World Orphans believes in equipping the church to care for orphans, but what does equipping mean in it’s most complete form? Is it providing money? Is it meeting physical needs? Would you feel fully equipped if you were never encouraged? And how is one really encouraged?
Earlier this month, World Orphans sent a different kind of trip to Haiti. A Worship Trip. This was the first of its kind. We gathered 14 worship leaders and musicians from across the United States, and spent a week worshipping. We visited several of the World Orphans church partners in Port au Prince. The team took tangible gifts for the churches like instruments and sound equipment, as well as hygiene packets for families. However, these were not the greatest gifts of this trip. The most abundant blessing for both the churches and the team members, was time in the presence of God.
In our time together, relationships were built, laughter was shared, games were played, songs were sung, and worship was in it all! We visited school children in some of our church partner programs, and even got to interrupt class time to worship with them! What a delight to hear and see their young voices and hands lifted to the Lord. Our team learned alongside the churches that a lifestyle of worship is a life of sacrifice. And it is in this sacrifice that God Himself becomes everything we need.
Equipping churches goes far beyond just meeting physical needs. Wholistic care is only truly complete when we are worshipping God with everything we do, and allowing His presence to provide the things we are not capable of. God shows us in His word that He…all by Himself…is the Great Reward of worship. And He is everything we need.
In Numbers 18:20, the Lord told Aaron, “You will not have an inheritance in their land; there will be no portion among them for you. I am your portion and your very great reward.”
It is hard to believe the holiday season is upon us. As we celebrate Thanksgiving, we will gather together to give thanks to the Lord for all He has provided and to count our blessings. The next day many of you may head out during the wee hours of the morning to find the best deals so you can bless your friends and family. This is known as “Black Friday.” Maybe you don’t want to fight the crowds, so “Cyber Monday” is your day, the day you order all of your Christmas gifts online. Being a blessing to those we love is such a privilege we enjoy and share.
After these wonderful days filled with anticipation of giving to our loved ones, there is another day of giving, but this one looks a little different. This is a day for us to give to the least of these. Giving Tuesday. Tuesday, December 3, is a nationally recognized day where Americans link arms with charitable organizations and give to those in need. World Orphans is excited to be part of Giving Tuesday for the first time this year, and we are asking you, our friends, to consider a gift to World Orphans as we seek to be the hands and feet of Christ.
We are anticipating an exciting day! We look forward to sharing it with you and to what we’ll be able to do for our brothers and sisters around the world because of Giving Tuesday.
In the meantime, you can help us to spread the word! Will you tell your friends and family about World Orphans? Will you share with them how we are partnering with local churches around the world to see orphans and vulnerable children cared for in families? Would you join us in encouraging friends toward a season of generosity? God has been so good to us and has accomplished much through the ministry of World Orphans. It is our privilege to be His hands and feet to the least of the least, and we are grateful for your partnership.
As we approach Thanksgiving, it is common for us as believers to spend a significant amount of time thinking upon our many blessings, and truly they are many. Most of us can find no shortage of things to thank our Father for – not the least of which is our families.
Take a poll around Thanksgiving of things people are most thankful for, and “family” will be among the top answers you receive. For most, Thanksgiving is nearly synonymous with family, and serves as the yearly occasion to express thanks and gratitude for those closest to us.
While this holiday serves as a wonderful opportunity for us to remember and be thankful for those we hold most dear, it can also serve as a stark reminder that there are many across the globe without these same family connections. For many young girls and boys, November 28 will be just another lonely day.
Thankfully, it does not end there.
In the Psalms, we see one of the most beautiful revelations concerning the nature of our God. In Psalm 68:6, we read that He “sets the lonely in families.” What a wonderful insight into the heart of our King! He cares deeply for these little ones, and for every person dealing with feelings of loneliness and isolation.
The same Jesus who had compassion on the multitudes and welcomed the children into His arms truly cares for those who are lonely and actively watches over them. His heart is moved with love for these little ones, and in the overflow of that, He reveals Himself to be the One who loves to answer our need.
As we spend time this holiday season thinking on and thanking God for our blessings, let us remember those who do not have a family, and let us remember to pray for them.
“Father, we ask that you would comfort those today struggling with feelings of loneliness. Draw near to those without a father or mother, brothers or sisters. Be their comfort and joy. Bring peace to them and show your great love toward them. Let the church be their family and welcome them with open arms. And for those many fatherless and motherless orphans around the world, provide a place for them to call home. Do what you love to do and set the lonely in families!”
Ebenezer Bible Church (EBC) in Temba, South Africa, has been a World Orphans partner since 2008. With a passion for reaching the lost, they are ministering to their community in many ways, concluding each year with a Celebration honoring God for what He has done. In these last months of 2013, they will be focusing on community evangelism and outreach. Their orphan care program is a significant resource to the community, as they provide both ongoing and emergency care for orphaned and at-risk children.
EBC works closely with the local Department of Social Development providing a safe place for children needing emergency care, due to removal from their homes, abandonment, or other desperate circumstances. In these crisis situations, children are taken into the program and may leave temporarily for court evaluations and decisions about parental care, and, depending on the outcomes, may or may not return. The church stands ready to step in at any point to ensure the children’s well being, and actively seeks to serve and help.
They recently brought four new children into their program after neighbors alerted police that the children were being left alone for days without adult supervision. At one point when they had been left alone, their house caught ﬁre; thankfully, none were injured. Because of this neglect and negligence, they were brought to the EBC center to receive care and support.
The church is ministering to these siblings and their individual needs. One of the girls suffers from mental illness, and is showing signs of improvement and responsibility. She has been helping with cooking, even at the school! Two of the boys struggle with identity and deal with confusion, having missed the experience and balance of a healthy father and mother in their home.
On Nelson Mandela Day, the Emperor’s Bikers Club came to do community work in the center. This was a day full of fun and gifts shared from a group of bikers from around Pretoria.
There are great things happening at Ebenezer Bible Church! The church is surrounding these children, each with unique and difficult circumstances, and showing them the love of Christ. As they partner in their community, they are providing opportunity for others to serve and know the needs of these precious children, as well as improving their care and experience.
In His final prayer for the future generations of disciples, people that would someday become members of the Kingdom, Jesus prayed, “…that all of them may be one.” And while most Christians would gladly acknowledge that they value “oneness” in the Kingdom, living and acting that out can sometimes be another story. It seems that the more we invest and sacrifice for something, the more tightly we want to hold it. Imagine how much more careful we are with a special family heirloom than something not-so-special from Walmart. The more precious something is to us, the more difficult it is for us to openly share.
It’s no wonder then, in the world of Christian ministry, that it’s hard for us to let go and to share with others. Despite this prayer for oneness from John 17, many people in ministry have individually given up jobs, houses, fields, relationships, etc., to seek God’s mission for their lives. They have spent endless hours in prayer, rallied support from their families and communities, and labored painstakingly to craft the vision, the mission, and the message of what God has called them to do. Most then rightly value this mission not only as something near and dear to the heart of God, but something that belongs to them as well. It’s hard to work together…it makes sense…it’s hard to let go.
But at World Orphans, we don’t think that lets us off the hook. We believe God has called us to something higher than being defined by our individual missions. We believe that how we do our work can communicate more of the gospel than what we do. And so, in Cambodia, as World Orphans strives to do the work of God with the values of the Kingdom, we are excited to enter a partnership with a local organization named Children in Families (CIF). The goal of this partnership is to provide a better platform for serving the needs of children, families, and churches in Cambodia through collaboration. In this joint project, CIF will focus its resources on the clinical and administrative needs of the children, and World Orphans will seek to work through churches to help provide for the relational and spiritual needs of the children and families.
We believe that working together, collaboratively, with open hands and hearts, faithfully seeking to honor God through our partnerships, brings glory to Him and help to His people.
By Sheri Mellema – Advocacy
There she stood with red rimmed eyes, tears about to spill onto her cheeks. She was young, and as I awkwardly attempted to comfort her, I was instantly drawn to this girl’s innate and very palpable sense of compassion. “What do we do?” she asked. “There are too many orphans to help, and I feel like there is no hope,” she cried.
Our encounter unfolded at the county fairgrounds at the Big Ticket Festival in northern Michigan just a few weeks ago. This year the Christian music celebration featured World Orphans, and the speakers graciously brought awareness to our ministry from the main stage. We had designed an “experience tent” that visually and audibly invited fairgoers to walk in the shoes of an orphan living in a tent city in Port Au Prince, Haiti. The real tent city emerged after the earthquake in 2010, because tarps, rusty sheets of metal, sticks, tattered material, and cardboard were the only resources left from which to create makeshift tents. There are currently over 300,000 people still living in the tent city.
This dear girl that I was speaking with had gone through the experience tent and was overwhelmed with the sheer magnitude of the problem. As I made an effort to redirect her thoughts to the orphans that ARE being cared for, I silently began to wrestle with my own fearful sentiments: “Where do we begin? With multitudes of abandoned children in this world, how can we see past the numbers and resurrect hope?”
The girl and I continued our conversation, and I found myself saying to her that each and every child placed in loving, home-based care is a life that can be transformed. And I think that focusing on one child at a time is exactly where hope prevails. I looked into the eyes of this girl that was facing me and thought, “What if it was her? What if she was the one orphan that was rescued that day?” What elation that would bring to our Father’s heart!
If the fear of the enormity of the struggle immobilizes us, then despair has won. Romans 5:3-5 reminds us that “…suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts.” Hope doesn’t disappoint! Jesus came to redeem and transform every single life, one at a time!
Our staff has been sporting new World Orphans t-shirts lately that are drawing a bit of attention, and we keep hearing the question: “Where can I get one?” At the new World Orphans web store, that’s where! And, we’re having a design competition…
You can now get a t-shirt, hoodie, wristband, necklace, Haitian coffee, bracelet made by women in Haiti to support their families, or a CamelBak water bottle from our website.
We’ll soon be adding more items, including golf shirts, race jerseys, hats, and more.
But, the coolest new item will be another t-shirt – this one designed by one of you, our faithful friends and supporters. Starting today through the end of September, we are holding a competition to see who can create the best new World Orphans t-shirt, and we’d like your help!
Send us your ideas, your drawings, lend us your creativity, and help us spread the word about World Orphans as we seek to rescue more children through local churches.
In addition to seeing your design on a t-shirt, the winner will receive a prize pack that includes a $100 World Orphans store credit.
* Please send your design ideas in pdf format to email@example.com.
Ten years ago, James Maina was eight and living on the streets of Eastleigh, Kenya. He and his seven-year-old brother, Joseph, were alone, fending for themselves. Because of their love for Christ and a heart for street boys, Fountain of Life Church rescued James and Joseph.
They brought them into their children’s home and have loved and nurtured them since. These boys have grown up at the church, receiving love, food, education, a place to live, and exposure to the Gospel, as the church has faithfully been the hands and feet of Christ. Attempts to reunite them with their alcoholic single mother haven’t been successful. The church has become their family, and Mamma Florence, their mother.
James has worked hard in school; this quarter he made the church proud by being the first child from their program to attend college! This has encouraged his brothers at the home to work harder in school so they can do the same.
James has grown and matured. He has become a leader and is using his musical talents to serve the Lord. Here is a small snippet of James leading worship at the church.
Fountain of Life knows that investing in the education of children will be key in breaking the cycle of poverty in their families.
As Gerji Kale Heywet Church in the sub city of Gerji, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, has grown, they have made new efforts to provide education and opportunity for the children in their World Orphans Home-Based Care Program.
With about 500 attendees and a growth rate of about 10% each year. The church rents a residential home and has converted the outside compound into a tent church. It is quite remarkable and resourceful.
As part of the church’s effort to care for the whole child, they are funding field trips for the children in their program. They took two trips to the Ethiopian National Museum in Addis Ababa. The church supported the activity by securing the transportation, chaperones, entrance fees, and lunch for all the children, as well as a few of the mothers whose children were too young to go without them.
Here’s a picture of the children during the May 2012 trip. They were very excited and learned about many different animals indigenous to Ethiopia. They saw the famous remains of world renowned ‘Lucy’ and other fossils. They saw mammals, birds, turtles, and crocodiles—all native to their homeland. They learned about trees and plants and how to care for their environment. It was a wonderful time for all who went. The church is planning to go to a different museum this year, and the children are looking forward to it!
The children and their families were so touched that the church would provide such a wonderful opportunity. This type of care reinforces the Sunday messages about God’s love and care for them; how redemption and salvation are found at the cross of Jesus–the only mediator between Man and God; and of the greatest hope, of eternal love, and of complete forgiveness and grace.
One boy has been so moved by the true care and love of this local church, he is there every Sunday, and always on time. He is now helping and involved with the other children and loves to serve. He is happy. He has found God and a place where he belongs.
The Baan Tan Pra Porn shelter (which means streams of blessing) at Prachinburi Church in Thailand is diligently working to keep children in families. They have a unique program that seeks reunification and family restoration, through the care of the church.
When we first partnered with Prachinburi Church to care for children, many removed from parents’ care due to abuse, we agreed that it would be in the best interest of the children if the church continued (where possible and appropriate) to try and place each child into a home of extended family member, reconcile the child with his/her birth parents, or place a child in a foster family (especially a family from the church that is willing to care for the child).
Through the church’s efforts, two twin boys have already been adopted by families in the church! This has inspired other children in the home and also the church to try and reconcile the remaining eight children to their relatives. The church believes many of the families are ready for reunification.
The church has visited each family home to get more information, talk to the relatives, and arrange for a “trial period” for the children to visit and stay with their families during the school break from March to May.
So far they have reconciled six children with their birth parents, two of them within the past few weeks. Since it is only a trial period, the church has committed to make a series of visits to each family to follow-up and evaluate the possibilities for long-term reconciliation.
They still have two girls who still stay at Baan Tan Pra Porn. They’ve tried to locate the first girl’s birth parents without success, and the family of the second girl is not in a position to take care of her safely. They continue to explore long-term options for these two precious girls.
We continue to pray for the church leaders and for the children as they are adjusting back into their families…and praise the Lord for His goodness in making a way for these children to be cared for in families.