I had the opportunity to be a guest writer this week and share an article about God’s faithfulness in our lives. Was so neat to reflect on His activity and see how he has led us down the road of adoption. Enjoy!
Over the past two years, I have had the privilege of leading multiple teams overseas through Journey117. As director of the ministry, I have observed several other teams that have traveled overseas under the leadership of other outstanding J117 team leaders. Part of my job that I love is the discipleship process that allows me to educate and teach team members about what God’s Word says about orphan care, about our role and responsibility in tackling orphan-causing issues, and about the various models of orphan care that other organizations employ. I have noticed in the past decade or so that God is doing an amazing work in the hearts of His people in regards to orphan care. The Church is finally starting to rise up and carry out the mandate in Scripture to rescue and care for the fatherless, widow and the poor around the world. Social media, the internet, photography and video, and the ease of travel in this day and age has only increased our awareness of the orphan crisis and extreme levels of poverty in the majority world. I am excited that we are finally starting to respond; however, I feel a huge burden to speak into a particular issue today that I have come across time and again while working with individuals along the way.
I won’t beat around the bush: I fear that we’re doing it all wrong. My concern is that our hearts are leading the way and we are not doing what is in the best interest of the children that we are trying to help. Let me explain….
I just had a phone conversation with a lovely young lady this past week who recently served with Journey117 on a one-week mission trip to Haiti. She is passionate, educated, well-traveled and absolutely loves the Lord. She has a huge desire to take care of orphans around the world and is actually starting a non-profit ministry to allow her the platform to do so. I was ecstatic for her and proud of her willingness to make a difference! That is the goal and heartbeat of Journey117 – to empower people to take action as an orphan advocate. However, I saw something on Facebook one day that made my heart sink. One of her ministry goals was to start an orphanage in the following year. I screamed at my computer, as if me voicing my concerns would make a difference, “NO! Please don’t do that!!” I felt such an incredible burden after reviewing her website and reading through their goals and plans. I had to do something. So I picked up the phone.
We had a great conversation and she took everything I had to say with such grace. I feel as though my relationship with her allowed me the opportunity to speak into this and hopefully shed light on why I am so adamant about NOT starting/funding/partnering with orphanages. Below is a conclusion of my conversation with her, with various bullet points summarizing what I communicated that day:
- First off, God did not intend for ANY person to be institutionalized. He created us to be in families. If that is the case, then why are we so passionate about orphanages? Why do we glamorize “orphanages” and “orphan homes” and applaud those who go over to invest and work in them? Yes, it’s great that people have a heart for the orphan….but again, my fear is that we’re doing it all wrong. There HAS to be a better way to care for orphans than by putting them in an institution. “God sets the lonely in families, he leads forth the prisoners with singing…” Psalm 68:6.
- If we build an orphanage, it WILL be filled with children…but that’s not necessarily a good thing. In the movie Field of Dreams, there’s a voice that says, “If you build it, they will come.” That rings so true with orphanages, as well. You see, what many of us don’t realize is that many of children who are living in orphanages aren’t even orphans! I was astonished to see the statistics on this. In Liberia, for example, 98% of the children living in orphanages in that country have one surviving parent. In Sri Lanka that number is 92%, and in Zimbabwe 40%. I saw this first-hand when I was serving in Haiti. We were working one day at a small orphanage and there was a knock at the front gate. One of the workers answered the door and found a mother with her two children. The mother pleaded with the orphanage for them to take her children because she didn’t have the means to care for them anymore. What we discovered is that this is a COMMON thing that orphanage directors face around the globe. Orphan Care Network says it like this: “These statistics reflect a very common dynamic: In communities under severe economic stress, increasing the number of places in residential care results in children being pushed out of poor households to fill those places.” It’s a sad reality, but we have to put ourselves in the shoes of parents living in poverty or who are faced with other dire circumstances. Think about it, if you had children and had no way of providing adequate food, medicine, or education for them, would you not consider taking them to a nearby orphanage to see if they could take them in so that you’re children wouldn’t starve? I know I would. Those parents aren’t bad parents – they are just hopeless and in survival mode. So we have to ask ourselves the question: if most of the children that are institutionalized actually have family but have been brought to that facility because their parents or other family members didn’t have the adequate means to care for them in the first place, wouldn’t it make more sense for us to assist those FAMILIES so that they can stay together? That, to me, seems to be the best solution and one worth figuring out.
- Growing up in an orphanage has an adverse effect on personality, emotional and social development. Several studies have shown that EVERY child that spends significant time in an orphanage displays “symptoms of inadequate personality development such as aggression, attention-demanding behavior, sleep disturbance, over-affection and repelling affection.” (The Urban Halo, Craig Greenfield) I’ve seen this first-hand in orphanages during my travels as well. Individuals on short-term mission teams tend to think they must be something special when a child at an orphanage is overly affectionate with them during a visit. We think, “Oh, look how sweet he is! He has been holding onto me all day and won’t let go of my hand.” (I’ve mistakenly assumed this as well prior to my study on this particular topic.) What we don’t understand, though, is that that very child is that way with every single visitor that comes to the orphanage because “over-affection” is actually a psychosocial issue. This is a phenomena that results from children not have available, appropriate, nurturing and stable mother-figures in their life. These children have failed to have the opportunity to attach to a caretaker and are deprived of this deep emotional need being met; therefore, they are overly affectionate with anyone that will give them the time of day. Other studies show that IQ is severely affected, especially when children are institutionalized at a young age. Also, researchers have found that even when high quality orphanages are adequately staffed and children are receiving attention and love, there was still a statistically significant difference in emotional stability between those children and similar children in foster care. Also, the ones living in orphanages had a greater tendency to depression. This point is one of my biggest concerns! I feel as though many well-intended individuals around the world think that if they construct an orphanage that has brightly-colored walls, adequate staff to provide love and attention to the children, funding to provide 2-3 meals a day, and an educational program to keep the children in school, then they are doing a great thing and are taking excellent care of those children. Not to be judgmental or critical, but is that really a great thing in light of all the research and studies that have been done? Is that really a great thing considering the fact that those children WILL struggle and face major developmental delays given their institutionalization? I believe that the hearts of people who are starting orphanages are BEAUTIFUL, please don’t get me wrong. I just believe those hearts are misguided. That passion and love for the fatherless just needs to be redirected so that the best interests of the children are considered first and foremost.
- Finally, orphanages are expensive and lack sustainability when compared to community-based orphan care models. On average it costs about $2,000/year per child in an orphanage setting whereas a child that is supported in a home in a community can be adequately supported for about $30/month (about $360/year). Again, if we look at the fact that most orphans are “economic orphans,” meaning they are only residing in the orphanage because of economic stressors, then it makes total sense for a ministry/organization to keep the child in a family and in a community and help support that family to care for the child. By keeping children in the community and empowering families to care for their own children or extended family members, a nation is strengthened and economic growth and development can begin to occur. Microfinance is a huge need that would allow us to see HUGE change in communities if organizations and ministries would focus their attention on empowering and training families to be self-sustainable instead of building orphanages. Many families have the skills but just don’t have the resources and/or the initial capital to get a small business off the ground. If we could empower and equip families to do that, then they would be able to sustain their families and wouldn’t be knocking down the doors of orphanages looking for ways to provide a meal to their starving children.
My conversation ended with this particular young lady by reinforcing the fact that orphanages are not BAD…and I want to reiterate that again for you as a reader. Many of you, I’m sure, have some sort of connection with an orphanage in some part of the world and perhaps even know and love children or the staff that work there. I do, as well, and will continue to support them as best as I can given the resources and knowledge that I have. I have no intention of abandoning those places! However, if I were to ever be asked by that orphanage director what my opinion was on the best care for those children that are currently in his/her orphanage, I would tell them that it’s essential that they not be ignored or forgotten. The solution isn’t to turn our backs on existing orphanages or orphan homes. But a radical shift in our thinking and how to operate those facilities would be the first step. How can we perhaps “de-institutionalize” those children and help to reintegrate them into society? Can we trace each child’s family and possibly reunify those children with family members and redirect the funds that we were using at the orphanage to help train and equip the family to care for that child in their home? If families are legitimately nowhere to be found OR the family members that are discovered are not capable of properly caring for those children (i.e. abuse is suspected or the parent has a physical/mental disability that disallows them to properly care for themselves, much less a child), then at that point can we equip and train families within a local church to be foster parents. I mean, God has provided the mandate for the Church to care for orphans, right? So why not start with the local church right there in the community where that child was born? Why not re-train the orphanage workers to be social workers to visit the children in their new homes and ensure that proper care is being provided? God created families and he intends for us to be in them. So let’s invest in solutions that allow for orphans to be in loving HOMES. That is the only way to tackle the worldwide orphan crisis.
My appeal to passionate, well-intending individuals out there, Christian or not, is to let your head guide your heart. As I mentioned, I love the hearts of those people who are giving, sacrificing, and serving all because they want to make a difference in the life of a child. Praise God for you if you are one of those individuals! But my prayer is that you seek wisdom, study the topic thoroughly, network with as many individuals as you can, and make sure that in the end, you are pursuing a solution that is MOST beneficial to the child. May we all be challenged to not do things that seemingly appear to be good for orphans. And heaven forbid may we be challenged to not just do things because they make us feel good about ourselves at the end of the day. Let’s put the orphan above ourselves and ask the question: If this were my kid, what type of environment would I want them in? I doubt any of us would resort to placing them in institutions or “children’s homes” knowing the likely outcome of their emotional, social, physical and mental state.
May we all “learn to do good, seek justice, help the oppressed, defend the cause of orphans, and fight for the rights of widows” with wisdom and discernment (Isaiah 1:17).
It’s hard to believe that we are reaching the end of our journey. We’ve experienced so much in such a short amount of time, yet it feels as though the time has flown by! On Thursday we spent the day at Watoto’s home for orphaned and abandoned babies. As most of the ministries started by Watoto, the facilities were stunning in comparison to most of what we’ve seen so far. We started by cleaning cribs and changing sheets, and then spent the rest of the morning feeding, changing, and holding the babies. When the babies went down for a nap, we broke for lunch, and then continued the afternoon with sorting donated clothes and then spending the rest of the afternoon feeding and holding the babies until it was time to go.
On Friday we ventured a few miles outside of Kampala to a little district off the main road called Wakiso. Here in the midst of the corn fields, and dirt roads is Dove Church where we will be spending the remainder of the trip. Dove Church is a small indigenous church that is extremely active in their community. Their focus is spreading the gospel and ministering to the orphans, widows, and vulnerable families in the surrounding area. On their property they have a medical clinic and a children’s home which houses 12 orphaned children at a time. They have women’s community groups as well as a school in order to educate the women and children in avoiding disease and training them in entrepreneurial techniques to avoid poverty. The school teaches grades 1-7, and when we arrived our group was split up and asked to teach the classes for a couple of hours! The kids were incredibly attentive and interested in all we had to say. It was a great starting point to begin developing relationships with the children. The following day, Saturday, we returned to Dove Church where we spent some time meeting the other active leaders from the church, playing with and getting to know the orphans who live on the property, and teaching two worship songs to some of the children in the community for them to perform at church tomorrow! Today is Sunday and our final full day in country. We will be attending the worship service at Dove and our team member, Preston, will be teaching the congregation using a translator. We will hopefully spend the remainder of the day playing with and interacting with the children and members from Dove Church before it is time to say our goodbyes. Spending three consecutive days at Dove has been a refreshing change from the constant moving we’ve been doing the majority of the trip. Although educational and extremely important, the three days spent in one place has really allowed as a team to build relationships and admire, as well as see the detailed prayer needs, of this particular church.
Our journey is coming to a close in Uganda, yet for us as individuals, it is only the beginning. We are working together to process all that we have seen and experienced here during our team debriefing sessions. Please be in prayer for each person on the team that we will all have discernment and direction as we try to figure out what our role in orphan care and advocacy will be as a result of this journey. That is ultimately the goal, so we are asking that you provide prayers, an attentive ear and sincere support as we return home and share our stories, thoughts and experiences with you.
Our team is doing GREAT and everyone is healthy! We have seen so much in such a short amount of time. Words in this email can’t really describe to you the variety of things we’ve seen and the experiences that we’ve been through. We have laughed, cried, played, sang, taught, cooked and fed more in 5 days than most of us do in any given month! The last two days have been very different from the first few. We went to the oldest orphanage in Uganda yesterday and visited a place that takes in abandoned or orphaned babies and helps to care for them until they can place them into an adoptive home or into foster care. We were told that these babies are found in pit latrines (holes in the ground used for toilets), on trash piles or just left in farming fields. Police or people in the community find these children and bring them to this facility in hopes that there is space for them to take them in. The goal is to find placement before the child turns 4 or otherwise they will be transferred to another orphanage and probably be institutionalized for the rest of their childhood. That broke our hearts, but the good thing is that MOST babies are placed before that happens. Our team assisted with various activities at the orphanage, including cleaning windows, feeding babies, changing diapers, and feeding lunch. Most of us just spent the morning holding babies and showering with them with as much love as we could because there are never enough hands in the place to help care for them in this way.
In the afternoon, we went over to a school and a home for mentally and physically handicapped orphans and disadvantaged children. They had children as young as 6 and as old as early 20′s. The goal is to educate them and help to teach them a vocation so that they can be productive members of society. It was really sad to hear about how children with handicaps are treated here. We were told that parents don’t even count them as one of their children (like during a census) and they are basically kept indoors, not even able to come out of their rooms when visitors come to their homes. People here view handicaps as curses, so many families will abandon or abuse these children because they don’t want them. This center has taken in so many children and is giving them hope and helping to show the surrounding community that they ARE capable of accomplishing many things even though they are handicapped. We had a great time there and had SO many good experiences with the kids. The funniest thing that happened was when we were meeting with the director getting the background and history of the facility. One of the children wandered into the office and had a juice box in his hand. He walked up to Janice, one of our team members, and squirted the juice box in her face. It was hysterical! : ) We all had a good laugh out of that, including the director. Gotta love these kids!
Today we visited a community center that is also caring for orphans and children with various handicaps. They greeted us with such a warm welcome and sang and danced for us when we arrived. They were having class today, so we paired off with students and helped with some math and numerical lessons. After that we did crafts and some outdoor recreational activities with them. Before we left, we gave each child a small gift and they also presented us with a craft that they had made in class. It was a really special day with them!
After lunch we went into a really rural part of Uganda and visited some families that are caring for orphans that this same community center is working with. It was probably some of the greatest poverty we have seen thus far. The children were chasing us and screaming “Mzungu mzungu!” as we went by in the bus. “Mzungu” means “white person” in their language. We were told it’s probably the first time some of those children had seen a mzungu. One of the families that we visited said that we were the first white people to visit their home. They were so welcoming and told us their stories about how they had acquired orphans. Most of the stories were because friends or relatives had passed away because of HIV, so they took in their children after they died. One lady was 50 years old and had 7 children under her care. Amazing stories of what people are doing to help care for the fatherless! They were an inspiration to us all that communicated that no matter how inadequate or incapable we might THINK we are, there is always room for those who need a family.
This will be the last update from Team Haiti. We will be heading out in just over 24 hours, so I wanted to update you on the last couple of days in country to tell you about our eventful week.
Since our last email, we have been blessed to experience many good things and have been able to walk alongside so many people in a tangible way to meet needs throughout the city. It has been such a pleasure working with this team. Everyone here has a heart of gold and has been working feverishly to extend God’s grace in its various forms.
We spent two days working with a couple of creches, homes that prepare children for adoption. Our team fell in love with those kiddos. It was all I could do to not let them pack a few in their suitcases to bring them home. : ) The great thing, though, is that both of the homes were very nice and are sending a lot of children to forever homes from their facilities. We got to hear many stories of how they rescued these children from dumpsters, from hospitals where mothers had abandoned them, etc. Such stories of compassion for the least of these, including many of the orphans who are living with physical or mental disabilities! We have been so encouraged by their stories of faith this week as they have been trusting God for years to help them care for hundreds of orphans along the way.
Yesterday our team went to Cite Soleil, the poorest slum in the Western Hemisphere, to help deliver almost 10,000 gallons of water. It is estimated to have about 400,000 people living in this area. The conditions are bad: lack of water (especially clean water), poor housing conditions, little to no resources, including jobs. It was a very eye-opening sight for the team. One of our team members, Saundra, was actually given the wheel to drive the big truck! She is a truck driver for McKesson Medical Supplies, so she was right up her alley all day driving through the slums of Port-au-Prince. : ) She was laughing, though, because she had people riding ON the truck, hanging off the side, she had to dodge people, vehicles, goats, pigs and children in the streets and had to weave a big truck through narrow streets in the slums. Quite the difference for her compared to being back home. But she did great and we were really proud of her. You can imagine the stares of the Haitian people as she drove by. I’m sure that was an unfamiliar sight for them. : )
Once we got the truck into the slum, people started lining up frantically to have a chance to get some water from the truck. People came from everyone with 5 gallon buckets, basins and other various containers. (I will be posting a video for you to see this day in action, so once we get that online, I will post it on the J117 blog.) Everyone was so appreciative of us being there to provide clean water for them. Ladies were coming up and giving us hugs and saying thank you and children were all smiles and clung to us while we helped fill the containers. It was one of the best days thus far. Lesson learned, though: don’t take water for granted! We are so fortunate to have easy access to clean water. These people are fighting for their lives to just LIVE.
Today and tomorrow we are helping to distribute water filters to families in communities that our World Orphans church partners serve. Today we visited about 15 families and provided the newly constructed water filters for them. These filters are basically made out of two 5-gallon buckets with a water filter in the middle. When used properly, they will provide clean drinking water for each family for the rest of their lives! Since water borne diseases are such a big problem here (cholera, bacteria, protozoans), these gifts to the families are a big deal. We were able to visit with each family and share stories with each other, enter their home to see how their live, and encouraged them with Scripture and prayer before we left.
We really appreciate your support and prayers along the way! Team Haiti has been amazing and it has been such a blessing serving with each of them. They are amazing people with beautiful hearts that love the Lord and people. I can’t wait to see what God does with them when they return! I know that they will not be the same and are already praying about how God wants to use them to continue serving as an advocate for the orphan and the poor as a result of this Journey.
Check out pictures and videos of this team in action on the Journey 117 Facebook page!
The past couple of days have been rather emotional offering some extreme highs to extreme lows. Yesterday we were at home for sick and dying children. The scene was terrible: cribs of babies everywhere, most of them crying to get your attention because they just wanted to be held. Several of the babies had visible illnesses or deformities that were just heart-wrenching. We grabbed as many babies as we could handle out of the cribs and just spent hours loving on these kids and helping to feed during meal times. Some of the babies were 18 months or 2 years old but you would never guess it; they appeared to be just weeks old because the diseases had taken its toll on their bodies.
At the end of the day a baby got really sick and one of the girls who happens to be a recent nursing graduate noticed that the baby was not breathing well and that the mother was next to her crying. Confused as to what was going on, she tried to figure out the situation to see if the workers responded to this scene. After a while she stepped in and took a look at the baby. She was clearly sick and not getting enough oxygen. Another girl and I were called in to help. Stepping into this surreal situation, we tried to do what we could. We had little to no medicine to work with and inefficient supplies. The baby stopped responding to any stimuli, so we started doing CPR after we lost a pulse and the baby stopped breathing.
Three of us did CPR on the baby for a while as the mother stood beside us weeping because she knew that the baby was dying. Others stood over us and prayed. The workers watched as we did our best to save the baby, but after several minutes we knew that the baby had passed and that there was nothing more we could do. Our hearts were absolutely broken in that moment. We were crying, the mother was sobbing and every single infant in that room was joining in and crying along with us. It was one of the most heart breaking moments I’ve ever experienced in an orphanage like that.
We spent some time last night debriefing our day and had some “group counseling” to help everyone involved express their emotions and talk about the situation. It was a much needed time of healing for us. Please continue to pray for us as we process this experience and continue to seek God’s peace about what happened.
Today has been a refreshing day as we worked with an organization called HIS Home for Children. What a beautiful place! The story of how they started is absolutely inspiring. They have taken in so many children and have looked to place them in loving adoptive homes in the US, Canada and France. They have about 80 children today from infants to older children and are continuing their legacy after 9 years of being in the ministry now. They also rescue teenage girls who have been abused and help them to recover from their tragedies. Part of this includes educating them, teaching them a trade, and providing a home for them until they are ready to live on their own. Lots of girls have been traumatized since the earthquake, so this has been a recent need that has come up to care for these girls. Our team had an excellent experience serving alongside this ministry today and was so encouraged by what they see this organization doing.
Just a quick update for you all…..
We are doing great! We have been really busy the past couple of days and are already feeling physically and emotionally worn, but we are energized by what we see God doing here and are excited about what He is teaching us through this Journey thus far.
Yesterday we were able to work at an orphanage that has about 35 children living there. We spent the day playing Frisbee, soccer and volleyball. We organized relay games which they LOVED. We made balloon animals, painted fingernails, jumped rope….the whole nine yards. It was a busy and exhausting day, but the children were filled with so much joy to have all of our attention and love. There is only a couple of caregivers for all 35 of these children, so we were excited to be able to provide some dedicated, focused time on each of them during our visit. The children were especially clingy and wanted our affection which shows us that they probably don’t get much of that on a normal day. While we enjoyed receiving and giving hugs and kisses all day, it also broke our hearts to realize that this was probably not the norm for them and that they so desperately longed for that kind of attention.
Today we worshiped with one of the World Orphans church partners. What a beautiful group of people! You could tell that they really loved the Lord and each other. We were so blessed to be able to be there with them. After the church service, we met with the OVC committee (orphans and vulnerable children) whose primary job is to care for the orphans and vulnerable children in the surrounding community. We were able to hear their heart for these children and discover how this program works on a day-to-day basis. After this we went walking for about 3 hours through the community and visited with about 5 families who are caring for OVC’s in their home. We spent time with each of them, heard their stories, gave them small care packages, and prayed over them. It was encouraging to see the community’s response to the church! You could tell that these church leaders are out in with the people on a regular basis (in a very poor area, mind you) to care for the least of these. What a beautiful picture of God’s heart! We were encouraged to see that THIS is what the church is meant to do…..be an extension of God’s heart and compassion to people, not just those inside the church walls on Sunday morning.
Tomorrow is going to be a rough day (emotionally), so we are asking for your prayers. We will visit an orphanage that cares for orphans and abandoned children that are living with a terminal illness or disease. We will spend the whole day there helping in any way we can, i.e. changing diapers, feeding, changing clothes, washing, cooking, etc. Please lift our team up because I am certain that hearts are going to be broken. I am praying that God allows us to have a glimpse into His heart and that we can walk away with a better grasp on His love for us as a result of this experience!
Huguens Jean, an engineer and filmmaker in Maryland, contacted our ministry at World Orphans and shared with president Paul Myhill how his recent post entitled “To Soar like Eagles (Haiti Reflection)” on his blog was one of his main inspirations for making the film Lift Up. Huguens goes on to say that he was born and raised in Haiti and “felt paralyzed…and tried my best to help with the internet and the phone, but my best efforts felt small. Just like millions of people around the world, I wanted to be on the ground in Haiti and help in whatever capacity I could, but I was miles aways with no means to get there. The documentary Lift Up was created to inspire people who might be mourning the death of a friend or family member to stay strong, as so many Haitians are doing today, and to realize that even in death there is still joy. Then, we want the world to see the side of Haiti that you don’t ever see in the news or on TV. It’s not all violence and political turmoil over there. There is a lot of beauty in the culture and the people.”
Check out the trailer for this documentary below. Also, here’s a great article that talks about the film: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/01/03/AR2011010300340.html
I am so proud to be a part of a ministry that is inspiring people to use their gifts, talents, time and money for a greater purpose! Thank you, Huguens, for creating this film and sharing this story with us. We hope that the film is successful and effective in its efforts to educate people on the beauty and resiliency of the Haitian people.
The original post that inspired Huguens is on Paul Myhill’s blog: http://www.abandoned-orphaned.com/2010/03/to-soar-like-eagles-haiti-reflection.html
Join others in a time of prayer for Haiti
January 12th will mark one year since the devastating earthquake in Haiti. Those few moments and their aftermath took hundreds of thousands of lives, left countless homeless, and affected countless children in profound and permanent ways, including leaving many as orphans.
On January 12th, 2011 at 4:00pm EST we can come together as a community to pray for the country of Haiti – for stability and integrity in its government, for ongoing relief and rebuilding efforts, for the Haitian church, and for the children of Haiti we all care about so much.
Hosted by the Christian Alliance for Orphans, this community time of prayer will be held via online webinar and/or phone. For more details, please REGISTER. We hope you’ll join us.
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World Orphans Haiti Update
We are excited to report that our tenth Haiti church-to-church partnership has been finalized which means all our projects have the financial support they need! We look forward to taking church teams to Haiti this year to minister to and encourage their partners.
Opportunity – World Orphans was given 300 water filtration system filters for our OVC families. Each family needs two 5 gallon buckets to complete the filtration system and get clean water. Each bucket costs $4 – so for $8 you can provide clean water to a Haitian family. DONATE
Check out this video I made of our trip to Kenya in December 2010. We had an incredible opportunity to learn what it means to live out Isaiah 1:17 on behalf of the orphan. If you’re interested in going on a trip like this to discover your role in orphan care and rescue, check out Journey 117.
America is one of the richest countries in the world….and one of the most obese. Seems as though excess isn’t necessarily a good thing. But not only is our country consumed with material goods, food, wealth and assets, we are wrapped up in our love of SELF. Unfortunately, the Church has allowed itself to reflect the American culture of our day and has forsaken the perspectives that God has called us to maintain as believers. We have taken Christianity and turned it into a self-improvement program instead of living as we were instructed: to take up our cross and follow Christ. That to me doesn’t sound like self-help; it sounds more like self-denial.
Todd Phillips quotes in his study Get Uncomfortable that “many churches in the U.S. today, especially the larger they get, become like country clubs rather than spiritual hospitals. Over time we become more concerned about our needs more than the needs of others.” But if we are truly reading the Word of God and not putting feet to the truths embedded within, we are like the man in James 1:23-24 who, after reading God’s Word and remains passive, is like a man who looks at himself in a mirror and then walks away, immediately forgetting what he looks like. Have we, as the American church, forgotten who we are?
We refuse to educate ourselves on the more than 2,000 verses in Scripture about God’s heart for the poor, the needy, the widow and the orphan. We tend to feed on the passages that reference God’s blessings…..His provision for us if we have enough faith, His mercies that are new for us each morning, His peace for us in hard times, etc. We give little time to the passages that speak of self-denial and sacrifice for the good of others for the sake of the Gospel. Ironically, the truest form of joy and peace come from offering our bodies as sacrifices for the advancement of God’s kingdom. Maybe that’s why so many of us are depressed, stressed out, lonely and discontented. Maybe it’s time we stop focusing on ourselves and start devouring God’s word to see what it says about His heart for the world:
John 10:37 - Jesus lived out his life doing what God does.
John 13:37 – If we serve the way Christ did, we will be blessed if we do those things.
Jeremiah 22:16 - Defending the cause of the poor is what it means to know the Lord.
James 1:22 - We should do what God’s word says.
Titus 1:16 - To know God means to do His will.
Do you see this truth coming full circle? If we really want to know God and be blessed, we should do what Christ did….what God desires….by defending the cause of the poor.
This doesn’t say to separate yourselves from the poor. It says to defend the causes of the poor. To do this means we would have to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with them and share in their misery. To do this means we would need to visit and rescue the orphan. To do this means we should care for the widow. To do this means we need to clothe and feed the hungry. To do this means we should stand up against injustices around us. This is what it means to know the heart of God. Matter of fact, when we do these things, it’s as though we have done them to Christ himself (Matt. 25:40).
Let’s allow God to remove the scales from our eyes to see the world they way HE sees it. Let’s relinquish our selfishness and indulgences and serve God with abandonment! What is God asking you to release to allow His kingdom to come “here on earth as it is in Heaven”? Let’s open our arms to the poor and extend our hands to the needy expecting God to fill us, in return, with an unparalleled joy!
Learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed.
Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.
- Isaiah 1:17
FOR FURTHER STUDY
To all my nonbelieving, sort-of-believing, and used-to-be-believing friends: I feel like I should begin with a confession. I am sorry that so often the biggest obstacle to God has been Christians. Christians who have had so much to say with our mouths and so little to show with our lives. I am sorry that so often we have forgotten the Christ of our Christianity.
Forgive us. Forgive us for the embarrassing things we have done in the name of God.
This makes me so sad. Babies are being sold into the sex trade for $150 in Kenya…and without blinking an eye. If we don’t help remove the desperation from these people relating to their poverty, these types of issues will never improve. We have to do SOMETHING.
Posted Wednesday, October 20 2010 at 19:48
A teenager arrested for selling her five-week-old son says she would do it again.
Ms Risper Kimuma, 19, told the Nation that she had no regrets for attempting to sell her child.
“Once you sell your cow, you can’t ask for it back. I sold my baby with all the documents I got at the hospital. The buyer now only needs to go and process the birth certificate and give the baby whatever name they want,” she said when asked if she was missing the baby.
The case has exposed the depth of child trafficking in Nakuru, with the woman saying the illegal trade was rife.
She claimed the trade was controlled by medical officers at the Rift Valley Provincial General Hospital who prey on desperate young women to sell their babies for as little as Sh10,000 soon after delivery.
“It’s true babies are being sold at the hospital and a friend who works there acts as a middleman for potential buyers,” she said.
She was arrested on October 13 at Kapembwa estate while selling her son for Sh12,000.
She turned down offer
She claims an aunt asked her to sell the baby at the Sewerage estate in Nakuru for Sh5,000 but she turned down the offer because it was too low.
“I had a husband who later abandoned me with my three-year-old daughter and since I am jobless, I found the going hard,” she said.
She said a relative had also sold her two-week old baby for Sh18,000 to get married.
The hospital’s director, Dr John Murima, said he was not aware of child trafficking at the hospital.
He said whenever babies are abandoned, the hospital adhered strictly to adoption regulations.
She appeared before Nakuru resident magistrate on Monday and admitted selling her son for Sh 12,000. She will be sentenced on Thursday.