Communities Transformed

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By Lindsay Allen | Project Manager – Americas

IMG_0181-2World Orphans began working in Guatemala just last year, making it our newest country to establish church partnerships. After only a few months of churches participating in our program, a small community in Verbena, a “red zone” of Guatemala City, is starting to take notice. “Red zones” are the areas with exceptionally high crime rates, gang activity, prostitution, etc. They are also the places where the poorest of the poor and the most vulnerable live.

The churches in Verbena partnering with World Orphans are focused on serving the orphans and vulnerable children in the community. They make home visits to families, provide a small gift of food, and pray for them. Most of all, they are showing these families that they are loved, and teaching them that their Heavenly Father loves them too!

Pastor Eli of Jesucristo Rey Church says that there is a taxi driver in his community who is a known agnostic. This man who does not know God has taken note of what the church is doing. He told Pastor Eli that he has great respect and admiration for the work of the church members, and how they are showing love with their actions, not just their words.

The mission of World Orphans is to equip, inspire, and mobilize the church to care for orphans and vulnerable children. Churches engaged. Children restored. Communities transformed by the Gospel of Christ. What Pastor Eli is witnessing is the beginning of a community being transformed by the Gospel.

We will continue to share with you how God is working in this area.

Building Communities of Hope In Iraq

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On June 9, 2014, ISIS forces advanced into Northern Iraq and took over Iraq’s second largest city of Mosul setting off a torrent of refugees and IDPs that has continued unabated until today. Recent figures place the number of IDPs and refugees well over 2 million, settling mainly in Kurdistan, which is an autonomous region of Northern Iraq.

In the midst of turmoil and war, we know that God has placed us here for “such a time as this.” For the past seven years, World Orphans has been making inroads into the region by helping with orphan care and widows through the development of The Refuge – a community center project located just 18 miles from the border of Iran and 24 miles from the border of Turkey.

This strategic region has become a key component in the care of refugees and IDPs, expanding our ministry into what we now call The Refuge Initiative.

Building Camps of Refuge

Camp IraqOn September 9, 2014, The Refuge Initiative opened the very first refugee camp in Soran, Iraq on the grounds of its community center known as The Refuge. What began as a desire to help 20 Shabak families has turned into a regional effort to build camps of refuge for the most vulnerable IDP and refugee families. In partnership with the local governments of Soran and Rwandz – and with the involvement of several charities and NGO’s – The Refuge Initiative is providing shelter, food, water, and electricity to more than 80 Yezidi and Shabak families (600 individuals). Each camp is uniquely built with a kitchen, bathroom, and living areas specific for the needs of each family unit.

Restoring Dignity and Hope

Children of the RefugeAt the heart of our humanitarian efforts is to build communities of hope at each of our camps. We do this by keeping the size of each camp no larger than 50 families (micro-camps), and where possible, from the same family or tribal background. This enables us to preserve existing social and relational structures, promotes autonomy and maintains the dignity of those in our care. In the face of incredible suffering and persecution we believe that our model of refugee care builds the platform for hope to rise up within the lives of every individual.

Pathway Back to Independence

Iraq English ClassesThe Refuge Initiative is not only building places of refuge, but also actively involved in providing pathways to recovery and independent living for those within our care. Our community center, The Refuge, is a fully functioning vocational training and education center equipped with classrooms, a conference room, event hall, and soccer stadium. We are currently partnering with internationally renowned clinical psychologists and organizations to provide access to leading mental health at all our locations. In addition to providing substantial employment to dozens of IDPs and refugees through the construction of our camps, many have started small businesses in the local markets or have found other work.

We are witnessing first hand The Refuge Initiative camps actually becoming communities of hope.

Timeline of Work in Northern Iraq

  • July 2007 – World Orphans in Kurdistan
  • July 2008 – Assessing the need for orphan & widow care in Kurdistan
  • March 2009 – Strategic partnership formed with the Mayor of Soran
  • October 2009 – Groundbreaking of the community center in Shahidani Azadi
  • Fall 2010 – Development of Soccer clinics
  • Summer 2011 – Community Center completes phase 1 of construction.
  • Fall 2011 – Establish periodic medical clinics in partnership with US doctors.
  • January 2012 – First women and children classes begin employing local staff.
  • Fall 2013 – Soccer field expansion
  • September 2014 – The first refugee camp is built in Soran
  • November 2014 – Humanitarian aid expands to Peshmerga widows and dozens of individual IDP/refugee families throughout the region.
  • March 2015 – The second floor of the community center is completed
  • March 2015 – Work expands to include the construction of 4 more refugee camps in Rwandz for 70+ Yezidi families

As we continue to see and hear the horrors of ISIS in Iraq, may we all be moved to prayer, hope, and action. Though ISIS is running many away, the gospel is alive and active. We are thankful that God has invited us to his providential work of welcoming many to a place they will call home.

Values of Church Partnership: Increase Capacity and Economic Empowerment

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by Kevin Squires | Senior Director of Church Partnerships

photoStarting in January, we debuted our E-Newsletter series on the Ten Values of Church Partnership. Since then, this series has helped to define the importance of church-partnership-driven orphan care and has given us a platform to answer the following key questions regarding church partnership: How do you keep both churches within a church partnership happy? How do you ensure that both churches are equally benefited by the partnership? How do you keep one church from unintentionally stepping on the other?

This series has taken us on a journey that has shown the significance of church partnership. Here’s a brief review of the values we have covered so far:

  1. Relationship over Resources
  2. Equality over Superiority
  3. Reciprocity over Control
  4. Learning over Teaching
  5. One Body over One Part
  6. Affirming Dignity over Serving Needs
  7. Accountability over Intentions
  8. Healthy Dependency over Unhealthy Dependency

As we conclude our series on the Ten Values of Church Partnership, let’s spotlight the final two values that help build and maintain healthy church partnerships – the importance of Increased Capacity and Economic Empowerment.

Value #9 – Increase Capacity Over Increase Charity

Capacity issues raise similar dilemmas as dependency, but they focus more on the intent of the US church. John Perkins said, “Acts of charity can be dangerous because givers can feel good about actions that actually accomplish very little, or even create unhealthy dependency. Overcoming an attitude of charity is a difficult task because it requires givers to demand more of themselves than good will.”

Similarly, Robert Lupton, in his book Toxic Charity, warns us of this by saying, “We miss the big picture because we view aid through the narrow lens of the needs of our organization or church, focusing on what will benefit our team the most, and neglecting the best interests of those we serve.” World Orphans avoids this misstep by highlighting the work of the local church, empowering our partners, and improving the life of those we serve.

  1. Economic Empowerment Over Project Sustainability

Arguably, one of the most discussed topics in missions these days is sustainability. Sustainability ensures that people are helped for the long term. For that reason, we are passionate about sustainability. However, our model is not conducive to overall project sustainability due to the simple fact that as children leave our programs (often due to moving out of the area), they are replaced with other children in need. Therefore, rather than focus our efforts on finding sustainable options for the overall project, we focus our energy and research on the economic empowerment of our caregivers.

Through the benefits of church partnership, we are able to work with many people within the US church and international church partners who have special skills and talents in the areas of economics, business, and other methods of development. The challenge is often in implementing plans cross-culturally without forcing ideas on locals. Because of that, World Orphans is sensitive and cautious regarding all economic empowerment projects and requires that all planning be proposed to the International Projects Director.

As you can see, there’s a lot to value in church partnerships. Just as our church partnerships have grown through the years, we expect our values to continue to grow as well. Sure, they will get deeper, but we are convinced that just as we have learned so much through the last decade of facilitating partnerships, they will grow wider as well, expanding into more values that will bring stronger relationships between our US and international partners.

If you are interested in learning more about church partnership or if you are considering partnering your church with World Orphans, please contact

Cambodia: From Struggle to Hope

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Rescue Partner

[res-kyoo] [pahrt-ner]

Verb; Pronoun

  1. a kind hearted person that actively teams with World Orphans to reach more children
  2. a vital part of ensuring continual care for orphaned or vulnerable children
  3. someone that commits to a monthly sacrifice; generally $33 per month
  4. a member of the World Orphans team that can’t be thanked enough

Whenever I hear about our work in Cambodia I am stunned.

cambodiaLife in Cambodia can be evil and cruel to children, and often the children we work with have experienced what no human ever should.

Recently I received an update from Jesse, our Country Director in Cambodia, and he shared updates of four children with whom he is working through local Cambodian churches. The report was filled with stories of abuse, neglect, and abandonment.

One of the four stories was of a little girl named Sarah. She was living in an abusive and unloving home and was sent to an orphanage because she was unwanted. A short time later her mother returned to the orphanage to take her back, but not to raise her, to sell her – sell her daughter at age three!!! 

The story didn’t end there! My heart is grateful that God worked through World Orphans, our in-country partners, and the local church, because these people worked together and Sarah was rescued. Today she has a family that has taken her in and is committed to her. It has been a tough road but Sarah is starting to do well in her new family. They are receiving counseling and guidance from trained workers and from their new church. Together they are learning about and experiencing God’s love.

Our work in Cambodia is primarily funded by the Rescue Partner program and without the faithful, loving people that have joined, little girls like Sarah might not ever know love. For the first three years of her life, Sarah knew nothing except trying to survive, fighting to be safe. But now, because of the generosity of Rescue Partners, everything has changed for her. Everything.

If you are one of the amazing people that have become a Rescue Partner, THANK YOU!

Or if you would like to know more about how you too can become a Rescue Partner – click here.

What in the World is a Rescue Team?

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By Becky Hoffman | Director of Rescue Teams

CMC_IMG_3321Good question! A Rescue Team is a ripple effect. It is a chance to engage in something bigger than you; a chance to join the worldwide effort of caring for orphans.

Let’s back up though. Orphans need our help? Aren’t they all little red-headed girls with corkscrew curls who sing and dance with Daddy Warbucks?

Not quite.

Orphans are some of the most vulnerable children in the world and right now, there are an estimated 153 million orphans worldwide. These children have experienced tragedies beyond imagination. Poverty has robbed them not only of their parents, but of their hope. They are children without opportunities; children without families; children who will likely perpetuate cycles of poverty, HIV/AIDS, trafficking, prostitution, and the slavery that haunts their countries.

You change that. You can break the cycle. You can rescue orphans.

How can you do this?

Form a Rescue Team.

CMC_IMG_3350A Rescue Team is two or more people who say “Yes! Count us in! 153 million orphans is unacceptable! Together, we can make a difference.”

Rescue Teams allow you, along with your family and friends, to repurpose your passions, hobbies, and interests to raise funds for World Orphans. You and your team can decide to give up your birthdays, throw a party, participate in a race, host a sale, or even create your own unique campaign.

No matter what campaign you do, the money you raise will go to caring for children at a World Orphans project of your choice. That means you will help provide food, clothing, education, and emotional care for vulnerable children. You will participate in the restoration of orphans to families and give them hope for the future.

Even more, Rescue Teams are fun! Changing the lives of orphans is awesome. Doing so through something you love, with people you love, is the icing on the cake.

Just how fun, rewarding, and life-changing Rescue Teams are became clear to me after I led my very own team. My friends and I raced in a color run to raise money for a World Orphans church partner in Cambodia. From coming up with a team name (Color Me Cambodacious), to planning for the event, to the actual race day festivities, we had a blast.

CMC_IMG_3313The greatest impact though came from praying and advocating for orphans together. Through our times of prayer and Bible study, we discovered the depth of God’s love for orphans. Plus, our fundraising efforts strengthened our faith in God’s provision as we watched the results quadruple from $366 to $1,500 in just one week. My friend and fellow Rescue Team member, Elyse, summarizes the Rescue Team experience well:

“Participating in this team opened my eyes to the needs of orphans around the world. Before joining, I truthfully never prayed for orphans, even though God loves them so dearly as evidenced in His Word. I was personally heart-struck by our leader’s sharing of World Orphans mission and her encouragement to remember why we came together as a team – not for fitness, not even for fun (though we had lots!), but for them. I pray our efforts yield tremendous blessing for orphans in Cambodia and inspire others to start Rescue Teams as well.”

Starting a Rescue Team is easy! There are tons of resources for you to use. Plus, I will be there every step of the way to spur you on to success.

So why wait? Now’s your chance to do what you already do with your people for a purpose!

Sign up today!

Questions? Check out our FAQs or e-mail me, the Director of Rescue Teams, Becky Hoffman:

Values of Church Partnership: Importance of Accountability and Healthy Dependency

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by Kevin Squires | Senior Director of Church Partnerships 

DSCR_0049In the beginning of 2015, we debuted our series on the Ten Values of Church Partnership. It has been our hope that this series will shine light on some of the main questions we frequently receive from our donors, followers, and partners: How do you keep both churches within a church partnership happy? How do you ensure that both churches are equally benefited by the partnership? How do you keep one church from unintentionally stepping on the other?

In this series, we dove head first into key issues such as the importance of Relationship over Resources, Equality over Superiority, Reciprocity over Control, Learning over Teaching, One Body over One Part, and Affirming Dignity over Serving Needs.

As we continue our series on the Ten Values of Church Partnership, let’s stop and highlight the next two values that help build and maintain healthy church partnerships – the importance of Accountability and Healthy Dependency. 

Value #7 – Accountability Over Intentions

Mary Lederleitner, author of Cross-Cultural Partnerships, wisely states, “Good intentions are not good enough to ensure good outcomes in cross-cultural partnerships.” For that very purpose, World Orphans does its due diligence to determine which churches qualify for our partnerships. Building relationships and trust over time, while implementing financial systems to ensure fiscal responsibility, we are able to filter out a lot of the major issues that frequently invade partnerships. In addition, we have many guidelines set up to ensure healthy communication throughout the partnership.

Value #8 – Healthy Dependency Over Unhealthy Dependency

One of the greatest fears in entering into a church partnership where one church lacks necessary resources is the fear of creating dependency. Unfortunately, that fear often paralyzes the American church and lulls us into a state of apathy where many refuse to get involved in partnership altogether. Martin Luther King, Jr. boldly challenged this state of paralysis by saying, “We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the vitriolic words and actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence of the good people.” At World Orphans, we have wrestled with ‘dependency’ and, with the help of Daniel Rickett’s book Building Strategic Relationships, have come to separate the issue into two distinct categories:

Healthy Dependency (interdependence)

  • Partners understand their reciprocal roles and responsibilities.
  • Partners enter the relationship with a clear vision of what each has to offer and gain.
  • Partners maintain independence and capacity to instruct, correct, or refuse the other.
  • Partners honor and guard the unique, divine calling of the other.
  • Partners conduct themselves in a manner that safeguards the other’s integrity.
  • Partners understand that the Lordship of the partnership rests in the hands of Jesus Christ and doesn’t seek to rob God.

Unhealthy Dependency

  • Partners miscommunicate expectations, commitments, and goals; have no clear vision.
  • Partners ignore reciprocity and responsibility.
  • Partners prioritize and emphasize the exchange of funds over the complementary contributions that each other make.
  • Partners work with a ministry that doesn’t have a governing body or long-standing credibility.
  • Partners send funds directly to an individual without establishing accountability measures.
  • Partners give resources based solely on need, instead of building dignity, enhancing responsibility, and expanding results.
  • Partners underwrite 100% of the partnered ministry’s need.

As you can see, building intentional accountability measures will only help to create a sense of healthy dependency. Once again, it’s why we stress the importance of relationship in all of our partnerships.

Stay tuned next month as we continue our series on the Ten Values of Church Partnership! In the meantime, if you are interested in learning more about church partnership or if you are considering partnering your church with World Orphans, please contact

Bo Schembechler – Jim Harbaugh and Orphan Care

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By John Rakis | Senior Director of Donor Ministry

I love college football and I love University of Michigan football.

Needless to say I am pretty excited about the hiring of Jim Harbaugh as their new head coach.

DSCN8488You may be asking, “What does this have to do with orphan care and World Orphans?” I’m glad you asked. In an article about Coach Harbaugh and the wisdom he’s learned from playing for Coach Schembechler, he said:

“The team, the team, the team. Human beings have an agency to be part of a team, to be a part of something bigger than themselves. The team is put ahead of individual wants and needs and selfishness,” Harbaugh said. “To know the rewarding feeling to be a part of a team that has specific goals and to see it work at the highest level — that’s something that we all took and went on and used into whatever our profession was at the University of Michigan.”

We at World Orphans feel the exact same way about the ministry. It’s all about the team. Just look at some of the ways we are all teaming together…

  • Individuals like you pray for the churches and children
  • Donors give generously of what has been shared with them
  • Staff raise their own support so they can work here
  • International Pastors work tirelessly to help their children and communities
  • US churches are committed to helping orphans and to reaching the world with the Good News
  • Caregivers who, though they may already struggle, willingly love and sacrifice by taking in an orphan so the child is raised in a family

This team approach, not individuals but a team, is how great things happen. It is no coincidence that the University of Michigan is the football team with the most wins in the history of college football. Similarly, it is no wonder that God uses World Orphans in so many incredible ways.

When we think more of others and of a greater cause than ourselves – that is when true love comes shining through.

We are all part of a team, something much bigger than ourselves. Thanks to Jesus’s sacrifice, and the sacrifice of this team, thousands of children each year are given HOPE. They are cared for, loved, and taught that God and others really love them. Because God in Christ willingly made the ultimate sacrifice to bring victory to you, me, and millions of others, the tomb is empty! It reflects love. Reflects the defeat of death. And as such, reflects victory!

Thank you for being part of the Team! May your sacrifice and love be blessed by God.

Values of Church Partnership: Importance of One Body and Affirming Dignity

Posted by on 9:21 pm in Uncategorized | 0 comments

by Kevin Squires, Senior Director of Church Partnerships

DSC_0149In January, our E-Newsletter kicked off our series on the Ten Values of Church Partnership. The reason behind this series is simple – throughout the years, we have tackled a variety of questions about Church Partnership with these following questions at the forefront: How do you keep both churches happy? How do you ensure that both churches are equally benefited by the partnership? How do you keep one church from unintentionally stepping on the other?

Thus far in our series, we have spotlighted the importance of focusing on Relationship Over Resources, Equality Over Superiority, Reciprocity Over Control, and Learning over Teaching.

As we continue our series on the Ten Values of Church Partnership, let’s lunge into the next two values that help build and maintain healthy church partnerships – the importance of One Body and Affirming Dignity.

Value #5 – One Body Over One Part

Church partnerships call us deeper into the image of the Church as one Body united in Christ, with many unique parts offering different gifts. As we come to know our cross-cultural partners, we learn new ways of understanding the Scriptures, and we see new models of participating in community. We experience our oneness in Christ, while simultaneously seeing the world through God’s eyes and our role in cross-cultural community – not only with our church partner, but also with the wide stretched arms of the global church.

Value #6 – Affirming Dignity Over Serving Needs

Truth be told, serving others is NOT our primary calling at World Orphans; rather, we’re called to follow and imitate Christ, and in doing that, we discover three things: Who am I, How can I best serve others, and How can I best be served. Duane Elmer, author of Cross-cultural Servanthood, defines ‘serving’ as the ability to relate to people in such a way that their dignity as human beings is affirmed, leaving them more empowered and equipped to live God-glorifying lives. One of the most vital attributes that drives churches to partnership is the desire to serve those in need. At first glimpse, ‘those in need’ appear to be those living in extreme poverty – the impoverished, the orphaned, the vulnerable. But it doesn’t take long to realize that needs exist in America as well. Despite severely limited resources, the love displayed by our international church partners in their respective communities constantly inspires our US church partners to love more, worship more, and even serve more locally by affirming dignity in all those they serve.

As you can see, focusing on the unity of one body ensures us that Christ is the center, not our mere efforts. Likewise, when each church within the partnership focuses on affirming the dignity on one another, it reinforces the notion that poverties exist in different shapes and sizes and that God places people in our paths to help speak into those areas of poverty.

Stay tuned next month as we continue our series on the Ten Values of Church Partnership! In the meantime, if you are interested in learning more about Church Partnership or if you are considering partnering your church with World Orphans, please contact

Dying of Aids, Knowing Christ

Posted by on 2:16 am in Uncategorized | 0 comments

by John Rakis
Sr. Director of Donor Ministry

This report was written by one of our  ministry team members after being in South Africa recently:

OE1A4904-copy(2)As a young child, Zama lived in a beautiful home in South Africa. Both of her parents had successful careers, and they had it all: house, cars, security. Zama and her two younger siblings were well taken care of. Little did she know, at 8 years old, her safe world would all come crashing down. Within 6 months, both of her parents died from AIDS. Zama and her siblings were orphaned. And, not only was she suffering the loss of her parents, but she tested positive for the HIV virus.

Not knowing what to do, she turned to her grandmother for help, only to be met with rejection. Because she carried HIV, her grandmother did not want her or her siblings. After pleading and crying for her grandma to take them in, she finally relented under the condition that they took care of themselves. After a few weeks of abuse from her relatives, Zama couldn’t take it any longer. Hearing of a church that helped children in need, she gathered her siblings and sought refuge at World Orphans church partner Christian Life Centre.

Fast forward to the present and you’ll find a beautiful 18-year-old Zama who has spent the last 10 years being looked after and loved by the church family. Unfortunately, the cruel reality of AIDS has taken a toll on her. In the past year she has suffered three strokes and has lost 60 pounds. She is in the final stages of the disease. When I was talking with one of the house mothers, she told me that Zama has been a constant joy at the center. With her gentle demeanor and an unbelievable kindness in her eyes, you would never know the suffering she has experienced.

The reality that she is living her last days is very true, but with that comes an overwhelming sense of hope knowing that because of the church, she has known true love. She has been cared for, she has experienced joy, and, most importantly, she knows the love of Jesus Christ. Zama’s story is a story of hope. It’s a story of being rescued. It’s a story of sorrow and pain being turned into joy and peace. It’s a story that has such a beautiful ending because of the work the church is doing in South Africa.

How does a situation of horror and despair end up being a story of joy and promise?

Zama. The Church. Hope. Jesus. You.

Thank you for being part of this story through your sacrifices of giving and praying.

*Names and images have been changed for child protection.

Values of Church Partnership: Reciprocity and Learning

Posted by on 2:14 am in Uncategorized | 0 comments

by Kevin Squires
Sr Director of Church Partnerships

zIMG_7655Last month, our e-news kicked off a series on the Ten Values of Church Partnership. We dove into the importance of valuing Relationship Over Resources and Equality Over Superiority. We unleashed the questions that we battle with each and every day as we help orchestrate church partnerships: How do you keep both churches happy? How do you ensure that both churches are equally benefited by the partnership? How do you keep one church from unintentionally stepping on the other?

It’s no secret that the answers to those questions revolve around relationship.  Relationships, however, aren’t built overnight.  They take time, understanding, humility, and grace.

As we continue our series on the Ten Values of Church Partnership, let’s plunge into the next two values that help build and maintain healthy church partnerships – Reciprocity and Learning.

Value #3 – Reciprocity Over Control

True relationship is reciprocal, a constant give and take. It is vital in cross-cultural partnerships to understand that we all have ‘poverties’ that need to be addressed … different poverties wear different masks. Some poverties are dirty and reside in shacks, whereas other poverties might be overly clean and hiding in mansions. Fortunately, our poverties are an invitation to another to share their gifts, therein affirming their value and contribution. This requires a spirit of humility, recognizing that we are interdependent and in need of each other.

Value #4 – Learning Over Teaching

If we are conscious to focus on the relationship, to ask open-ended questions, and to learn from our partner, we will often find that they will invite us in to see and understand their reality … their joys and celebrations as well as their sorrows and struggles. These open relationships will often lead us to discover the structures and systems that often trap people in poverty and injustice all throughout the world.  Discoveries like that will often challenge us to confront our own role and contribution to this injustice, whether through our inaction or more actively through our consumer choices, our levels of consumption, etc. Just as Christ came to make all things new, we too are called to work to change those systems and even our own personal habits for the sake of those we have come to know and love (and others who share the same challenges).

Reciprocity and learning require openness, sacrifice, and vulnerability.  They are crucial values in our ability to form and strengthen complementary church partnerships where each and every church in our ministry feels challenged to give and receive.

Watch for next month’s e-news, where we’ll continue our series on the Ten Values of Church Partnership!  In the meantime, if you are interested in learning more about church partnership or if you are considering partnering your church with World Orphans, please contact