As most of you already know, the organization that I have the pleasure of leading, WORLD ORPHANS, was traditionally involved in providing grants for the construction of church-based children's homes in the developing world. It all began in 1993 with a $75,000 grant for a local church to build a home for 15 children rescued from the streets of Managua, Nicaragua. During the next twelve years, millions of dollars were invested to see almost 500 homes built in over 50 countries, allowing indigenous (native) churches to rescue many thousands of children.
Well, a lot has changed over the past three years.
WORLD ORPHANS not only continues to provide family-style residential solutions through indigenous churches, but is facilitating orphan prevention, transition and self-sustainability programs. What that means is that we're partnering with indigenous churches to help families stay alive and stay together - to stop or delay the orphaning, abandonment or sale of children in the first place. It also means that we're helping extended family to take in the children of dead or negligent relatives.
These programs are facilitated by home-based care teams sent out by the native churches we support. Furthermore, our partner churches now work with children coming out of institutionalized care, reaching them during a very vulnerable point in their young lives. Beyond that, these same church partners work with orphaned and abandoned children who have matured to young adulthood. Through micro-finance, mentoring and continuing-education programs, these churches give youth the opportunity to break the cycle of poverty and neglect and to instead succeed in life as self-supporting adults who have a commitment to the next generation.
Such programs are typically funded through church-to-church partnerships, where we at WORLD ORPHANS endeavor to find churches here to partner with churches there in order to see the work done with strength, accountability and resolve.
But what about individuals here who have a heart for the orphan, who desire to pick up the personal mantle of responsibility to these children?
Over the past three years, WORLD ORPHANS has given people the opportunity to get involved through prayer and financial contributions by region, issue and point on the "Continuum of Care" (prevention, residential, transition, or self-sustainability.) We acknowledge, though, that it has been a long learning process while we have broadened and deepened our level of involvement with partner churches. In the meantime, many folks have been waiting for a simpler way to get involved financially in the work.
That's why I'm pleased to tell you that we're about to embark on a new monthly-support program that enables our dear financial partners to help indigenous churches rescue and care for children in specific countries and regions of their choice. Basically, we're rolling out a $44 per month program that lets individuals - you - help churches to impact the lives of vulnerable children in their communities.
This isn't child sponsorship, as such programs take much time, energy and resources to implement and maintain. But it will allow people here to connect with children there, through the native churches that strive to change and transform lives.
Stay tuned . . .