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Wholistic Care


Aging Out

By Becky Hoffman | Director of Rescue Teams Growing up. Leaving the nest. It is something most of us have done or will do. The time comes when we leave our parents behind and set out on our own. Free. Independent. Terrified. Some will attend college, while others join the workforce. Many will rent apartments or buy houses. Bills are now addressed to self, not parent or guardian. Though the process of entering adulthood is daunting, it is also exhilarating. Well, it should be.

Others experience a different story: aging out. An 18th birthday means it is time to go. You are out of the system. Out of the orphanage. Out on your own. Whether you are leaving foster care or an institutional orphanage, the process is abrupt and final. No one is required to care for you anymore. Your bed will be filled by another.

In an interview with Neal Conan on NPR, Dr. Mark Courtney, Research and Development Director of Partnerships for Our Children, describes the status of the former foster children he has been following into young adulthood. He says, “…less than half of them are employed at 23, very high rates of involvement with the criminal justice system, lots of struggling parents, rely on public assistance…”

Not a pretty picture. If that is what happens in the United States, imagine what it must be like for children in impoverished nations. The fear of being left to fend for oneself must plague the minds of many 17-year-old youths.

This does not have to be the case. In fact, it is not the case for the six young women in India who are cared for by the local church in partnership with World Orphans. These young women have a different story.

After losing their parents to tragedies, including accidents, abandonment, and illness, these women were brought into the loving home of a pastor’s daughter and son-in-law. There they grew up as sisters and formed a tight bond with each other and their guardians. Now, at 18, 19, and 20 years old, they have not “aged out". Instead, there has been a gradual, natural transition.

Each young woman attends university and they share an apartment above the church. After nursing school, Ujala comes home to help her new mother sew beautiful wedding gowns and sarees to sell. Aalia and Mahla have taken on many of the church’s administrative responsibilities. Each one has her role.

What is even more special is that Ujala, Mahla, Aalia, Heli, Prema, and Aahna* were recently baptized. Not only are they growing in independence, but in faith. They are truly blossoming.


None of this would have happened without the local church stepping up to care for the fatherless. It would not have happened without the US church providing finances for food, school fees, medical care, and other necessities. It would not have happened without three-fold partnership between these churches and World Orphans.

We love our church partners and praise God for all they are doing to show Christ’s love to orphans. We invite you and your church to jump in and be part of changing the story for orphans who otherwise would have aged out of the system.



*Names have been changed to protect privacy.



Looking Back : 10 Posts to Celebrate 2015

Well, we're about two weeks into those resolutions. The holiday festivities have ceased. It's back to work and back to reality. The decorations have been stashed until next year (hopefully). As we dive into 2016, though, we'd be amiss to not rejoice in the challenges we faced, lessons we learned, and victories we celebrated over the course of the last year. Without further adieu, we invite you to reminisce with us as we look back on ten of our favorite blog posts from the last year:

  1. Jeremy gave us the opportunity to travel to Ethiopia, where we saw women empowered and children being given the gift of hope.
  2. We stepped back in time with David, as we learned about the heart of the early church for children who have been orphaned.
  3. Kathy ushered us through the doors of secondary schools in Kenya, where we met children who are not merely surviving, but thriving!
  4. We discovered what's different about a trip with World Orphans.
  5. Kevin taught us practical ways to deal with conflict.
  6. We considered the beauty in the brokenness as we reflected on the Haiti earthquake of 2010 and the hope that springs anew there.
  7. Why a home rather than an orphanage? We looked at that question.
  8. With loud shouts of joy, songs of praise, and tears of happiness, we took a closer look into Iraq and saw God moving in powerful ways.
  9. As Matthew guided us through the process, we considered what it means to love each other well, to abide in Christ, and to be the kind of father that magnifies our Heavenly Father.
  10. We learned more about the orphan crisis and we considered what the church's role should be in caring for those that have been orphaned.

God is working in powerful ways across the globe, and we are thankful for the privilege to be his hands and feet as we equip, inspire, and mobilize the church to care for orphaned and vulnerable children. Let's press on...

...until they all have homes.



Amazed in Affliction

By Kathy Davis | Director of Wholistic Care The question is universal. When tragedy strikes and comfort seems a million miles away, where is hope found?

An Annual Trip Like No Other


As a member of River Oaks Community Church (ROCC) in Maryville, TN, and a staff member with World Orphans, every summer I experience the joy of leading our annual partnership trip to Fountain of Hope Church (FOH) in Nairobi, Kenya.

I recently returned and much of our itinerary looked the same as in previous years. We visited widows and families in distress. We spent valuable time with the precious vulnerable children we have come to know and love, all of them being cared for through the ministry of the church. We facilitated and served in a church-based medical/dental clinic where over 500 impoverished people were physically treated and spiritually encouraged. Souls were saved. Teeth were extracted. We worshipped. We prayed. We laughed. We shared meals.

And, this year, we wept.

Previous to our arrival in Kenya, I received tragic news that a family member, who is part of FOH's Home Based Care (HBC) program, was severely injured in an automobile accident. His arm was severed at the shoulder, yet we were informed he was in stable condition. We were scheduled to visit and pray for him.

Profound Reflections from a 15-year-old Team Member

One of our team members, Ella Pearl, recounted this experience. She eloquently writes about our team’s most impactful moment together, the moment where sorrow’s sting intersected the beautiful hope of Jesus.

Ella Pearl Evans, our 15-year-old team member.

My name is Redeemed, and I have been born again. 

I believe in Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection, and have grown up in a strong Christian family and church body.

I believe the entire Bible is God’s Word, which as a result is inerrant and infallible. But that doesn’t mean I lack confusion or gain context in every verse. I am human. I make mistakes for which I’m forgiven through the blood of His Son, but this isn’t a story about my life or my accomplishments. It’s a story about what the Holy Spirit has worked in my heart to see, and He has given me the ability to write it down.

Every year since 2010, my church has held a youth event called Mission 1:27, a twenty-seven hour fast to raise money for the medical camp we help facilitate with our sister church in Kenya. Mission 1:27 was taken from the passage of scripture, James 1:27, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”  

Ella assisting her Dad during the dental clinic.

Previous to my trip, two of my closest friends traveled to visit with FOH for our annual partnership trip. Both were captured by their experience and exclaim, even to this day, of their desire to live there. I had never quite believed them until my dad and I felt led by the Holy Spirit to join this year’s 2015 partnership trip to our sister church. The team leader (a close family friend and World Orphans staff member) has asked my dad to come for years because of his heart for the vulnerable and his dental expertise. He had previously declined, but this would be the year that the Holy Spirit would say 'go'. I was very excited, for I had only been to Honduras on family mission trips, and yearned to meet our church family in Kenya. I would be my dad’s dental assistant yet again.

We had worshipped on Sunday, and now we stepped into Monday with a bit more rest than the days before. 

Our schedule had been to visit a dentist in Nairobi to discuss the equipment we would need for the clinic, eat a quick lunch, and then continue to visit some homes involved in FOH’s Home Base Care program. 

Terrible traffic, a late lunch, and general mishaps delayed us.

After lunch we were told that the father who had experienced a terrible accident had suddenly passed away leaving behind three children and a very sickly wife.

We were invited to visit and pray for the new widow (Veronica) and to attend the youngest daughter’s (Mercy) discovery of her father's death. I felt sorrow, but nothing compared to their grief at his loss.

We made it through a Holy Spirit filled afternoon visiting other families with the bluntness of poverty thrust in our faces and the power of Christ’s family encouraging our souls.

Due to all the delays, we weren’t able to make the trip to the grieving family until late in the evening. We were soon lost on the dark roads weaving through the community. Eventually a young boy was invited into our van, giving us directions with a proud, straight form. The widow greeted us outside with a melancholy countenance.

She led us into her faintly lit home, a stark contrast to the dark alley entrance.

A tiny living room with a middle aged woman and young girl met our foreign eyes. They stood, allowing us to squeeze our party of nine into a very small space. When we were settled, a quiet presence engulfed the warm air.

An Aunt turned to Mercy. Although she spoke in the complicated tongue of Swahili, we knew what she was saying.

We watched Mercy become orphaned in front of our eyes.

Praying for Mercy as she learned of her father's passing.

My dad rarely ever cries, but he and the rest of the team joined me in silent tears as we witnessed a ten-year-old girl’s heart shatter.

In the background Veronica’s close friend wept. 

Our team leader sat with the widow, for she had known this family ever since the partnership had started. Veronica’s head rested on the kind leader’s shoulder, and our leader spoke in a soft tone to the widow.

“We have informed our church of what happened, Veronica. They are all praying for you.”

Veronica opened her eyes, her raspy breath and weak body reflecting the pain inside.

“They are all aware?” Came her reply in a barely audible voice.

“Yes. They are all aware.”

Our team leader couldn’t see the widow’s face, and I don’t know if the rest of the team saw what I did. 

A picture of the Mboya family (Veronica is in blue; Mercy is in pink).

Veronica’s countenance, despite the grief-filled eyes and worn soul, changed. Relief flooded her face. This relief represented that someone knew, and was praying to an almighty God for her.

That feeling stemmed from the relationship sowed by many years of communion between our churches. I knew then that this wasn’t about going on a mission trip and changing the world. It wasn’t my proud American sacrifice for a good cause. The partnership was about the honorable privilege to pray and encourage a fellow believer in the midst of sorrow.

To be a part of the Body of Christ and obey his words no matter what the cost.

“...To visit the orphans and widows in their affliction…” Not to gain some shining medal or mark for my good sacrifice, but to sacrifice and gain nothing in return. And why didn’t this sink in before? I understood in part, but never knew until I experienced the context. Suddenly I had a face and life story. 

Could some of us be afraid to reveal God’s love and the awesomeness of His plan? 

Cannot we, those privileged with an abundance of wealth, give our love and prayers for those afflicted?

Can we defy the cultural barrier, the flames that could burn, and become a warrior of faith and brother to a brother? 

Or are we like the people of old, who turn on brother and sister for personal gain?

Visit the orphans and widows in their affliction, and keep oneself unstained from the world.

There is so much left to imagine.

I never could have thought of the ten-year-old girl weeping for her dead father would be witnessed by a fifteen-year-old American girl with her father beside her, alive and well.

And I never would have dreamed that American would be me.

I am blessed by the hand of the Holy Spirit to become a witness of affliction through a Church Partnership in the body of Christ.

Special thanks to: Fountain of Hope Church, World Orphans, and River Oaks Community Church. 

"Bwana asifiwe!" (Praise the Lord)

- Ella Pearl Evans

When Suffering Has A Name

The Christian response to suffering engages human emotion where Church Partnership brings us face-to-face with suffering and tragedy. It is an honor to hold one another in grief and weep compassionate tears in loss. Jesus, who suffered and is sovereign, is our greatest living example of compassion and hope.

World Orphans wholistic approach to ministry sees the orphans’ need for food and education and, most importantly, recognizes the power of the Gospel as the greatest help and hope, both in this age and the age to come … until they all have homes.


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Mental Miracles: 24 Kenyan Children are Defying Odds

by Kathy Davis | Director of Wholistic Care Reuniting! Wholistic educational impact! Quality family time! Are we there yet?

Summer is in full swing and in less than four weeks, River Oaks Community Church (ROCC) will embark on their 6th annual partnership trip to Fountain of Hope church (FOH) in Nairobi, Kenya. What began with willing hearts and a common goal to care for orphans and vulnerable children has become a significant friendship and family bond between two churches from across the globe. It is precisely what we hope every one of our partnerships become.

6.24.15_IMG_5555I have had the joy of participating with a team from ROCC, which happens to be my home church, every summer. Our short week together is a personal highlight and a deeply anticipated family reunion. The icing on the cake is found in the time we spend with our beloved brothers and sisters. Christ’s love, and willingness of the church, is impacting the development of precious children who began with a deep need of rescue, nurture, and care. I love my Kenya family. I love their love. And today, as I anticipate this trip, I can’t wait to see their faces.

So, you may be curious, “What is happening after six years of partnering with a church in Nairobi? What difference does church partnership actually make in the lives of orphaned and vulnerable children?” I'm so glad you asked!

FOH has been extending their arms and hearts to 24 vulnerable children, and their persistent love is making a difference. Any given day will likely include both laughter and tears, as caregivers seek to understand how to most effectively care for the ongoing needs of the children. The restorative development of orphaned and vulnerable children, through the church, is continually empowered by the Holy Spirit and the loving commitment they demonstrate every day.

One of the wholistic provisions of Church Partnership is education. FOH provides a loving and safe environment for the children to heal, grow, and learn. Precious young lives are continuing to be encouraged with the truth that their past does not have to determine their future. The remarkable result is that four children passed their primary exams last year and another eight have passed this year!

How significant is this? It is nothing short of miraculous! Half of the children have surpassed the statistical odds and have gained entrance into secondary school.

A little more background: the Kenyan education system is similar to what we have in the United States. The system is referred to as an 8-4-4 system of education. Primary school lasts for 8 years. Following primary school, there are 4 years of secondary school. Then, there may be 4 years of university for those who can afford it and have high enough grades. Sadly, enrollment drops dramatically after the primary level. Secondary schools, unfortunately, are not as well attended as primary schools, mostly due to the high cost of tuition and selective admissions process.

After primary school, children are required to take a national exam (Kenya Certificate of Primary Education) in order to progress to secondary school. Only those with high enough scores are admitted to the government’s secondary schools. These schools are boarding schools and the score of each child’s exam determines the selection of the school for each child.

6.24.15_509As a result, the children at FOH will often be found studying in the middle of the night as they realize how significant education is in regards to breaking the cycle of poverty.

You see, what is extraordinary is that all of the children who entered the program have come from heartbreaking circumstances. Some have experienced physical and sexual abuse. Most have suffered abandonment and neglect. Every single one of them has obstacles to overcome.

And this is where we come in. World Orphans wholistic approach to ministry seeks to care for the whole child (spiritually, physically, emotionally, and mentally) and the development of the 'whole' child is of great value, including a child's ability to learn.

2 Peter 1:3 – “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence.”

"Studies about early childhood development indicate that the brain develops in response to experiences with caregivers, family and the community, and that its development is directly linked to the quality and quantity of those experiences. The brain develops at an incredible pace during the early developmental stages of infancy and childhood. Meeting a child’s needs during these early stages creates emotional stability and security that is needed for healthy brain development. Repeated exposure to stressful events can affect the brain’s stress response, making it more reactive and less adaptive. The following are some of the possible effects of child abuse and neglect on a child’s mental health: Anxiety, depression, dissociation, concentrating, academic problems in school-aged children and adolescents, withdrawal and/or difficulty connecting with others" (Psychological Trauma and the Developing Brain, Stien and Kendall).

6.24.15_IMG_5512Clearly, it is no small victory that the first 12 children who have tested for the National Primary Exam have passed and gained entrance into secondary school.

Last year we spent a day traveling to all four of the children's secondary schools, hug their necks, and visit with them for a few minutes. This year we’ll do it again! I can’t wait to pile in a van, bring a picnic lunch, and trek across the countryside to celebrate the turning of a new page with the brothers and sisters I love.


My heart skips a beat as I ponder the descent into Nairobi and land into the loving embrace of the family we love and the partnership we share. Please pray for our trip, for FOH, ROCC, and for the amazing 24 children in Kenya.


Enjoy "meeting" the children from FOH and seeing a few photos from previous years trips...

6.24.15_the FOH group







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The Heart of the Matter

4.29.15_1_bananna puddingBy Kathy Davis | Director of Wholistic Care I just returned home from Wholistic Care Training for our church partners in Guatemala City. Following a full day of travel, I found myself pondering the tender moments in our week together. During my short drive home from the airport, I was reconnected with a friend who was in significant emotional pain. Attempting to see the road through my tears, I wept with her and breathed prayers that Jesus would be her hope and help.

My drive home was followed by a couple of hours with my oldest daughter, eating out of the same bowl of banana pudding and diving into anything I missed while I was away. Catch-up time with my precious adult daughters typically begins something like this … “So, my girl, how is your heart”? We processed through some of her struggles; shared some tears and then she paused and asked me, “So, Momma, how is YOUR heart, and what was the highlight of your time in Guatemala?” As I shared, she entered into the stories, landing both of us in another bucket of tears. As we considered the harsh reality of suffering against the sheer beauty of Christ’s redemptive work in hearts all over the world, how could we not weep?

World Orphans and AMG Guatemala Partner Together

I invite you to journey with me through an impactful few days in Guatemala City. World Orphans is honored to serve alongside the ministry of AMG Guatemala (Advancing the Mission of the Gospel). Together, we have the blessing of seeing the global church engage and care for the most needful families and children in their communities. The tireless pursuit and love of God, who came to us in our sin, is what moves us out of our comfort zones and into the lives of others. I often hear it said ‘the church has enough needs of its own’ but the Guatemalan church is busting through this paradigm.

The Reality in Guatemala

The sobering and tragic reality is that resources are limited and the need is great in that two thirds of the Guatemalan population live in poverty. Violence, drug trafficking, and sexual abuse are common and “In nine out of ten cases, the culprits are family members, and in eight out of ten cases, the abuse is committed in the minor’s house,” (IPS News Agency).

Adoption Is An Act of God

F4.29.15_ScottPresentingrom the onset of our combined training, World Orphans President, Scott Vair, had all of the attendees roped in as he addressed the biblical view of spiritual adoption, saying, “Adoption is not an idea of man, but originally an act of God” (Eph. 1:4-5). The intentionality of God to reach mankind who is born into sin, provide forgiveness through His son, and adopt us into his family compels us to love those who are marginalized.

Scott passionately reminded us that ‘rightly motivated love is not based on how we feel.’ Rather, it is focused on Christ who suffered, willingly laying down His life, shedding His blood for our sins, and pouring His love into our hearts! Sacrificial love that is focused on the Gospel compels us to love because He first loved us (1John 4:19). Ministry that is motivated out of love is not an obligation. It is a privilege. It is a calling. It is an honor.

Every Story Matters

I have trained alongside Scott for years now. As an adoptive father and one who understands the significance of caring for vulnerable children, there is a specific and personal message he brings every time. It goes something like this:

Every time you hug a child, it matters. Every time you spend time with a child, it matters. Every time you tell a child you love him, it matters. What you are doing matters because children matter to God.

The simplicity, yet significance, of these words get me every time!

“But Jesus called them to Him, saying, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God” (Luke 18:16).

As I sat with my daughter, recounting the extravagant love of the church to engage suffering families with insurmountable needs, I kept coming back to the significance of what it requires to ‘enter in’ to the hardship of another. The struggles are real. The need is great. Time is short.

Whether rich or poor, young or old, every heart has a story to tell. World Orphans ministry partners generously donated 50 Jesus Storybook Bibles in Spanish, which we brought to Guatemala. Scott Vair had the privilege of communicating that every child’s story finds his/her identity and purpose in the greatest story ever told; God’s story.

Practical Tools-Real Hope

Hearing some of the painful situations that children walk through is utterly heart breaking. Children who live in the effects of abuse learn to bottle up their pain. They fade into the background. They suffer in silence. They hide. Taking time with children aids in unlocking a child’s story and helps to bring it into the light where genuine hope and help can be found.   

I introduced a booklet entitled ‘My Hope’ in an effort to help children cultivate trust through verbal and non-verbal expression with their caregivers. In the context of loving relationship, trust is built and healing is likely to begin.





Saying NO to Sexual Abuse

I loved meeting and learning from AMG’s Psychologist, Jenny Barrios. Jenny had us all engaged as we were each given a red hand that says ‘NO’ and participated in learning a portion of what is masterfully being taught in AMG schools. AMG’s Child Protection and Restoration Program is teaching children to say NO, which is imperative because sexual abuse generally begins in children who are too young to understand appropriate versus inappropriate touch. With the use of a piece of yarn, children are taught that they have their own personal space that is not to be violated without permission. Educating children about the anatomy of their bodies and regions that are private is helping them to understand what is off limits. Teaching children to say NO is empowering them to obtain and use their voice.

4.29.15_ Rachel Jenny illustratingSBBible

4.29.15_ Personal Space -Yarn illustration

4.29.15_ Child Protection and Restoration Program



Relationship Over Resources

You may ask, “How does one measure the developmental progress in the lives of children who come from extreme poverty, abuse, and neglect? How much is the church really able to do? What we do know is that care for the vulnerable will require relational engagement and specific attention.

The provision of wholistic care through global church partnership provides for some of the tangible needs of food, education, and spiritual discipleship. However, the measure of these tangibles may not result in their attending college or obtaining a lucrative career. Measurement is important and we must do everything we can, but I believe the heart of the matter is best expressed in the following way.

“The measure of success for children who have come from hard places is for a child to know that he is precious and loved” (Dr. Karyn Purvis).

I become more and more aware of the impact that is being evidenced in the context of family and loving relationship, one precious life at a time.

Wholistic Care Training in the countries we serve is rooted in ‘heart transformation’ made available through the death and life of Jesus Christ, which is continually empowered by the Holy Spirit.

So, to answer my daughter’s question, what was the highlight of this trip and how is my heart? My personal highlight was the tender blessing of holding a Guatemalan sister, who is serving children in her community, in my arms as she wept through a deep place of personal grief. It was an honor to ‘enter in’ to her pain. It was a privilege to weep with her. It was a blessing to tenderly remind her that God loves her, that He is good, and that He is binding up her broken heart … even now.

How is my heart? My heart is stirred by the vast opportunity that is right in front of me; wherever I am. Disappointment, struggle, sin, and hardship place every tongue and tribe on the same playing field. My heart is most present when the Spirit of God moves me to ‘enter in’ to the story of another as an adopted child of God, whether here or there.

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor” (Isaiah 61).

4.29.15_2_Teaching Team - LtoR_Scott, Jenny Barrios, Kathy, Hefer Beteta

Though all is not well in this world, there is the bright Hope who is ever present. His name is Jesus. Families are being visited. Children at risk are being educated; but most significantly, hearts are being healed as the global church ‘moves out’ and ‘enters in’ to human suffering.

Jesus, Healer – be lifted up!

A couple of ministry friends who we were blessed to spend time with last week, say it well:

“World Orphans, and their partnership with AMG, has reinforced the principal of Biblical relational ministry. Seeing first hand the work and fruit of this model of mission in Guatemala City broke my heart and filled it, both at the same time. How spot on ... to come alongside, support, encourage, and build relationships through Church-to- Church partnerships that help local churches be Christ's hands and feet, a light in darkness to those in their communities with whom they will have a lasting relationship.” - Mike Yount

“Your wholistic care model works … is unique … scales … and is so full of humble and infectious servant leadership!” - Jared Faellaci


Questions to ponder:

- How is your heart?

- How might God be compelling you to ‘enter in’ to the heart of another and the ministry of World Orphans?






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?



Providing training


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He Became and I Become

By Kathy Davis | Director of Wholistic Care

The question is often asked of children, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I remember my well-meaning grandfather asking me this question, hoping I would dream big, work hard, and achieve everything I ever desired. I pondered various opportunities like becoming a nurse so I could take care of sick people or a flight attendant to serve others while seeing the world. I wanted to make him proud. I wanted to becomesomebody. Individual success was marked by the professional path I would choose and how hard I would work to become all I could be.

Success that is marked by what I might becomehas at times taken me down a path of discouragement and disillusionment where the fundamental question of my identity and purpose go unanswered. Understanding God’s story and His intent for my life has been paramount in addressing the fundamental questions about why my life was purposed and what it is to become.

“I, Yahweh, have called you for a righteous purpose, and I will hold you by your hand. I will keep you and appoint you to be a covenant for the people and a light to the nations” (Is. 42:6).

World Orphans addresses the fundamental question of its mission and purpose with the Biblical view that we believe what Scripture says about the church, the orphan, and the expansion of the Gospel. I’m honored to share a recent example with you.


Wholistic Care (a function of World Orphans Projects and Church Partnerships) just returned from hosting their first Haiti Orphaned and Vulnerable Child (OVC) Caregiver Training for more than 270 precious men and women who have graciously welcomed vulnerable children into their homes and hearts.

Wholistic care for children (spiritual, physical, emotional and mental) recognizes that mankind has value, dignity, and purpose because we are created in the image of God, and for God. We learn from scripture that we all begin on the same playing field. There is no distinction between nations, races, education, or economic status. There is no one who is righteous, no one who does good, and we are all in need of forgiveness that we do not deserve and that we cannot earn.

None is righteous, no, not one
— Romans 3:10

World Orphans President and adoptive father, Scott Vair, began our training together by encouraging the caregivers with the biblical view of orphans and adoption. Scripture teaches that we are brought into God’s family through the blood of Jesus Christ, resulting in forgiveness of sin, spiritual adoption, and eternal inheritance. Scott taught that we do not love in an effort to earn God’s favor but we love others because God first loved us. The outflow of our love pours from the love that has graciously been poured into our hearts. Following this message, six caregivers responded and accepted the gift of salvation and invitation to become a part of God’s family! This tender moment still brings tears to my eyes. It was a joy to welcome six new sisters into the family of God.


“But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ” (Eph. 2:13).

The caregivers willingness to provide for orphaned and vulnerable children in the context of family is a beautiful metaphor of God’s gift of salvation through Jesus Christ.

"In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose…” (Eph. 1:3-7).

The practical components of this training bridged the divide of cultures and degrees of suffering because the righteous acts of Jesus specifically address the heart of human suffering and need. The degrees of suffering from nation to nation are marked by great contrast, yet the hope for every heart remains the same since hope’s remedy is not marked by status, nationality, or degree of hardship; rather, our boast is in the Lord who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.

“Consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” It is from Him that you are in Christ Jesus, who became God-given wisdom for us--our righteousness, sanctification, and redemption” (1 Cor. 1:30).


The OVC Caregiver Training included:

- Identity in Christ - The Biblical View of Orphans and Adoption - My Hope (a children's workbook designed to help caregivers shepherd the hearts of their children, work through difficult places, and find healing and hope through Christ) - The Biblical Premise for Child Protection - Physical and Sexual Abuse Awareness and Detection - Grace-filled Instruction and Discipline - The Significance of Oral Hygiene

Willing caregivers who have taken children into their homes are greatly commended. These men and women are engaging in the hard work of daily tending to the hearts and needs of defenseless children who were far from protective love and care, but are now brought near.

“It is not that we are competent in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our competence is from God” (2 Cor. 3:5).


What an absolute joy to participate in bringing the ultimate hope of Jesus and practical encouragement to the work they are doing through the living word of God. I, along with my beloved brothers and sisters in Haiti, are continuing to discover what it means to be created for a righteous purpose.

Understanding that Jesus became sin so that I might become the righteousness of God continually informs my identity and purpose as a woman of God and compels me to live in light of this reality. Jesus, who knew no sin, bore our (my) sins that we (I) might become the righteousness of God.

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor. 5:21).

My purpose and identity did not result in becoming a nurse or flight attendant (although I have great respect for both of these professions). I am continually deepening in my understanding that my ability to become anything rests solely in the righteous One who ‘became’ for me what I could not earn and did not deserve. I have been created, formed, redeemed, and named.

“But now thus says the LORD, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine” (Is. 43:1).


My boast is the Lord and the grace He continually gives to those who believe. I am so grateful for the caregivers in Haiti who are strategically placed by God to bring children into their families and care for their needs.

Truly, they have been created for ‘a righteous purpose’ and this love reflects the heart of our Father in Heaven.

“But I count my life of no value to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of God's grace" (Acts 20:24).

And now you!

What are your thoughts?

How do you answer the question, What is my purpose?



The Whole Picture: Wholistic Care on Short-Term Mission Trips

By Kathy Davis | Director of Wholistic Care  

Summer is an exciting and busy time of year for the ministry of World Orphans. Short-term trips are being mobilized, itineraries are being planned, hearts are being prepared, and global church partners are anticipating another week of precious time wholistically serving the church, connecting with the children, and ministering to the needs of the community.

World Orphans short-term mission trips seek to strengthen church partnerships by enabling the US and international church to serve together in mutually beneficial relationships.

I was recently asked the question, “What does wholistic care have to do with short-term mission trips?” This is a really great question! In order to best understand the function of wholistic care across the scope of short-term trips and church partnerships, it is important to understand the foundation and begin with defining the meaning of the term.

‘Holism’, simply defined, emphasizes the importance of the whole and the interdependence of its parts.  The holistic concept in medical practice upholds that all aspects of people's needs, including psychological, physical, and social, should be taken into account and seen as a whole when considering treatment for the patient.

In an effort to combat any alternative and humanistic association with 'holistic practices', the Christian community has been moving to include the letter ‘w’ in the spelling of w-holistic care.  God is wholistic in that He is one God, made up of 3 persons – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. To best understand the functional approach of wholistic care in the lives of vulnerable children, it is imperative to understand the biblical premise:

“Hear O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is One” (Deuteronomy 6:4).

World Orphans approach to orphan care is wholistic in that we seek to care for the needs of the whole child (spiritually, physically, emotionally, and mentally) with the ultimate goal of bringing glory to God through physical and spiritual transformation.

“And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.  For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of His cross” (Colossians 1:18-20).

Orphaned and vulnerable children have many needs. While it is important to address the child’s physical and educational needs, it is vital to remember the emotional impact that rejection, abandonment, and abuse will have on an orphan who is attempting to learn, heal, and attach in the context of family.

As a wholistic ministry, we take an approach to caring for children spiritually, physically, emotionally, and mentally through the grace of Jesus Christ. We recognize that true and lasting healing and transformation for the ‘whole being’ comes through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This means that there is hope of full redemption for those who believe, no matter the circumstances. Even against the backdrop of hunger, disease, poverty, abandonment, abuse, injustice, and sin, there is real hope.

“We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people—the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true message of the gospel” (Colossians 1:3-5).

The greatest example we have to look to for this approach to ministry is Jesus. Jesus, who is both fully God and fully man, grew mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

“And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man” (Luke 2:52).

  • Jesus grew in wisdom – Mentally
  • Jesus grew in stature – Physically
  • Jesus grew in favor with God – Spiritually
  • Jesus grew in favor with man – Emotionally (Socially)

So, how does this approach to ministry impact the way we serve together on short-term missions trips? Short-term itineraries will often include:

  • Hosting medical clinics for the community
  • Facilitating HisKids Sports with the children
  • Making home visits in the community
  • Discipleship Training for the local church
  • Sharing meals together

One of my favorite ways to wholistically minister alongside the International Church is through hosting medical clinics for the community. With a high rate of unemployment in the regions we serve, medical care is impossible for most to afford. Opening the gates to people who are in physical need provides a precious opportunity for the local church to have wholistic impact in their communities.

Just look at how this one aspect of short-term missions reaches people:

…The front door of the church becomes a place of registration and an open door for the physically and spiritually sick to enter.


…The sanctuary becomes the room where sinners are welcome, emotional pain is shared, and the hope of the Gospel is offered.


…The ministry team becomes the arms of Jesus and the offering of compassion to those who are in despair.


…The church classrooms become examining rooms where illnesses are treated and medicine is offered.


…The upbeat music outside on the grounds of the church becomes the joyful dance floor where children are playing and love is extended.

I am convinced of this reality – the hope of every heart, both physically and spiritually, is Jesus and the church is the agent of God’s grace to those in need. Short-term partnership trips provide exciting opportunities for the global church to glorify God, deepen the bonds of friendship, and wholistically care for those in need.

And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners
— Matthew 9:11-13


Let’s talk! What are ways that you glorify God and encourage the church on your short-term missions trips? What are your thoughts about taking a wholistic approach to ministry?



Why Suffer?

By Kate Borders | Senior Director of Mobilization

At World Orphans we are deeply committed to and working towards the wholistic care of the children being cared for through our church partners; their physical, mental, emotional and spiritual care.  Recently I’ve been wrestling with what it looks like to model and teach a theology of suffering to children, particularly children who are in the midst of suffering themselves.

How to Talk About Suffering? And the reason I’ve been thinking about it within the context of our ministry, is because I’ve been thinking about how I personally think about suffering and how I talk to those I love about the trials they are going through.  I’ve been thinking about what it looks like to point people to the hope of Jesus and the goodness of God when I have no answers for their struggles, trials, and suffering.

People a lot smarter and a lot more experienced than me have written entire books on suffering.  (Glorious Ruin, by Tullian Tchividjian is one I would highly recommend).  I don’t want to re-create the wheel and I know that I’m not going to answer unanswerable questions in a blog post, but I would like to share some thoughts and ask some questions.

What do you do when in the course of a week or a day or an hour when you hear one testimony of God’s miraculous provision of finances or physical healing or protection, and then in the next moment you hear a story of devastation because the provision was not there?  How do we think about that, or help a friend or family member think about that?  And how in the world do you help a child think about it?

What's the Truth? For me, regardless of how I feel, I have to keep choosing to go back to the truth of God’s word.  A study of His character reveals that while He has a perfect wrath and hatred of sin, the good news of the Gospel is that the death of Christ satisfied God’s wrath towards sin, so now we are recipients of His perfect love and care, where He reveals His tender heart towards His children, His creation.  When I don’t understand the suffering I see I go back to the fact that sin has distorted all of God’s perfect creation.  But because of Christ, we are given a new hope, we are shielded by God’s power, our faith is refined, and all of this happens in the midst of suffering (1 Peter).

As a very minor example, I’ve been having trouble sleeping recently and a mentor prayed for me that I would be able to get good rest.  Shortly after he prayed I realized I had many nights in a row of good, restful sleep.  I believe God knows and cares deeply about everything from the minor details of our lives (like how I’m sleeping) to all the major political things happening around the world.  He knows and cares about every joy and every pain of His entire creation.

So what about the nights that I don’t sleep well, and all the heartache, pain, and suffering that still exists?  Did God forget?  Does He not notice?

Isaiah 55:8-9, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.  “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”  Again, looking at God’s character in scripture shows that he is perfectly good and perfectly loving.  Psalm 33:5 says, “The Lord loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of his unfailing love.”  Psalms alone is full of God’s unfailing love, and the whole of Scripture continually points back to His love, His faithfulness, and His goodness.  So I can trust Him even when I don’t understand why things are how they are

At World Orphans One of the most tangible examples of hope in the midst of suffering that I’ve been privileged to witness, are some of my brothers and sisters in Christ that I have met through our World Orphans church partnerships.   I am constantly encouraged and motivated by these men and women who care for their families, care for their church bodies, care for struggling families in their community, and care for orphaned and vulnerable children.  I have the utmost respect for their persistent faith in the midst of struggle, and the way that is modeled and reflected to the children in their care.

Our need (each and every one of us) to be encouraged and pointed back to the truth is why we at World Orphans are passionate about and committed to Wholistic Care Training.  As an example, our Director of Wholistic Care, Kathy Davis, is preparing for a Caregiver training in Haiti in August.  Our Wholistic Care trainings usually include practical elements (such as education, safe-birth best practices, etc.) as well as time in the Word, in worship, and in prayer.  We know that hope in Christ and the good news of His Gospel will only be reflected and taught to children being cared for, when it trickles down from church leadership, to church members, to families, and to caretakers who are with the children on a daily basis.

My Prayer for You I pray that wherever this finds you, and particularly if it finds you in the midst of struggle, that you are able to praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who in his great mercy has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus.  May you rejoice, even though you may suffer grief of all kinds.  These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.  May you be filled with inexpressible and glorious joy, because you believe in Him and love Him, even though you do not see Him. (from 1 Peter 1:3-9).

Ending questions

- Have you read a good book that talks about a Gospel-centered approach to talking with children about a theology of suffering?

- How have you talked with children about the mystery of why there are some things we just can’t understand?

- What aspect of the Gospel or of God’s character has most encouraged you during times of trials and suffering?


Interested in giving to support our upcoming caregiver training?  Email me ( for details; we’ll be so grateful for your support.



Love Acts

By Kathy Davis | Director of Wholistic Care

I am honored to be on staff with World Orphans as the Director of Wholistic Care as well as a member of River Oaks Community Church (ROCC) in Maryville, TN.  ROCC partners together with Fountain of Hope Church (FOH) in Nairobi, Kenya where 24 orphaned and vulnerable children are being cared for spiritually, physically, emotionally, and mentally in the context of family and through church partnership.

Precious Emily is part of a loving family now.  I will never forget the first time I met her.  She was painfully shy, withdrawn and fearful.  It was clear that the damaging affects of horrid physical abuse and grave neglect had impacted her ability to make simple eye contact, connect with others or feel safe.

Meet Emily
Meet Emily

Children who have escaped this degree of trauma are deeply needful of special attention, patient love, and persistent care.  The trauma inflicted upon Emily caused deep wounds that seemed irreversible and impenetrable.  No child should have to experience such hardship, yet this is the plight of millions of children around the world.  It causes me to cry out, “But, God!”  And I’m reminded that God’s eye is certainly upon them.

Psalm 10:17 - O Lord, you hear the desire of the afflicted; 
you will strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear.

World Orphans is committed to the needs and care of orphans through the church and to the wholistic care of children in families.  It has been the love of FOH and their joyful partnership with ROCC that has actedto penetrate and crack through the devastating effects of abandonment and trauma.  The love of Christ through the church has opened wide the door for children like Emily to belong to a family and experience the beautiful care of a spiritual mother and father along with others who participate in Emily’s continued healing and restoration.

I am preparing to lead another team from ROCC back to FOH where together, we will worship, pray, share meals, proclaim the Gospel, host a medical camp for the community, visit orphans and widows in their distress, and deepen the bonds of our friendship together.  This is ROCC’s 5th partnership trip with FOH and there is great anticipation as we prepare our hearts to serve the community alongside each other in July.

One of the first faces I will look for when I to return to Kenya is Emily's.  Caring for children like Emily is not simply pointing her 'towards heaven' but witnessing year after year, ‘heaven coming down' to her through the love of the church and the bond of family.  This is a profound and miraculous act of God’s grace.

Kathy with Emily
Kathy with Emily

Colossians 1:18-20 - And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

World Orphans wholistic care of orphaned and vulnerable children is rooted in the reality that lasting transformation for the deepest physical and spiritual needs are found in the hope of Jesus.  It was in the sacrificial and lovingactof Jesus' death upon the cross and God’s power that raised Him from the dead that inaugurated forgiveness of sin and the hope of lasting restoration for those who believe.  The Gospel was a historical event of Christ's death and resurrection and this redeeming love continues to act upon the plight of precious children like Emily.

Emily’s needs are being met physically.  She doesn’t miss a day without eating and is receiving the nutrition she needs to grow.  Emily is maturing in her relationship with Jesus and spends regular time in prayer.  She attends a small private school where there is provision of tutoring and the extra help she needs to progress academically.  Emily is receiving emotional attention and counseling in an effort to help her process her past and find healing for her broken heart.


Wholistic care enacted through the church is when eyes meet eyes, hands meet hands, wounded hearts heal, and trust is established through the context of loving relationship.  Wholistic care is when the body of Christacts to serve vulnerable children spiritually, physically, emotionally, and mentally.

It is in the act of loving someone and reaching into a broken heart that I see the face of God.

How do you see the face of God in your life?  What are you then compelled to do as a responsive action of love and faith?  We'd love to hear your thoughts.



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!



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.

Image 2
Image 2

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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Image 1

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



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.


“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 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.

Being Vulnerable

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

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.”[1] “My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning.”[2] “Wait continually for your God.”[3] “If we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.”[4]

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… enact all five of your senses… pause and really look in the faces of people you encounter today… take deep inhalations and exhalations when anxiety creeps up on you… 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.


[1] Psalm 25:5

[2] Psalm 130: 6

[3] Hosea 12:6

[4] Romans 8:25



Power To Act

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.



An Entrance into Suffering

by Kathy Davis | Director of Wholistic Care

Cancer, disease, school and movie theatre shootings, marathon finish line bombings, war torn nations, earthquakes, tornadoes, sex trafficking, and orphaned and abandoned children are daily reminders that all is not well with this world.

My heart grieves at the reality of pain so deep that many are left reeling by tragic loss and sudden death. It is in these times where real hope in the person of Jesus Christ is not far away, but near. The hope of Jesus is not relegated to just words on a page, but life-giving balm for souls in deep agony.

Psalm 34:18 - The LORD is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.

Reconciling painful injustices and tragic hardship against the backdrop of God’s grace and mercy provide ongoing and tangible opportunities to demonstrate the love of God in Christ Jesus.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 - Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

Where suffering abounds; the church is privileged to draw near and enter in to comfort and care for the hurting. This is where God’s people become tangible agents of grace, comfort, and care.

May the plight of the global orphan crisis in our world never become ordinary. World Orphans provides regular opportunities to participate in the painful suffering of orphaned and vulnerable children around the world. The global orphan crisis beckons the church to stay engaged and act on behalf of the fatherless.  

RRun KDsign
RRun KDsign

One way to enter in and participate with the rescue and care of orphans is to become a Rescue Partner. For $33 a month, you can become a Rescue Partner and change a child’s story.

Another way is to participate in World Orphans second annual Rescue Run.We will be hosting a family fun opportunity to run a 5K with runners from four states. We will have the honor of linking arms and entering in to the suffering of orphaned children around the world…together.

RRun KD group
RRun KD group

In the face of suffering and tragedy, we are not without hope.There will be a day when death and suffering will be no more, but until that day, may we not neglect to enter in.

Revelation 21:4 - He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”


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Collaboration in Orphan Care

By Kate Borders | Senior Director Mobilization

Recently 11 World Orphans staff attended the Christian Alliance for Orphans, Summit IX.It was exciting to hear about what God is doing through His people around the world to care for orphaned and vulnerable children.

One of our big takeaways from the conference is that there are many different types of ministry, many different ways to go about caring for children, and there is not just one right way.

As a ministry, God has called World Orphans to partner with local churches to care for children, so our joyful responsibility is to be passionately committed to church-based ministry and care.

That being said, we consider it a privilege to work with others in orphan ministry to participate in discussion and writing about excellence in orphan care.We are all passionate about the Gospel and agree that God’s heart is for children to receive excellent love and care, so we’re going to work together to define what it means to excellently care for orphaned children across different ministries.

We are honored to partner with Phil Darke of Providence World Ministries by contributing a chapter to a book project that will discuss excellence in orphan care. For updates on the book project like these: "In pursuit of orphan excellence" and "In pursuit of orphan excellence-Part 2", keep an eye on the Providence Blog.

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Strategies To Preserve Families

By Jeremy Resmer | Sr. Director-Projects

James 1:27 reveals God’s heart and desire for his people to look after orphans and widows. Throughout scripture, the church is called to respond with compassion to all sorts of needs. These include and are not limited to the needs of orphans, vulnerable children, and families. But how do we find ways to help without unintentionally hurting, while remembering that how we give and what we do matters? In addition to prayer and discernment, our strategies should include both good practice and biblical principles.

In his book, The Poor Will Be Glad, Peter Greer states, “The church is the best distribution system in the world.” In many countries, local churches are often best positioned to identify and minister to those in their communities who are in greatest need.  Pastors, church members, and community members can work together to motivate and lead by establishing relationships, offering care and support, and mobilizing local resources.

In our home based care model of orphan ministry, we partner with the local church to support vulnerable families. The church has ownership of the program and provides leadership and guidance. Volunteer committees are recruited and trained to visit the most vulnerable families in the community, share scripture verses, build relationships by talking about life, and praying for one another. The interaction is two-way and encourages both the family and the visitor. Through relationship, cultural context, and leadership of local pastors, we ensure that our responses will appropriate and contribute to real and lasting change.

Efforts to support orphans and vulnerable children should incorporate the importance of family and a wholistic approach that addresses each aspect of the children’s well-being: physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual. Here are a few key principles and ideas to keep in mind when launching or supporting an orphan care ministry:

  1. Focus on the most vulnerable children – those in greatest need.
  2. Preserve, stabilize, and strengthen the capacity of families and communities to care for children – is it possible to help inspire and equip the local church with biblical teaching and practical training?
  3. Reduce stigma and discrimination of the orphaned children – focus instead on the whole family and all the biological and “adopted” children equally. Pastors and community leaders can downplay these social attitudes, bring dignity, and elevate self-worth to those in need.
  4. Increase the ability of caregivers and youth to generate income and support the family – it is estimated that 88% of the children in orphanages are not “true” orphans. Poverty is the leading cause of family separation and reason for placement of children in orphanages. Our church partners understand that families need basic financial resources to provide adequate food, housing, clothing, medical care, and to send children to school. Savings programs, microloans, and business, vocational, and stewardship training can help caregivers and youth provide for their families.
  5. Ensure access to health care, medicine, and home based care – adequate health care reduces the risk of family separation. Churches can initiate home based care programs to visit vulnerable families and offer emotional and spiritual support, encouragement, and monitor the wellbeing of the caregivers and children.
  6. Support schools and provide daycare and other services that ease the burden on caregivers – women, in particular, are often limited in their ability to generate income to support families if they do not have access to daycare. These services allow children the opportunity to learn and grow while allowing caregivers to work. This strengthens the family and protects children.
  7. Become a mentor  – get involved in the lives of vulnerable children to model paternal care, teach them about good decision-making and build confidence
  8. Support the emotional needs of children – orphaned and vulnerable children need help coping with trauma: loss of a parent, separation from siblings, violence and sexual abuse. By demonstrating God’s love and care, the church supports the healing process. Counseling, support groups, and art programs also provide children with encouragement and support.
  9. Engage children in decisions that affect their lives – invite children to participate and allow them to bring valuable ideas, information, and viewpoints to decisions that will affect their lives. They will feel less fearful and a greater sense of ownership.
  10. Protect children from abuse and exploitation – the church can help caregivers better understand the needs of children. Pastors can promote the protection of children as a shared responsibility of the community. Children can be taught how to recognize and report abuse when it occurs.


This post was inspired by From Faith to Action: Strengthening Family and Community Care for Orphans and Vulnerable Children




Striving For Best Practice

By Jacques Sadie | Nicaragua Country Director

Lately, our World Orphans staff have been re-studying together the book, When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor . . . and Yourself by Steve Corbett.  It is really a book about poverty alleviation, yet many of the principles of “helping without hurting” apply to the field of orphan care.

You might argue, “How could helping orphans or vulnerable children be hurtful or cause harm?”  Well, we have learned over the last number of years that institutionalized orphan care (that is, having 300 kids together in a large orphanage) is not the best way to care for orphans – not on a physical, mental, emotional or spiritual level.  It is much better to help families stay together, because God designed families to be that loving and nurturing environment where children can reach their full potential.  This is, of course, easier said than done.  All over the world we still find people and churches that want to build orphanages as a way to care for orphans, because it’s the only model they know, it’s been around for a long time, and, therefore, it’s the “easiest” way.

When Helping Hurts advocates for doing ministry in a very careful and patient way.  I totally agree with this, yet I believe we can take this too far, being so careful that we end up doing nothing.  I will never advocate for institutionalized orphan care, but I also cannot advocate for doing nothing.  (We struggle with the tension of caring for orphans in an intentional, careful way with a long-term view, yet knowing there are children who need care now). Over the last number of years, World Orphans has worked towards alternative ways of caring for orphans and vulnerable children.  These have been different in different countries, and are all aimed at keeping families together.  In Haiti and Ethiopia, the response is in the form of Home-Based Care, and in Nicaragua, child development centers have been the most appropriate response.

This has been a learning experience for everyone involved.  And a learning experience always includes  hardships and mistakes.  These alternative ways of caring for orphans are not perfect, yet they have a clear goal of keeping children in families, and we have seen some great results in the lives of numerous children.  With 153,000,000 orphans in the world and a clear Biblical mandate to care for them, we cannot do nothing.  The answers are not simple, and the work is not easy.  But “the Kingdom of Heaven is near” (Matt 3:2), and I believe it is a work in progress.