I'm a world-traveling Brit who lived in Sweden for a spell, moved to the US thirty years ago, and eventually married an American bride. I'm fluent in the "Queen's English" as well as the American corruption. In my book, that makes me bilingual, but that's a real stretch I'm told. My friend Janey DeMeo is also a world-traveling Brit who lived in another EU country (France), resides in the US, and married an Italian-American husband. Janey speaks English, French and a little Italian, so the parallels kinda break down at that point. (I must note, though, that I do know how to ask for a coffee in a dozen different languages.)
Janey and I share a more important parallel, though. She has a passion for orphans and leads a ministry, Orphans First, to help rescue and care for them. In addition, both our ministries have a history of working in Haiti to specifically reach the hundreds of thousands of orphans there. We're now jointly involved with the Haiti Orphan Relief Team (HORT), a collaboration of organizations working together to see churches in the US partnered with churches in Haiti to help Haiti's children. A couple of days before I left for Haiti I spoke with Janey about joining the group of ministries and advocacy groups that had united for this common goal. She enthusiastically agreed and is now using her gifting as a writer, speaker and ministry leader to bring attention to this very precious cause.
Below is an article that Janey wrote for Assist News a couple of days ago that has since been picked up by The Cypress Times and other online news publications. In the article Janey provides a good reminder that, ultimately, the temporal and eternal battle for the orphans of Haiti is a spiritual one. In the midst of gross exploitation and corruption, we must proceed carefully - strategically in partnership - and with prayer as our utmost priority.
Friday, March 5, 2010
Pressing on for Haiti's Orphans
By Janey L. DeMeo
Special to ASSIST News Service
VISTA, CA (ANS) -- With earthquakes hitting Chile, Japan, Argentina, Taiwan . . . it's easy to forget Haiti.
But Haiti's plight remains perilous. Not that God isn't doing miracles -- He is! People have been pulled from the rubble miraculously alive after days of water and food deprivation. Children are singing God's praises (especially in places like Maison-de-Lumière and other Christ-centered children's homes). Relief volunteers have arrived a-plenty. Yet, there are roadblocks. The orphanages are so jam-packed, orphans line up outside. Many struggle to survive in the streets and vulnerable prey to rapist.
The situation is further complicated because, in spite of an outpouring of funds into Haiti, relief supplies are being held up at the border (as the prohibiting orphans who were granted humanitarian parole the right to leave and join their waiting forever families wasn't bad enough!). This due to . . . wait for it . . . the Haitian government's exorbitant demands for taxes on these gifts sent to save their people.
This kind of ironic exploitation is not new. What is new is its magnitude and the lessons this chaos continues to teach us. Reaching children is spiritual warfare. We cannot reach them effectively in our own strength. We must invite God to be with us (which means we must be willing to move with Him at the steering wheel not our own plans). That's why, in all our endeavors to help Haiti -- or Chile or anywhere for that matter -- those who take on the task of praying are as important as those who raise funds and those who go. Maybe even more so since they open the way!
Prayer reminds us that God alone must be our strength. He makes it possible for us to press forward praying, advocating, giving . . . to reach more children in the name of Jesus. Thanks to consistent prayer support and financial partnership, Orphans First is doing just that. We have also joined the Haiti Orphan Relief Team (HORT) -- http://haitiorphanreliefteam.blogspot.com -- because there is wisdom in partnering with like-minded people.
HORT initiatives aim to connect Haitian churches helping orphans with USA churches that can come alongside them—particularly in prayer.
As we seek to liaise churches in Haiti with churches in the USA, one of the biggest battles we will surely face is corruption. Sadly Haiti -- like all third-world countries -- reeks of corruption. We saw this in the case of the ten incarcerated Baptists whose lawyer demanded excessive money with promises for their quick release. I have also had my own share of such experiences as founding director of Orphans First. Amazing how many people claim to be helping orphans when they think there might be money to gain. I have seen it again and again.
During a trip to Africa last year, a friend asked me to check out an orphanage her ministry was funding in Ghana. Delighted to help, we stopped by en route to Togo. We didn't tell the "pastor" running the orphanage that we knew he received thousands of dollars every month or that we knew the people providing the money. He told us they needed funds, and had orphans in other parts of the country etc. I'll spare the details, but let's sum it up in one word: fraudulence!
Happily today someone trustworthy runs that orphanage. But the moral of the story remains. We need discernment. May God give us discernment to do the work He has set before us. And let's not take forget Haiti where there are still thousands and thousands of orphans and hurting children needing protection and provision.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Janey DeMeo is founder and director of Orphans First. She is also an author and speaker. Her husband, Louis, is a church-planter and pastor. They were formerly missionaries for 22 years in France, and are now based in Southern California where they continue their ministry. They both taught at the Calvary Chapel Bible College.
The Haiti Orphan Relief Team (HORT) can be found on Facebook.
Abandoned-Orphaned is the personal blog of Paul Myhill, President of World Orphans. Subscribe to the blog in the upper right-hand corner of the home page. Paul can be found on Facebook and on Twitter @paulmyhill.