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South Africa

A Cup of Coffee, A Pair of Shoes

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A Cup of Coffee, A Pair of Shoes

She walked into Sharehouse Coffee looking for a caffeinated pick-me-up, but what she found instead was purpose, community, and a vision for the future. That sounds like a pretty good cup of coffee, right? Well, it wasn’t just the coffee (although that probably helped). 

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Equipped to Serve

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).

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South Africa with Journey Trips: A Guest Blog

HannahEBy Hannah Edington | Journey Trip Team Member Special thanks to Hannah for her willingness to share her words with all of us. May you be encouraged by her faithful, tender, available heart. And may we follow in her footsteps. (Previously seen on Hannah's blog on 9/8/15.)

 

In just over a month I will finally see the fruit of a process I began over a year ago.

I had been searching online for organizations that had mission trips going to Ethiopia. I was specifically looking for anything with a focus on orphans or economic development, as both of these are passions of mine and are things I hope to see as a part of my future.  I had begun an application with Journey Trips, a ministry of World Orphans, but for some reason or another, I never completed it. In December of last year I received an email, which was right around the time I felt a huge push and desire to get out, GO, and make some disciples!

A lot has changed since then. Not only am I not going to Ethiopia, but in a way, I am getting a second chance. When I was thirteen my family took a vacation to South Africa. We did a ton of amazing touristy things and had a blast and spent way too much money and I quietly prayed as we drove past the shanty towns, small huts made from tin, so I could ease my conscience. After all, praying puts it in God’s hands and He can do more than I could ever dream, so really I did the best thing possible…

But now I have to ask myself, what if this is God answering my prayers? What if He is saying, “Hannah, you prayed that they would be okay. That they would be looked after. That I would show them I love them. I will. I’m sending you.”

I want to cower in fear because who am I to do God’s work? How can I stare an orphaned child in the face and tell them I love them when a trip to Ulta costs me what they live on for a number of months? When I got a massage last night and they got to ignore hunger?

I don’t know what situations I will face. I don’t know if I am going to see children who are in clean clothes and receiving education but are fatherless and alone, or if I will see children who are struggling to survive in the most basic ways.

I’m tired of seeing sensationalized visions of poverty and I’m tired of the lies that it can’t really be as bad as the media shows us.

I’m going on this trip because people matter. Children matter. Orphans matter. I live in the conflict of “me” and feeling that I’m important and then loathing myself for thinking I am. The web of pride and the chase for humility (which, when false, is pretty much pride hiding behind self-deprecation) are all consuming when I let them be.

So I’m asking God to take me back to His heart. I’m asking Him to remind me of November 4th, 2013 on Orphan Sunday when my firm choice to never have children first began to waver. I’m asking Him to take me back to when I signed up to sponsor Ablavi in Togo who lives with her grandmother because her father died and her mother abandoned her. When I sponsored Tariku in Ethiopia who lives with his uncle after both parents passed away. I’m asking Him to take me back to when I read Kisses from Katie and my heart dropped to the pit of my stomach for her passion. When I heard about the suspended exit visas in the DRC and about little Ben dying before he ever made it home to his parents in the US and when I watched a woman in my church weep as the pastor shared about her wait for her son. I’m asking Him to take me back to Hosea 14 when He reminds me that it is in Him that the orphan finds mercy.

I’m going because God’s commands and our desires should always be united.

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Join us! If your heart beats similarly to Hannah's, consider joining us in 2016 on a Journey Trip to Ethiopia, Guatemala, or Haiti. Click this link for details and registration information. Or contact our Journey Trips Mobilization Director, Amie Martin, at amie@worldorphans.org.

 

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Bringing Peace to Chaos

By Kevin Squires | Senior Director of Church Partnerships  Several years ago, on a trip to southern Africa, I found myself all alone, sitting in a restaurant, staring off into space. I couldn’t get out of my mind what had just happened. His body was so frail. His eyes were so empty.  His toes were so cold. This beautiful, AIDS-ravished, baby boy had just died in my arms just hours before.

I remember at that moment in time, I needed a way to escape the dark realities that were sleeping in the dozens of other beds in that pediatric AIDS center on that given day - beds that would soon host the final breath of little boys and girls who were unfairly born with the AIDS virus.

But, how does one truly escape reality?

On that day, my attempt to escape seemed somewhat simple - find a nice, air-conditioned, clean restaurant (not always easy to find in Africa) where I could grab a bite to eat and wash away my thoughts and cares.  After ordering a sandwich, I gazed out the window into the busy, city streets. Admittedly, one of my favorite hobbies is to “people watch,” wondering and assuming what the lives of passerby’s are like behind the surfaces that we all tend to project.  But on that day, I couldn’t even go there. I couldn’t even fabricate storylines for the people that walked by. I couldn’t even look at them. To be honest, I stared right thru them. That is, until something shattered my stare lines.

A little boy approached the window and began staring back at me. I blinked a few times to adjust back into reality, then found myself looking into the eyes of this 3 or 4 year old boy. It was easy to see that he was a street kid. I remember we stared at each other for a few seconds, which felt like years, until my stare was interrupted by the waiter who was delivering my sandwich. All of a sudden, my attempt to escape reality by eating away my sorrows was battling face-to-face with a hungry, staring boy just looking to eat.

Needless to say, his beautiful brown eyes not only crucified my appetite, but my whole nature of being human. Thoughts began racing through my head - some clear, some blurry. All I remember is feeling so close to that child. Those thoughts of being so connected to him caused me to freeze, unable to lay a finger on my sandwich. My waiter must have seen the abrupt change in my countenance because it wasn’t long after that he came over and closed the window blinds. Though I could no longer see the boy with my eyes, my soul continued to see him more clearly than ever. It was as if the waiter assumed that by closing the blinds, my appetite would miraculously return and everything would be back to normal. Instead, I sat there for a while after, still unable to eat my ever-increasingly cold sandwich. A few minutes passed and I casually stood up and walked over to the door to see if the boy was still outside the window. He was gone, but in some strange way, he was still there. Years later, he still is.

Today, I barely remember his face, but I clearly remember the thoughts and feelings I faced on that day several years ago. At the time, his suffering caused me to suffer. His hunger caused me to hunger. His hopelessness caused me to feel … hopeless? Well, almost.

It at least made me stop and ponder if it happens that easily? Can someone else’s hopelessness pave the way for hopelessness to creep its way into my own heart? Can opening my blinds to the darkness that lives in this world defeat the light that lives within me?

So that’s when it all happened. At that table, in that African restaurant, I became aware of something that changed my life forever. I became aware of my own sin and all that Christ had brought me through.

Weird, I know. You see, as I thought about the world’s brokenness … about the baby boy who died in my arms … about the hungry street kid who stared at me through the window … all these moments came back to God’s ultimate plan to bring peace to the chaos, to bring love to the lost, and to bring light to the darkness. All of a sudden, rather than feeling hopeless, I began feeling more empowered to be part of God’s plan for redemption because it was clearer than ever that I was a sinner saved by grace.

You see, I always knew that Christ came to seek and save the lost - the downtrodden, the wicked, the orphaned. It just took me a while to realize that I neatly fell into each of those categories. And the more aware I became of my own sin, the more I felt called to love others - to extend grace … to forgive … to care for those in need … and to reach out and serve those who didn’t fit neatly into my bubble of a life. It was a huge leap from the place where I came from, where I ministered to those in need because in some way I thought I was special, dare I say “more special” than they were.

In retrospect, perhaps that’s why I experienced such closeness with the boy outside the window. In some abnormal way, maybe the window was more like a mirror, allowing me to see myself from God’s point of view before He rescued me.

The brief connection I had with that little boy outside the window continues to teach me that awareness of our own imperfections and admittance of our own weaknesses opens the door for God’s grace and power to be manifested in our own lives (2 Cor. 12:9). And when God’s Spirit of grace and power are flourishing in our lives, fewer people die from AIDS … fewer children are abandoned on the streets … fewer children are orphaned … fewer people are trafficked … fewer people suffer from injustice … fewer people go to bed hungry … and fewer refugees are left to find homes in foreign lands.

Why? Because God brings peace to chaos. I know, because He did it for me.

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Our Top 5 Favorite Child Stories of 2014

By Bailey Kalvelage | Director of Mobilization

Who doesn’t like to come to the end of a year, look back, and count all the blessings of the past 12 months? It’s no wonder that all the way back in 1863 President Lincoln established an official day of national "Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens".[1] In light of the turkey eating and celebrating of last week, I’d like to celebrate with you a few lives that our beneficent Father has transformed through World Orphans partnerships in 2014.

Below are World Orphans top 5 favorite child stories of 2014! These stories are a result of God’s work through World Orphans vision and effort to empower the church to care for orphans – until they all have homes.

1. OLIVIA: HURT TO HEALED!12.5.14_Olivia

Church Partnership: Eglise Baptiste Par la Foi (Haiti) and Harvest Presbyterian Church (Maryland)

"Last year there was a new girl in the Orphaned and Vulnerable Child (OVC) program. Her name is Olivia* and she was five years old. When we first met Olivia she was quiet and didn’t interact much with the other kids...it was very apparent to everyone that she had gone through much trauma in her short life. She didn’t smile, and had trouble trusting people.

One year later, though, it almost seems like she is a different person. She is interacting with the other kids, smiling and as much as we can tell, is happy. One year in the program under the care and supervision of the church was absolutely life changing (she is one of the kids who lives in the Pastor’s house).

But that isn’t the most amazing thing. This year there is another new girl in the program. She, like Olivia the year before, acts and is even treated like an outcast due to a physical disability. Olivia, instead of poking fun of her like the other kids, takes care of her and even defends her whenever she can. Olivia’s experience as an outsider and outcast didn’t leave her jaded or bitter. Because she was shown the grace and love that allowed her to experience healing, she is now empowered to show compassion and empathy to someone who is hurting. At such a young age she is demonstrating the love of Jesus."

– Written by Pastor Walter of Harvest Presbyterian Church

 

2. AKELLO: CHANGED BY SURGERY!12.5.14_Akello

Church Partnership: Father’s Divine Love Ministries (Uganda) and First Baptist Church of Siloam Springs (Arkansas)

“One story [from the trip] that was powerful involves a young man named Akello* who has lived 18 years with a club foot. His mother, Helen, is a mama and a church leader. Through connections with a nurse [at the guesthouse where we stay when we visit], we were able to get Akello enrolled in a program that will allow him to have surgery to correct his foot at no cost to his family or the ministry. They are waiting until a break in the school semester, but he should have the surgery before the end of this year!”

– Written by Scott Vair, President of World Orphans

 

3. SIZANI: ABUSED BUT NOW RESTORED!

Church Partnership: Christian Life Centre (South Africa) and Castle Oaks Church (Colorado) and Families Outreach (Arkansas)

“Christian Life Centre in Chatsworth, South Africa, cares for children that are extremely sick with HIV, and for those that have been orphaned, abused, and neglected. Two-year-old Sizani* is one of those children. Sizani was recently brought to Christian Life Centre by government social workers with bruises, disfiguring scars, a perforated eardrum, and a swollen eye due to abuse. She is now receiving much needed medical treatment, love, and affection as the restoration of this precious child begins. We are grateful for Pastor Siva Moodley and the staff at Christian Life Centre, for their unwavering love for the abused, neglected, and orphaned children of South Africa.”

– Written by Scott Vair, President of World Orphans

 

4. EDGARD: GROWING ONE STEP AT A TIME!12.5.14_Edgard

Church Partnership: Eglise Baptiste Bellevue Salem (Haiti) and Bethel Korean Presbyterian Church (Maryland)

“One memorable story was of one of the Orphaned and Vulnerable Child (OVC) kids named Edgard*. The very first time we met him, he came off as a bit of a trouble-maker and constantly wanted all the attention, but this time around we could definitely see growth. The people that had seen him just last year noticed how much he grew physically in just under a year. Another member of our group told us a story later of how after we had finished up our craft time, she saw him stay by himself and pick up all the trash left in the room, even with no one watching. It was great to see his growth: physically, socially, and spiritually.”

– Writteny by Jimmy Choi of Bethel Korean Presbyterian Church

 

5. ELSIE: REJUVENATED BY FRIENDS!12.5.14_Elsie

Church Partnership: Mission Eglise El-Shaddai (Haiti) and Daybreak Church (California)

“Meet Elsie*. She is 14. She has a lot of responsibility in the home in helping care for her younger siblings and often has to stay home while her older brothers have much more freedom to go out and play sports. She’s usually really shy and withdrawn, but she opened up to a couple of us about her frustration. We invited her to spend the evening at the guesthouse with us, and her caregivers gave their permission. We ate junk food, played twister, and just enjoyed celebrating life and laughter together. It was a really special time for Elsie and for our team. “

– Written by Kindra French of Daybreak Church

 

I know I said top 5, but I have to share just one more!

6. LYNE: ABANDONED TO ADOPTED!12.5.14_Lyne - Group

Church Partnership: Eglise Baptiste Par la Foi (Haiti) and Harvest Presbyterian Church (Maryland)

“One of the biggest ministries of the church is a yearly missions trip the kids and the church members take to the countryside. They go with the intent of sharing the gospel with the unchurched. It was during the trip this year that they “adopted” a young girl with disabilities into the program. Her name is Lyne*, she is twelve and she has a degenerative eyes disorder that has left her virtually blind. She was left on the side of the road and Pastor Gaston’s daughter and husband felt compelled to take her home.”

– Written by Pastor Walter of Harvest Presbyterian Church

 

I hope you’ve enjoyed these profound accounts of God transforming the lives of children through His church. These stories would not be possible without World Orphans partners: Church Partners, Rescue Partners and Rescue Teams. If these stories have inspired you to get involved in advocating for the orphan, you’ve come to the right place.

Please click on the link below or email the corresponding address to get in touch with World Orphans and learn more about advocating for orphans today. We can’t wait to hear from you!

Explore becoming a Church Partner – Email kevin@worldorphans.org

Become a Rescue Partner – Email alanh@worldorphans.org

Form a Rescue Team – Email john@worldorphans.org

 

 

 

*Child names and pictures changed for the protection of children in our programs.

 

 

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

by Scott Vair | President

 

The Story of Belnysh

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Belnysh

Belnysh grinding coffee.

The Story of Pastor Siva

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

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

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

The sewing room.

111.24.14_sewing5

Pastor Siva explaining the training program.

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

Family Empowerment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Finding Hope in Lessons Learned

By Jeremy Resmer | Sr. Director of Projects

Global orphan care is complex. We have the tendency to oversimplify problems. Sometimes, in our desire to think globally, we develop elaborate strategies to care for orphaned children and assume our plans will work in every country. For some reason, and I can’t figure out why, we think that we’re smarter or that our ideas are better than those that went before us. We can analyze problems from here in the US, usually without understanding the history and culture of the people we intend to serve, and we identify solutions and begin developing cookie cutter strategies for implementation in multiple countries. We cheer ourselves on as pioneers and promote our “models” as revolutionary.

8.22.14_Jesus MarchAnd then reality sets in. We share our detailed plans with other people that live and work in the countries we plan to help and, if they’re honest, they often tell us our ideas won’t work in their culture. They go on to share with us all the reasons why. If we’re wise, we’ll listen. Too many times though, we disregard their feedback as a lack of understanding or vision. And as much as I hate to admit it, the “we” I mentioned aove is actually a reflection of me. Part of the problem is my personality and the other part is my desire to change the world. And since I’m being real here, I can honestly say that most of my “best” plans wouldn’t work or they contain major flaws. Fortunately, I have talented team members and pastors on the ground that I rely on to find solutions, implement appropriate responses, and keep my wild ideas in check.

If you’re involved in orphan care or considering it, hopefully you can learn from my mistakes. Below are some of the most important lessons I’ve learned in the past few years working at World Orphans with pastors in more than 14 countries:

  • Don’t assume your successful model of orphan care in Haiti will be effective in India or Iraq or anywhere else. Enter each country with your eyes and ears open. Ask a ton of questions and learn about the history and traditions that shape the people. Focus on listening not solving problems.
  • Rely on local team members that live in the culture to cast vision and develop appropriate responses to problems. They need to be empowered and able to effectively represent and communicate your ministry with pastors, partners, and other stakeholders.
  • 8.22.14_Easter HamperWork with pastors whose visions and actions align with yours. This means partnering with churches that are already meeting needs with their existing resources (not simply talking about their vision or what they could do if they had more money).
  • Relationships are difficult. Long-distance, cross-cultural relationships are even harder. Whether it’s a friendship, marriage, or church partnership, success requires trust. Trust exists in the presence of transparency, accountability, and authenticity. These aspects can only be developed through ongoing relationship cultivated over time. Having local leadership significantly improves your communication and likelihood of success.
  • Establish and maintain an attitude of empowerment. Every partner should be empowered: to give, to receive, to teach, to learn, to speak, to listen, to serve, to pray. Empowerment literally means to give power and authority. This includes training, money, and other resources. Information and resources should not be withheld if it hinders the effectiveness of those ministering or be served.
  • Celebrate the small victories. Don’t overlook or minimize the transformations and miracles that take place every day.

If you’re involved in orphan care long enough, you’ll hear people use words like model of care, scalability, and sustainability. While these things should be carefully considered, we need to remember that God’s ways are different than our ways. His economics extend far beyond money and are a matter of the heart.

8.22.14_BakeryRecently I was profoundly impacted by one of our partners, Pastor Siva, at the Christian Life Centre in South Africa. While I’ve always been impressed with his leadership I realized something very important. His vision is global while his actions are local. Some people dream big, diversify, and start several projects in many locations without ever doing anything really well. Pastor Siva, however, dreams big and focuses his efforts on saturating his local community with love and hope by caring for orphaned and vulnerable children with excellence. He leads a dynamic, multi-faceted ministry with overlapping orphan care models marked by compassion, justice, and hope. He’s focused on transforming lives and trusts God for sustainability.

In addition to pastoring the church, Pastor Siva oversees a government approved transition home on the church property with the intention of reuniting children with parents and relatives, a bakery that employs local people to earn a living and offset ministry expenses, and a recently completed hospice facility (the only one of its kind in the district) for 12 terminally ill children with full blown AIDS. These children receive medical treatment, prayer, dignity, and love. Without a miracle, these children will likely die in his care. While Pastor believes these children can be healed, his hope lies not in their outcomes but the redeeming love of Christ. “These children have been discarded like dirt but we will fight for them and give them hope.” Thank you Pastor Siva and all the people like you that advocate, serve, and go unrecognized. We will fight with you and celebrate the victories!

8.22.14_Sasha“We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty.” – Mother Teresa

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Hope for the Hopeless

By Mike Krick | Senior Director of Advocacy

I have been studying the book of Habakkuk lately and have found myself going through some similar patterns as this prophet. God, how long before you listen? Do I have to yell before you come to the rescue? Why am I forced to look at evil and stare trouble in the face day after day? Justice is a joke, and the wicked far outnumber the righteous so that justice has become perverted.

As I read this book, I am reminded of a writing by Pastor Siva Moodley, the leader of one of our church partners in South Africa, Christian Life Centre. Here is a portion of what he wrote, a modern day psalm, a modern day prophet questioning why:

Oh love! how BEAUTIFUL you are, YOU are my refuge and my strength. The new dawn arrived nestling as a lake of HOPE. Can a million words suffice the elation of my HEART? Oh how I recline under the shelter of love’s wings. LOVE, your pledge of SHELTER, your pledge of REFUGE, and your pledge of HOPE overwhelm my spirit.

Aids you thief, you peril, why have you chosen me to rob. You defile the comfort of the bed of love. With a heart of remorse I ASK, WHAT is your grief with ME? LOVE, where is my refuge and my strength? Love, have you abandoned me? Where are those promises you made? LOVE, tell me, is Aids your master? Is death your master? Is pain your master? Love, answer me! Have you abandoned me? I am standing all alone in a sea of death and misery.

AIDS, I submit that you are the victor. I am broken, I am defeated, I am wounded, I surrender. Love has abandoned me. Aids, I confess that you cannot be defeated; your weapons are indestructible. There is no mercy in your weapon of death. Your form of surprise is ABHORRED. Love, you have been defeated. A new victor REIGNS, AIDS.

But the Lord spoke with a gentle voice and said, you know that my compassion and my love for you is eternal. I am a God of love and love can NOT be defeated.

At the end of Habakkuk, the prophet prays to God. He says that “he stands in awe of God’s deeds.” He proclaims hope by sharing how God has delivered his people, saved his anointed ones, and crushed the wicked. He states how he will “wait patiently for the day of calamity.” He proclaims God as his “strength” and “enabler.”

As I have wrestled through this book and personally seen some overwhelming suffering, tragedy and evil, it can easily have the appearance of hopelessness, similar to what Habakkuk experienced and what Pastor Siva is currently experiencing with such a high percentage of AIDS victims in his community.

But God is NOT silent! There is hope for the hopeless. Psalm 10:14 says,

“But you do see, for you note mischief and vexation, that you may take it into your hands; to you the helpless commits herself; you have been the helper of the fatherless…O Lord, you hear the desire of the afflicted; you will strengthen their heart, you will incline your ear to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed, so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more.”

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A Two Way Partnership

By Kate Borders

My recent trip to South Africa was wonderful. It's always encouraging to spend time with our church partners and see how God is using them to care for their communities but this is my big take away. I watched the western church we were with ask wonderful questions and think about the longevity of their relationship with our partner in South Africa.

I watched them think through how they could serve the church in South Africa, and how they could learn from the church in South Africa.

At one point someone said it would be great if the western church trained the South African church using their strengths, and the South African church trained the western church in their strengths.

I love it! That's exactly why we work to create partnerships.

As I processed our trip and thought through how I would explain our time there, I realized a lot of our time was spent seeing the life of the church and it's members and what their ministries entail.

Then I asked myself this question: If this church from South Africa came to visit my church in New Jersey, how would we spend our time? What would I show them to say, "This is who we are - this is what we are about"?

So that is my question for myself and for you - if a believer from another part of the world came to visit you - how would you spend your time? What would you show them to say, "This is me. This is my church. This is my ministry - this is the ministry of my church"?

This is what I saw in South Africa ...

Families in the church doing foster care

Orphans being cared for in a family-style home on church property.

Land purchased by the church to build another church and a school to serve an unreached community.

A church-run school.

Small business and micro-enterprise encouraged and helped along by the church.

A woman who makes jewelry to help support her family - she patiently showed me how she makes the jewelry.

A woman the church works with who cares for orphans and the elderly and runs an affordable day-care for struggling families working to feed their children.

Land given to the church by a member of the community who is hopeful the church will bring not only the Gospel, but also jobs and education to her struggling, rural community.

A bakery on church property - selling affordable bread to the community and giving bread to those in surrounding communities as a way to meet a physical need and share the love of Christ.

Wagon of Mercy distributing the bread.

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