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Our Top 5 Favorite Child Stories of 2014

By Bailey Kalvelage | Director of Mobilization

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

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

1. OLIVIA: HURT TO HEALED!12.5.14_Olivia

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

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

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

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

– Written by Pastor Walter of Harvest Presbyterian Church



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

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

– Written by Scott Vair, President of World Orphans



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

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

– Written by Scott Vair, President of World Orphans



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

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

– Writteny by Jimmy Choi of Bethel Korean Presbyterian Church



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

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

– Written by Kindra French of Daybreak Church


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

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

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

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

– Written by Pastor Walter of Harvest Presbyterian Church


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

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

Explore becoming a Church Partner – Email

Become a Rescue Partner – Email

Form a Rescue Team – Email




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





When Helping Helps

By Kevin Squires | Senior Director of Church Partnerships

I like to think.  I like to think a lot.  In fact, I often analyze things so much that I get lost in the process and forget what the purpose was in the first place.  Honestly though, I have to admit that I find joy in the process.  I find joy in having a wandering mind… crossing my fingers and placing hope in Tolkien’s belief that, “Not all those who wander are lost.”  But, being born with a wandering mind, I have always had difficulty turning it off.  You’ve no doubt heard the metaphor, “The wheel is spinning but the mouse is dead;” unfortunately for me, the steroid pumping, 5-hour energy drinking, energizer mouse never dies.  Rather, he keeps spinning the wheel, constantly trying to journey from the village of good to the land of great.

5.16.14_1So, that’s how my mind works.  Combine that with my calling and career in global orphan care, and it’s probably clear to see why someone like me was drawn to Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert’s earth-shattering book When Helping Hurts, an analytical book on discovering effective ways to alleviate poverty.  As soon as the book hit the shelf in 2009, the landscape of modern missions began to change.  Conversations changed.  Postures changed.  Terminology changed.  Help changed.  The book revealed the painful truth about alleviating poverty and how the past several decades of “helping” the poor may in fact have created unhealthy, long-term dependency in many impoverished areas across the world.  Combining thorough research from the front lines of missions with solid, Biblical theology, the authors challenged churches, missionaries, governments, and non-profits to stop and evaluate how they “help.”  They forced us to humbly and honestly ask ourselves… Are we making a difference in the long term?  Are we helping or hurting?  And perhaps most importantly, how can we best apply the Gospel to a broken world?

The aftermath of the book caused many people to take a step back from the way we had ministered through the years.  I, myself, spent countless hours in prayer, humbly confessing ways I had messed up.  How many handouts had I scattered across the dozens of countries where I had served?  How many international churches had I unintentionally tread-on in my pursuit to spread the Gospel to the ends of the earth?  How many times had I returned from the mission field, raising my glass and waving my banner that the mission had been accomplished, knowing full and well that the people I had served were still hungry, still thirsty, still homeless, and still oblivious about the loving arms of God?

After my confession, I remember scraping myself off the floor, wiping the tears off my face, and vowing to alter the way I approached missions.  I used When Helping Hurts to teach Sunday school classes, train mission teams, and even took part in a book study as the organization I work with examined ways we could change how we served the poor.  Things were changing, and with it, my internal guilt was transforming into newfound confidence.

But then, it happened.  I began noticing within myself, and others in the field of missions, an emergent attitude about the nature of “helping.”  Although the book had clearly kickstarted conversations that had led to a gradual incline in terms of awareness to poverty issues, it was becoming apparent to me that something was brewing that was causing a steady decline in terms of actions to alleviate poverty.  As I traveled from conference to conference and church to church trying to engage Christians to act, I began sensing a humble-driven fear in the American church that borderlined paralysis.  People began mistakenly using the book as a checklist, and if models of care and methods of poverty alleviation didn’t meet the exact standards of the book, many Christians simply wouldn’t act.  Could it be that the fear of creating dependency and unsustainable methods is leading to an American church unwilling to move at all?  Could it be that our desire not to hurt everyone is paralyzing our desire to help anyone?

No doubt you’ve heard the popular metaphor… “Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.”  The expression, first recorded in 1512 by German writer Thomas Murner, implies that an entire idea or practice doesn’t need to be rejected or discontinued if part of it is good and effective.  Clearly When Helping Hurts did an excellent job identifying the murky water of the metaphoric bathtub of poverty; however, I’m beginning to wonder what many of the readers have done with the baby.

Over the past several years, I have spoken with many mission pastors, mission executives, and congregational lay leaders who are beginning to hesitate on getting active in missions because they simply don’t know how to help without hurting.  More than anything, they seem to feel a sense of overwhelming conviction from their past intentions that is leading them to think that any form of help they could give would only create more problems.  Little do they know, the fear of creating negative effects is leading to an equally disastrous result of apathy and inaction.  Unfortunately, the words of Martin Luther King, Jr. are becoming ever-increasingly true in that, “We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the vitriolic words and actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence of the good people.”

So, how do we change this fearful reaction of the American church?  How can we change the climate and culture of the American church from always thinking about when helping hurts and start thinking about when helping helps? 

First, it starts in how we understand the Gospel.   Mark Twain said, “It’s not the parts of the Bible I don’t understand that scare me, but the parts I do understand.”  And one thing I understand is that when the Spirit leads, I follow… no matter how scary that may be.  In the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus didn’t stop to explain if the Samaritan’s relief efforts would create a level of unhealthy dependency for the battered Jewish man.  The Samaritan just helped.  The fear of creating dependency was also missing in Matthew 25 when we were called to feed the hungry, give water to the thirsty, welcome the stranger, clothe the naked, and visit the sick and imprisoned.  As a matter of fact, the one that ignored those things, for whatever reason, was the one who Christ cursed and said, “Depart from me!”

Make one thing certain, the disciples and early church leaders understood the wonderful effects of when helping helps.  They understood that apathy, fear, and inaction had no place in Kingdom living.  Matter of fact, the revolutionary Spirit-empowered church of Acts was built and continued to grow from the blood, sweat, and tears of when helping helps… when loving helps… when grace helps.  In The Rise of Christianity, sociologist Rodney Stark spotlights the “helping culture” of the early church…

“Christianity revitalized life in Greco-Roman cities by providing new norms and new kinds of social relationships able to cope with many urgent urban problems.  To cities filled with the homeless, Christianity offered charity as well as hope.  To cities filled with newcomers and strangers, Christianity offered an immediate basis for attachments.  To cities filled with orphans and widows, Christianity provided a new and expanded sense of family.  To cities torn by violence and ethnic strife, Christianity offered a new basis for social solidarity.  And to cities faced with epidemics, fires, and earthquakes, Christianity offered effective nursing services.”

5.16.14_2Second, it starts with how we understand helping, or servanthood.  Duane Elmer, author of Cross-cultural Servanthood, defines serving as “the ability to relate to people in such a way that their dignity as human beings is affirmed, leaving them more empowered and equipped to live God-glorifying lives.”  The beauty of his words drastically differ from the problems that Corbett and Fikkert show in the early days of the American mission movement, where serving and helping focused on the intent of the helper rather than the outcome for those being helped.  John Perkins states, “Acts of charity can be dangerous because givers can feel good about actions that actually accomplish very little, or even create unhealthy dependency.  Overcoming an attitude of charity is a difficult task because it requires givers to demand more of themselves than good will.”

It took me years to understand that my primary calling in life is not to serve people; rather, it’s to follow and imitate Christ.  In doing that, I’m constantly learning three things about myself: Who am I, How Can I Best Serve Others, and How Can I Best Be Served.  In viewing those three lessons through an American church lens, the first two make sense, but the third often doesn’t seem to fit… unless you look into the life of Christ.  Christ was the greatest servant ever, but He also taught us lessons on how to BE served.  In Matthew 26, we see the humility of Christ in receiving Mary’s offering of an expensive ointment (costing a year’s wages).  Even though the disciples tried to stop her, Christ made it clear that the heart of servanthood rests in a relationship that’s reciprocal.

Finally, it starts with who has the Lordship over your help.  We often think that we are in control of our service… how we help, who we help, why we help.  Have you ever thought to take a step back and ask God to take control over those things?  Have you ever wondered what missions would look like if God had Lordship over it, rather than you?  Although the issues of dependency and sustainability are complex in the world of missions, does God even blink at their complexity?  What would your actions look like if the Spirit guided your steps? 

Maybe it would look something like this…

A few years ago, a man sat in a restaurant eating a sandwich.  Glancing out the window, he spotted a homeless woman panhandling for money.  Typically, he ignores things like this, but today was different.  The Spirit of God would not allow him to look away… not this time.  The man felt led to walk outside and give the woman $20, an act he had always vehemently been against.  Shocked, the woman accepted, and the man returned to his table to eat.  Minutes later, the woman approached the table, looking a little cleaner.  With tears down her face, she explained that she was a college student simply doing research on homeless people.  She asked the man if she could use this story in her class presentation.  He said yes.  To gain more information, she simply asked, “Why did you help me?”  He smiled and began to share the Gospel.  Weeks later, he received an email from the woman, explaining how her presentation brought tears to every cheek in the room and how the Gospel penetrated the hearts of many in the class.


You see… the man never stopped to consider if he was creating dependency.  He never stopped to analyze the best way to help, or if his help would actually hurt.  He simply stopped and listened to the voice that lives in all of those who call upon the name of the Lord.  It had become apparent that the situation was less about him and more about HimAt that point, he gave up the Lordship of how, who, and why he should help and simply followed the Spirit’s lead.  And in the end, God clearly cultivated his willingness to help, and then used it to expand His kingdom.

It took me a few times of reading When Helping Hurts before I was able to find the simple truth behind the book.  The goal I see in the book isn’t to avoid hurting, it’s to reform helping.  For me, part of that reformation has been realizing that the same Power that conquered the grave lives in me.  That same Power not only built the Church, but has continued to sustain it and turn it into the driving force it is in over 200 countries today.  So… what’s that Power leading you to do?



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 Staffers Raise School Funds for Uganda Project In Less Than 24 Hours

In less than 24 hours, World Orphans staffers Mark and Julie Gumm raised enough money to send 20 Ugandan children to school. They didn't host a formal dinner or a WO video viewing, they created a fundraising campaign on the MyWorldOrphans site, used their blogs  as a marketing tool,  and committed their own resources to jump-start the process.

"Because of God’s blessing we want to pay it forward and one of the ways we’re doing that is to help these beautiful kids at one of World Orphans projects in Uganda go to school. Education is a VITAL piece in breaking the cycle of orphaning and abandonment," Mark Gumm wrote on his blog on Aug. 12.

"There are 20 kids. School fees are $62 each. So here’s the challenge…We’ll match every dollar you guys donate on our campaign page until we reach the goal ($1193) and all these kids school fees are paid. If you donate $36, we’ll donate $36 and that’s one child educated.We’ll match any amount $1, $5, $100. Because no challenge is any fun without a deadline we’re going to give you ONE WEEK!," according to Julie Gumm's blog.

In just one day, the Gumm's blog  followers and Facebook friends donated enough money to send 20 children to school for a year.

"Thanks to all who contributed to help these kids-more opportunities to come :)," wrote Mark.


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Ugandan Pastors Ask For Prayer In Light of Kampala Bombing

A recent terrorist attack in Kampala, the capital city of Uganda, killed 76 and left the rest of the nation in fear. Two bombs exploded at a rugby club where people of all nationalities gathered to watch the World Cup and anther bomb was targeted at an Ethiopian restaurant.

The July 11 attack was traced to Somali Islamist armed group al-Shahbaab whose leader threatened additional attacks if the Ugandan government continued to supply troops to AMISOM, the African Union military force in Somalia.

"This is only the beginning," al-Shahbaab wrote in an internet statement according to a CNN article.

As an organization committed to the care of orphans, the bombing was a sobering reminder of how many children are orphaned as a result of violence acts.

But even more alarming is the fact that World Orphans has six foster homes within miles of Kampala.

The four churches in Jinja - United Community Methodist Church, Father's Divine Love Ministry, El Shadai, and Nakazigo United Methodist Church, care for 177 children. The Dove Church children's home in Wakiso Town, Uganda cares for another 12 children.

The homes’ caretakers have taken every possible precaution to ensure the safety of the children, but each requested prayer for physical safety and freedom from the fear of an uncertain future.

In a letter to a World Orphans staff member, Pastor David Livingstone Zijjan of Father’s Divine Love Ministries wrote:

“We are very shaken by this attack. Too many innocent lives have been taken prematurely and we are very angry. The nation is angry and we need the grace of God to extend love and forgiveness to the Somali people.”

“Uganda has been a warm nation towards refugees and we hope this doesn't affect that hospitality. At the moment, there is a lot of fear in the population and security has advised me to halt all mass gatherings until security is guaranteed. We therefore have put a halt on the rallies, and movie nights until we are sure. Thank you for your prayers.”

Please continue to keep the people of Uganda and these World Orphans projects in your prayers.