What words do you use to provide comfort to a man who has just buried his child? When I sat down with Ahmed and his family, the question of what had caused so many birth defects was briefly raised, but then quickly swept under the carpet. I knew no words could soothe this type of grief…
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One of the dominant memories I have of childhood is our family dining room table. In and of itself, it was an unremarkable piece of furniture: dull, brown oval of oak perched on a nicked and scarred pedestal. I didn’t realize it then, but there was more to that table than wood, glue, and a few bolts…
In the New Testament, the name Emmanuel means ‘God with us.’ God desires to be with us—to be in relationship with us. Out of his desire for relationship, we understand the human craving for it, and in this, we see the very nature of God reflected. …
An estimated four million people now work remotely in the US. World Orphans is part of that growing statistic, with a decentralized ministry model, staff throughout the US, and team members across the globe. We have experienced many advantages of decentralization: lower overhead costs, access to a larger geographic area with minimal travel, and personal connections with local churches across the country. Decentralization provides many opportunities that are critically valuable to what we do. But being decentralized can make it very challenging to maintain community with peers. …
Tacy: When did you move to Guatemala?
Chris: October 2015.
Tacy: What prompted you and your wife to pursue that in the first place? Where did the heart for Guatemala come from?
Chris: Lauren and I both began attending Colorado State University. I started as a freshman. She was a sophomore when she transferred to CSU. We started dating halfway through my sophomore year.
After we graduated, Lauren and I got married in 2012, and missions had been an ongoing conversation. I remember approaching my pastor shortly after we were married and saying, "I'm really unhappy with my job." He asked us to do a couple StrengthsFinder tests and things like that to get a better idea of who were as a couple and who we were as individuals, and I sat on that for about a year. Lauren and I continued praying about it, continued thinking about it, and we started to have this idea that we didn't want to live on our provision anymore. We weren't really giving back a whole lot, but we were coasting through life, and we felt like we needed to start praying, "How can we live lives that are more dependent on your provision, God?"
We started doing that, and we decided to quit our jobs. Right before we quit, our pastor came up to us and said, "How do you feel about moving to Tanzania?" And we said, "Well, we don't know. I guess we'll think about that." (laughs)
Tacy: (laughs) That's a hard thing to answer on the fly.
Chris: Yes. So, we were like, "Well we don't really know what to do with this. It sounds cool. We'll think about it." And that was probably a few weeks before we decided to take a four month road trip across the United States.
Tacy: Oh, fun. I didn't know you guys did that.
Chris: Yeah. We wanted time to pray, to think . . . both of us really feel God's presence when we're in nature. It's away from the hustle and bustle of daily life. And I think it was a tangible way for us to get the experience of just how well God can provide.
We'd spent the better part of our marriage planning for this trip. We'd saved quite a bit of money. We had our route planned out. We had our vehicles stocked. We had all the gear we thought we could possibly need, but two weeks into the trip, we lost our engine . . . We spent probably half our savings just trying to get back on the road, so I think the Lord really used that moment to kind of put us at a crossroads and say, "Are you really willing to pursue me? Are you really willing to follow me . . . even if it doesn't look like your plans are going to come into fruition?"
And at that point—when we were getting our engine fixed—we were thinking, "It might just be better to turn around and go home. We've lost so much money. We really don't know if it'll be worth it to keep going." After praying and talking with friends and family, we felt like the Lord wanted us to continue. So, we kept going, and about two months into our trip, we were both feeling kind of like, "Wow. This is awful."
Chris: We were tired, hungry, cold all the time. We had still been relying on our own provisions, our own plans, and our own savings to get through. We traveled to Alaska and came back down the West Coast, and we had mechanical problem after mechanical problem. We almost ran out of money. But we got back to the US, and everything just changed. The Lord had let us wander through the wilderness for awhile, and then he said, "Now, for the last two months, I'm going to let you see what it's like to live on my provision." And he started providing money for us from friends and relatives, places to stay, and random people would give us food. We were put up for the night in several places. We were given jobs picking pears for a week, and that earned us a bunch of money to get home. One family put us up in their Airbnb for free, fed us three meals a day, and invited us to their church and small group. It was really just eye opening. We saw what we could accomplish, which was really just depressing. And we saw what God can do if we just let go a little bit. So after that, we came home ready to figure out how we could get into missions, whether Tanzania or another avenue. During our time praying about Tanzania, we realized it wasn't a good fit . . . obviously . . . that's why we're not there.
Tacy: Right. (laughs)
Chris: Scott Vair goes to our church, and right before we left, we had started to have conversations with him and our pastor. When we got back, we continued having more regular meetings with Scott and Pastor Paul, and they really challenged us to start exploring opportunities in our community as well as internationally. We started serving a refugee family from Kurdistan here in Denver, and I think that really opened up our eyes to what it's like to be in a different country. When you're not from that culture, and you don't know the language very well, food is different, the way people drive, the way people talk, the way people interact . . . everything is just bizarre and strange and uncomfortable. I think that really set the stage for us to go to Guatemala in some ways. We knew kind of what to expect, even though you never can totally prepare yourself.
From the time we got back from our trip to the time we left for Guatemala, that was about two years. During that time, Scott invited us to go to Ethiopia to check out the World Orphans model. What we saw in Ethiopia just blew our minds wide open . . . that you could do orphan care like that. I mean it just makes sense when you think about the role the church has in the biblical sense and globally how they should be caring for kids and families. It just made sense. We took a little trip to Guatemala in January 2015 to check it out . . . three days on the ground I think. We met some of the people we would be working with, and then we got back home and started fundraising. We left for Guatemala nine months later.
Tacy: Can you tell me a little bit about the work that World Orphans is doing in Guatemala from a program overview standpoint?
Chris: Lauren and I hold different, yet overlapping roles. When there's a team on the ground, we're both functioning somewhat as team leaders. She's the church partnership director for Guatemala. On a daily basis, she is communicating with churches in the US and churches in Guatemala to coordinate details and communication. She handles family profiles, ensuring that those are translated. She works a lot with Jenny, the psychologist, to actually delve into the family situations. And then she's also involved in pre-trip planning. She follows up with the teams after they've left—finances, discipleship training, debriefing. She's got a very multifaceted job in that sense. And when a team is on the ground, I join forces with her so that we're able to coordinate teams well, whether that's her going off to do something with some of the ladies from the church and I do stuff with the guys or just coordinating debriefings . . . it works better when we can work together.
When I'm not doing that, I work day in and day out with Pedro who is our new sub-coordinator for economic empowerment. He's my right hand man, and basically our objectives have been to start savings groups, to start a youth savings match program in 2018, and to do this sewing cooperative that's been going on for two months now, whereby we teach ladies from the community to sew, to run a business, and basic things like hygiene and childcare, education . . . the importance of things like that. All of this we do through an organization called Women's Partnership Market. We oversee the project, but Stephanie from Women's Partnership Market has been doing a fantastic job of handling it.
Tacy: So, are these savings groups being run through churches there in Guatemala?
Chris: Yes. That's the plan. We may be tweaking things going into the next year, but the idea was to start savings groups in each of our four churches in Zone 7. And then after we had those established, we would start a new cycle in Zone 7 and a new cycle in Zone 18, but we may be tweaking that a little bit. Right now, we have one savings group of seven people, and it's a combination of two churches in Zone 7.
Tacy: I know we rely heavily on local leadership to speak into our work regardless of the country we're working in. How does that play out for you? How do you benefit from working alongside local leadership that's already established?
Chris: When considering working alongside AMG, I think it's provided us with an incredibly varied and diverse network of individuals and organizations within Guatemala that we would not have access to otherwise. From a programmatic basis, that has been incredibly helpful.
Working with the churches—the Guatemalan churches—their expertise within their own communities has been invaluable. I mean, these are areas that we wouldn't be able to go into at all because if you're not a known member of the community you may be targeted either as a resource for extortion or something worse. So having those relationships and connections allows us to actually do work. Even the different departments within our team offer different skill sets and advantages. Our psychologists—their resources, their abilities, their training in Guatemala, their community experience, and the AMG team of psychologists that they're plugged into—has just been an incredible resource for us . . . probably the best resource that we have.
Tacy: That's awesome. So, in what ways does that come into play? What are the psychologists doing?
Chris: They work with all of our families. Jenny and Auri are the two psychologists that are directly associated with World Orphans, and each of them handles cases with children and families. So, this could include mom and dad or the entire family. They work with them to help them process things in the past and things that they are going through day-to-day. Some is trauma, but a lot of it is simply dealing with waking up every day in these situations. Maybe last night you heard a lot of gunfire; how do you process that type of thing? Having that resource has been huge. I don't have the rapport with them or the respect in this area to do that, but—going through Jenny or Auri–I can get a feel for what's best for the community and even say, "Can you ask these community members what would be best for them?" This allows us to structure our programs to best fit the needs of the families. That's their role—to support those families in that way, but they've also provided me with the means to get these programs launched. They've connected me to the participants. All the ladies from the sewing program that are working with Stephanie right now are ladies from the local community that were referred to us by the psychologists—ladies that they handpicked and said, "I think this woman would really benefit from this based on the work we've done with her." So with their help, we're really able to cater our programs to what the community needs.
Tacy: So, what's it been like to live in Guatemala? Is living in Guatemala different from what you anticipated or is it kind of what you expected?
Chris: Ummm . . . it's not as different as I thought it was going to be in some respect. There is so much "Americanization" that's gone on. If you were to visit, you'd see Starbucks, KFC, Pizza Hut, Papa John's . . . lots of name-brand clothing from the US. Cars from Germany, the US, Japan . . . it doesn't look that different in some respects, depending on what area of the city you are in.
There are two things that have been very difficult for us. Finding community—I think that's partially because missionaries are often so busy with their work that it's hard to connect, and other times, those missionaries . . . the only thing you have in common with them is that they're missionaries, so all you end up doing is talking about your work and ministries, and it never feels like you get to build a real relationship. And then there is the language barrier. While we speak Spanish well, to go deep with somebody . . . or even to have this conversation where I can be sort of frank and vulnerable . . . to have this conversation with someone in Spanish right now is not attainable for me, or it's very difficult. So, that's hampered some of our relationship building. It's not stopped us, but it makes the relationships feel a little less deep in some respects.
The other thing that's been difficult . . . and this is just cultural . . . When you talk to Guatemalans, they're a very non-confrontational society, and I wouldn't say that most people in the US love confrontation, but we tend to value more direct responses. So, when you ask a question, you tend to get a direct answer unless it's personal, and then they may beat around the bush. In Guatemala, you never really know what the person is thinking. I'll ask a question like, "Would this be good for you?" and the assumption is, "If you're asking, you must think it's good for me, so I think it's good for me."
Tacy: And that's hard when you're planning out programs and processes.
Chris: Exactly. So, you plan out your program based on their response because you think you got a direct answer . . . (laughs) . . . and they're thinking, "I'm not going to show up for this because it's not really what I want, but I think that's what he wants." So, then you get everything set up and nobody comes. (laughs)
Chris: There's just a difference there.
Tacy: Earlier you mentioned going to Ethiopia with World Orphans. It sounds like when you went to Ethiopia, your perception of caring for orphans and vulnerable families was really turned on it's head. How has your perception of orphan care and partnering with vulnerable families changed since living in Guatemala? Does it look different than you thought it would? Do you feel like you value things that perhaps you didn't before?
Chris: Ethiopia really transformed the way I viewed church care—the way we are to care for families, and I think Guatemala has taken that to a whole new level. The churches here have been so effective in caring for their communities. And because of AMG's many years of experience with these churches, there's been this recognition that dignity is of the utmost importance when dealing with these families, and I think that's something I've really internalized. I think I believed it before, but now I've seen just how powerful maintaining their dignity can be and how detrimental it can be when that dignity is removed. I really love the way our psychologist, AMG, and our team protects the families. We've been really overprotective of our families, and I think it's helped me check my ego. Everything is done through the church to the point where I have very little involvement with the actual families. We want to show them that they have value to Jesus, and we're not going to parade them around or show them off like some prized animal.
Tacy: We talked a little bit about the challenges that you've faced while working in Guatemala—the cultural differences, the obstacles that you've had to overcome. What would you say you've enjoyed the most about working in Guatemala?
Chris: There's been a lot. I think, as difficult as relationships have been on a personal level, . . . we're really blessed to work with nine different churches in Guatemala, which means that we have connections with different pastors around the city, different committee members, different families, different kids. It provides this plethora of relationships and really has enriched us. There have been a few churches that we've really connected deeply with—their committee members, pastors, families.
When I was leaving Guatemala to go back to the states temporarily, I felt this weight. Even though it was temporary . . . just the outpouring of love on behalf of the church blew me away. In our context, we didn't realize how close these people were to us. We didn't realize that they had grown to consider us part of their family . . . the things they did for us, the prayers they sent our way . . . it was just mind-blowing. I realized we have become part of these families, and they've become part of ours. That's why I felt so sad leaving, knowing I was going home to family, but I was also leaving part of my family, too.
This may sound like a cliché answer, but the people of Guatemala have really stolen my heart, and I think they've stolen Lauren's, too. The battles they fight every day are things that I'll never ever experience. For example, Pedro. He comes from a small farming village in the mountains of Guatemala—the things that he's had to overcome in his life to get to where he's at . . . it's built such strength of character and perseverance and this rock-solid faith in God. You know, I get shaken pretty easily when things aren't going my way or I feel like I'm out of control, but Pedro pushes through it. I know he gets upset, too, but the reality is that his faith has really strengthened mine.
Tacy: I think for me—as someone who works behind my desk most days—this really shows me that the World Orphans vision comes into fruition. We talk a lot about how it's all about relationships, but at the end of the day, it's one thing to say that, and it's another thing for that to be the reality. It's very affirming to me to hear that it is the reality. It really is all about relationships.
Chris: And I think we have such an advantage in some ways. When churches come down from the US, they get this mountain-high experience, but they don't even understand the kind of encouragement they've left behind with the church here in Guatemala. They leave on a high note thinking, "We've done good for them, and we feel encouraged by them." But, we feel it even more because on our end we get the constant feedback from the pastor. We have ladies in the community saying, "When are they coming back? I can't wait to reconnect with them. When are they coming back? Are they bringing their kids? Are their kids going to be married?" They just become so welded together.
Tacy: How neat to see the ripple effects of Church Partnership.
Tacy: How do you see World Orphans efforts growing, changing, and expanding in Guatemala in the coming years?
Chris: I think that World Orphans is going in many directions right now in Guatemala, and I think all of them are good. I think . . . with the international team members we've added recently . . . we have the increased capacity to be able to handle it. We've got a lot of change coming down our pipeline. We added four new churches in May, and Sam is really excited about adding a bunch more in 2018, which is good. That growth is positive, and it's a natural consequence of doing things well. I think a lot of our growth right now is happening in Zone 18 because things are going so well. We've learned so much from Zone 7, that we started off on such a good foot in Zone 18. The pastors are very connected and they're talking to each other. The ones in the program are talking to others, telling them how great it is that they're able to work with these families now. So, you have additional pastors saying, "I want to do that, too." The economic empowerment—there's still a lot of things that need to happen; it's still very much a fledgling program. There have definitely been growing pains with that.
Tacy: So, for people that want to get involved through prayer . . . Can you give them some prayer points?
Chris: I touched on some of the programs we're trying to get launched in the next year. One that we're very passionate about is this youth savings match program. It's going to kind of partner with AMG in a way that allows kids—as they're learning about savings, investing, small business, etc.—to have a practical means of applying this to their lives . . . through a savings program that will be operated through AMG and a match program that will match dollar-for-dollar what they've saved to allow them to further their education, start a business, etc. That will start hopefully in 2018. It's been a slow process to get this going, and we need the Lord's guidance in this. That's something people could pray for for sure.
The savings groups—we really need to rely on the Lord for progress in these, for his timing. We really do feel like this goes alongside wholistic care and is—in many ways—the last step for families to start achieving independence financially and to begin transitioning families in order to help others. This program still needs some tweaking, and I need prayer for wisdom as I help guide this process. Pedro and I could both use prayer for encouragement, and reliance on the Lord.
A praise would be the way that this cooperative has been going with this sewing group. People can definitely see God's hand at work in this. Even though it's being run by a secular business development group out of Denver, they very much have principles in line with ours, though they are missing the spiritual piece. It's been amazing to see that even in the absence of that part of their curriculum, the women have started their own Bible study, and God is blessing them. I hope that God continues to bless them. The hunger that they have to learn how to sew and to start their own businesses . . . it's captivating. To see how so far they have been so committed, continuing to come back every single week . . . that's provided a spark of hope for us.
I would ask the people also pray for Lauren, as she'll be managing her responsibilities while also caring for our newborn baby. She's already been such a good mother. I'm just praying for wisdom for her as she navigates this new season.
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.
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.
“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!
By Kevin Squires | Senior Director of Church Partnerships
America was taken aback in recent weeks by the sound of an orphan’s cry. Davion Only, a 15-year old boy in Florida’s foster care system, put on his finest clothes, went to church, stood on stage, and cried out for a family. I keep replaying his words in my head. “I’ll take anyone,” he said. “Old or young, dad or mom, black, white, purple. I don’t care.” He wasn’t looking to be rescued from foster care; he simply wanted what so many of us take for granted… he wanted a family. So, he desperately cried out for someone, in his own words, “to love me until I die.”
No doubt this story will continue to captivate America. At the time of this post, over 10,000 requests to adopt Davion have come into the main offices in Florida. Thanks to talk shows, news stations, and bloggers everywhere, Davion’s cry for someone to love me until I die will not only get him adopted, it will most certainly get thousands of others adopted as well. In many ways, Davion has become the face of the orphan crisis in America, where over 100,000 children currently “live” in foster care. But it’s his voice, his nervous and trembling voice, that has become the cry of over 150 million orphans worldwide. In many ways, his “Love Me Until I Die” speech was his version of “I Have A Dream,” a dream and a quest to be loved by a family.
So, that begs the question… with so many children around the world on a similar quest, what will it take to get these kids into loving families, especially when adoption is not an option?
For hundreds of years, orphanages have monopolized the global orphan care industry. With great intentions, limited options, and a growing orphan crisis, many churches, governments, and NGOs plunged into the business of running orphanages in hopes of saving as many children as possible. While we in America were desperately trying to keep up with the Joneses, those in the Majority World were frantically trying to keep up with the ever increasing issues of human trafficking, sex trade, disease, starvation, and a plethora of other causes that were leading to a growing crisis of orphaned and vulnerable children.
Amidst all the chaos, many of us have come to realize that simple band-aid solutions were prescribed at a time when complex wounds were gushing at an alarming rate. Somewhere down the line, without even meaning to, we replaced families with institutions. Meanwhile, orphans like Davion are crying out for families, not caretakers. They want homes, not buildings. They want to be loved until they die, not loved until they age out.
In hearing those cries, World Orphans is continuing to fight to keep children out of orphanages and in loving and caring families. We are currently searching for American churches to partner with churches in Haiti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Cambodia, and Guatemala to care for orphaned and vulnerable children through our family-based care model. These church partnerships provide education, food, medical care, and counseling to a growing number of families who are caring for children in need. By inspiring, equipping, and mobilizing local churches throughout the world, these children are able to remain in their communities.
Are you ready to join the fight? Engage your church in conversation today about partnering with World Orphans. For more information, go to our website at www.worldorphans.org or contact me at email@example.com.
By Darci Irwin | Director of Rescue Teams
A few years ago I learned something that revolutionized my understanding of breathing. Did you know the body is designed to breathe 6-8 breaths per minute but the common person breathes upwards of 20 or more? We pant through life, and I think it’s because we’re exhausted, distracted, and aren’t practiced at being still.
So, to begin, I’d like to invite you to take a few moments…just…to…breathe.
As you continue reading, I encourage you to pay attention to your breath the entire time you read this post. Notice what it feels like in your body to breathe in and exhale deeply.
Thinking About Patience
As you breathe, think about this question. If you were to rate your patience level, what would you give yourself if 1 is painfully impatient and 10 is extremely patient? Remember, wherever you are is where you are and there is no shame. Honestly consider the strength of your patience muscles.
Does your number shift when I mention these situations or people? Coworkers, grocery store checkout lines, siblings, traffic, parents, this moment, the government, health issues, misunderstandings, roommates, Christmas, payday, gum smackers, your spouse or the idea that you don’t yet have a spouse, your children or the idea that you don’t yet have children, the Internet, gaining or losing weight, finding a job or getting a promotion. And specific to your passion for orphans – social workers, adoption agencies, food distribution, language barriers, the pace of organizational movement, medical needs, the number of children who are and continue being abandoned…and I could go on and on.
Personally speaking, patience is a character trait that is being learned in my life, not innately inherited. Impatience, on the other hand, now that comes quite easy to me.
Some of my earliest memories of my dad include him telling me to “relax.” He said it so much that the older I got, all he’d need to do was say, “Hey Darc…” and I’d say, “I know, I know, r-e-l-a-x.” But it would be decades before I really knew how.
Impatience has been a word I’ve used to describe myself, even jokingly saying, “Oh I’m just impatient and want everything now.” The last few years, however, I’ve started taking patience and impatience seriously, extremely seriously, because I recognized that not only was my impatience shrinking me, it was also putting a wedge between me and others who felt the need to hurry around me.
So I got serious about patience, first with myself, because it’s only when I’m patient with myself that I can be patient with others.
As I’ve begun to learn the secrets of being still and waiting, my soul has found new breath, my heart has expanded, my pulse has slowed, and my mind has cleared. I hope the same for you as you journey on towards patience.
What is Patience?
So let’s think about patience.
Patience is the Greek word (hoop-om-onay) hypomone which is a compound word made up of two other words:
- hypo (a preposition meaning 'under')
- moneo (a verb meaning to 'remain' or 'abide')
Thus, the idea is to 'remain under' or 'abide under' difficult circumstances - as when it is not possible to escape or avoid them.
< How is your breathing? >
As you continue contemplating your patience number, consider this story by Sue Monk Kidd:
“I was a typical quickaholic. We are, I suspect, one of the fastest growing populations around. …I traveled to St. Meinrad Archabbey for a retreat. One day after morning prayers, I walked to the edge of the pond and sat on the grass. I listened to the wind sigh over the water and tried to be still, to simply be there and wait in the moment. But almost instantly my inner chaos rose up. The need to keep moving, to act, to solve everything overpowered me. I got to my feet.
As I returned to the guest quarters, I noticed a monk, ski cap pulled over his ears, sitting perfectly still beneath a tree. There was such reverence in his silhouette, such tranquil sturdiness, that I paused to watch. He was the picture of waiting.
Later I sought him out. “I saw you today sitting beneath the tree – just sitting there so still. How is it that you can wait so patiently in the moment? I can’t seem to get used to the idea of doing nothing.”
He broke into a wonderful grin. “Well, there’s the problem right there, young lady. You’ve bought into the cultural myth that when you’re waiting you’re doing nothing.”
Then he took his hands and placed them on my shoulders, peered straight into my eyes and said, “I hope you’ll hear what I’m about to tell you. I hope you’ll hear it all the way down to your toes. When you’re waiting, you’re not doing nothing. You’re doing the most important something there is. You’re allowing your soul to grow up. If you can’t be still and wait, you can’t become what God created you to be.”
Western culture is not a breeding ground for patient waiters. We actively resist anything that is slow, so much so that I believe our very souls are in anguish, exhausted by our hurried attempts at speeding through life.
Our fast food perspective has increased our speed and has decreased our awareness. In the book “When Helping Hurts,” the authors educate us how different parts of the world view time. The monochronic view sees time as a limited and valuable resources, where time can be lost or saved. Good stewardship of time means getting the most out of every. single. minute. Contrast this to the polychronic view, the view you are about to step into, that says, “There is always more time.” My encouragement is to enjoy this view of time, as counter cultural as it may be, and give your soul the expansion it so desires by gifting it with renewed attention and peace.
Can you imagine yourself living a life that is somewhere between these views of time? Honoring schedule and routine, yet holding loosely to your agenda? How would your life change if you slowed down? Who might that impact? What might look different?
< How is your breathing? >
Waiting in Scripture
The Bible is rich with language urging us to wait. “In you I wait all day long.” “My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning.” “Wait continually for your God.” “If we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.”
It is true that God enters into the experience of those who wait.
And isn’t that what long to encounter? A full experience with God? Because of this, today I urge you to hit the ground…listening. I encourage you to slow your pace…..to enact all five of your senses…..to pause and really look in the faces of people you encounter today…..to take deep inhalations and exhalations when anxiety creeps up on you…..to be fully present in each moment…..and, to give yourself grace when you notice you’re rushing, hurrying, or irritated. Because it will happen. And when it does, may you gracefully invite your attention to slow down, forgive yourself, and move on.
Yet there’s this myth that asking God to help us learn patience means He’ll give us something really hard to endure. The more I get to know God, the more I realize He is not tight-fisted, condemning, and ready to shame us into growth. He is not eagerly sitting by waiting to smite us with some hardship so that we’ll finally learn our lesson. No, our God is a gentle God, not a patronizing, manipulative, condescending God. Maybe what people have experienced when they pray for patience is simply an opening of awareness to everything around them that challenges patience. Maybe God is gently peeling off the layers and allowing us to see the hundreds of reasons we can apply patience every single day. Maybe the reasons to be impatient were there all along and now we are just aware of them.
And I wonder, for what might God be waiting? What might he patiently be waiting for you to notice? To respond to? Your mind will clear when you wait, and you will know the right next thing to do. There really is a reason God told us to be still and know that He is.
So today, here is what I know about patience: It comes a little at a time, so may you be patient with patience. My blessing as you go is to notice when you are in the grips of quickaholism. In these moments, may you give greater attention to your breath that reminds you of God’s presence within you. May you be gentle with yourself, thereby increasing your gentleness with others. May your patience number increase over time. And may you learn patience in increasingly new ways as God continues to write your story.
 Psalm 25:5
 Psalm 130: 6
 Hosea 12:6
 Romans 8:25
By Matthew Hanks | Director of Advocacy
Have you ever had a strong yearning to help in a situation but have not known how? I live in Colorado Springs, and a several weeks back, some 500 not-too-distant neighbors of mine lost their homes. Watching the fire consume hundreds of acres of prime real estate, billions of dollars in terms of equity and, worse yet, immeasurable amounts of dreams and memories had me itching to respond with aid. But with each day that the fire roared on, the reality that I could do very little to help sank in. I felt powerless. The only thing I could do to truly assist in this tragedy was to pray.
At the same time of this event, my wife, Amelia, was being told she needed to have a stereotactic biopsy to rule out breast cancer. Again, wanting to do something to help, it was even more in my face that the only practical thing that I could do was pray.
Both of these situations brought on extreme feelings of helplessness. The fire brought on feelings of wanting to help others, but not being able to. The medical procedure, being more personal, brought on feelings of uncertainty and fear; feelings that fit a more typical definition of the word helplessness: unable to help oneself.
Looking back at these coinciding occurrences, I’m reminded of the story of Gideon, where the Lord cuts the Army’s ranks by 90% so that the people would not say, “my own hand has saved me.” Though the courageous army of fire fighters fought an amazing and honorable fight, it was ultimately the directional change of the wind and the subsequent rain that kept it from continuing its path of destruction. A community’s prayers were answered. Prayer again was victorious when Amelia showed up for her biopsy. The concerning mass, that was seen clear as day on the original ultrasound, was no longer there when the technician went looking for it. It had literally vanished! To God be all the glory.
The relationship between these two types of “feelings of helplessness” (1. Not being able to help oneself; 2. Not being able to help someone else) often comes to mind when I think about orphan care in the developing world. Obviously, the orphans and vulnerable children World Orphans serves would fall under the ‘unable to help oneself’ definition. We exist as a ministry primarily because of these helpless ‘little ones of His.’ The more exposure to them, their circumstances, stories, afflictions and pains, the more we feel that strong yearning to do something.
World Orphans also exists as a vehicle for you, the church in North America, to respond to that desire to help and to alleviate the feelings of helplessness as experienced in the case of the fire. It is our desire to ‘equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ’ (Eph 4:12-16). Serving the US church is also at the heart of what we do.
But there’s one more party in the equation of our orphan care model: the “saints” in the countries where the orphan pandemic is out of control. The feelings of helplessness that we in Colorado Springs experienced for those four days that the fire raged is what they live with daily when it comes to rescuing the orphans in their midst. Where prayer and God’s provision are one piece of our rescue plan, in the US we tend to trust more on things like fire departments and ultrasounds. The needs of our vulnerable are met by government subsidized housing, Medicaid, food subsidies, public schools, and the state run foster care system.
The churches in these developing nations know that if they do nothing, no one will. The tragedy here is that they, our brothers and sisters, often times don’t have the resources to take care of their own children, let alone someone else’s. The desire to help burns in them, yet they know all they can practically do is pray. They feel powerless to act.
“Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act.” -Proverbs 3:27
As I’ve raised support to fund the ministry that the Lord has put in my heart to do, I’m often reminded of how easy I have it compared to those in ministry in the majority world church. I live in a nation where there’s a Christian majority; where we are given a tax incentive to donate to ministry; where we have networks of family and friends with disposable income to rely on. Working in full-time ministry is a luxury that even the head pastors of most churches outside the US don’t have. Theologically, I’m sure their church bodies would love to meet the needs of their pastor… just like they’d surely love to take in all the orphans in their communities. They just can’t.
“So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” -Gal 6:10
World Orphans is committed to rescuing orphaned & abandoned children, strengthening the local church, and impacting communities with the Gospel of Jesus Christ through church-based, family focused programs.
By John Rakis | Director of Development
I find it fascinating how a seemingly “little” comment could have such a big effect on me.
I was in Haiti recently with some of our World Orphans team meeting with our pastors in that country. I learned a lot about how God is using World Orphans to reach and care for children. We spoke with the pastors about how they are helping orphans and vulnerable children to have families and to live in homes that care for them. The focus of the discussion was making sure the kids and families were being cared for mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually. I gained a lot of head knowledge.
BUT…maybe the biggest impact moment came unexpectedly. One of the afternoons we had a chance to spend time with a couple of gentlemen from a church in Michigan that were down to visit their church partner. They were working on plans for a trip in July. A part of one of the conversations was about praying for our children and how often that happens. AND THEN, one of them men said that it really hit him on a trip to Haiti when his church partner pastor said that these kids don’t have anyone praying for them; that these kids needed a family so that someone would pray for them.
I can’t get this out of my head. I pray for so many people by name—especially my family, my kids. I ask so many things of God for them and on their behalf. But, these kids who have become orphans, have no one praying for them by name. Their parents are gone for whatever reason, they are hurt, they have emotional issues and need help, and yet no one prays specifically for them.
I am so thankful and humbled by families who have brought one of these children into their homes, their families. Some are in their own communities in homes that World Orphans partner churches have helped find and some end up being adopted by loving families in other parts of the world.
What could be more loving and beautiful than having someone pray for you by name? Someone who daily thanks God for you and asks for His blessings on your life. I am so blessed to be part of what God is doing through World Orphans, and I am so blessed to know so many families who were willing to listen to what God put on their hearts and have adopted a child in need.
Join us to pray... Jesus said, “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” (John 14:18)
It is our desire at World Orphans that each of us would realize that apart from Christ, we are orphans in need of rescue, and that in Christ, we are adopted children of God, forever rescued, redeemed, restored, renewed, and found in Him.
Along with our friends at Christian Alliance for Orphans, we are promoting Orphan Sunday this coming November 4th.
In honor of Orphan Sunday, we are asking you to join us on November 5th for 24 hours of dedicated prayer for all of the churches, children, and communities who are a part of our ministry.
When you sign-up to pray, we’ll send you a list of ways you can pray for our church partners and the orphaned and vulnerable children in their care. At the heart of our desire to pray is that all would understand the Fatherhood of God.
Through Orphan Sunday, we will honor and pray for adoption, foster care, and global orphan care. Both here in the US and internationally, the growing passion for adoption within the church is exciting. Yet at the same time, the number of orphaned and abandoned children in need of care is still great. We are so grateful to our church partners around the world who are committed to caring for children in their communities and reflecting the love of Christ and the hope of the Gospel to all.
Please join us in supporting and honoring our church partners by participating in our 24 hours of prayer on November 5, 2012. Sign-up to pray
And, please help us spread the word! Once you sign up, it’s easy to send an email or post on Facebook or Twitter.
We thank you for your partnership in ministry and in prayer.
“For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.” Ephesians 1:15-19