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Alive Through Brokenness

By Kathy Davis | Director of Wholistic Care

The New Year is upon us. Truly there is something refreshing about new beginnings and turning over a new leaf. For many of us, the beginning of this year will mark a season of healthier eating, regular exercise, or finishing a task that has long been left undone. Perhaps it's time to get our finances in order or organize a messy closet. Whatever the goal, there is something refreshing about bringing order to chaos and beginning again.

Photo captured by a World Orphans staff soon after the devastating hurricane in 2010.

For our friends in Port-au-Price Haiti, this new year marks the five-year anniversary (1/12/15) of a catastrophic earthquake that, in an instant, crushed the lives of over 300,000 people. They continue to begin again as wives were left without husbands, bodies were trapped under the weight of concrete rubble, and children were wandering the streets without their parents in a state of sheer terror. It was chaos. Haitians will never forget where they were on that dark day. Their grief is still heartbreaking as they reflect back on so much loss, all the while striving to rebuild.

“The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18). 

In recent weeks, I have had the humbling privilege to weep with a friend who was diagnosed with cancer and pray for one who despaired of her own life in order that she might be free from pain. Certainly, there will be a day when pain and suffering will be no more but today is not that day. Until then, may the church engage and bring the hope of the Gospel to bear on the desperate cry of so many in our world.

“And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away." And He who sits on the throne said, "Behold, I am making all things new." (Revelation 21:3-5, emphasis mine)

Me with a precious Haitian child soon after the earthquake.

Catastrophes, hardship, and suffering provide ongoing opportunities for the church to draw near and wholistically (spiritually, physically, emotionally, and mentally) embrace the plight of broken and hurting people. Whether in Haiti or in our own local churches, right in front of us are opportunities to show up and bring comfort, care and compassion to those in pain. Jesus, who was acquainted with grief, demonstrated great love, not just by the healing he brought but through the compassionate tears he shed.

People mattered to Jesus and he could often be found with the suffering outcast. I have found that the hope of Jesus is most intimately known, not when things are going well, but as the hearts of people are moved to enter into each others stories of suffering and pain.

"To be alive is to be broken. And to be broken is to stand in need of grace." - Brennan Manning

As World Orphans anticipates another year of empowering the church to wholistically care for orphaned and vulnerable children, there is much work to be done. The relational reach of global church partnership is certainly resulting in the provision of food, the privilege of education and the blessing of emotional care for many children who have come from hard places. Because we believe what the scripture says about the church, the orphan and the expansion of the Gospel, we hold before one another, Jesus. He came, not only to save, but also to restore and heal. May we seek to do the same.

“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.  And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:24-25).

Over the next year, I will spend time blogging about the wholistic transformational impact we are observing in the lives of children who are a part of our family focused programs. I look forward to journeying with you, for in the face of so much need, whether here or across the globe, “to be broken is to stand in need of grace.”

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Corinthians 12:9). 

To whom will you show compassion today? And, just as important, how will you receive the compassionate love of Jesus for your own, beautiful soul?

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Better Together: A Special Announcement!

By Kathy Davis | Director of Wholistic Care

It's Christmastime 12.17.14_candleThe Christmas season is upon us. Glistening lights and decorated trees adorn my small and cozy town. The scents of fresh pine and apple cider cause my senses to connect with the warmth of family and the love we share. The ringing of the Salvation Army bell at the local grocery store compels me to remember those who are hungry as I purchase another round of groceries. Evenings are filled with crowded shopping malls, Christmas parties, and gift exchanges. Anticipation, joy, and wonder sparkle in the eyes of young children. Christmas is ‘in the air’ and is most beautifully shared with one another in the context of family and friends.

In contrast, I just returned from Haiti where the Christmas season is marked by continued poverty and hardship. Nearly 80% of Haitians are poor, living on less than 2 dollars a day. Half of the children under five years old are malnourished and 50% of children are not enrolled in school. The streets in Port-au-Prince this December are packed with people who awaken each day to the reality of mere survival. Instead of children attending school, they are found on the streets wiping the windshields of cars with the hope of eating one meal that day. The reality is hard, the need is great, and the desperation is palatable.

World Orphans Response Because of the great need, World Orphans is committed to partnership and exists because we believe what Scripture says about the church, the orphan, and the expansion of the Gospel. Following the earthquake of 2010, churches were identified and mobilized to engage through partnership and expand their reach into the lives of orphaned and vulnerable children. We have found the fragrance of ministry focused on the Gospel is HOPE and the person of hope is JESUS. This hope came at great cost. Jesus, the One who was born in a lowly stable and with humble means would be the Hope for mankind and the Savior of the world.

“She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins" (Matthew 1:21).

The incarnate Christ provided salvation for those who would believe and made His home with the poor, needy, and vulnerable. Children matter to Jesus and his exhortation to us is to:

“Allow the children to come to me, for the kingdom of God belongs to them” (Matthew 19:14).

A child's transformation is part of a spiritual adventure that is empowered and guided by the Holy Spirit as churches engage through the grace of Christ. The fruit of partnership is the loving and wholistic (spiritual, physical, emotional, and mental) care of children, extended through a willing body of believers. What a joy to see the global church actively participating in the rescue and care of orphaned and vulnerable children who are being transformed through the pursuit of love and family.

“You shall give to him freely, and your heart shall not be grudging when you give to him, because for this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in all that you undertake. For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘you shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land'” (Deuteronomy 15:10-11).

Orphaned and vulnerable children suffer from the effects of poverty and abandonment, and the devastating outcome of these issues leave children exposed, exploited, vulnerable, and in deep need of protection. The ministry of the church to care for the families and children is both grueling and glorious. The exhilaration of precious brothers and sisters who began this program almost five years ago have become exhausted by the depth of ongoing care that is necessary for their continued development, yet they continue to give.

A Wonderful Announcement and Partnership I am pleased to share that this Christmas season marks the beautiful beginning and gift of a collaborative effort between World Orphans and Bethany Christian Services. Together, we have entered into partnership with the goal of empowering the church and deepening the scope of care to the families and children within our OVC (Orphaned and Vulnerable Child) program. This collaboration has come at a great time!

Bethany provides a wealth of resources in the areas of clinical emotional care and family preservation.

"Across the globe, many circumstances conspire to fragment families — poverty, illness, violence, catastrophes. At Bethany Global, we believe that families can weather these challenges with the right support. Our innovative family preservation programs target the underlying causes of family disintegration, strengthening families so that they’re better able to protect their children. Understanding the cultural influences on a community and family is essential to providing support.” - Bethany Global

This collaborative effort reminds me of the profound and biblical quote that "no man is an island", written by the great English poet, John Donne.  May I also add "no organization is an island"?  We are clearly 'better together'.

No man is an island, Entire of itself, Every man is a piece of the continent, A part of the main. (John Donne)

“Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ.  For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many” (1 Corinthians 12:12-13).

Meet Cassandre!

Kathy (left) with Cassandre (right)

I am delighted to announce that World Orphans, in collaboration with Bethany Christian Services, has hired a Haitian Social Worker to come alongside the church and further equip those caring for children. Recently, World Orphans and Bethany Global spent a week in Haiti training our new Social Worker in the areas of Child Protection, Physical/Sexual Abuse, Trauma Care, Attachment, Child Development, and Assessment.  We also spent a day hosting and facilitating an open forum and needs assessment with the Pastors and OVC Committees for our 14 churches in the OVC Program.

World Orphans Social Worker, Cassandre Mathieu, will be responsible to:

  1. Support the ongoing work of the church to care for emotional issues like physical and sexual abuse.
  2. Provide specialized training and empower OVC (orphaned and vulnerable child) committees.
  3. Train OVC committees to perform assessments and ongoing evaluation for all the children in the program
  4. Develop monthly trainings on wholistic care topics with each church partner.
  5. Set measurable benchmarks for development and care.

Meetings and planning are underway as we assimilate the feedback from the Pastors and OVC Committees.  Equipping and training in the areas of physical/sexual abuse, trauma care, child protection, biblical parenting, pastoral encouragement, and family connection are all on the docket for 2015.

My heart is deeply impacted by the many regions of our world that are impoverished and oppressed.  Christmas may look no different than any other time of year. Hopelessness and affliction may likely be the drink on their table and a portion of rice as their meal for the day.

So as I sit in the comfort of my living room, enjoying a hot cup of coffee and remembering my dear friends in Haiti who are ‘spending themselves’ for the sake of needful children, I am overwhelmed with emotion and even further compelled to loosen my grip on the things of this world. The Kingdom of God is at hand and the reward of caring for orphans is eternal.

O Come, O Come, Immanuel. Our God is with us and we are indeed, better together.

You Too Can Get Involved! Would you join me in seeing the church further mobilized to care for orphaned and vulnerable children this year? Click here to see how you can become involved.

As we celebrate the birth of Christ this year, would you join us through becoming a Rescue Partner to the least of these?

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Providing training

12.10.15_WaldringKathyCassandre

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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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Meet The Team - Kathy Davis

Name and position with World Orphans.

Kathy Davis – Director of Holistic Care

What attracted you to your current position?

The opportunity to be specifically involved with seeing the church equipped and encouraged to ‘holistically care’ (spiritually, physically, emotionally, and mentally) for orphaned and vulnerable children.

Where do you live and who do you live with?

I live in Maryville, TN and I live with my husband of 25 years and 2 of my 3 daughters. (Husband: Keith – Daughters: Amanda, Anna, Amy – the ‘A team’)

If you could give your 18-year old self one piece of advice what would it be?

Don’t take yourself too seriously but be serious about knowing Jesus and making Jesus known. There is hope in no one else!

List three unique experiences in your life.

1. I’m from TN, my husband is from Alaska – we met in TX and married there!

2. I have run a full marathon and several half marathons. Nope, didn’t enjoy the running part so much - but loved the finish!

3. I would love to say I’ve jumped off cliffs, skydived, bungee jumped, scaled the tallest mountain…but I hate heights.

Other than the Bible [duh] what is the best thing you have read in the last year.

by Tim Keller

One thing you always have on your person is...?

Lip-stuff! (lipstick, lip gloss, blistex, carmex, etc.)

If you could live anywhere, where would it be?

Love where I live – Maryville, TN.

Read Kathy's blog at: www.kathyblessedtobless.blogspot.com

"Meet the Team" is a weekly blog series showcasing the people who make up the World Orphans team. Every Thursday morning, grab a cup of coffee and meet another team member who is using their unique talents and gifts to care for orphans and strengthen churches in the U.S. and abroad.

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WO's First Emotional Care Training Conference Equips African Pastors to Help Kids

Last week, World Orphans holistic care team travelled to Kenya where pastors from projects in Uganda and Nairobi gathered to learn more about emotional care for children. The holistic-care team, which focuses on helping caretakers meet the emotional, physical, spiritual and mental needs of children, spent the last few months developing emotional care materials under the guidance of WOs resident counselor, Erin Musick.

The materials were designed to help pastors and houseparents learn how to better communicate with children on an emotional level.

"The workshop wrapped up SO well.  Everyone was really encouraged, said they learned so much. They said they wished the training had been 5 days and asked when we were coming back," Kate Borders, director of holistic care, wrote from Kenya.

"And in addition to being helpful to their work with children, the participants have been sharing personal stories about how the information is helpful and encouraging to them personally as well.  Everyone is really enjoying time together, it's very personal...people are enjoying learning, sharing, praying, encouraging one another."

This week, the team is traveling to actual project sites to answer individualized questions and help the caregivers begin to implement their new emotional care skills.

Please pray for these caregivers and children as they pursue deeper relationships.

To find out more about World Orphans care model, check out this information about our solution, the continuum of care.

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WO Supporter Experiences the Transition From Devastation to Hope

After taking a World Orphans trip to Kenya, WO supporter Abby said she was struck by "the harsh reality" of poverty and abandonment. On her blog, she wrote:

"Boys will be boys. Amidst the garbage heap surrounding & engulfing this slum, these four boys are being boys.

They are little hams posing for the camera as a mzungu snaps their picture.

But the harsh reality is that these boys are not in school. It was a regular school day, but yet as we walked through the slums it was common to see school age children running around.

The harsh reality is seeing toddlers dig through these trash heaps. The harsh reality is that cattle also dig and eat from the garage and later are killed for dinner.

The harsh reality is behind the patched together metal walls people brew homemade liquors thinking that is how God is providing income (It isn't, trust me). The harsh reality is parents (both moms and dads) are abandoning their children.

As a result of that abandonment, children are vulnerable. Girls as young as 11 find themselves taken advantage of and often become pregnant or a slave to prostitution."

But in the midst of the devastation, Abby saw hope in a World Orphans home.

Abby wrote:

"The truth is we can make a difference. Western churches can make a difference. How? By partnering (or having a relationship with) an indigenous church across the globe.

Indigenous churches around the world are caring for orphans in slum & impoverished communities, often with little to no resources.

They are providing home based care to keep kids united with families, providing small family like homes for the most vulnerable children, providing feeding programs, providing care, support, and micro finance loans to widows and families whom are HIV+.

How it works is pretty simple. The organization, World Orphans, facilitates relationships between Western churches and indigenous churches.

Western churches provide financial support for orphan homes or home based care (via World Orphans) with the goal to become self-sustaining, thus eliminating an atmosphere of dependence on the Western Church. The Western Church also visits the church partner, serving alongside them in ministry. Both are mutually edified.

From my own personal experience I can say that I came away from these trips encouraged to be more involved in my own community (future blog post answering the question "Well what about the poor here in the US?). I learned so much about sacrificial living from the people that I served with in Kenya.

There is hope. We can't do everything, but we can do something. Multiply people & churches doing *something* breaks the orphan cycle, the number of orphans decrease, communities, churches, and lives are changed. And you just might find yourself changed in the process.

You have one life. Do something."

Though this WO home in Kenya is fully funded, there are a number of children's homes around the world that still need financial support.

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