysis by saying, “We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the vitriolic words and actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence of the good people.” At World Orphans, we have wrestled with ‘dependency’ and, with the help of Daniel Rickett’s book Building Strategic Relationships, have come to separate the issue into two distinct categories:

Healthy Dependency (interdependence)

  • Partners understand their reciprocal roles and responsibilities.
  • Partners enter the relationship with a clear vision of what each has to offer and gain.
  • Partners maintain independence and capacity to instruct, correct, or refuse the other.
  • Partners honor and guard the unique, divine calling of the other.
  • Partners conduct themselves in a manner that safeguards the other’s integrity.
  • Partners understand that the Lordship of the partnership rests in the hands of Jesus Christ and doesn’t seek to rob God.

Unhealthy Dependency

  • Partners miscommunicate expectations, commitments, and goals; have no clear vision.
  • Partners ignore reciprocity and responsibility.
  • Partners prioritize and emphasize the exchange of funds over the complementary contributions that each other make.
  • Partners work with a ministry that doesn’t have a governing body or long-standing credibility.
  • Partners send funds directly to an individual without establishing accountability measures.
  • Partners give resources based solely on need, instead of building dignity, enhancing responsibility, and expanding results.
  • Partners underwrite 100% of the partnered ministry’s need.
  1. Increase Capacity Over Increase Charity

Capacity issues raise similar dilemmas as dependency, but they focus more on the intent of the US church. John Perkins said, “Acts of charity can be dangerous because givers can feel good about actions that actually accomplish very little, or even create unhealthy dependency. Overcoming an attitude of charity is a difficult task because it requires givers to demand more of themselves than good will.” Robert Lupton, in his book Toxic Charity, warns us of this by saying, “We miss the big picture because we view aid through the narrow lens of the needs of our organization or church, focusing on what will benefit our team the most, and neglecting the best interests of those we serve.” World Orphans avoids this misstep by highlighting the work of the local church, empowering our partners, and improving the life of those we serve.

10.  Economic Empowerment Over Project Sustainability

Arguably, one of the most talked about topics in missions these days is sustainability. Sustainability ensures that people are helped for the long term. For that reason, we are passionate about sustainability. However, our model is not conducive to overall project sustainability due to the simple fact that as children leave the program (often due to moving out of the area), they are replaced with other children in need. Therefore, rather than focus our efforts on finding sustainable options for the overall project, we focus our energy and research on the economic empowerment of our caregivers. Through the benefits of church partnership, we are able to work with many people within the US church and international church partners who have special skills and talents in the areas of economics, business, and other methods of development. The challenge is often in implementing plans cross-culturally without forcing ideas on locals. Because of that, World Orphans is sensitive and cautious regarding all economic empowerment projects and requires that all planning be proposed to the Senior Director of Projects.

 

If you are interested in learning more about church partnership, visit www.worldorphans.org or contact us at info@worldorphans.org. As of today we have partnerships available in Cambodia, Guatemala, Iraq, and South Africa.

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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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My Beautiful Trip

By Bailey Kalvelage | Director of Mobilization

To be honest, I’m not a big fan of blogging. While reading blogs can be fun, I’ve never been one for thinking that people actually want to know what I think or about my life. So, naturally, when it’s my turn to blog I feel both a sense of privilege, to tell the stories of our trips, but also a sense of dread, in the vulnerability that is blogging.

This blog is particularly personal for what follows is the story of my very first trip to Haiti and my first trip with World Orphans while being on staff: my thoughts, feelings, and simply what I saw. I run the risk that you might not care, which I totally get, but in a world where I’m constantly reading how unnecessary and harmful short-term mission trips are, for once I feel compelled to tell my story. Because my trip was beautiful…

A little background: I traveled to Haiti and teamed up with my co-worker, Kevin (top-notch teacher, discipler extraordinaire), and a group of young adults (also top-notch) that formed a team from Temple Baptist Church of Mississippi, to serve alongside Pastor Thony of Eglise de Dieu de la Bible. My goal was to experience one of our teams, church partnerships, and trips in action, so that World Orphans can continue to guide and improve how we send short-term teams.

Beautiful Partnership

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During our first day at Pastor Thony’s church, the leaders of this partnership met in 95-degree heat, underneath an overhead tarp held up by a few wobbly posts (watch your head!), and kids running around everywhere. I watched as these leaders laughed, cried, and shared their hearts. The US church listened as Pastor Thony shared the joys and struggles of the past year, including a 2,000 person revival, the need for a bigger building so that more people can be discipled, the pain of having to abstain from visiting the sick, and hurting for lack of resources. 

As I listened, I realized that I was the only one not crying. Now before you think too much about that, let me explain: All of the sudden, I realized that in front of me was the bond of partnership that had been cultivated and deepened over YEARS of ministering together. It hit me that these churches are one in the Lord, so much so that they share each other’s joys and sorrows, laughter and tears.

What started as a partnership aimed at helping 20 kids has turned into so much more! Now, the gospel is impacting hundreds of kids, families, and their entire community. Medical care is being given to those that may have never seen a doctor in their life. Spiritual discipleship is happening in the church, restoring hope. And yes, kids are being fed, educated, and loved in families!

“Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2). Yes, what I saw was this in action: a beautiful partnership.

Beautiful People

Sitting inside a concrete building with a tin roof, this particular Sunday was unlike most for me. Shoulder to shoulder, and sweat-bead to sweat-bead with my new friends from Mississippi, we were the guests of honor at Eglise de Dieu de la Bible, or easier said, Pastor Thony's church.

As I sat swaying to words I didn’t understand, two kept being repeated over and over, “Merci Savior! Merci Savior!” (Or thank you Savior!) My mind raced as I retraced the ride to the church: houses made of tin, concrete and cardboard, no clean or running water, people drinking water from tiny plastic pouches with no relief from 95 degree heat. Yet nevertheless, “Merci Savior!”

As the service continued, we straightened a little as the pastor began the offering, which was followed by a community offering. Many team members didn’t hesitate to reach into their bags for a shiny new bill. The physical need around us was not hard to see and feel.

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As I looked up, though, my eyes instantly swelled with tears. Slowly, bent over with a slow gait, a woman in her 60’s, wrinkled yet in her best Sunday dress, walked to the front and dropped money in the basket. Her love for her community was palpable in this moment. “This is the woman of Mark 12:41-44,” I thought. “Am I willing to give, to the point of not having what I need for myself, for the needs of others? For the Gospel?”

Micah 6:6-8 says, “With what shall I come before the Lord and bow down before the exalted God? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,with calves a year old?Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of olive oil?Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression,the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humblywith your God.”

Thank you beautiful woman of God for being a testimony to us of how to love selflessly; thank you for teaching us how to act justly and love mercy and walk humbly with our God.

Beautiful Plan

I have to admit that coming into the trip I was a bit skeptical. First of all, anyone who knows me can easily see that I look like I’m 13-years-old. So, hanging out with 17-20-year-olds has never been my preference; and second of all, I’ve read the criticisms of short-term missions and was crossing my fingers, hoping I wasn’t joining a team that would be perpetuating the problem.

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My fears could not have been more misplaced. The plan for the week, done at the request of Pastor Thony, continued to unfold: three days of hosting a medical clinic, fun in the sun for kids to play and learn Bible stories, and English classes. And needless to say, I quickly became wrapped up in the warmth, love, and passion of these young adults. I quickly saw that in this trip God’s beautiful plan was at work.

As I listened to my new young friends talk in their distinctive southern draw and watched them serve, I learned that many had been to Haiti two, three, even four times because they love the Haitian people and want to be part of sharing God’s love with them. I met a young man planning to study business and was eager to learn about Haitian economics to determine whether starting a business in Haiti to support its stability and livelihood might be a good, helpful thing to do. I met three young women that spent a month just living with and learning from our friends in Haiti about their culture and how God is at work in their lives. And as I started putting all of these puzzle pieces together, I began to understand that there is a greater plan than just being part of a one week short-term mission to Haiti.

God’s beautiful plan is at work. God’s plan was at work as Pastor Thony opened the doors of his church to welcome his community in for professional care, prayer and medicine, and His plan is at work now as Pastor Thony continues to disciple his church long after we have returned home. God’s plan is at work in these beautiful young people as they continue to learn and grow into full adulthood with careers, friends, and communities within their reach. And God’s plan is at work as this partnership continues to seek Him in caring for children, their communities, and each other.

“Then the Lord spoke to Jonah a second time: ‘Get up and go to the great city of Nineveh, and deliver the message I have given you’… The people of Nineveh believed God’s message, and from the greatest to the least, they declared a fast and put on burlap to show their sorrow” (Jonah 3: 1-2, 5).

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Sometimes God’s plan unfolds quickly and sometimes it takes years, but after watching the bonds of this partnership in action, I’m confident that God’s beautiful plan is active and the Gospel is alive in hearts and minds as a result of the Holy Spirit’s work through this unified toiling.

So, if I could put it in a rather large nutshell, this would be it: this was my beautiful trip. World Orphans continues to book airline tickets for and assist teams just like this one to go and see their friends across the world. Please join me in praying for our World Orphans partnerships and their 2014 visits with one another. Please pray we will be unified in the Gospel, laying ourselves down for the cause of Christ and for the encouragement of our brothers and sisters in Haiti, India, Ethiopia, Kenya, and beyond.

We'd love to hear from you!  

Do you have a story to share from a short-term trip that’s impacted you?

How do you see beauty in your life right now?

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Our Mission and Vision

By Scott Vair | President

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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WO Helps Orphans, Empowers Churches

If you saw a big water tower leaking, how would you respond?  Get 1000 buckets, and keep filling them up endlessly?  Or would you work on figuring out how to plug that hole? Most of the areas in the world where we work present this type of situation.  Building orphan homes is like finding a bucket to catch water spewing from a massive water tower.  The conditions that go into creating the orphan problem are so large – corruption, poverty, disease, culture – it almost seems hopeless.  It’s impossible to serve the orphan as an isolated case from the larger outside causes.

This is why we work with churches (community based organizations) to develop an appropriate “continuum of care”, which includes prevention, foster care, housing, training, and development.  On community and neighborhood scales, these programs work to both stop the leak, and provide “buckets” for immediate support.

In Moldova, the local church is highly involved in anti-trafficking campaigns with the governmental orphanages (the main source of trafficked children).  This teaches them to be on guard…gives them a real understanding of how the outside world works, and shows them that they can trust these “church types” when they are out of the orphanages.

This church-to-church model is designed to empower the indigenous church while working toward self-sustainability.

 

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