By Lindsay Allen | Project Manager: Americas
Cindy* is a 17-year-old girl with severe cerebral palsy. She cannot walk or talk, and caring for her requires almost constant attention. Her mother, Valeria*, is unable to work because she must stay home to take care of Cindy full time. The meager wage Cindy’s stepfather brings home as a farmer is the family’s only source of income.
Last year, Valeria fell ill and had to be hospitalized. She received a terrifying diagnosis—cancer. As a mother, her fears were not for herself, but for her daughter. Who would care for her? The answer to this question is exactly as God intended it to be: the church.
A group of volunteers from nearby Central Baptist Church accepted the responsibility to help take care of Cindy while her mother was in the hospital. One woman in particular, Diana*, became Cindy’s primary caregiver. Diana’s service to Valeria and Cindy is a direct result of the training she received through Tesoros De Dios, the World Orphans ministry partner in Managua. This ministry focuses on training and encouraging churches to reach out and care for families with disabled children. Culturally, disabilities are seen as a curse for some grave sin. But these churches are pushing back against the cultural norm, armed with the biblical truth that all children are created and loved by God.
Every day Diana would go to Cindy’s home and care for her in a beautiful display of Christ’s sacrificial love. She fed her, bathed her, clothed her, helped her go to the bathroom, sang to her, and eventually developed a genuine friendship with Cindy. She cared for and loved Cindy, whom many considered to be a curse, as she would her own daughter.
While Valeria was in the hospital, Diana and the other believers at Central Baptist were faithfully praying for her and visiting her. After a couple months in the hospital, her health began to improve! The doctors declared that the cancer had left her! She was able to return home and now goes to the hospital only for occasional checkups to ensure the cancer has not returned. Praise the Lord! Diana still frequently visits her dear friends, Valeria and Cindy, and she helps out whenever she is needed.
Diana speaks of Cindy with deep love and respect, not as a tiresome burden. She believes that “even though Cindy cannot speak, that does not mean she can’t understand. Spend some time with her, and you’ll see how she lights up when she hears a certain song and dances along in her wheelchair!”
When we consider Diana—how she spent weeks devoted all day every day to lovingly and tenderly caring for Cindy, and how she took on such a big commitment without asking for anything in return–we see something remarkable. In Diana we see what the church should be. Caregivers. Servants. Friends. Prayer warriors. This is not just the calling placed on Diana’s life but on the life of every believer. We are to pour ourselves out as a living sacrifice in service to others.
Diana’s counter-cultural willingness to serve is humbling. She took on the responsibility of caring for a child with severe special needs, an act of service which demanded time, effort, and attention. In contrast, many of us feel too busy to sacrifice one hour per week to serve in the church nursery, teach a youth Sunday School class, or visit someone in the hospital, much less become someone’s caregiver. Even though our story and our service may look very different from Diana’s, we should be looking for ways to serve others right here in our own communities. Neighbors. Classmates. Coworkers. Who can we serve today?
By Tacy Layne | Writer/Editor
In Chatsworth, South Africa, you’ll find a battle raging. Stories won’t saturate CNN or FOX News, and images from the war won’t inundate your social media accounts.
It’s a quiet war.
It’s waged behind closed doors, in the depths of the night, and in the pulsating blood of individual residents. Death is fighting life. Good is fighting evil. Darkness is fighting light.
In 1950, while apartheid reigned in South Africa, the Group Areas Act–a law which separated all ethnic groups–was passed. This law forcibly uprooted Indians from areas such as Mayville, Cato Manor, and Clairwood, and relocated them to Chatsworth. Chatsworth was officially opened in 1964 and was intentionally established as a barrier between the designated “white residential areas” and the township of Umlazi. Today Chatsworth is home to a variety of people from different ethnic backgrounds, though the township remains predominantly Indian.
South Africa has made substantial strides in desegregation and economic growth since the days of apartheid, but the country wrestles with a darkness, an evil underneath the surface–a war.
According to UNAIDS Gap Report 2014, over 19% of the adult population of South Africa has HIV. The stigmas that are often associated with HIV/AIDS continue to affect those living in South Africa, as HIV patients are ostracized from family and friends, and routinely denied medical care or education.
When stigmas and prejudices persist, long-standing misinformation and lies flourish, leaving many to believe old mysticisms, such as the notion that sex with a virgin will cure an HIV-infected person. Beliefs like these, with deep, ugly roots continue to tear apart communities, towns, and countries, while robbing young women, children, and even babies–yes, babies–of their innocence.
Thus, young women, children, and babies are being condemned to a painful life marred by the effects of HIV. Many will never have romantic relationships or families of their own, as they will now forever be viewed as unworthy and not enough.
In the depths of this brokenness, Christian Life Center is offering safety, care, and the promise of hope. The campus includes homes that house six to eight children at a time, a church, a bakery, and a sewing facility. At the center, children are cared for wholistically (spiritually, physically, emotionally, mentally), and often taught a new trade, such as baking or sewing.
Zama came to Christian Life Center as a teenage girl with an HIV diagnosis. Like many of the children within the community, her story is filled with brokenness, but instead of facing homelessness or a life of prostitution, she has found a place of shelter within this community.
By societal standards, Zama has nothing left to offer this world. She cannot have children, and the disease has taken a substantial toll on her young body. Society says she is not enough.
But, at Christian Life Center, she is told a different story. She has found a home, a purpose, and a family. Having aged out of the program, Zama now serves alongside the staff at the center. Despite her disease, Zama has a sweet demeanor, and she works hard to help care for other orphaned children living on the campus.
Here she is told that she is enough. She may have scars and she may come from a broken past, but she has not been turned away, and she is not the object of degradation and shame.
Christian Life Center exists to not only rescue and rehabilitate children, but to tell these children a different story about themselves. They are more than their pasts, their diseases, their weaknesses, or their inabilities.
The war will wage on in South Africa, yet as the silent bullets fly, the men, women, and church of Christian Life Center will stand to fight for the good. They stand to tell orphaned children a new story of hope and a future in Christ. They stand to tell women like Zama that they are enough.
By Jeremy Resmer | Senior Director of Projects
“There is freedom waiting for you,
On the breezes of the sky,
And you ask “What if I fall?”
Oh but my darling,
What if you fly?”
― Erin Hanson
Over the last twelve months, we’ve witnessed a major shift in the families of our Ethiopia Home Based Care Program.
Since we trained our church partners on starting and facilitating self-managed savings groups, we have seen over 150 people, mostly single mothers, begin saving for the first time in their lives. While it’s critical that they now have a safety net and funds available in case of an emergency or unexpected life event, something even more important is happening.
These women are realizing their own potential and transforming the way they think and speak about themselves.
Dignity. Value. Confidence.
Where there was hopelessness, today there is hope.
These women meet together over traditional Ethiopian coffee to share about life: family, faith, business, joys, sorrows, successes, struggles, fears.
Not only do these women save together and grow in their understanding of basic principles of financial stewardship, but they also encourage one another in every other aspect of life. It’s true that iron sharpens iron. The entire group is better off together.
As we continue to learn from the families that we serve, we gain new insight into their daily lives. Emotional, physical, spiritual, social, and financial health are closely connected. We realize that economic opportunities, like the ability to start or grow a small business, can strengthen families and dramatically improve the quality of life.
Working with our local church partners, we’ve developed other empowerment initiatives, including literacy and microloan programs for the women in the savings groups. The goal is to empower the church with effective platforms, training, and ongoing support. This will enable churches to provide vulnerable families with opportunities to use their creativity and resourcefulness to generate sustainable incomes, while also enabling them to contribute to their communities.
Our microloan program will begin this year and be available to the caregivers in the savings program. Using the knowledge and relationships they have developed in the savings group, members are encouraged to apply for a small loan of 500 Ethiopian Birr to start or expand a business. The loan will be paid back over 10 months at 50 Birr per month with zero interest. At the end of 10 months, each client that successfully pays back her loan will have the opportunity to reapply for another loan up to 1,000 Birr. The second loan will be paid back over 20 months at 50 Birr per month.
The loan program is entrenched in relationships and will include ongoing training, encouragement, and accountability with our clients. The plan is to start small and stay small. Our desire is to make a significant impact in a few communities. We are going into this with eyes wide open, aware of the inherent risks and challenges such a program presents.
The fact is, some clients will struggle for one reason or another and not pay back their loans. It’s a fact we must face. However–more importantly–many more will be empowered to hope, to grow their businesses, and to sustain and strengthen their families.
If you talk to many microfinance organizations working in developing countries, they will tell you that you can’t loan money to the poorest of the poor successfully. I’m not talking about the top 10% of the economically poor, but the bottom 10%–those with no income, assets, or security of any kind. But if no one is willing to invest in these people, they will remain in hopeless desperation.
Microfinance isn’t a silver bullet to alleviate poverty; however, when incorporated into a long-term wholistic program of economic empowerment, it can be a very effective tool.
We know the mountain is tall but we came here to climb.
By Kevin Squires | Senior Director of Church Partnerships
My two sons (ages 11 and seven) recently asked me if they could download a song from iTunes that’s “not on the Christian radio stations”. I almost spit my drink across the room! It wasn’t because we, as a family, are opposed to music that doesn’t shout Jesus in often-random places throughout the song. The shock came from the fact that my two hoodlums had a joint meeting in their conference room (bedroom) to discuss who was going to ask Mom and Dad if they could “change the course of time” by adding a little secular music into their life.
The slightly-above-decent parent that I am followed up their brave ask with a simple question, “What song is it?”
My oldest son looked at the floor and mumbled, “Stressed Out by Twenty One Pilots.” The slightly-below-cool parent that I am had never heard of them. So, I donned my CIA badge of parenthood, opened my laptop, and began stalking these group of pilots. I found the song quite catchy, like something I would have listened to when I cared about being cool . . . like way back in the 90s. I was struck by some of these lyrics:
Wish we could turn back time, to the good ol’ days,
When our momma sang us to sleep but now we’re stressed out.
Wish we could turn back time, to the good ol’ days,
When our momma sang us to sleep but now we’re stressed out.
We used to play pretend, give each other different names,
We would build a rocket ship and then we’d fly it far away,
Used to dream of outer space but now they’re laughing at our face,
Saying, “Wake up, you need to make money.”
My sons were quite ecstatic to hear that I approved their song choice. They took off running to their conference roo- uh, I mean . . . bedroom to download their new favorite song. Meanwhile, I quietly sneaked off to my home office to listen to the song again, and again, and admittedly, again–you know–strictly for research purposes for a well-educated parent.
The song got me thinking about the good ol’ days. It’s not that these days aren’t good, but I have to admit, life gets hard as we grow older. I’m tired, but reminded that the apostle Paul tells us in 2 Thessalonians 3:13 to “not grow weary in doing good.” I hear you, Paul, but I must confess that the thought of doing good makes me weary sometimes.
I’ve worked in full time ministry for 17 years. I would like to say that I’m always godly, that I always see the best in people, and that I don’t get frustrated with my own lack of perfection. But, I’m often embarrassed by some of my mistakes, and I realize that some of my moral failures brought me and my loved ones some added stress through the years. I wish, sometimes, that we could “turn back time/to the good ol’ days.”
Fortunately, yet sometimes painstakingly, God doesn’t allow that. Instead, he uses the bumps in our road to show us His amazing grace.
Grace. Seems like it’s vanishing these days . . . not just in how little we extend it to others, or how rarely we extend it to ourselves, but also in how much we ignore the free buffet of grace given to us by God. Unfortunately, all too often, grace is hard to find in the church. Agendas and self-promotion battle their way to the forefront, often leaving what Christ called “The Way” behind. Churches, made up of sinners, fall and fall hard. And when we fall, we get hurt. And as the saying goes, “hurt people hurt people”.
In many ways, listening to “Stressed Out” by those pilot guys reminded me that you can’t just turn back time to the good ol’ days. You have to eventually find the grace in today.
Here are the five ways I went from stressed out to finding grace:
- I am nothing; He is everything. And that is more than okay with me!
- Success is measured in Kingdom gains, not personal gains. Success in life is not success if it harms the Body of Christ.
- When the going gets tough, the tough realize they are not alone. Christ didn’t give us the human capacity to deal with the toughness of life on our own. But, through the divine capacity of His Spirit, He is able to see us through it.
- In a day and age that stresses the importance of leadership, Christ is primarily looking for followership. He is doing something great in the world, so quit trying to always blaze trails, and learn to follow Him. The journey is always worth it!
- Prayer guides your journey. Corrie Ten Boom once asked, “Is prayer your steering wheel or your spare tire?” Prayer won’t just get you out of ruts; it will also help you avoid them.
By Lindsay Allen | Project Manager: Americas
The day she walked into the church to share her testimony, Jalene* was wearing all black from head to toe–black top, black skirt, and a black scarf. This is the traditional clothing for Ethiopians who are mourning the death of someone they loved. Months and years after a loss, family members often continue wearing full black. It speaks to the depths of their grief without demanding words.
Jalene’s testimony begins with her marriage to Menas*. Like Ruth of the Old Testament, she left her family and all she knew to marry into his family. Together, they moved far away from her home in rural Ethiopia to the city of Addis Ababa. The city was unfamiliar in every way, including the language spoken there. Still, Jalene loved Menas, and he was a good husband.
A beloved member of the church, Menas served as an elder. He worked in construction, cracking rocks used for building. And he was the kind of man that used his skills generously, bringing 300 rocks for the construction of a new church hall and laying the foundation for free. Jalene and Menas were happily married and gave birth to a little girl, whom they named Desta*.
Five years later, everything changed. While at work, a boulder fell on Menas, and he died instantly. Jalene was heartbroken, and five-year-old Desta was fatherless. In spite of her great pain and grief, Menas’ family rejected her, claiming that she was bad luck and had brought this death upon their family. The people who were supposed to help care for this young widow and her child wanted nothing to do with her. They kicked her out of her own home.
Jalene had no work experience. Menas had always been the sole provider for their family. Suddenly, she was a widow, a single mother, and homeless. She didn’t know what to do. Her hope was fading away, and she began to question God.
Why did her husband—a good man—die? Is this what happens when someone faithfully serves the Lord?
Thankfully, this is when the local church stepped in to care for Jalene and Desta. The Addisalem Berhane Wongel Church accepted this family into their Home Based Care program with World Orphans. Through the church, she is able to receive support for her family. They have shelter and food, and little Desta is able to attend school. Jalene has also found a job and is providing income in addition to what she receives from the program. This allows her to save and plan for the future.
As she tells her story, tears flow down her cheeks. They are tears of mixed emotions—of great grief and great gratitude. She will never stop missing her beloved husband, and she will continue wearing black as a sign of that grief. But now she has regained her hope! She and her child are being cared for and loved. As she walked away from the church that day after sharing her testimony, she looked up to the sky, smiled, and thanked God.
*Names changed to protect identity
By Tacy Layne | Writer/Editor
The Race That Eats Its Young.
It’s a daunting tagline, isn’t it? Doesn’t it make you want to sign up for the race tomorrow? The Barkley Marathons is a gruesome, agony-filled race whose distance exceeds 100 miles and whose memories could scar you for a lifetime. Nestled in the hills of Tennessee, the race challenges runners not only with the distance, but the hills, trees, briars, and early-spring possibilities of rain, snow, sleet, or hail. The course time limit is 60 hours. 60 hours of crying, bleeding, hallucinating, hungering, thirsting . . . fun?
In the first 25 years of the race’s existence, only ten people completed the course. Despite its grimacing tagline and its infamous reputation (or because of it), hundreds of runners apply for the race each year. Only 40 of those that apply are given formal invitations (which are written in the form of condolence letters). The race follows a looped course. Three laps, approximately 78 miles, is considered a “fun run”, and the full five-lap course finishes out at 130 miles.
If you aren’t yet sick to your stomach, each loop of the race has a 12,000 foot ascent and 12,000 foot descent, making the full course equivalent to climbing Mt. Everest twice.
Lazarus Lake, cofounder of the Barkley Marathons, says runners “just had a fallback mentality [in the race’s early history] that the race was just the fun run and the hundred [full race] was impossible.” Nobody completed the full race course until nearly ten years after the race was established. Lake went on to say, “Once someone finished, you knew it really could be done.”
Did you catch that? Runners assumed the race was impossible until someone completed it.
Until They All Have Homes.
It’s a daunting tagline isn’t it? When you place the desire to see every orphaned child in a home up against the reality that there are 153 million orphaned children in the world, this tagline doesn’t seem to pay homage to the situation at hand.
If we multiplied the Texas population by five, that number would still fall short of the amount of orphaned children in the world.
- The worldwide orphan population is larger than the entire population of Russia.
- If all the orphans in the world were placed in a country of their own, they would have the ninth largest country in the world.
Seeking to house and nurture every orphaned child in the world might as well be the world’s most difficult 130-mile race, right? We know the challenge to “defend the weak and the fatherless” (Psalm 82:3), yet we feel like we don’t know where to begin sometimes.
Here’s the thing. It’s going to be impossible until we do it.
When runners run the first four laps of the Barkley Marathons, they typically run together. They partner up – the seasoned Barkley runners with the newbies – and they tackle the course together because they know they stand a better chance against the terrain and their own weaknesses when they choose to not go alone.
I cannot do this alone. You cannot do this alone. World Orphans cannot do this alone. We’re holding on to the grace of God, asking you to join hands with us, and tackling the orphan crisis one mile at a time. We aren’t taking the “fun run” option. We aren’t assuming this is impossible. We’re in this for the long haul.
We’re going to ride out the briar-covered hills, the snow-packed trails, the rainy miles, the blistered feet, and the relentless exhaustion. Far more than bragging rights and race medals are at stake here.
153 million children deserve hope. It’s not impossible for every orphaned child to have a home. It’s just that nobody has done it . . .
By Lindsay Allen | Project Manager: Americas
World Orphans currently has more than 40 projects in 12 countries around the world. Naturally, the varying cultures, expectations, and regulations shape the way our projects are developed and maintained. Even within one country’s borders, no two projects look identical. Navigating the cultural norms, customs, and appropriate practices in so many varying communities certainly has its challenges. But, it also brings a beautiful diversity to our ministry. Whether it’s a refugee camp in Iraq, Home Based Care in Haiti, a residential children’s home in India, or economic empowerment programs in Ethiopia, we are constantly exploring the best ways to care for orphans and preserve families.
One of our more unique partnerships is an organization in Nicaragua named Tesoros de Dios, meaning ‘God’s Treasures’. This ministry works specifically with children and families that are suffering from the effects of physical and mental disabilities. The facility offers a variety of therapies for children and provides support groups for caregivers. Here, children receive needed treatment to help them meet their potential, and parents are educated on how to provide care for their special needs child.
Tesoros de Dios also does outreach to local churches and schools, providing Biblical teaching about our responsibility to care for these children whom society too often casts aside. Much of the training focuses on inclusivity and education for both churches and schools, as they learn how to engage and care for these families well.
I want to share the story of Mateo* with you. Mateo was born with a seizure disorder and began visiting Tesoros de Dios at 3 years old. He had poor muscle tone and could not walk on his own. Now, after 3 years of therapy, he is able to walk and run! Mateo’s mother was also concerned about his hearing and delayed speech abilities. A speech therapist began working with Mateo and his family to determine what issues he is facing and create a plan to improve his speech. Mateo’s mother was encouraged by the speech therapist as she learned practical ways to assist her son.
Every year, the children are treated to a water park visit. It is the only time Mateo ever goes to the pool. He has so much fun playing in the water! During his last visit to the pool, one staff member was able to work with him on water therapy treatment. They practiced walking and balancing, and he had a blast!
Sadly, in most societies throughout the world, families are shunned by their own communities when they have children born with disabilities. These communities are convinced that the disability is a curse or punishment for the parents’ sins. Worse yet, these children are vulnerable to abandonment, neglect, or murder.
We are so thankful for the work God is doing in Nicaragua through Tesoros de Dios. At Tesoros de Dios, hope is triumphing in children whose lives initially seemed hopeless. Mateo and others like him truly are “treasures of God”. It is encouraging to see the church stepping up to its responsibility to love and protect these precious children.
By Tacy Layne | Writer/Editor
Soran, Iraq is tucked into the Zagros Mountains of Northern Iraq, where springtime is brilliantly green and winters are harsh and thick with snow. The terrain is majestic and fierce.
When the Ray family moved to the Iraqi Kurdistan region, they didn’t know what God had in mind for them, but they heard the call to go, and listened. After building relationships in the area, the family was approached in 2009 by Mayor Krmamji Dargali, who asked the Rays to establish a community center that would minister to widows in the region through education and job skills training, enabling them to continue supporting their children.
The community center was affectionately and prophetically named: “The Refuge Community Center”. Oh, the beautiful things God had in store. Billy and Dawn Ray, along with their three boys, in partnership with Tim and Sarah Buxton and their three children, began to establish roots in Iraqi Kurdistan.
Then, in 2014, everything began to change.
ISIS wreaked havoc across Iraq, targeting religious and ethnic minorities in what has now been justly declared a genocidal campaign. As a result, millions of desperate Iraqi families were suddenly on the move, seeking refuge. As a peaceful safe haven in the midst of violence, many turned to the region of Northern Iraq. Thus, in a matter of days, the community center was repurposed to not only serve widows and orphans of the region, but to create space for Yazidi and Shabak families fleeing ISIS.
In August 2015, The Refuge Initiative was officially established.
The efforts of the Buxtons and Rays have been tremendously blessed and multiplied, as the Refuge Initiative now includes five self-governed micro-camps that wholistically care for the needs of approximately 700 people through the provision of adequate housing with running water and indoor plumbing, trauma counseling, access to food, and education. For the children in this region, education is vital.
“With guns, you can kill terrorists. With education, you can kill terrorism.” -Malala Yousafzai
In a country where political and economic stability will continue to remain a distant dream, the children grow further behind in their education with every passing day they miss school. For many of these youth, the long-awaited day of returning home will not change their educational circumstances, as the Iraqi government will not allow children to miss such large quantities of time in the classroom. These youth run the risk of never receiving a formal education again, yet at TRI, the children have a much more hopeful story.
English, math, music, and art classes have been held in the community center, but the space is proving to be too small for the more than 100 children currently receiving an education. In an effort to remain focused on wholistically caring for refugee and IDP families, ground has been broken for a school.
This school, an answer to many prayers, will be 16,000 square feet and two stories high. A gym will be located on the ground floor, with nine classrooms upstairs. The facility will make both the teaching and the learning process far more accessible to the educators and students, as space will no longer be a daily issue.
By focusing on education for these families, we remind them that they weren’t always refugees, and they won’t always be refugees. We remind them that they have a hope and a future, and the circumstances they currently face will not determine the rest of their lives. Children that would be at risk of forced child labor or human trafficking within the confines of a large, bustling macro-camp are instead receiving some dose of normalcy in their lives as they go to to school each day to learn, to dream, and to grow.
“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” – Ephesians 2:10
As they continue to follow God’s leading, the Rays and Buxtons come face-to-face with the good that God planned for their families so long ago, the good that they could never have planned for themselves, and the good which has provided refuge for so many families. In the soil of devastation and brokenness, goodness and hope are blossoming.
We’re excited about the work God is doing through TRI in Northern Iraq. As we educate the future leaders of Iraq, establish Christ’s deep hope in the hearts of refugees, and continue to celebrate God’s providence in the midst of devastation, we want to invite you to join us. We’re seeking 538 additional sponsors for TRI and would love for you to be a part of this.
Tacy Layne | Writer/Editor
“We have to do something.” Months of researching, being pummeled by images, and endless news stories led the mother-daughter duo, Sheryl Russell and Brittany Turco, to make this statement regarding the refugee crisis.
They were sitting in a warm, familiar place on that December day: Sheryl’s kitchen. After 30 years of cooking and baking, the kitchen had seen many wedding cakes, mouth-watering cookies, and cinnamon rolls.
Cinnamon rolls have been a Christmas staple in the Turco and Russell homes, as the ladies have passed out the homemade pastries to family, friends, and neighbors for the last several years. This past year, however, they took a different approach.
What if a cinnamon roll could bring awareness? What if indulging in a delicacy could somehow raise funds for refugees in Syria and Iraq? What if hours baking in a kitchen could translate to over $1,000 for refugees?
Sheryl watched the news stories pour in, saw the faces of mothers, fathers, and children as they journeyed to safety, and came face-to-face with the realization that those who traveled for miles were the fortunate ones . . . because they escaped. When that realization set in for Sheryl and her daughter, Brittany, they did what they do best. They baked.
Brittany and Sheryl established Rolls for Refugees with the goal of raising $1,000 to support three organizations that serve refugees in either Syria or Iraq. Brittany quickly set up a website to take orders online, and in just four weeks Rolls for Refugees went from a kitchen table conversation to a profitable $1,400 fundraiser.
World Orphans project, The Refuge Initiative, was one of the three organizations that received not only the financial, but the awareness-driven support of Brittany and Sheryl. The Refuge Initiative operates out of Iraq, a country ravaged by the destruction and heartbreak brought on by ISIS. This project uses self-governed micro-camps to provide wholistic care and equip refugees with pathways back to independence, including education, vocational training, and job creation.
While the funds Brittany and Sheryl raised certainly made an impact on the lives of refugees, they were most excited about the opportunity to raise awareness, not only for the refugees, but for the organizations whose ministries focus on serving refugees. Family and friends were excited to have an easy, tangible (and delicious) way to get involved.
Brittany and Sheryl, like us at World Orphans, believe that God has blessed us with gifts and talents, and he breaks our hearts for specific people and circumstances. Why? Because we have something to offer. Whether it’s baking or running or offering up our finances, we have a role to play in caring for widows, orphans, and refugees . . . until they all have homes.
What do you have to offer? Learn more about the ways in which your gifts and passions can impact the ministries of World Orphans by visiting us at www.worldorphans.org/rescueteams
By Lindsay Allen | Project Manager: Americas
“Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” — Isaiah 40:28-31
In these verses and several times throughout Scripture, we are told to wait for the Lord. That command seems so simple, and yet we struggle to obey it every day. Our human nature compels us to try to control every aspect of our lives—our finances, our health, our futures. We may say we desire God’s blessing and His will for our lives, but are we willing to wait for Him to reveal it to us? Are we willing to endure trials and heartache as we wait for the Lord?
Tigsit is a widow living in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, with her three children. Her name in Amharic means ‘patience’, and her testimony shows us what it means to patiently wait upon the Lord despite hardships and challenges.
In 2001, Tigsit and her husband, Mulugeta, were living in Eastern Ethiopia when she became very ill. For three months, she lay in a hospital bed, and no one knew what was wrong. Finally, the doctors determined she had both tuberculosis and HIV, but nothing helped, and she continued to become increasingly sick. Four more months passed, and it became clear that she would die in that hospital bed. So, her husband and father began preparing for her funeral.
A group of Christians from the local church came to the hospital one day to visit and pray with the sick patients. One man of God prophesied that Tigsit would be healed in one month. One month later, after eight long months of illness, she was suddenly healed! Tigsit’s father had been worshiping a witch for years, but after her healing, he, Tigsit, and Mulugeta all gave their lives to Christ immediately.
Tigsit and Mulugeta then moved to Addis Ababa, joined a church where they began to learn about Jesus and His Word, and they were eventually baptized. Sadly, Mulugeta’s family rejected them because of their faith in Christ. Still, they proclaimed the Gospel proudly.
Not long after moving to Addis Ababa, Tigsit gave birth to a son. Their family continued to grow through the birth of a daughter in 2005 and another daughter in 2010. Mulugeta worked as a tailor, and Tigsit made some extra money washing clothes. Together, they worked hard to provide for their family.
Then, on August 1, 2014, Mulugeta was walking home from work when he suddenly fell down and died. The cause of death is still unknown. And just like that, the story changes. The same God who had miraculously healed Tigsit in 2001 had suddenly—abruptly—taken her husband home to heaven.
Tigsit, a widow suddenly grieving the loss of her husband, had to bear the full burden of caring for her three children alone. She sold many of their possessions, worked multiple jobs, and still found herself struggling to feed her family and pay rent.
That is when waiting on the Lord is not so easy—when the children are hungry, when you can barely keep a roof over their heads, and when the pain of losing someone you love seems like a physical weight you can’t lift—and yet, in spite of the financial strain, Tigsit faithfully gave her tithe to the church, trusting in the Lord and waiting upon Him. She knew firsthand the power of God, and her faith could not be shaken. She knew she was passing through the valley of the shadow of death, but she did not fear, for she knew her Shepherd was with her.
Then, when she needed it most, assistance came from her local church and the World Orphans program. She joyfully received small, needed items like soaps and cooking oil. But, more importantly, her three children, who were all HIV+, could receive the medication needed for them to stay healthy, and they were able to attend a good school.
Tigsit has now joined a savings group through the church, which enables her to save money each month. She feels empowered to provide for her family, making sure her children are never hungry and can receive a high-quality education. Tigsit is also delighted to report that her youngest daughter of five, after taking medication consistently, is now HIV free!
Those who know Tigsit say that she claims the name of Jesus in almost every statement. She is full of joy and radiates the love of Christ. How beautiful it is to see this woman, who has suffered so much, proclaiming the Lord’s faithfulness. May we take Tigsit’s story to heart, and pray over the areas in our lives where we must only wait for the Lord, and He will renew our strength.