March 18, 2015

Dying of Aids, Knowing Christ

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.

March 18, 2015

Values of Church Partnership: Reciprocity and Learning

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

February 18, 2015

Values of Church Partnership: Relationship and Equality

by Kevin Squires, Senior Director of Church Partnerships

Over the last 8 years, World Orphans has guided churches through the beauty of church partnership. Throughout our journey, we have learned so many lessons on how to do things and how not to do things. Amidst that journey, whether at conferences or simply talking to prospective church partners, we have constantly been asked questions like… 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?

Those questions are real and are grounded in an American culture where churches often operate alone. Driving through America, it’s no surprise to see a church on every corner. While some work together to reach their community, a common denominator in most of our churches is autonomy, where churches seek to do ministry on their own.

Having said that, World Orphans values church partnership to the point that we pour all of our time and energy into forming and strengthening partnerships between American and international churches to care for orphans all throughout the world.

Nestled in the heart of what we do is our Ten Values of Church Partnership. Over the next few months, we will be spotlighting the values that go into building and maintaining healthy church partnerships – starting with Relationship and Equality.

1. Relationship Over Resources
Many people assume the key focal point of church partnership is the transferring or sharing of resources. Although sharing resources is a valued and integral part of our partnerships, it isn’t our primary focus. A true partnership implies the building and nurturing of a relationship over a period of time that transcends the collaboration on any particular project. When the relationship is valued above all, it allows for mutuality, transformation, and equal participation.

2. Equality Over Superiority
Many partnerships diffuse over time because of paternalism, or one-sidedness. True equality in partnerships allows each of the partners to function from a place of strength rather than weakness. Each partner should feel that they have a role to play and a service that needs to be provided to benefit the partnership as a whole. Healthy partnerships intentionally incorporate opportunities for dialogue, planning, assessing, challenging, and reflecting together, in order to not fall into the “superior vs. inferior” trap.

We encourage you to stay tuned for next month’s E-News article where we will continue our series on the Ten Values of Church Partnership! In the meantime, if you are interested in partnering your church with World Orphans or simply want more information on our ministry, contact

January 12, 2015

Decoding Church Partnership

by Kevin Squires

Setting out to correct all the church’s wrongs, you most certainly will add to them.  Setting out to strengthen it, you most certainly will.

Sure, you can point to several church reformers through the years, even Jesus himself, who corrected the church and made it better; however, the vast majority of church reformers simply split the church and created wakes of chaos for generations to come.  Rather than partnering with the church to help equip, inspire, and mobilize it to become what Christ intended it to be, they simply sought to change it to fit their specific doctrine or agenda.

That’s why we believe the key to strengthening the church is finding unity in Christ through church partnership.  At World Orphans, we have Baptist churches partnering with Pentecostal churches… rich churches partnering with poor churches… city churches partnering with village churches… and mega churches partnering with house churches.

But, what exactly is church partnership?

In this day and age, it’s easy to get lost in translation when it comes to the idea of church partnership.  Organization after organization has its own idea about what partnership looks like.  So, perhaps now is a good time to unpack what we mean when we say church partnership.

Church Partnership: A complementary relationship between two churches guided by a common, Gospel-centered vision and sustained by an equal willingness to learn, to serve, to grow, and to extend grace to one another under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

Decoding Church Partnership…

“Developed through a complementary relationship between two churches”

  • Implemented in a mutual, non-paternalistic relationship with equal parts
  • Implemented between one US church and one international church, with World Orphans serving as the facilitator and mediator

“Guided by a common, Gospel-centered vision”

  • Committed to Christ, the Gospel, the local church, and church partnership
  • Committed to the wholistic care of children in families

“Sustained by an equal willingness to learn, to grow, and to extend grace to one another”

  • Guided by the belief that the local church knows what is best for their community
  • Guided by the understanding that the body of Christ is made up of many parts, each with something to contribute

“Surrendered to the Lordship of Jesus Christ”

  • Committed to surrendering the ownership and authority of the partnership to Christ
  • Committed to role of servant

Currently, World Orphans facilitates approximately 50 church partnerships throughout 12 countries around the world.  Available partnerships currently exist for Guatemala, Cambodia, South Africa, and Iraq.  If you would like profiles of any of these projects or more information about ways to partner with World Orphans, please email your inquiry to

October 22, 2014

Beautiful Partnership in Nicaragua

by Scott Distler,
Pastor – Gaylord E-Free Church

Nicfav7It was more than a privilege to be part of our team from Gaylord E-Free that went to Nicaragua recently. Our church is part of a “church-to-church” partnership through World Orphans with a small church in Managua, Nicaragua, called “Verbo Sur.”

Verbo Sur is led by a wonderful man named Pastor Jairo. They are located in one of the poorest communities in Managua where they run a Child Development Center (CDC). This CDC involves academic programs for preschoolers and provides a safe place for elementary students to come when they are not in school and their parents are at work.

Our partnership supports Verbo Sur’s CDC each month, but the key to our partnership is relationship. That is why we send one or sometimes two teams to Nicaragua each year.

We have  asked Pastor Jairo if it would be more beneficial to send the money we spend on these trips rather than taking the trips. He insisted that our presence is what they need much more than our money. He and his staff are starved for encouragement and soak up our love and friendship like dry sponges.

This was especially seen in the life of Pastor Jairo’s wife. She was in desperate need of encouragement and love from a godly woman, which she found in my wife, Laura. Though they could not speak the same language, they connected in a very special way. Pastor Jairo shared how much her presence meant to his wife. I did not think she was going to let go of Laura when we were saying our goodbyes.

Obviously, the most enjoyable part of the trip was spending time with the precious children in their care, which included playing with them and doing crafts we had brought with us.

I think each of us on the team were drawn to one specific child. For me, it was a boy I affectionately called “Onion.” I couldn’t understand what he said his name was, but it sounded like “Onion,” so that is what I called him. He would come over to me and point at my water bottle and say, “agua.”  I would then have him tilt his head and open his mouth and I would pour some water in it. We did this for hours along with playing with paper airplanes and paper footballs!

We also participated in a two-day medical clinic where doctors from Nicaragua provided free medical treatment for 190 people (adults and children) from the community. Each person who came had their height, weight, blood pressure, and temperature checked. They received a “de-worming” pill due to the parasites that are in the ground, and the small children received Vitamin A. They also checked everyone’s blood sugar, and each met with a doctor. They received any prescriptions they needed. Our partnership paid for all of the medicine that was given out over these two days.

The most beautiful part of the medical clinic was watching a dear lady from the Verbo Sur church named Veronica. The last station in the clinic for adults was meeting one-on-one with Veronica who talked with them about their spiritual lives. She prayed for each one of them individually, and over the two days, she personally led 11 adults to Christ. When I saw her Bible, I knew exactly why she was so effective. It was literally falling apart, having been read so much.

On another day, we gave rice, beans, and sugar for 50 of the poorest families in the community around Verbo Sur at the invitation of the church. These families came to a program put on by the church which included a message from Pastor Jairo, and each were each given a bag of much needed food. Though we provided the food, everything is given through the church and the staff at Verbo Sur, so the people make the connection with them and not with us.

What a joy it was to be part of the lively Sunday morning worship at Verbo Sur. I could not understand one word they said with my ears, but I understood every word with my heart. It was truly beautiful to watch these very poor people who are dedicated to the Lord singing His praises in Spanish.

Seven of the 11 people who prayed to receive Christ at the Medical Cente were at church that morning, and Pastor Jairo presented them to the church. Several who had come to the food distribution were there as well.

I had the privilege of preaching that morning through an interpreter. Our team got a real kick out of Dennis, the interpreter, as he did not just repeat my words in Spanish, he mimicked every move and motion I made as well as all of the up and down inflections of my voice. Time spent with both of our interpreters and our bus driver was a very fun and valuable part of our trip.

On Sunday at church, I presented Pastor Jairo a plaque I had made that included a stone I picked up in a creek at the Valley of Elah in Israel where David most likely picked up his stone to kill Goliath. On the plaque were verses in Spanish that tell of David picking up the stone he used to kill Goliath. My hope is for this to  always remind Pastor Jairo that there is no giant that can come into his life or ministry that is bigger than our God.

It was a joy to surround Pastor Jairo and the special staff at Verbo Sur and to pray for them before we left.  They will remain in our hearts, our thoughts, and our prayers! I came home with great joy knowing that E-Free Church is making a significant difference in this poor community in Managua, Nicaragua!

October 22, 2014

Speaking the Truth

by John Rakis
Sr. Director of Donor Ministry

Speaking the Truth

How many times do we bite our tongues when we know the truth is hard? It seems it is even harder if that person is a family member.

Hearing the Truth

The truth can also be hard to hear. It makes us take an honest look at ourselves. How much harder to hear those words from your own child.

This story is quite remarkable in that God used a local church to teach a child what his father needed to hear. This report recently came from one of our World Orphans church partners in Rwanda:

In my church, I have one member who would get very drunk before coming into church. His 5-year-old son came to believe in Jesus unto salvation while in Sunday School. The child likes to attend church, but he feared that his drunk father would not get into heaven. He told his father that if he does not want to be saved and goes on beating his mama and siblings because of beer, he will perish. One Sunday, the Father came to the church and asked to be prayed for; he wanted to be saved. His child has taught him about Jesus, and he remarks that his child is wiser than him. Now the man is attending the church and has stopped drinking beer and beating the family members. The family is peaceful now, and anywhere he arrives he gives testimony that he has been saved through teachings that the church gave to his child. The name of this child who has helped his father to be saved means “answer” in English. He has HIV/AIDS, and when he comes for his medicines he says, “God will heal me.”

This story speaks volumes of how God can use even a child to speak His truth, to rescue and restore His people. Please pray for this fragile family.

Thank you for your support – stories like this would not be possible if it were not for people just like you who have stepped up in support of the work God is doing through World Orphans.

August 19, 2014

New Ways to Make a Difference

by Scott Vair

haitifaves_106-X3As we continue to live out our mission to equip, inspire, and mobilize the church to care for orphans and vulnerable children, we know that sometimes the very basic things like a toothbrush, soap, and Band-Aids are often a luxury to the children and families we seek to love. We also understand that it can be overwhelming to even know how to respond.

Here are two simple ideas. Easy, tangible ways to get involved and make a difference:

Assemble a Family Care Kit

Family-Care-Kit-Front“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.” 1 Corinthians 6:20

Putting together a Family Care Kit is a fun way to get involved. You fill the kits with hygiene items and we give them to local, international churches as an outreach tool to share the love of Jesus and meet basic needs of families in their communities.

Get more information or order your Family Care Kit(s) and assembly instructions today!

Collect Change in a Hope Bank
Give Hope! Change Lives!

Hope-Bank-LabelBy collecting and giving your change, you can help provide food, medical care, education, love, and most importantly, the Hope of the Gospel to vulnerable children around the world.

Here’s how it works:

Place our World Orphans Hope Bank label and lid (link to store) on any soup can to create your Hope Bank. When it’s full, turn your change into a check or money order and send it to World Orphans. We’ll use it to help empower the church to care for orphans – until they all have homes!

This is a great opportunity for families, children, maybe even a Sunday school class. Every little bit helps. Together we can do so much more than we could ever do individually.

August 19, 2014

United in the Gospel

by Bailey Kalvelage
Director of Mobilization

Why does World Orphans exist?

We exist because we believe what Scripture says about the church, the orphan, and the expansion of the Gospel.

But what does this really mean?

On my recent trip to Haiti, I had the privilege of witnessing first-hand my first C2C partnership meeting. I sat with Pastor Thony of Eglise de Dieu de la Bible of Haiti and Pastor Phillip, George and Scott, leaders of Temple Baptist Church, Mississippi. What I saw was amazing! Pastor Thony shared with his US partners about the past year: he told of a revival in his city with 2,000 people, of home visits to the sick and needy, and of their need for a larger church building because of the growing number of people being discipled. I thought, “Wow!”

As the meeting unfolded, the deep bond of partnership was palpable. Tears filled the eyes of Pastor Thony’s Mississippi partners as they expressed how honored they were to join Pastor Thony in God’s work through him in Haiti. Though countries and languages apart, they were connected to Thony’s joys and struggles, challenged by the dedication of their brother, and encouraged personally and in the work that they, as individuals and a church, have committed to in Haiti.

Jesus said, “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message,  that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me… so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” (John 17:20,21,23)

The hearts of two churches united as one in the Gospel. What started as a partnership with the goal of caring for 20 kids has grown into a partnership purposed in reaching children, families, communities, and the country of Haiti with the healing power of the Gospel.

August 19, 2014

Empowering Moms

by John Rakis
Sr. Director of Donor Ministry

11Ethiopia193I have heard of a lot of great stories of how God is helping orphaned children through World Orphans, thanks to the generous support of people like you, BUT this one is so very exciting:

In Ethiopia, one of the poorest countries in the world, one of our church partners has started reaching out to mothers who are in critical danger of losing their children due to poverty and disease. These moms are still with their children, but living in desperate situations. The church has gathered this group of mothers who now meet monthly over coffee and bread. They encourage each other through time together and also spend time with the church pastor and elders. There is growing trust among the moms, and THEY have started a fund and are contributing monthly, sharing resources so that any of them can start a business!

11Ethiopia429Did you get that?  The moms are funding an account to help each other start businesses!

Three have done so already — one, a roadside coffee and tea stand; another selling charcoal; and a third selling packaged food and spices! It has been more than six months now, and all are making payments back to the startup fund so that others can do the same.

Mothers being empowered to take care of their children. Church Led Orphan Prevention!

On behalf of these fragile families – Thank you!

Please pray for these moms, their children, and this church in Ethiopia.

If you would like more information about specific projects or giving opportunities, please contact me at or 989-390-1449

July 09, 2014

Following Your Passion

by Tacy Layne
Rescue Team Member

Cookie dough, discount cards, and overpriced magazine subscriptions have been laced with every sales pitch in the book to raise money for little leagues, mission trips, and a host of other nonprofit organizations and events. These fundraisers have often served their purposes, earning their rightful places on the list of “Top 10 Most Common Fundraisers.” Quite frankly, however, discount cards can be boring to sell and overpriced magazines can be found anywhere. World Orphans established Rescue Teams as an alternative to typical fundraising.

Rescue Teams are like the relationships that spark over a love for the same blend of coffee, a good book, or a funny movie. Rescue Teams begin with at least two people who want to see the 153,000,000 orphans of the world find homes. They focus on funding projects that will benefit orphans through our Church-to-Church (C2C) Partnership program. Inspired by love and motivated by passion, they are limited only by the imaginations of their team members.

When Chris and Lauren Turpaud committed to raising money for World Orphans in May, they never imagined the generous and talented team that would surround and assist them in not only raising funds, but also in spreading the story of World Orphans. The Turpauds both work at their local recreational center, where they have been able to use their talents and gifts to serve their community. The center frequently rents its facilities to local individuals for pool parties, and for Lauren, a pool party fundraiser seemed like a natural fit.

As she began planning the event, co-workers offered donations of time to staff the event, and Lauren’s supervisor provided the facility rent-free, while other friends volunteered to provide games, food, and other help. The day of the pool party was gloomy, with storm clouds looming overhead, but 30 minutes before the event, the clouds seemed to melt away as the sun came out, bringing more than 70 people from throughout the community with it. The event raised over $1,100 and showed Lauren that she was surrounded by people who were able and willing to be generous in a variety of ways – some with money, some with time, and others with resources.

Like the Turpauds, World Orphans Communications Specialist Darci Irwin is also taking a unique approach to fundraising. After 13 years of marriage and 9 years of infertility, Darci and her husband are expecting their first child, a little girl who should make her grand entrance into the world in September. The Irwins’ long journey through infertility brought them into community with a group of people who selflessly prayed, grieved, and finally celebrated with them. This 100-women-strong community also takes celebrations quite seriously and will be throwing not one, but five showers for the expecting couple.

As Darci has progressed in her pregnancy, carefully planning for the needs and desires of a tiny bundle of joy, she has come to understand God’s boundless love for the orphan in a much deeper way than ever before.  With that understanding, Darci has requested that each person planning to bring a gift for her baby choose to spend less and donate that extra amount to World Orphans. All donations will go directly to Ebenezer Bible Church, a World Orphans partner in Temba, South Africa, assisting in the care for and education of 22 orphaned children in its community. Darci hopes to raise $1,000 toward this project.

Rescue Teams are not limited to fundraiser baby showers and pool parties. Other people have established Rescue Teams to start 5K races, hold yard sales, or give up their birthday gifts. World Orphans hopes to see 250 US Rescue Teams established by 2015. Teams will have the opportunity to select the project they wish to fund, whether Ebenezer Bible Church in South Africa, Fountain of Hope in Kenya, orphan prevention programs in Cambodia, or another. World Orphans wants to see people fundraising for the places and causes that the Holy Spirit has given them a burden for, knowing that passion and love for orphan care go a long way. To learn more about starting a Rescue Team, please visit


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