by Lindsay Allen | Project Manager: Americas
In Fangshan, China, a district outside of Beijing, World Orphans supports the Angel Training Center, a division of Living Hope International. This center is both a residential facility and school for orphans. The Angel Training Center provides orphaned children with a high standard of education, and even includes arts programs and vocational training.
Rachel is a teenage girl who has benefitted greatly from the Angel School and the ministry of Living Hope International. Read in Rachel’s own words what it means to have these opportunities…
My name is Rachel, and I am 17-years-old. First I want to thank God for bringing me to Angel School, which feels so much like home to me. I am very fortunate and blessed to be in the love and care of the school.
My parents passed away when I was only 4 years old, and this put my relatives and me in a very difficult situation. In 2005, I was brought to the big family of Bo Ai School, which was the predecessor of Angel School.
In both Bo Ai School and Angel School I received a good education. I grew healthily and happily. I feel loved and grateful. I am 17 now and in the second year of an associate degree program, studying Early Education. From May 2014, I began my internship in a kindergarten owned by China’s Department of General Staff. I am on the payroll now and am able to be independent. I no longer need the financial support of Angel School.
I want to thank you for your support over the years so I could grow and learn healthily and joyfully. I received so much love and material support from you, which I do not take for granted. The most important thing I received is getting to know our Lord Jesus. I realized Jesus is always with me, leading and helping me. Words can hardly describe such warm and special love, which comes from God.
I am also thankful for all the non-material, invisible things and blessings I received at Angel School. I have learned to be grateful, cherish what I have been given, and repay those who have helped me. I will face the future with a thankful heart. I don’t know how I can fully express my gratitude to all of you, but I will work hard to show my gratitude with my actions. My two-year internship will be completed by July 2016. After that, I will become an official employee. Thank God and thank you all for giving me a wonderful childhood full of joy. Thank you!
Headmaster Ms. Li visited me recently to see how I was doing. I felt touched by her continued love and care for me. I certainly will stay in touch with Angel School and Living Hope. I hope one day I can make contributions to Living Hope and Angel School. I deeply appreciate God, Angel School, and everyone who has ever helped and supported me. Thank you all! God bless you all!
We are so thankful for testimonies like Rachel’s. Even as a 4-year-old orphan in China, God had a plan for her life. And now as a young woman, she recognizes how the Lord has protected her and provided for her all along. In God’s sovereignty, He used World Orphans, Living Hope International, and the Angel Training Center to write Rachel’s special story. We are all a part of it and bless God!
Several years ago, I traveled to Israel where I studied the life of Christ and the tendencies of the early church’s expansion. For some reason, when you walk where Jesus walked, your steps become clearer. When you talk with real-life shepherd boys, you begin to feel a closer bond with Moses and David. When you climb the mountains that Jesus climbed and look at the towns where he ministered, you begin to see life from a more divine angle. And when you circle up to hear a Messianic rabbi tell stories, you feel like a disciple learning from a Master.
One story I was told goes like this…
An old rabbi named Akiva entered a village to collect supplies. Returning home at night, he mistakenly took the wrong road. Suddenly, a man shouted, “Who are you, and why are you here?” Not knowing if the man was talking to him, Akiva stopped, looked around, saw no one, and continued walking.
Then, once again, even louder than the first time, the man shouted, “Who are you, and why are you here?” And once again, Akiva stopped, wondered if the man was talking to him, looked around, saw no one, and continued walking.
Finally, a third time, the man shouted, “Who are you, and why are you here?” Stunned, Akiva realized he had wandered into the Roman garrison, and the voice had come from a young guard staring at him just a few feet away in the dark. In typical rabbi-fashion, he finally answered the harsh questions with another question: “How much do they pay you to stand guard and ask that question to all who approach the gate?”
The guard, realizing the man was a rabbi, put down his spear and calmly replied, “Five drachmas a week, kind sir.”
The tired rabbi humbly said, “Young man, I will double your pay if you come home with me, stand in front of my home, ask me that question each morning as I begin my day: “Who are you, and why are you here?”
What would happen to our lives if we asked God each morning these two soul-piercing questions, “Who am I, and what am I doing here?” What would happen if we expectantly waited for Him to respond? What would happen to our homes, our marriages, our churches, our communities, our country, and our world?
Sometimes, God responds through encouragement by letting us know that we are on the right path. Other times, He shifts our paradigms and leads us into living differently, thinking differently, even praying differently. He stretches our comfort zones. He extends the walls of our churches to the nations. He broadens our view of family to include people who have no family. Stretch by stretch, we begin to look more like Him and less like the person inside of us that we are trying to protect.
Ask yourself today, “Who am I, and what am I doing here?” Then, watch and join as God responds.
By Lindsay Allen | Project Manager: Americas
In 2009, a 10-year old boy named Jean Baptiste (JB) moved into Hope Home Care, a residential home for orphaned children in Cyegera Rwanda. Out of the 10 boys and 10 girls living in the home, JB was one of the oldest. As he grew accustomed to his new home, he was shy and timid. Not only did he find himself in a new place with unfamiliar people, he also had to cope with his diagnosis of HIV. He feared that HIV would not only impact his health, but also his relationships.
Over the past six years, JB has grown from a shy little boy to a bright young man. He is a leader within Hope Home, and his 19 “brothers and sisters” all look up to him. Thankfully, JB is a wonderful role model for them. He is number one in his class and will graduate from secondary school in the fall. In November, he will take and most likely pass the entrance exams for University in Rwanda. He has worked hard to master English, and now he is so good that he sometimes translates for World Orphans teams when they come to visit. JB is also one of the premier soccer players in the district and is often invited to travel with the local team when they play in other districts.
At times, JB has struggled with illness resulting from his HIV, but he doesn’t let that stop him from dreaming big! His dream is to one day become a doctor, and we believe he will achieve his goal. JB knows the value of education and hard work, but there is one thing he values even more — his relationship with Jesus. He has given his life to Christ and was recently baptized.
Six years ago, this young man had no family, no community, and a grave medical diagnosis. Now he is loved by a very large family, is respected within his community, and has a bright future ahead of him. Most importantly, he knows the all-surpassing love of a heavenly Father, in whom he has placed his hope and faith.
We are so proud of JB, and we are thankful for the Christ-like example he sets for the younger children of Hope Home Care. Without the intervention of Hope Home Care, JB’s life would have probably turned out very differently. His life is a testimony to the power of loving and caring for a child in need.
by Kevin Squires | Senior Director of Church Partnerships
“Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Some people move our souls to dance. They awaken us to a new understanding with the passing whisper of their wisdom. Some people make the sky more beautiful to gaze upon. They stay in our lives for awhile, leave footprints on our hearts, and we are never, ever the same.” – Flavia Weedn
It’s no surprise that God created man to be interdependent, for He knew that no man could live as an island. To ensure this harmony, His very Spirit blazes trails for us to follow that daily intersect with others ‘for such a time as this.’ Sometimes, those moments go unnoticed; other times, they leave footprints on our hearts.
Recently, I led a group of American church leaders to Guatemala to promote church partnership-driven orphan care. The program, administered through an innovative, four-way partnership between World Orphans, AMG Guatemala, Guatemalan churches, and US churches, is designed to provide opportunities for churches from different backgrounds to “do life together” while serving the needs of orphaned and vulnerable children.
We met Pastor Eli and his wife Nancy who started a church in their home and have about 50 members, mostly widows and orphans. Born in Nicaragua, Eli lost his father at a young age and was forced to move to Guatemala so he could be raised by his extended family. Growing up in a vulnerable environment, Eli developed a heart for at-risk families and was determined to go into ministry to help lead the vulnerable to Christ. He started a ministry for single moms, focused on trauma and grief counseling. Today, nearly everyone in his church is involved in the program, and they frequently visit other families in need, delivering food baskets and telling stories of the love of Christ. Recently, through the World Orphans/AMG church partnership program, Pastor Eli partnered with a church in Michigan to care for more orphaned and vulnerable children, giving them the food, counseling, discipleship, and care that is so desperately needed in the impoverished areas of Guatemala City.
We also met Pastor Rudy. He recently took over as lead pastor at Iglesia Cristiana and immediately began reaching out to the orphaned and vulnerable youth in his community. With a heart to do more and a track record to show his genuine passion for orphan care, World Orphans is currently looking for a US church to partner with him and his church.
With the footprints of Pastor Eli and Pastor Rudy on our heart, World Orphans is actively looking for US churches to partner with our Guatemala churches. Currently, Pastor Rudy’s church is available for partnership, as well as four more churches in the Zone 18 district of Guatemala City, known as an area torn apart by gangs, drugs, and prostitution.
Are you ready to answer the call to defend the orphan? Contact us today at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the Church Partnership section on our website for more information and open your church to a life-changing experience.
By Kevin Squires | Senior Director of Church Partnerships
World Orphans exists because we believe what Scripture says about the church, the orphan, and the expansion of the Gospel. Having said that, we boast in the fact that we did not invent the model of wholistic, home-based care … we simply found it in the Word of God. The early church of Acts was fortified on the idea of community life, sharing, and spreading the Gospel. In his book The Rise of Christianity, sociologist Rodney Stark states,
Christianity revitalized life in Greco-Roman cities by providing new norms and new kinds of social relationships able to cope with many urgent urban problems. To cities filled with the homeless, Christianity offered charity as well as hope. To cities filled with newcomers and strangers, Christianity offered an immediate basis for attachments. To cities filled with orphans and widows, Christianity provided a new and expanded sense of family. To cities torn by violence and ethnic strife, Christianity offered a new basis for social solidarity. And to cities faced with epidemics, fires, and earthquakes, Christianity offered effective nursing services.
The early church understood that operating alone was foolish, so as we study their methods, we see community after community investing in one another to change the world. Still today, when churches unite together, communities begin to transform into a living, breathing Kingdom of God.
We also believe that by forming intentional, global church partnerships, we can maximize the vast opportunities God has provided our generation in terms of technology, ease of travel, and reachability. We may visit, serve, train, and learn from churches all across the world like never before, so to whom much is given, much is required.
The traction and momentum of the global church is ever increasing! Many are referring to this rise of strategic partnerships in the church as a “revolution,” but we tend to believe it is simply a “rebirth.” A rebirth that reflects what the church used to be about … expanding the Kingdom of God through Christ-centered, grace-filled community … through caring for those in need … and through loving others because He first loved us.
By Lindsay Allen | Project Manager – Americas
World 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.
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
On 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
At 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
The 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.
by Kevin Squires | Senior Director of Church Partnerships
Starting 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:
- Relationship over Resources
- Equality over Superiority
- Reciprocity over Control
- Learning over Teaching
- One Body over One Part
- Affirming Dignity over Serving Needs
- Accountability over Intentions
- 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.
- 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 email@example.com.
- a kind hearted person that actively teams with World Orphans to reach more children
- a vital part of ensuring continual care for orphaned or vulnerable children
- someone that commits to a monthly sacrifice; generally $33 per month
- a member of the World Orphans team that can’t be thanked enough
Whenever I hear about our work in Cambodia I am stunned.
Life 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.
By Becky Hoffman | Director of Rescue Teams
Good 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?
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?
A 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.
The 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!