Module One: Starting Points

OVC Essentials Spring 2020 Module One: Starting Points

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    • #64586
      Leah St. Pierre
      CAFO Staff

      Are there any ways in which you’ve already experienced love for the orphan as “matchless beauty and unspeakable pain woven together” as Jedd Medefind describes in Becoming Home?

      OR

      What struck you most from the content this week? What stands out to you as most important as you consider how your response to vulnerable children should be shaped by statistics and evidence-based knowledge?

    • #64679
      Mindy Russell
      Participant

      For me, I think one of the most impactful statements came from the optional reading assignment from In Pursuit of Orphan Excellence. The passage implores us to enter orphan care out of a response to the grace we’ve been given as sinners, not out of a sense duty or obligation. As C.S. Lewis stated, (paraphrased) “duty is a poor substitute for love, like a crutch is a poor substitute for a perfectly good leg”. It also outlined arguments for orphan care from a universal position… if we don’t take up the cause of orphan care, the world will have to brace for the impact in the form of crime, addiction, unemployment, human trafficking and homelessness. The purest motivation is out of the gratefulness for grace, but God designed it to be for the good of all humanity that the body of Christ cares for the orphaned and vulnerable.

      • #64933
        Connie Becker
        Participant

        Mindy I love this! We love because we are so loved. The gospel sanctifies us so we feel and enjoy the love of Jesus and then that love flows through us to love others. The heart of God loves and cares for the hurting of this world and pray that becomes our heart!

    • #64740
      Olivia Milliner
      Participant

      I found that the information I’ve been exposed to during this module gave me a deeper understanding of the impact poverty has on the soul, not just on a persons’ physical environment. It struck me how deep generational poverty can run within families, and the impact it has on all aspects of life. The visual of the 4 main human relationships and the brokenness that happened with the fall completely resonated with me. I think this lens of viewing others and ourselves breaks down the barriers of this world and opens our eyes to the common poverty of the soul that we share.

      The glossary of terms is a great resource, and it allowed me to have a deeper understanding of the universal use of this language when talking about orphans and vulnerable children. I’ve only been in this topic for about 6 weeks, so I had picked up a lot of terms, however the glossary taught me so much more. I now feel more equipped to comprehend and advocate with this common language in my back pocket!

      I’ve known the statistics about children who age out of institutional or residential care being at a much higher risk for trafficking and slavery. I did not understand that this was tracked back to their experience of following commands without little choice or autonomy of self in these settings. The video “Importance of Family” really solidified how the choices we are allowed as children translate into our ability to make decisions about the world as adults.

      The more I learn, the more I am amazed at the expanse and depth of the issues of our world. I pray God continues to break my heart for what breaks His, and leads my path to what comes next.

      • #64787
        Emily Tiner
        Participant

        Olivia, your heart is amazing! God is going to do so much more than you could ever imagine, in and through you! I can tell you really have a heart to just know the heart of God for people and really love people well.

        I totally agree with you too! And I think it’s so awesome to be learning vocabulary that equips us to really understand, empathize, and act.

    • #64756
      Robert Cochran
      Participant

      Jedd’s book really struck a chord with me, especially the adoption story. I’ve spent about a year of the the last 2 and 1/2 years in Uganda with our partner NGO. So much of that time has been with our UG team as we walk with our kids through the matchless beauty and unspeakable pain – occurrences that happen on a far too often. Even this morning we had a team call and learned one of our children is struggling with depression because her mom is battling a life threatening autoimmune disorder. In Jedd’s words, “Every orphan’s story begins with a tragedy.. It often gets worse from there.”

      Yet on the other end of the spectrum, there really is no greater joy than seeing these kids grow up. Some of our kids have even started families of their own, many who have a relationship with the Lord, and some who are even on staff with BTCM now serving children who sat in the same place they did.

      I was talking with BTCM’s Assistant Director about the hardships our kids and staff experience but also that richness in spirit they have. It reminded me of my pastor who shared at his son’s burial that we grieve deeply so we can love deeply. It’s almost as if you can’t experience the fullness of one without the other.

      ^ I’d love to hear all of your thoughts on that and if you’ve found it to be true in your own lives!

      In the midst of matchless beauty and unspeakable pain, I found these quotes comforting.. in a weird way…

      “We may experience rejection from the very children we’ve given our hearts – just like the father has” and “error and unintended consequences will be a part of any undertaking. Especially those engaging the world at its most broken.” 

      We can do everything right and it still can go wrong, yet still we need to pursue our call to care for orphans with diligence, integrity, and a boatload of love for kids and families!!

       

      • #64809
        Amber Allan
        Participant

        Robert, I loved reading your post. I agree with what your pastor said. It seems as if sometimes we can only experience the fullness of love if we have experienced the deep grief. As each of us begin this course and consider what our relationship with orphan’s looks like we can be encouraged. It may bring pain at times to step into the tragedy with this children but it makes the progress and success stories that much more joyful.

      • #64905
        Connie Becker
        Participant

        We grieve deeply so we can love deeply! I was at women’s retreat this weekend where a lady shared her traumatic childhood and a lot of her adult life. She had grieved deeply and now loves the Lord deeply and other hurting women. Children  and people in our work have grieved horrible things with our help and the Lords many seem to want to give back and help others.
        I believe though we who haven’t suffering like that we still hurt with the hurting and can love deeply! I’ve seen several though who have been hurt deeply seem to love and trust the Lord more deeply! Praying our hurting ones love deeming to change their world!
        Thanks for sharing.

      • #65210
        Philip Douce
        Participant

        Robert,

        I appreciated your post. Honest and still questioning those life issues we work with that do not seem to have easy answers on this side of our “promised land”.

        Your comment about your pastor I think it was St. John of the Cross that said…”you can’t love deeply until you have suffered deeply”. We certainly live in a world of tragedy… especially ministering to orphans and vulnerable children and their families. May the Lord continue to mold and refine you to reflect His great love, mercy, forgiveness and kindness with those He puts in your path. –Philip Douce

         

    • #64766
      Connie Becker
      Participant

      That it is very complex in working with vulnerable children. Getting a better understanding of the challenges in meeting  vulnerable children’s needs, but not letting it stop us even if it seems overwhelming. Liked all the different choices and ways in making a home for each individual child. Not only one way!

    • #64778
      Ryne Isaac
      Participant

      In 2015 my wife and I entered into the world of foster care. Of course we had no idea what that would look like or where it would take us. Foster care and adoption is a mess of emotions and can be difficult to process that at the same time.

      I would say this mixture of emotions is most apparent when we have been in court rooms witnessing parents relinquish their rights so that we could adopt their child. In that moment, we knew the safe home and environment we could provide, but also knew they were losing an incredibly importance piece of their life. We have 3 adopted children and there are still moments when I realize the pain and loss they had to endure to be in my home.

      A few years ago we were at a foster care training and I heard this quote (obviously when I think of it I trade out woman/mom for man/dad). It is a powerful reminder:

      “A child born to another woman calls me mom. The depth of the tragedy and the magnitude of the privilege are not lost on me.” -Jody Landers

      • #64784
        Emily Tiner
        Participant

        Wow Ryne, thanks for sharing. I wept as I read this. I haven’t experienced this myself but I have friends who foster and have expressed the same feeling of overwhelming joy at knowing their in a safe, loving home now, their dignity and potential protected; but at the same time, their hearts grieving the loss their children experienced and learning how to walk that line of celebrating yet being sensitive to the journey that the child is still on in processing it all. You and your wife are such a gift to your kids! If I could ask since you are walking through it now, what are some things that have worked well with helping your kids process through all of that and balancing that line of celebrating yet acknowledging grief and loss too?

      • #64802
        Ryne Isaac
        Participant

        Emily,

        We’ve been able to have a pretty interesting perspective because our older daughter still sees her mom once a month. In fact, we’ve begun picking her up and taking her to church and to our home for visits. Our other two have not seen their mom (or dads) since their adoption.

        By no means is seeing bio mom make things easy, but it does help our older daughter stay connected to her past and her story. Our youngest don’t have that right now, but we pray they can in the future.

        And we’re huge believers in therapy! All of our kids (and our family) have been a part of therapy. It’s an invaluable resource for us.

      • #64810
        Emily Tiner
        Participant

        Thanks for sharing, it’s so good hearing your story! I can imagine it’s both hard and great for her at the same time. How has that impacted your other two kiddos seeing her connecting with her bio mom but them not having that right now? That is amazing that therapy has been helping your family to walk through it all together too, I would imagine that is so helpful and healthy for your kids and for you both! Sorry, you don’t have to keep answering my questions either haha I could ask you questions and listen to your story all day. But thanks for sharing that!

    • #64779
      Olivia Milliner
      Participant

      Ryne; what a beautiful quote! I love that perspective. At TPCC, they often mention the “posture” that Christians can have when approaching different people and missions in ministry. This quote is such a beautiful illustration of carrying the posture of humility when approaching fostering and adoption!

    • #64785
      Michael Mitchell
      Participant

      I loved the story about the woman in a small rural church in Uganda. Reading how God used her heart to care for one of the 126 children in her community who’d been orphaned to spark a movement in her church which ultimately led to all of the children being fostered/adopted locally by church members was pretty powerful. We can all do something, and we never know how God will take our efforts and multiply them and/or inspire others to act in ways that are more beautiful than we could ever imagine possible.

    • #64786
      Emily Tiner
      Participant

      I think the article by World Visions President, Poverty is Rocket Science, stood out to me most. I have read content like it before but I think it just reminded me again of how beautiful of an opportunity we have, yet how careful we also must be as Westerners being invited into a completely different culture from us and not imposing an agenda and dumping short term solutions and resources but rather, empowering for the long term and providing solutions that strengthen individuals and the community as a whole. I feel like we (as a church body and as people who want to serve children) have learned so much from years and years of helping and serving in different ways, and still have so much to learn about the best ways we can love and serve whoever we’re called to. This article really highlighted to me how serving and loving people well is strategy PARTNERED with compassion; and the more we embrace that and give people ownership and responsibility in creating thriving communities while coming alongside them with support and resources, the greater the longevity and success our impact will have.

    • #64807
      Amber Allan
      Participant

      The reading by Jedd Medefind was very impactful. I found myself quoting the stories and statistics in multiple different conversations this week. Overall, I keep coming back to the comparison Jedd made between orphan care and the gospel. When orphan care is done properly, it’s a beautiful reflection of the gospel. As Jedd said, “how God sought us when we were destitute and alone. How he invites us to live as his daughters and sons.” I think this is something that we should all know and understand as we interact with orphans in any way, shape or form.

      • #64830
        Marsha Baker
        Participant

        Amber- I loved this comparison as well and was a great reminder to me.  As we go through the day to day to always remember we are following His example and He loved us first in the way He leads us to love these children.

      • #64865
        Olivia Milliner
        Participant

        Amber- I think this has been the biggest eye opener to me! I have always known that kindness towards the vulnerable is an important part of Christianity, but I had not truly tied the pieces together yet. It’s shaped the way I now view the choice get involved with fostering and adoption; I see it clearer as a decision to truly obey and react in humility to the call God has placed on hearts.

    • #64829
      Marsha Baker
      Participant

      This quote I think really expresses the journey of “matchless beauty and unspeakable pain woven together”…

      “At countless crossroads along the way, we will face vexing dilemmas to which there are no good answers. To act at all, we’ll have to choose among imperfect options that threaten heartbreaking side effects. We will ache at unintended consequences. Even a glimpse of all this complexity can be paralyzing, like the risk-averse investor in Jesus parable of the talents, we may be tempted to bury what we have to offer and not get involved at all. But Jesus minced no words in condemning that approach. God calls us to act despite the risks. Understanding that helping can hurt gives us much needed caution and humility. So, we begin with learning, listening, planning, praying, and only then, finally action- always ready to re-calibrate when we discover the mistakes well inevitable make. Here, in humility and listening is where a truly transformative journey begins.”

      In the adoption of my daughter and the 10 years I been serving with orphans this is one of the best phrases to describe the heartbeat of loving orphans. In the moments of love there is always heartbreak.  In the pure joy on the day I adopted my daughter, my heart ached for the loss she experienced that brought her to the need of a family.  In the moments I see our children experience belonging, hope, and love coming into our ministry family, I also feel the grieving of their hearts that brought them to our door. Grateful to be on this journey together with yall serving children too and despite the unspeakable pain, its always worth the journey.

      • #64909
        Mandy Haffer de Ramírez
        Participant

        Marsha,

        Love this quote of yours! In the pure joy on the day I adopted my daughter, my heart ached for the loss she experienced that brought her to the need of a family. We haven’t yet adopted, but have had our 16 y/o foster daughter now for eight months and will have her long-term. So often, well-meaning friends of ours will say, “Wow, she must be SO happy with you guys.” While there is happiness, I feel that hardly anyone acknowledges the fact that she has walked through so much trauma in her young life. Though I understand that realistically, most people cannot or will not grasp the magnitude of the tragedies in her life, I still yearn for people to recognize that it hasn’t all been sunshine and roses that brought her to this place.

    • #64866
      Olivia Stanton
      Participant

      I was fortunate to be able to co-lead a student trip to a care center in China this past summer. I soaked up the time we were able to spend with all of the sweet babies living in the care center. When I was with them, the hours flew by. I cherished every snuggle and giggle from each of the babies I spent time with. I could not help but feel so much love and joy when I looked into those precious little faces. But with that joy absolutely came a deep sense of sadness and even loss. Each of the children I spent time with had a story. How long had they been there? What happened to their parents? What will happen to them? Will they ever get to know the permanency of a family? My heart broke for the unknowns that these children were living in. In the midst of that sorrow, however, I realized that I was being given a priceless gift–the opportunity to love those children. Last fall, I learned that one of the babies I had spent time with last summer  had passed away. I felt so angry when I found out she was gone because of the injustice of it all. Why did she have to live her whole life as an orphan? Why didn’t she get to have a family to mourn her loss and remember her? I still wrestle with these questions, but I realized that I get to remember her. I was privileged to meet her and see how beautiful and valuable she was. Being able to mourn her loss is a gift in that I will always be able to hold space for her in my heart. I can know that she was loved, even if it wasn’t through adoption. This work is HARD, but it’s hard because we love and we care, and that compassion is priceless.

      • #64867
        Olivia Milliner
        Participant

        Olivia- Thank you for sharing your story! Your viewpoint reminded me of an interview with Dr. Karyn Purvis, who said she worked with “children from hard places” because God provided the capacity of her heart to survive the heart break such work brings. Stay encouraged that all the love we can shine into this messy world is making a difference, even in the darkest of places! God has given you capacity, and remembering little ones like the child you described above makes every life matter.

      • #64968
        Rebekka Scheytt
        Participant

        I’m sitting here with tears in my eyes. On the other hand I had to smile, because I thought: Well this baby is now with her father. And you’re right, it’s hard, because we love and care. And it also reminds us how much more pain did it cause God to know he gave everything, even though many people remain orphans. Through your story I understood what Amber Allan meant in her comment.

    • #64870
      Alyssa McIntyre
      Participant

      I recently finished listening to When Helping Hurts, so I was happy to see that as a resource this week. The content in that book is truly life-changing. I immediately purchased a hard copy and will be taking it to Uganda with me. I think what I gained most from it was the idea of allowing people in their own space to be empowered.

      Part of my job at Ekisa will be training direct support staff. I want to do this carefully in a way that helps both the children and the staff to feel empowered, not only at Ekisa, but in their community as well. I’ve thought about how I am coming in with some knowledge they may not have, but I also need to be aware of the knowledge they have that I do not.

      It was encouraging because Ekisa is extremely active in family-reunification, which is clearly the best option for children when it’s safe and available. I’m excited to learn more about this process and how to reunite families in a quick, but successful and sustainable way.

      • #64874
        Ana María Sanchez
        Participant

        Alyssa! I got so excited as I was going through your comment. It´s beautiful how God is preparing you for your mission in Uganda. I can´t stop thinking of all the prayers of those kids that God is answering trough you by working with them. What a valuable challenge you´ll be taking on very soon. God bless you!

    • #64873
      Ana María Sanchez
      Participant

      Being able to dive into the global perspective of vulnerable children has been overwhelming for the right reasons. It has taken me to the feet of the cross, because our intentions are not good enough, because all the knowledge can´t prepare us enough, and all the resources won´t solve every kid’s situation. But God will.
      The numbers are terrifying and the mistakes we make as we try to help vulnerable kids show us there´s no way of doing this in the right way by ourselves. We are only tools used to bring God to these beautiful souls. As much as this is our calling, we need to remember Whose calling us to it and Whose plan is it, in order for us to understand that our principal goal will always be to pursue God´s presence in our lives, that is where the mission starts every single day. Every time I saw Jesus` name in these documents and videos, everything changed, it wasn´t scary anymore it actually breathed hope, even the mistakes some missionaries made while trying to help, turned into purpose. So even though our ministries have a huge challenge to face, it´s nothing our God can´t accomplish, but we need to be humble hearts in God´s hands.

      PS: English is my second language so I´m so sorry for all the grammar mistakes I´m sure I´m making. I´ll keep working on it. 🙂

      • #64952
        Katrina Brown
        Participant

        Thank you so much for brining this perspective. I was feeling this same way this past week, but you stated it all so well. I absolutely love what you say here, “as much as this is our calling, we need to remember Whose calling us to it….” Wow, I just love that. I am so encouraged by your reminder that our mission starts in God’s presence. I think it is easy to feel overwhelmed by the never-ending “need,” but God is our sustainer.

        P.S. Your English is great 🙂

      • #64974
        Carlos Ramirez
        Participant

        Ana Maria,

        English is my second language, too. 🙂 You’re not alone! I agree that all of this can feel so overwhelming on our own, but with God’s help we can do it.

    • #64885
      Heather Hall
      Participant

      The piece of information from this week’s content that was most impactful for me was the fact that the majority of orphans have at least one living parent.  With my education in global health, I feel like I should have been familiar with this vital statistic, but the fact that I did not supports the point that orphan statistics are often misinterpreted and misunderstood.  Now knowing this fact, I see it as critical to any steps taken towards work with orphans and vulnerable children (OVC).

      In addition, I enjoyed the content on the varying perceptions of poverty.  I was introduced to When Helping Hurts almost ten years ago, but its message never fails to serve as a good reminder for me when my Western filter affects how and what I see, especially with regards to poverty and how to address it.  Again, being aware of the varying perceptions of poverty is foundational to work with OVC, especially since the data show that poverty so greatly contributes to the experiences of OVC.

      Unsurprisingly, these two evidence-based factors can be incredibly powerful pieces of information that greatly inform and empower work to address the needs of OVC.  Though they are both separately powerful tools of information, I think that they are also very powerful when combined.  For example, the Faith to Action video talked about how parents will often send their children to orphanages so that their child’s basic needs may be met; a potential strategy for this situation that is informed by the two pieces of information above may instead see the solution as working with the parent to understand what their belief about poverty is and support the parent in addressing that belief in a way that will support the parent in being able to keep the child at home (i.e., building on skills/talents that the parent currently has and how that might be used to raise the parent’s belief in themself and their ability to provide for their child).  As I am new to the world of and work with orphans and vulnerable children, I will be eager to see how these two pivotal pieces of information are currently being used to inform current and emerging initiatives.

      • #65073
        Olivia Stanton
        Participant

        Heather–before I began working in this field, I too was unaware that the term “orphan” can mean many different things. Many orphans may even two living parents who are unable to care for their child for one reason or another. I also really like what Phil Aspergren said in the Zoom call earlier this week that we have broadened what it means to be an orphan, and now we must also broaden the definition of what it means to be a widow.

    • #64886
      Heather Hall
      Participant

      Olivia–I really liked how you said that breaking down barriers allows us to see that we all have a poverty of soul in common.  In the same light, I think it can also go the other way in that recognising our common poverty of the soul can serve as another tool to break down barriers.  As always, Jesus is such a great starting and ending point, even when talking about poverty.  Thanks!

    • #64904
      Mandy Haffer de Ramírez
      Participant

      Of the many pages of notes I have already taken in the first week, this quote by Jedd Medefind is one of the things that stood out to me most! I don’t think I could have worded the experience of raising our 16-year-old foster daughter that God entrusted us eight months ago any more perfectly than this. When I reflect on mine and my husband’s experience with her so far, I can think of so many examples of matchless beauty: watching her represent her high school class in a city parade, playing with our young nephews as her own cousins, laying with me and asking why I love her so much if I’ve never had any children of my own yet, seeing her overcome her own demons, hearing her say she accepts us as her mom and dad, listening to her recount a personal experience she had with God, and so much more. Yet, I can also think of examples of unspeakable pain- more than I should share here. I recall her social media posts about how we’ll never be her REAL parents, all the times she has exploded on us and gone to her room to slam her door, nights we stayed up praying she wouldn’t take her life or run away, her questions on her birthday of whether or not her parents (still alive) would remember her that day, tears on New Year’s Eve of another year spent away from birth family, the many hurtful words she’s said to us because of the deep wounds she feels inside, and so much more. While there is some semblance of “normal” in our lives, we are usually facing either her highest highs or her lowest lows, which often transfer beyond just her and our family over into our marriage and well-being, also.

      • #64955
        Mindy Russell
        Participant

        I admire you. Your experience in loving your daughter is allowing you to know God’s heart in a beautiful way. Prayers for your family that you joys will be magnified, and that you can rejoice in every small victory; and that in the moments of grief and pain that God will draw all of you closer to Him. Thank you for your wisdom and for sharing with us.

      • #64972
        Mandy Haffer de Ramírez
        Participant

        Thank you SO much for your sweet words of encouragement, Mindy! All glory to God!

    • #64951
      Katrina Brown
      Participant

      I was struck by all the numbers and statistics. It is heavy to read. The reading from “Child at Risk” brought me a different view around children experiencing vulnerabilities. I was shocked to read that SOS Children’s Village calculates that approximately 220 million children would be considered at risk- that’s a staggering number.

      I also found it helped to understand the various risk factors that impact children and their families. I was most struck by this quote: “Behind these [risk] factors lies the global reality of a lack of functioning social welfare services and child protection systems. Families are turning to alternative care as a child protection response, so essentially children are abandoned not by their parents but by the wider child protection system. (Child at Risk, 3).”  I think knowing and understanding these risk factors allows us to understand and more clearly see that maybe there isn’t just one response for all children, but a need for more complex and multifaceted approaches.

      The reason I was so struck by this is because I personally felt like I was forced to slow down my instinct to problem solve, because clearly I can never address all the risk factors alone. I was reminded where God fits into this picture- it is not my responsibility to bare the burden of all children and families worldwide, He’s already done and doing that. This reminder filled me with hope.

      • #64979
        Debbie Douce
        Participant

        Katrina, I also experienced a weight of heaviness, for me even a sense of impotence, with reading and hearing about all the tremendous need so clearly stated. I questioned whether I am doing ANYTHING when I consider the numbers. But I concluded that numbers and need cannot be my motivation, and if I think I am somehow responsible to meet such need, I will become paralyzed and useless. I don’t think God asks us to meet the need of the multitude, but rather the one that He places in front of us. One at a time. What you said resonated with me, “I was reminded where God fits into this picture- it is not my responsibility to bare the burden of all children and families worldwide, He’s already done and doing that. This reminder filled me with hope.”

        Hope is what motivates me. And because of Him, there is always hope.

      • #64981
        Mandy Haffer de Ramírez
        Participant

        Debbie,

        I love what you shared here! I don’t think God asks us to meet the need of the multitude, but rather the one that He places in front of us. One at a time. This is powerful!

      • #65079
        Margaret Hoffer
        Participant

        Katrina,

         

        I very much agree that there needs to be a multi-facated approach.  No child is the same and what is best for one child is not always best for another child.  I work for an organization in Ethiopia that provides family based care for kids living in institutions.  We have been there 13 years and learned so many things.  When we first started taking in children, we were surprised at how many had living parents.  That caused us to rethink our approach and start working with other organizations who are working in different facets of the continnuum.  One of the most important being reunification.  We know work with multiple organizations to assess the needs of each child to determine what is best, and many times it is reunification.

    • #64973
      Carlos Ramirez
      Participant

      What struck me most from the content this week were the many statistics from different countries, especially the index of risk document. It was interesting to see my country, Honduras, as well as my wife’s country, the United States, and how the numbers varied. Also, the story of the little girl who was in the process of being adopted from Ethiopia caught my attention, too. I can’t remember exactly what document it was in, but the family had been praying and preparing for their child for many months, when she suddenly got sick of pneumonia and passed away. It really impacted me how the family took the time to visit that child’s grave once they made it to Ethiopia before meeting their new daughter that they ended up being able to adopt after. So far, I have learned a lot about vulnerable children in general, outside of just my own personal experience with our foster daughter.

    • #64978
      Debbie Douce
      Participant

      I was pretty undone by the opening chapters of Becoming Home. I can absolutely relate to how God somehow allows us to hold sorrow and pain in the same moment. “Matchless beauty and unspeakable pain woven together.” Indeed.

      My husband and I have had countless encounters, both short-term and long-term with so many beautiful and broken children and youth. Let me just mention one of those. We currently have a young adult woman living with us. Actually, she has been living with us for more than two years. She escaped from sexual enslavement and the world of drugs and prostitution in Colombia exactly five years ago. Today she is walking in freedom. She is still healing, but she is not the broken 20 year old I met that morning five years ago. I am also changed by walking with her.

    • #65071
      Lauren Duke
      Participant

      What struck me most from the content this week was the book reading. The stories in there were so impactful. This reading opened my mind up so much in realizing how much people can make a difference. There are so many orphans out there that need our help and our love. It is a life changing experience for these children to feel loved because they don’t know what love is. God changes lives everyday and he can change these children’s lives with our help. He does incredible things. Helping these children could not be done without God’s love. We have to continue to believe in him and have faith that these children will go to loving homes and have a better life. It is so important that children find permanency in faithful and loving homes.

      • #65352
        Danita White
        Participant

        Hi Lauren,

        I agree! The reading definitely stood out. I like how you pointed out that it is God’s love that has the power to bring out change in the lives of orphans and vulnerable children.

        Indeed, it is God’s love alone that will move us to want to be used by Him in unexpected ways. I can’t wait to see how this movement continues to make an impact.

        Grace + peace,
        Danita

    • #65078
      Margaret Hoffer
      Participant

      As an adoptive mom and through working for an organization with a  family based care model in Ethiopia, I see so many moments of beauty and also moments of intense pain.   I think perhaps the most vivid has been through our two sons, both of whom we adopted as adults.  One of our sons aged out of an orphanage in Ethiopia and the other aged out of foster care in the US.  There are constantly moments where the pain of their past and the message that they were “unloveable” and “unwanted” is so evident.  My younger son often packs all of his belongs after an argument or disagreement (usually minor) because he is convinced that we are going to send him out.  Everyone who ever claimed to love him left him, so why would we be any different.  My older son has moments of intense emotion and self hatred.  He tells me constantly that he is just waiting for me to realize who he really is and kick him out.  But these moments are almost always followed by redemption and with moments that show that God is at work and that the unconditional love (although imperfect) that we show them is healing.  Just tonight I sat on the couch and listend to our two sons bicker with their three sisters (also adopted) over who the best player in the NBA was.  There was a level of massive chaos in our home and also a feeling of family.  They were acting like brothers and sisters.  They were acting like they belonged.  Intense beauty among the broken.

    • #65138
      Philip Douce
      Participant

       

      I really resonate with the description Jedd Medefind gives in experiencing walking with or alongside the orphan in Becoming Home.

      Most of my adult life I have had the incredible honor to love and cry for and with the orphan, mostly the social orphan. I continue to have the honor to step into that role of a spiritual father for quite a few of these social orphans. I am finding it a little challenging to unpack this experience as there are so many faces and situations, both that bring joy and beautify, as well as deep pain. While house parents for an emergency shelter designed to keep sibling groups together when taken into protective custody, my wife and I had over 250 kids live with us for these short periods. After the emergency shelter we were foster family to 7 kids. For the past 18 years we have been ministering to former street boys and girls out of very vulnerable and abusive situations. All of these kids have a unique and yet familiar story… all with beauty and pain, some more than others.

    • #65351
      Danita White
      Participant

      What stood out to me most from this week’s content was that in our desire and eagerness to do good and make a difference among orphans and vulnerable children we must be on guard against the hazards that come with caring in a broken world. Jesus, when He was here on earth, is the only person to have done good without hurting anyone. Because we are imperfect, however, even our best efforts often fall short.

      One way we can avoid hurting while helping is by being humble in our approach and with our ideas. Before acting, we need to pray, listen, learn, ask questions and evaluate. We shouldn’t assume that just because our heart is in the right place and we have bigger, better resources that everything will work out the way we envision it. In his article, Solving Poverty is Rocket Science, Richard Stearns’ analogy of a group of Christians from Africa coming to the U.S. to “fix” a local public school system without having any knowledge of our culture, language, etc., really stood out. This is how many Western Christians go into other countries and cultures to “fix” problems.

      Even though there is always a risk of hurt being involved in our helping, we must not let that stop us from fulfilling what God has called us to do in caring for orphans and vulnerable children. And if we work in His power, grace and love, our efforts will always come back in positive results.

    • #74751
      Tricia Wells
      Participant

      Working with such a large group of vulnerable children so much of this information this week was useful and educating. Learning to care for the Vulnerable and having a better understanding of the statistics again is very helpful. My main takeaway this week was that everyone can make a difference and there is such a need to care for these vulnerable children in our World, to love them and encourage them as Jesus calls us to do.

       

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