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church-to-church partnerships

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Just Normal

By Sheri Mellema | Church Partnership

When considering the meaning of the word “normal,” I think we would all agree that it has become a very subjective term. Given the numerous contexts of our world today, what is deemed normal for one person can vary wildly from what another person perceives as normal.  The dictionary actually defines normal as conforming to a standard; usual, typical, ordinary, customary, habitual, accustomed or expected.

Recently, several World Orphans staff members and myself had the privilege of participating in a webinar presented by Dr. George Grant.  Dr. Grant is a historian, author, and pastor who has dedicated much time and research to the study of orphan care throughout the ages. He eloquently described history’s record of orphan care as far back as the Roman Empire. Frankly, I was more than relieved when he finally commented on our century, and for the first time since he started speaking I recognized a name! He mentioned Amy Carmichael and her enormous contribution to orphan care in India! As I listened, my mind began to wonder why it is that effective orphan care has ebbed and flowed through time and how is it that we have come to this present generation in which literally millions of abandoned and vulnerable children have no place to call home.

These questions led me to the recollection of a documentary I had viewed on PBS called “From Jesus to Christ: The First Christians.” Some of the scholars spoke of the distinctive nature of Christianity in that its followers naturally cared for the marginalized members of society. Professor Elizabeth A. Clark from Duke University stated, “Of course there was no welfare system so to speak. In the ancient world, wealthy Romans had given money for programs such as feeding of children and so on. But even such programs that we know of didn’t compare in size and scope to what the churches were doing.” Likewise professor Helmut Koester from Harvard Divinity School concluded that, “Christianity really established a realm of mutual social support for the members that joined the church.  And I think that this has probably in the long run been an enormously important factor for the success of the Christian mission.”

So it would seem that the earliest followers of Jesus set themselves apart by caring for the needy, and in doing so created a legacy that has endured for more than two thousand years.  In fact, I think we could say that their lifestyle was compelling enough to outlast the countless Greek cults that vied for the loyalty of the very same people that Christianity was attracting.

This powerful realization leads back to the word normal. Could we not conclude that the early church embodied the care of orphans as part of their everyday normal lives? They provided for the “least of these” in a usual, typical, customary, habitual, and expected way. Dr. Grant puts it this way, “It’s tragic that in our churches orphan care is just one more issue among a myriad of other issues. When in fact this is just our life together. Part of what we have to do is normalize our care for one another. Instead of approaching orphan care as something that’s sort of extraordinary, we need to make it just ordinary, and the way we make it ordinary is to live it out and integrate it into the whole of the life of the church. Gospel life (should) make it just normal for us to care about the despised and rejected. We need to get to the place that orphan care is no longer a program, an initiative, a new emphasis, or a distinctive of a particular church. It is just the normal life of (every) church!”

Each and every one of us can offer our giftedness as we develop a community of covenantal living in caring for the parentless children of this world. Further, each and every church can become a compelling light in making orphan care just normal, even in the twenty-first century!

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The Journey to Flight

By Kathy Davis | Wholistic Care

Yesterday morning my middle daughter brought a cup of coffee into my office, nestled into the couch, and said “Momma, you’re sad.” “Well, maybe a little,” I replied. Later in the day, my youngest daughter passed off her favorite hoodie that I ‘borrow’ from her closet way too often and gave it to me.

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This week marks the closing of a chapter and the opening of another in the life of our family. All three of our daughters are moving out of our home and into an apartment together. My mind is flooded with memories, and my heart is conflicted as I ponder all that has encompassed 25 years of parenting. After all, isn’t this what we have prepared them for? Two of them have graduated with a college degree and are employed with great jobs, and the third is in her second year of college. They are all followers of Jesus Christ and are held in the grip of His grace. What could be more important? I should be thrilled but now find myself gripped with the question, ‘was it enough?’ Are they really prepared?

I suppose it’s all of the little things. Who will notice on those difficult days when their hearts are heavy – that they probably just need a hug, encouraging word, or chocolate brownie? Who will remind them that are beautifully created on days that they don’t feel pretty? Who will encourage them to eat vegetables more regularly than donuts? Who will remind them that they matter and are dearly loved, come what may? Who will tell them over and over again that God’s promises are true, that the Kingdom of God is at hand, and that every day is filled with opportunity to be agents of His grace? Who will take seriously that their holiness is far more important than their happiness? Isn’t this what parents are for?

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As the Director of Wholistic Care for World Orphans, I spend a lot of time thinking about the needs of children and the significance of belonging that is communicated through family. As my husband and I have invested in providing for the essential needs of our children (physically, emotionally, spiritually, and mentally), I am confounded by the immense opportunity that the church has to participate in seeing orphaned and vulnerable children cared for in the context of family.

World Orphans Home Based Care program is a beautiful illustration of how this is being accomplished through the church. We would love for your church to engage in this great work where churches are partnering together from across the globe, children are being restored, and communities are being transformed by the Gospel of Christ.

Find out more about Church Partnership

My home is quieter this morning. I am wearing my new hoodie, and I am considering that in all of the years I have strived to care for and ‘see’ my children, that they are now ‘seeing others,' to include the tender heart of their Momma. It is the close of a chapter but an ongoing reality that the best Father of all, Jesus, will continue to guide them, remind them, and will not let them go. Children are truly a heritage and a blessing from the Lord.

KD Fam
KD Fam

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Gratitude and Great Anticipation

By Bailey Kalvelage | Mobilization

Reflecting seems to always be part of the festivities of a new year. Whether in the quiet of the morning or between errands, we tend to ponder the past year, retracing steps both large and small. I invite you to journey with me through a few testimonies from World Orphans 2013 partnership trips. Relationships were deepened, kids and families were cared for, and the Gospel was spread…

“One of the events we did was a sports outreach where we took four buses of people to a sports complex. The day ended with testimonies from some of our team and then Jairo Jr. (pastor’s son) gave an invitation to accept Christ. The first girl that came forward was Abigail. She is 8 years old. When she was born, her mom had her dedicated at Verbo Sur (church), but her mom died a couple of months later. Her dad later died, and her grandmother is raising her. Verbo Sur has stayed close to her with the Community Development Center and feeding programs, and she comes to church each Sunday. This is a great example of the church stepping in and helping to raise an orphan right in their community."  – Partnership between Verbo Sur of Nicaragua and Gaylord E-Free of Michigan

“Every day at noon, Eglise de Dieu D’Andullan has intercessory prayer time. What an experience for our team: to take time each day to come together and pray! Oh, how we have things to learn from our Haitian friends! When I first walked into the church, prayer time was already in progress, and it took a little getting used to at first…most people were praying aloud, some quietly. Several were pacing up and down while calling upon Jesus, some kneeled and rocked, some reached their hands toward heaven, and one woman was kneeling and wailing. To me, it was an intimate picture of how we all come to the Lord in a very personal way. Without understanding their language, I could only see their love, their desire for the Lord, their relationship with Him…beautiful!”  – Partnership between Eglise de Dieu D’Andullan of Haiti and Lakewood Christian Church of Oklahoma

“In the afternoon, our team came up to the front of a house with seven young men out back. One team member walked up and shook hands and introduced himself. He started telling them his story, ‘I know what it’s like to be a young man…I want you to know you can have courage and salvation and all the freedom I have in my life. You will still mess up but you know Jesus.’ One young man said, ‘I’m a Muslim, but I’d like to have that Jesus.’ He prayed and accepted Christ. The US team member has prayed for him since then.”  – Partnership between Hope Home Care Cyegera of Rwanda and HOPE 221 of Tennessee

Whether it was hundreds of people being treated and prayed for at a medical clinic or a little boy sharing the victory at his choir concert with his US friends, God’s faithfulness has reverberated throughout trips in 2013. Each partnership has unique stories of salvation, worship, service, and love.

Baileysblog
Baileysblog

“All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them.” Acts 4:32-34a

In 2013, special churches in the US and around the world continued to join in partnership through World Orphans to care for children who are orphaned and vulnerable. This reflecting brings gratitude and great anticipation of what is to come in 2014!

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Here AND There

By Nate Livesay | Director of Advocacy

Last May I made the decision to begin raising support to join the staff at World Orphans. It has been amazing to see all the ways that God has been teaching me and making me new this year. I have learned that God is faithful to provide all that we need and that my wife, Leandra, and I are blessed to have some tremendously generous and loving friends and family.

 

I have continued to learn that the world is bigger than I thought it was; that the impact of evil people and evil systems is reality; and that if I close my eyes and choose not to be concerned with the impact of the way I use my time, talent, and treasure, I become part of that evil system that exploits the poor and vulnerable and shapes a world filled with injustice and vulnerable children.I have learned that answers are hard to find sometimes. The problems of generational poverty, injustice, and orphan care are complex and multifaceted, and the solutions to poverty, justice, and orphan care are not simple, easy, or quick. The solutions require not just good intentions and a desire to help – they require hard questions, patience, hard work, a willingness to learn and adjust strategies and plans to make the solutions sustainable.

 

I have also learned that God isn't satisfied with grand one-time gestures. What He wants from us is the routine, unglamorous willingness to die to ourselves daily and be obedient to what He is calling us to do in each moment.I have learned that following Christ is not something that can be taken care of with a single decision – following Christ requires us to pay the price to follow Him each day because we believe that He is enough for us.

 

I have learned that serving God cannot be classified by a concern for people "here" or for people "over there."  For many years I used concern for the people "here" as a way to ignore what was happening "over there."  On a Journey 117 trip to Ethiopia in December of 2011, God broke my heart for what breaks His. He showed me that I couldn’t continue living a life consumed by what was happening to me and my family and my community while ignoring the reality of what was happening to millions of orphaned, abandoned, and vulnerable children being ignored or treated as commodities instead of valued children made in the image of their Creator.

 

I am so thankful that I have the opportunity to play a small role in what God is doing through World Orphans and the churches we are partnered with. I am thankful for the opportunity to share what World Orphans is doing by speaking to churches and leading Journey 117 teams to Haiti or Ethiopia.

 

I am thankful for the growth of the Sumter Rescue Team and for their hard work and dedication in raising awareness and funds for World Orphans projects from right here in Sumter.

 

For me the danger is now reversed - I can't allow my work on behalf of the fatherless we serve internationally to justify not having an obedient concern for the fatherless right here in South Carolina. There is some necessary tension here - I don't have the answers, but I know that this tension is making me choose much more intentionally to use my time, talent, and treasure with an attitude that recognizes that all I have was given to me by God to be used to advance His name. God is using this tension to make me into the man He wants me to be and drawing me closer to having the heart that He wants me to have for the fatherless both here and there.

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New Church Partnership in Haiti Brings Hope to Orphans

Two California churches, Daybreak Church and Generations Church, recently partnered with a World Orphans project in Haiti. Through the partnership, Pastor Pierre of the indigenous church will be able help 20 orphaned and abandoned children in his community. He will also be able to reach out to families whose lives were devastated by the earthquake.

To celebrate this partnership, a group from Daybreak Church and Generations Church traveled to Haiti to meet Pastor Pierre. This short video shows some of their favorite memories:

To find out how you or your church can get involved with World Orphans, click here.

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