Week One – Starting Points: Statistics, Terminology, Poverty, and Context

CAFO Course Forums OVC Essentials – 2018 Winter Week One – Starting Points: Statistics, Terminology, Poverty, and Context

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    • #30320
      Leah St. Pierre
      CAFO Staff

      You are welcome to respond to all three prompts or simply choose one:

      Write about  a perspective, assumption, or belief you held that has been challenged this week.

      What stands out as one or two of the most significant learnings this week and why?

      How have you experienced the “matchless beauty and unspeakable pain…woven together” that is orphan care? Do you feel any hesitations, fears or concerns in serving orphans and vulnerable kids? What motivates you most to care for hurting kids and enter into the world’s hurt in this way?

    • #30649
      meghan rivard
      Participant

      Thank you Leah for these prompts to respond! I would say for me, it was a great reminder who orphan care was described as “matchless beauty and unspeakable pain”. As a social worker at an adoption agency as well as an adoptive mother, I have a rare view of both sides of adoption/orphan care.

      I have a strong heart for serving orphans and vulnerable children. What motivates me, I feel, is the lack of understanding in our country. We live in a very privileged country and I feel can’t fully grasp true poverty, unless we have experienced in another third world country. The facts and statistics from the readings this week really opened my eyes and reminded me, while there are many churches and organizations doing wonderful work, there is still such a need.

      • #30697
        Jessica Rush
        Participant

        Hi Meghan!

        I agree with you that is hard for Americans to fully grasp true poverty unless you have witnessed it firsthand. Whether it be working with the impoverished in our own country or working with those in other countries, the impact will be longer-lasting when people see with their own eyes. This reminded me to try and be proactive in encouraging people to get out of their comfort zone and travel to these places to see what is really going on so they can advocate for these people as well.

    • #30678
      Jessica Rush
      Participant

      What stood out to me as the most significant learning this week is the realization that most of the work done to combat poverty is focused on the symptoms and not the cause. It was eye opening for me to hear that 90% of people living in poverty-stricken conditions are more effected by the emotional consequences of poverty such as shame than with what we think of as poverty- the physical needs they are lacking. Learning this information is causing me to think about what I can do to educate people (i.e. church groups or organizations taking short-term trips) on how to best aid poverty-stricken cultures in a sustainable way that does not fail once they return home to the U.S. in addition to the wonderful work they do to help these people have physical needs fulfilled.

      • #30681
        Courtney Schmidt
        Participant

        Hi Jessica,

        I completely agree with your statement of being impacted by the idea that 90% of people in poverty-stricken conditions are more effected by the emotional consequences. I do see how we tend to mostly focus on the material aspects of poverty. Moving forward I will consider how to help people in a more holistic way.

      • #30713
        Lindsey Hughes
        Participant

        Jessica,

        This is the part that effected me the most this week as well. My church partners with a ministry called “Church at the Barrel” here in our city that goes into the poverty-stricken areas and hosts a “church service” of sorts and provides them with a warm meal and any other needs they may have. They are intentional about providing them with material needs as well as doing their best to meet the spiritual, emotional, and relational needs as well. At times, they will even do what they can to provide employment for those living on the streets in an effort to give them financial stability and also a sense of purpose. I’ve been thinking this week that it mat be time for me to get more involved with this ministry.

      • #30723
        Julia Given
        Participant

        I agree with you Jessica! There were a couple statements that really stood out to me: Even though we have our differences, we are still fundamentally the same. And, What did The Fall affect? EVERYTHING.

        That last question really causes me to look at so many things differently, including poverty.

    • #30683
      Courtney Schmidt
      Participant

      Hi everyone!

      What stood out to me the most was the fact that many of the exploited children (especially into sex trafficking) were orphans. “A 2002 assessment in Zambia found that all of children engaged in prostitution, almost half were double orphans and another quarter were single orphans.” Hearing this just fueled my desire to make a difference for children where we are – in our community.

      I was not surprised to hear how important a family is to a child’s well-being and development, but I was very happy to see how much it was emphasized in this training. My husband is a youth pastor and I oversee the children’s ministry in a small, rural church. We work with at-risk children in a lower income area and it seems like what we learn in this course will help us in our ministry at church.

      • #30684
        meghan rivard
        Participant

        Yes Courtney,
        as you stated, I was not surprised about the family aspect, but was surprised about that prostitution. My heart wants to help and make a difference, but usually it is overwhelming and I don’t know where to start. But like you said, the best and easiest place to start is in your backyard and community. you don’t have to do lots of mission trips to truly make a difference in poverty. It is wonderful that you and your husband will be able to utilize these resources in your community and church.

      • #30728
        Lis Doane
        Participant

        Courtney,

        It might interest you to know that here in the United States, approximately 70% of the victims of human trafficking are foster children. These are children, many with living parents, who are not receiving the important parental care and attachment necessary for important brain development.  I have a daughter, adopted from foster care at age four with a significant trauma background.  She has struggled all her life.  The idea of a child like this, already hurt and traumatized, then being subjected to human trafficking, is beyond my comprehension.  That is why I am very active both in my church’s adoption/foster ministry and in its human trafficking ministry.

      • #30729
        Lis Doane
        Participant

         

        Courtney, it might interest you to know that here in the United States, approximately 70% of the victims of human trafficking are foster children. These are children, many with living parents, who are not receiving the important parental care and attachment necessary for important brain development.  I have a daughter, adopted from foster care at age four with a significant trauma background.  She has struggled all her life.  The idea of a child like this, already hurt and traumatized, then being subjected to human trafficking, is beyond my comprehension.  That is why I am very active both in my church’s adoption/foster ministry and in its human trafficking ministry.

    • #30700
      openarms
      Participant

      This week I’ve been wrestling with what’s ideal vs. what’s possible in orphan care. There’s so much evidence that speaks to the challenges and drawbacks of institutional care – yet without it, many children would be on the streets. There’s also so much evidence that proves the benefits of family care, but the practical challenges and financial restraints often seem overwhelming.

      The organization I work for, Open Arms International, uses family-style care with a couple heading a small household of children. It’s so beneficial for the children socially, emotionally, spiritually, etc. but it’s often challenging to help supporters understand why our care model costs so much more than other organizations’. The video on the importance of family this week encouraged me and reconfirmed that we’re on the right track to caring for our kids in the best way possible, even if there are challenges and resistance.

      I think so many of my hesitations around the work I do stem from a lack of understanding and research. As a sponsorship coordinator, I’ve had so much difficulty finding any research on the impact of sponsorship programs on child development. I struggle with how to help children connect with their sponsors in a way that conveys gratitude yet doesn’t perpetuate a “Western savior complex.” Sponsorship is a relatively new idea, and sometimes I wonder what the long-term research will show.

      – Laura

      • #30706
        Kaitlyn Stutts
        Participant

        Hi Laura!

        It sounds like your organization is definitely on the right track when it comes to caring for orphans and providing for their needs. I definitely think it would be beneficial for your supporters to understand why this model of care for orphans is the most effective. Sponsors may be so apprehensive about the care you all are providing, because it is out of the norm when compared to the history of institutions and orphanages for vulnerable children. I think all you can do is to continue to do your best to make your sponsors aware of why you do what you do, and hopefully with time, they will see the benefits the family model provides to the children. Often times the unconventional ways turn out to be the most effective and eventually turn into the norm, so don’t lose hope!

        Kaitlyn

      • #30794
        Mandy Hernandez
        Participant

        Hi Laura,

        Part of my job is working with sponsors too! I completely understand the struggle you have in trying to share the heart of the organization, the children, etc with the western world, especially those that haven’t experienced life the way our children have. I’m greatly looking forward to how this course will help me better advocate for the children and bridge the gap of culture differences.

    • #30701
      Lindsey Hughes
      Participant

      Hi, everyone!

      There were several things in this week’s lesson that I found to be significant, but I think the topic that hit me the most was probably that of poverty. The disconnect between the care that we give to those living in poverty versus what their true needs are was striking to me. The speaker stated that most Americans would describe poverty as being a lack of income, food, or health care – material things. All the while, those living in poverty view their challenges, not as a lack of material wealth or possession, but as more psychological and emotional – feelings of shame, guilt, or inadequacy. In the video, one individual described it as a “sense of hopelessness” while another individual called it the “poverty mentality.” Because there is a disconnect between the perceptions of poverty of those in positions of decision-making power and of those living in poverty everyday, there is definitely going to be a disconnect in the services provided and their ability to adequately meet the needs of the impoverished. To meet the physical and material needs is a temporary fix if the emotional and psychological needs are not met. My home church partners with another local ministry here that goes out into the community each week and hosts a “church service” of sorts for homeless individuals in our city and then provides the individuals who come with a warm meal and any other items they may need. This ministry is intentional to meet the physical needs of the individuals whom they are serving while also meeting their spiritual, emotional, and relational needs. Perhaps if there were more widespread education about this topic, more ministries like this one would come to be and we could see a shift in the way that services are delivered.

      • #30711
        Natalie Cormier
        Participant

        Abraham Maslow advocated a hierarchy of needs that might be helpful to when thinking about what poverty is. The UN defines absolute poverty if the family earns less than $1.25 per day. In America, we face relative poverty which is poverty compared to the middle class. With Maslow, he argues that the lower level of his pyramid needs to meet a certain threshhold before the next level can begun to be achieved. It is clear that many OVC achieve their physiological needs, but when a child does not have their safety needs met, then it is hard for them to achieve their other needs. This is different way to approach your problem and maybe think about how people’s needs should be met. Of course this is not 100% true, but interesting to think about.

         

         

      • #30726
        openarms
        Participant

        Hi Lindsey,

        I found the insights about poverty interesting, too. I heard Brian Fikkert speak for the first time at CAFO last year, and it was a whole new way of looking at things for me. It’s stuck with me ever since, and I loved hearing more of his perspective in this video. It makes me wonder why we never asked these questions of the people we serve a long time ago 🙂

        Sounds like your church has a pretty cool ministry going!

        – Laura

    • #30705
      Kaitlyn Stutts
      Participant

      Hello!

      This week I really identified with the phrase “matchless beauty and unspeakable pain…woven together.” I have experienced several short term missions and have seen this firsthand on my trips. Particularly on my trips to Africa, these children are beautiful, but have experienced more in their short lives than I probably will in my entire life. Even with the foster children I have interacted with during the time of my internship the past several weeks. These children have experienced pain that is hard to comprehend at times, but yet have found a way to be full of life and potential.

      A hesitation/concern I may have in serving orphans and vulnerable children is the immensity of the task. There are immensely more children in need than what I can serve on my own, but if I can make a difference in the lives of a few children, it will change their world. This is why awareness in the community and support from community members is imperative in impacting orphans and vulnerable children.

      I think what motivates me to care for hurting children and enter this world is the fact that each number and statistic is a person and a life. I also enjoyed from the readings the fact that we are mandated from God to care for the widowed and fatherless. The “Becoming Home” chapter pointed out that God adopted us and took us in as orphans, so we need to do the same on with the hurting children in our communities. The fact that we are all adopted to our Heavenly Father is what motivates me to enter the world of caring for hurting children.

      • #30926
        Emily Evans
        Participant

        Hi Kaitlyn! I agree with you on going on short term missions’ trips and seeing the beautiful realness of the children. These children have so much life and excitement in them regardless of the pain they have been put through. I feel they teach me more about how to live life more than I could ever teach them. I think it’s important to remember that God has a plan for each and every one of our lives and he will bring the kids into our lives that he wants us to impact. I try to remember this when the task seems so big and I feel so small. God has divine appointments for all of us, we just have to trust him and the path he has set before us. I completely agree with you on the reading. God adopted us into his family so we are to go out into the world and bring those home to him! Psalm 68:5

    • #30707
      Steven Arant
      Participant

      One of the biggest things for me is the power of questions. I really enjoyed reading the excerpt from Jed’s book this week. I feel more encouraged to separate myself from my culture of always having something to say, and adopting the mindset Jesus set for us so long ago.

      • #30736
        Alexis Martens
        Participant

        I would have to agree with Steven on the idea of how powerful questions can be. The excerpt from Jed’s book this week inspired me to make extra efforts to know people and to take on that posture of a listener. I have had the privilege of knowing many people who always seemed to ask those great questions that went deeper into who I am. The effects it has had on me push me to let others know that I want to know and be known by them as well. Looking at OVC and its goals, it seems that asking questions is the safer and more respectful approach in entering new atmospheres that I am unsure of in navigating.

    • #30710
      Natalie Cormier
      Participant

      One the major things that stood out to me were the statistics and the evidence that supports or contradicts common beliefs that I have held. For example, the statistics mentioned in several resources emphasized that more younger orphans are adopted meaning that older children as less likely to be adopted. Furthermore, I was surprised by the foster care statistics and information since it is not an aspect of OVC care that I had really considered until taking this course. I was adopted from an orphanage in China so foster care is something that I never experienced nor do I know many people that foster. I hear more people talking about adopting a child than fostering them. It is also interesting how many foster kids are not eligible for adoption and simply cannot remain in their original home.

    • #30722
      Julia Given
      Participant

      How have you experienced the “matchless beauty and unspeakable pain…woven together” that is orphan care? Do you feel any hesitations, fears or concerns in serving orphans and vulnerable kids? What motivates you most to care for hurting kids and enter into the world’s hurt in this way?

      I have experienced the “matchless beauty and unspeakable pain woven together” through foster care. Such a precious child that comes from such a hard place. When you choose to foster/adopt, you choose to enter into the darkness of this child and what they have endured. But when they sing “Jesus Loves Me” all on their own there is so much beauty. Then when it is time for them to leave it is again both beauty and pain. Beauty because of reunification, but unspeakable pain because you are now grieving the loss of a precious child.

      The only true hesitations my husband and I both have are because of the system. It is a broken system because it is created by people and we are all broken. Being broken is the reason we all need Jesus. It’s so hard when you advocated with all you have for a child, but the system fails them.

      What motivates me the most is being burdened for the lost and the hurting. Knowing that this may be the only time this precious little one hears about Jesus motivates me immensely. Having the honor to be the hands and feet of Jesus to these orphans and vulnerable children is great motivation.

       

    • #30725
      Ariel Meneese
      Participant

      The most significant learning that stood out to me was about the critical time frames that affect development in children. In the video “The Importance of Family…” they talked about how it is critical to get children into family-based care before they are six months old for the children to be able to develop normally. They also mentioned how vital it is for children to have loving, family-based care for the first three years of their lives or their whole development would be affected. The other time frame that was startling was when they talked about was that for every three months a child spends in institutionalized care, their development deteriorates by one month. It is so staggering to think about how much of an impact love and attention is in the development of a child.

      • #30740
        Brittany Dealy
        Participant

        I thought these stats were astounding! It’s amazing how much growing up in a family is so healthy for us, and how it’s a natural way of life and how God intended, and how detrimental it is when we don’t live life that way. Makes me want to create big change!!

    • #30739
      Brittany Dealy
      Participant

      Hello!

      I am newer to this realm of work, and I still can’t get over the fact that so many orphans have one parent that is still alive. It is so heart wrenching to me, the fact that so many mothers or fathers give up their child because they can no longer support their child. I cannot imagine that loss and the impact of that on the child and the parent. And for the child to live in an orphanage that has awful conditions, and apparently that is better than their own parent taking care of them. I am having a hard time with the concept of a foreigner then coming in and adopting the child. (Which is perfect for where I work: we try to keep the child in their biological family’s home, with our ministry supplementing the family with food and wholistic care, education and economic empowerment.) I am so interested in the stats that have been brought up this far, and really hope that God uses us to create change with the knowledge we are being equipped in!

      • #30771
        Rebecca McMahan
        Participant

        Hi Brittany, I think the ministry in which you work sounds interesting and is somewhat similar to the work that I do. Reading this research and knowing that best-practice is in fact for children to be raised within the context of family has been an encouragement for me thus far into the course and hope it is for you as well!

         

    • #30741
      Alexis Martens
      Participant

      One major thing that stood out to me, being so new to this type of work, was all the different ways in which I can help. I always had the mindset that in order to help vulnerable children, the choices were either to foster or adopt. As a full-time student, I knew that I couldn’t contribute in that way, so I thought I just couldn’t at all. Going through this week’s material, I repeatedly found the authors stressing the importance of community members being there to help those who do adopt or foster. Things as simple as babysitting one night, getting to know kids and being a mentor can go so far in impacting their lives. I loved that. It takes a village to raise any kid and I would love to uplift that idea to our Heavenly Father, because he created us to be communal beings.

      • #30743
        Mike Evans
        Participant

        Alexis, I love this. Every foster parent needs more people to wrap around and support them. And that support can come in many forms: meals, coffee, baby sitting (background checks may be required), a quick prayer  or encouragement through text. The option are endless.

        I want to share a short story with you: There is an elder man who lives in Colorado. When you talk to him, he will tell you he does foster care. Everyone looks and him and says no way, how dose this old guy do foster care. You see, every Saturday, he loads up is lawnmower and mow the yards of all the foster families in is community. 

        He does foster care by helping and serving foster parents. A question I frequently ask is, What Can You Do For One?

        What you want to do is awesome and will be so appreciated by foster families.

         

      • #30783
        Lissa
        Participant

        I like that lawnmowing foster care story! Thanks for sharing, Mike!

      • #30773
        Dianna Yang
        Participant

        Yeah! I love your ideas. I’m also a full-time student and I find it difficult to be involved and active in the mission to help orphans. For me, one of the most practical ways is to be involved with my church group and community. I think sometimes we forget orphans are right here in our community. Many teens and young adults are surround by family members yet they feel so alone. We, as the body of Christ, were created to reach out to others and bring them into the family of God.

      • #30782
        Emma MacDougall
        Participant

        Alexis,

        I totally agree that being while being a full-time college student, it is easy to think that you cannot do much to help orphans or vulnerable children. Like you said, the community is so important and you have the ability to serve others in so many ways like babysitting, but you can also do things like getting the community that you are in to help serve people who are in poverty or anything like that. I think that college students specifically are very open to growing and being involved in things, so it is a really great time that we, as students, can share all that we are learning from this course and God’s heart for the orphans and vulnerable children.

      • #30811
        Emma Leitson
        Participant

        Yes Alexis!! I so agree. I am also a full time college student and I had no idea what or how it would look like to be involved (directly or indirectly) with foster care and/or adoption. But even after the first week, I am already beginning to see just how I can contribute and dedicate my time and love to this. Just by babysitting or volunteering at a camp, being an encourager in a child’s life, and just truly loving them – I am so glad to be in this course to be learning how to love children in need better and well.

    • #30742
      Mike Evans
      Participant

      Matchless beauty and unspeakable pain, woven together. Unimaginable joy along with unbelievable heartache. Foster Care. But would not change the life my wife and I and family have chosen.  As I am typing this, we are navigating our toughest placement yet who just joined us little over 2 weeks ago. No one can tell us her story, which may not be for us to know, but as we navigate through her hurt I know God has amazing things for her, we just need to remain faithful through it.

      The joy and happiness when the phone rings, to a sudden pit in your stomach after you hang up realizing what you just said yes to. You just agreed to brokenness, to hurt, to pain and suffering and to love someone else’s child unconditionally and to pray and cheer on the place they just came from. All while navigating a broken system, designed by broken people, which we all are.

      At times it can be hard to hold your head up high, to stay positive and not fall into the pain and hurt yourself. Walking with others doing the same thing are a must. Every foster parent needs a community of foster parents. This community is what we were missing with our first placement and with learning and growing with that placement almost 3 years ago we now have made a point to make sure other foster parents have community and support.

      A new passion engulfed in our hearts within that brokenness and brought out even more beauty. Our we open to brokenness, each one of us? As hard and difficult as the brokenness is, what beauty will come out of it if we follow through and follow where God has lead each one of us.

      • #30784
        Lissa
        Participant

        “to cheer on the place they just came from”… Thanks for highlighting that. So hard.

        Thanks also for sharing about your new placement; I will be praying as the dust settles in the transition for a new normal to be reached where healing and growth can occur.  For us, a new placement often feels like we just got knocked over by a wave and we’re tumbling underwater with our eyes shut just hoping we can hold our breath long enough to come up for air. I pray blessings on the walls of your house and the battle you and the angels are doing in it tonight.

        How did you find your community of foster parents? As a Christian desperately trying to champion reunification, I feel very unusual compared to other foster parents I’ve found online or in our area so far.

    • #30746
      Kaari Vasquez
      Participant

      Learning this week about how poverty is perceived in different cultures helped to make sense of so much of what we see here in Mexico. What a wonderful reminder that in order for true change and healing to occur within a community, the gospel needs to be at the center. I’ve been reminded time and time again of the importance of developing relationships with others in order to truly know and meet their needs.

      Nothing taught me more about the ‘matchless beauty and unspeakable pain…woven together’ that is orphan care than being a foster parent. The unspeakable pain in acknowledging what so many of our children suffered and lost along with the pain of our own personal loss when saying goodbye to a child we loved as our own. The matchless beauty of healing that takes place as both the children and their birth families begin to express a desire to know Jesus….and the beauty of the privilege to get a glimpse into sacrificing as Christ did for us.

      I am motivated to care for hurting children because there is no greater joy than to see them develop a love for Christ. With this love and knowing how valuable they are to the God who created them, they have the potential to heal beyond our imagination.

    • #30747
      Kaari Vasquez
      Participant

      Julia,

      As I read your response, I could hear the little voices of children singing, “Jesus Loves Me!” Praising God for how you and your family are investing in the lives of these precious children. Praying for you and the safety of those who may still be at risk.

    • #30767
      Lis Doane
      Participant

      The writing prompt for this week really spoke to my heart.  The idea of the “matchless beauty and unspeakable pain woven together” in orphan care really resonated with me.  I am the adoptive mom of two kids from hard places.  My youngest came to us at four after unspeakable trauma.  Our life has been chaotic, difficult and hard.  I had many issues with God throughout the process.  But He gave me a gift at the outset that has sustained me as He knew it would.  Both my children came to me under absolutely miraculous circumstances.  No one I have ever met had adoptions like mine.  I cling to this everyday.  He has an amazing purpose and plan for my children.  And the matchless beauty is as I watch my youngest slowly start to flower and blossom into the person He created her to be.  A process which got completely derailed through no fault of her own.  And He chose me to be a part of this.  That is matchless beauty.

      • #30785
        Lissa
        Participant

        Lis – Are you from Maryland? I might know you as part of the cohort with like-sounding names at church! It is beauty to watch your faithfulness as you stay the course and demonstrate Jesus to your children!    <3

      • #30787
        Lis Doane
        Participant

        Lissa, yes  I am!  Grace Community!

    • #30769
      Rebecca McMahan
      Participant

      As I read the readings and watched the videos for this week, there were several things that I had heard before but even more things that were new to me. One of the biggest assumptions I’ve made that was challenged this week was related to gate-keeping and searching for alternative care options for children prior to putting them in residential facilities. I think my professional framework ties into this assumption since I work in an intensive family preservation service which is intended to give parents the tools they need in order to prevent the removal of children from their primary home. This program is much less intensive than foster care or even more so, residential care. I think I just assumed that there were systems of care in place to provide alternative supports like this prior to sending a child to a residential facility/orphanage. I was shocked to learn that many children are placed in residential oftentimes before alternative, less-intensive, more supportive and nurturing options are considered. It made me realize the need for the gatekeepers that were mentioned to help with exploring alternate options in order to consider other supports first.

    • #30770
      Emma MacDougall
      Participant

      What stood out to me the most this week was the topic of poverty. It was eye opening to me that  but the other 90% of the world says that it is the emotional and psychological effects that are lacking rather than it being only physical effects. Being a college student, this encourages me to help bring awareness to what poverty is and the emotional and psychological effects that it has on children specifically rather than physical need that is lacking.

      • #30789
        Jacklynn Campbell
        Participant

        Absolutely, the term “poverty mentality” comes to mind.  Its like characterizing oneself with an identity of lack.  Poverty is not necessarily lack, but labeling of others as lacking.  The dangers in doing this with children is the emotional and phycological development within them that it creates.  What others are labeling them as, they will naturally label themselves as that.

      • #30845
        Brittney Wallace
        Participant

        Emma I thought that was very eye opening as well. I’ve been on many different overseas mission trips and I think that seeing the lack of material things just always directs our thoughts to something missing financially. I always knew that just giving a hand out and directing them to a means to ultimately in their culture an end, does nothing but continue the unhealthy pattern of true poverty. I have never considered it to be a relational, psychological, or emotional issue that has created the issue instead of neglecting to reassure people of their positive attributes that can add to their quality of life.

    • #30772
      Dianna Yang
      Participant

      A belief that has been challenged this week for me was the word “poverty”. As a social work student, I have been taught “poverty” meant a lack of something physical such as money, food, care, a house and even I began to define it in the same way. From the video, “Reconsidering the Meaning of Poverty”, I had the same perspective as many Americans on the word poverty. After watching the video, I realize many individuals face difficult financial and physical situations, yet they do not count it as a loss, but poverty meant something deeper from within, from a psychological/ social point of view. One point I found to be very profound was “how we define the problem is how we alleviate it”. This point spoke to me because oftentimes, we diagnose the symptoms by the way we define the problem. We never actually solve the root of the issue. This is the same way with poverty. I have been challenged to redefine poverty and look through both lens to meet the needs of the vulnerable population. It is important to not only meet the physical needs but also, the emotional, psychological, and mental needs.

      • #30777
        Natalie Cormier
        Participant

        Dianna,

        I think that so many people tend to focus on physical items and tangible needs which is what people tend to think is the root problem. Maybe the real problem we have to be addressing in poverty is that people care for those who lack and want to help them. That is hard to define and hard to quantify as there are so many ways that care and investment have many methods to addressed and solved. I think poverty is what is considered a “wicked” problem in which no one can agree on the definition and the problem, much less the solution.

    • #30778
      Katya Heyl
      Participant

      I was adopted at the age of 5 with my brother from a town south of Moscow. Fast forward 13 years later when I truly sought my identity not just in alcohol or clothes or what others thought  of me. When I became a freshman in college I decided to change my name to Katya (not my birth name but the Russian translation of my name at that given time). I also became saved as a Christian that fall but still struggled in my salvation because I did not understand what it meant to be adopted in Christ. The pain that I experienced as the Lord brought back memories of my past that he wanted to heal. I was only in the orphanage for 2 years but that caused enough heartache. It’s been hard to identify my adoption as beautiful to believe that it is truly good. People question me in their ignorance not empathizing with the pain or understanding my story. I am blessed to be an American but I am still Russian.

      I wrote my thesis my senior year in school on adoption from Russia to the United States. That was an emotional difficult and sometimes draining season of my life. My fear in ministering to orphans and vulnerable children is the empathy that I feel towards them because I have personally experienced rejection abandonment and neglect. It would be much easier for me to mask my pain to pretend it is not there but I believe that God created us to heal (physically emotionally mentally spiritually) and that takes identifying the problem at its core.

      What motivates me most to care for hurting children is God’s redemption in my life. I have studied about slavery, sex trafficking, war, etc. and despite the darkness I believe that God can bring light into these situations. God created us to worship Him not his creation and ultimately despite the pain God is still good.

      Romans 8:23 (Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies).

    • #30786
      Lissa
      Participant

      The redefining poverty video was helpful for me to understand why just throwing money and items at “poverty” has historically been so ineffective for long-term change. The relational sacrifice “poverty” would require of so many people is daunting (and mortifying for an introvert), but also good to realize any one of us isn’t called to eradicate/solve it. But we are called to do something anyway.

    • #30788
      Jacklynn Campbell
      Participant

      Responding to orphan care being describes as “matchless beauty and unspeakable pain… woven together” is impossible without referring to the Gospel.  King Jesus is just that, a king.  He travelled through unspeakable pain to create a matchless beauty through connecting with us in a manner that transforms our minds and our lives.  Without Christ, we do not believe in the royalty of being a child of God.  With Him, we do.  In OVC care, we have children traveling through unspeakable pain that inevitably creates an image of matchless beauty for those connecting with them.  Encountering Jesus brings healing and hope, restoration and redemption.  OVC care reflects the Gospel in that sense.  Creating matchless beauty takes a journey of unspeakable pain to develop a healthy path in reaching vulnerable children.

      In another perspective, King Jesus saw humanity as matchless beauty worth traveling through unspeakable pain to reach.  OVC care is traveling through unspeakable pain to reach matchless beauty.  The identity of one child is matchless beauty.  Jesus left the ninety-nine to go after the one. Why? Because He saw matchless beauty.

    • #30795
      Mandy Hernandez
      Participant

      I work for an organization in Haiti and thankfully and unfortunately experienced the “matchless beauty and unspeakable pain… woven together” with orphan care. I hear our children’s stories of what life was like before and wonder how, why, what can be done? Sometimes it seems overwhelming, but I know that we can all just start with one! The motivation I have is that Jesus is healer and that we carry hope into the world for the least of these.

      We desire that our children know family life. We work hardest to structure our children’s homes to model family. The hesitations and concerns is not wanting to cause more harm than what these children have already experienced. But the motivation continues to out weigh the fear in that all things work together for their good.

    • #30801
      Ariel Meneese
      Participant

      It is a daunting task, Kaitlyn! God knows that and He has placed the task of caring for orphaned and vulnerable children on the hearts of so many people. We will not be able to solve any major world issue overnight, but making a difference in the lives of individual children is huge!

    • #30810
      Emma Leitson
      Participant

      I think that one thing that stands out to me is the fact that death is so common in the indigenous culture. The story that Nicole told about how a little girl lost her parents and then a few days later was sent to a camp by her aunt literally broke my heart and had me at tears. I cannot imagine the pain the little girl must have gone through and she has no time to process such a traumatic event. Nicole is so right that when you go through something as terrible and traumatic as that, one NEEDS to go to counseling and receive proper treatment.  I had no idea that that happens and I’m so glad to be apart of this organization to be learning more about vulnerable children and being an advocate for them.

      • #30821
        Lissa
        Participant

        Another thought comes to mind on this: Not to belittle the magnitude of death, but I’ve noticed when death is common in a culture, people have more opportunities to talk about it beforehand, witness coping strategies from people who have traveled a similar road before them, etc. For people insulated from this kind tragedy as part of their culture, it makes sense that it’s hard for us to imagine what they’re going through. Perhaps that should cause us to hesitate before making assumptions about their experience or need for a certain treatment.

    • #30844
      Brittney Wallace
      Participant

      I think for me personally, working in the world of foster care you are constantly swimming in a sea of matchless beauty and unspeakable pain woven together. You see the difficulties of children and families who have to struggle to figure out how life with another family functions, they have to try to wrap their minds around the idea of their parents choosing something over them as a priority, you see them struggle with things that you may not have necessarily gone through but you have to help them try to walk through that and it’s one of the most difficult things I personally have had to do. Hearing the stories of how some of these kids come into care will wreck you, but seeing families take these children into their homes and hearts and help them figure it out with the love of Jesus is what makes the messiness of their situations beautiful. They create a space for these children to heal and to restore and to ensure that someone else’s child is taken care of and to be a vessel for the Gospel by simply walking out what the Lord has called all of us to. These families are a huge motivation to continue walking out this calling in my life because they are truly living a life of orphan care, but my main motivation for doing this is the Gospel. It’s knowing that we are all called to look after the orphans and to show them the love of Christ in everything we do and say and if I get a small part in living that out in my day to day job, then I feel like that’s a win!

    • #30883
      Lee Radford
      Participant

      Our work focuses on family preservation. There are times we see the collision of the beauty of family and desperate poverty. We often work to keep families intact who live in a tin home with a dirt floor, latrine style toilet, no running water, and an indoor campfire for cooking. At times my heart and mind compete fiercely with one another.

      Biblically, I trust what God’s word says about family as the first level of community. Pragmatically, I feel like the family needs to be rescued and upgraded to the standards of my culture.

    • #30924
      Emily Evans
      Participant

      Hi everyone! For me personally a hesitation, fear or concern I have with serving orphans and vulnerable kids is the impact I have on them. What I mean with this is, I have been on two short term missions trips and before taking this course I didn’t realize the emotional drain it can have on the children to spend time with them for a week and then leave. I am learning how much of an impact it has on them and the boundaries you should have. I would love to go on a long-term missions trip in the future, when the time is right!

      My motivation to care for hurting kids is simply that I love people and I love sharing Gods love and word with them. It hurts me greatly to see kids not having anyone care for them or love them and I want to be able to share Gods love and grace to them, and to let them know that they have a heavenly father who loves and cares for them. I feel God has placed a gift of caring in my heart and I want to love others as best I can with it.

      • #30949
        Danita White
        Participant

        Hi Emily,

         

        I too was concerned about the emotional impact short-term missions teams can have on orphans and vulnerable children by spending time with them for a short while and them leaving, similar to how their parents or other significant adults have done to them. I went on my first short-term mission trip last year and saw how easily attached some kids became to me and other members of the team I was on. I plan on going on another short-term mission trip later this year, but will certainly do so and interact with children with this knowledge in mind.

         

        Grace + peace,
        Danita

    • #30948
      Danita White
      Participant

      Write about a perspective, assumption, or belief you held that has been challenged this week.

       

      The assumption I held which was challenged this week was that orphanages positively benefited orphans. While orphanages are necessary in some cases, based on “The Importance of Family” webinar, it is best if orphans are either reunited with their biological parents or placed within a family that can care for them and love them. In cases where parents placed their children in an orphanage because they couldn’t afford to care for them, it is best if funds are given to support such families instead of the funds being used to build an orphanage.

       

      What stands out as one or two of the most significant learnings this week and why?

       

      One of the most significant things I learned this week is that there is a large number of orphans who have either one or both parents living. If the parent(s) are stable, supportive, and loving, Christians should work to reunite their children with them instead of placing them in another family or in an orphanage.

       

      The second most significant thing I learned this week is that in helping orphans and vulnerable children, it must be done the right way. Time must be taken to assess what their past experiences and pain is and patience must be used to meet them where they are…walk with them and love them amid messy times, until they get to where they need to be.

       

      How have you experienced the “matchless beauty and unspeakable pain…woven together” that is orphan care? Do you feel any hesitations, fears or concerns in serving orphans and vulnerable kids? What motivates you most to care for hurting kids and enter into the world’s hurt in this way?

       

      The concern I most feel when it comes to serving orphans and vulnerable kids is that in my desire to help, I don’t end up hurting them beyond what they have already been hurt. Also, that the love I show them would be an untiring love, so they can have a better picture of God and the love He has for them. I am most motivated to care for hurting kids because God has commanded all those who believe in Him to do so.

    • #31270
      Penny Fairo
      Participant

      I agree on the point that most people are looking to meet material needs and emotional needs are unmet. We want to DO something, meet a need, feel as though we made a difference in someone’s else’s life. It is imperative to ‘help without hurting’ as is a common phrase today. We need to take a holistic approach to OVC care and people living in abject poverty.

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