Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘International’ Category

During this time of year, as we see the excitement and magic in the eyes of our children and grandchildren, if you’re like me, it takes me back to those days of my childhood when Christmas was full of wonderful food, grandparents laughing, speculating about presents and the warmth and comfort of knowing you had a family that loved you. In short, for me growing up and being at my Mam Maw’s house at Christmas meant feeling safe and loved unconditionally.

As we are now the ones charged to help a new generation see and know that a baby came into the world to give us life, we should stop to remember there are millions of children who won’t have such an experience, much less a family, this year.  It’s staggering to think that more than 16 million children under the age of 18 in Africa alone have lost one or both parents to AIDS.

Hope for Orphans believes that the Spirit of the Most High God can mobilize thousands and thousands of churches to touch orphans around the world. We know this because we have seen what He can do through just one church and just one family…one child at a time.

God accomplished a lot of amazing things in 2010 through the ministry of Hope for Orphans. We were able to go near the orphans of Haiti and help almost 25 come home to families after the horror of the January earthquake. We have seen more churches launch orphans ministries. We have seen the seeds of orphan ministry on the college campus come to life and students saved through going near the orphan. Hope for Orphans Kids is bringing vision to children in churches across America. But still it is the stories of specific children that stick with me and show me that God is truly at work.

When Yang Wen Sha was born in China, there was a problem. She could not hear. Soon she was in an orphanage, but through God’s providence, there were Christians at the orphanage caring for her. A few years later, our friends Dr. Andy and Trisha Wells connected with Yang Wen Sha through a Hope for Orphans contact.  Dr. Andy is an ENT, and with his help, Yang Wen Sha was able to receive the specialized hearing aid that she needed.  It was not just a coincidence that Andy and Trisha came into the life of this child.  You see, God had been working on Andy and Trisha’s hearts for some time about adoption, and now they dared to pray and ask, “Could Yang Wen Sha be our daughter?”  They had ears to hear how the Lord wanted to use their lives.

In a story of divine intervention (which perhaps we can share one day through our e-newsletter), the Lord did what only He can do and in July of this year, Yang Wen Sha became Kari Christine Pennington Wells. She now lives in a beautiful home in Augusta, Georgia with the forever family that God chose for her. I sort of think maybe in her little 5-year-old mind that when the Wells welcomed her into their family, she could hear the angels singing in her ears.

Our ministry is about providing the vision, resources and onramps for millions of Christians to step forward to love the fatherless. This month, we have an amazing opportunity to grow our ministry. A donor has agreed to match, dollar for dollar, all gifts to Hope for Orphans received before December 31st. If the Lord leads, please help us help more churches to bring the Hope born in Bethlehem to more orphans in 2011 than ever before.

Happy New Year.

Paul

Read Full Post »

…They began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. Acts 2:45

“If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” Matthew 19:21

From the beginning of the church, there has been a connection between the Good News and loving those in need. That connection usually means sacrifice. North American Christians as a bunch are not quite as keen for sacrifice as those in the early church, perhaps because there has been a drift in teaching away from Biblical truth and grace. The new direction has been towards more motivational and frankly “me-centered” teaching. However, as we approach the annual Cry of the Orphan Campaign and Orphan Sunday, we are seeing churches all over America who are launching lay-led, people-to-people orphan ministries, in which there is not only sacrifice but a laying out of lives for the fatherless. The impact, not only on orphans, but on churches, has been amazing.

At the beginning of Hope for Orphans, we worked with a small church in South Texas — a fledgling orphan ministry started by two adoptive moms who had a vision and conviction that loving the fatherless was not optional. This led in fairly short order to 29 kids coming for a summer hosting program. The Russian-speaking kids who came had an impact that reached much further than a handful of kids getting families. This church had a revival of sorts through the love of these orphans that introduced the entire congregation to a country most had probably never heard of. The Lord used orphan ministry to give this church a new passion for missions, evangelism, reconciliation and the Gospel that was truly supernatural. 29 kids became 41 and from there this church and its orphan ministry has helped mentor churches in many places to similar results. The compounded impact for children in foster care and around the world is wonderful. The transformation brought about by seeing the visible gospel by the whole congregation has been priceless.

The point is…One Church Can Make a Difference…a difference that impacts generations for God’s glory. Will you be an orphan ministry leader in your church? One way to give a vision to your church in these next few weeks is through the Cry of the Orphan Partners’ one-hour content-on-demand video special Answer the Cry. This free resource can be used in Sunday schools, small groups, youth groups and even in a special worship service to introduce your church to God’s heart for orphans. This and other resources will be available at www.cryoftheorphan.org. This special program will also be available on DVD in limited supplies at Family Christian Stores locations across the country.

We even have a promo video that you can show leadership in your church or maybe use to promote your own event. You may watch the preview now by clicking here.

Also, at Hope for Orphans, we have a new video that speaks to how God is using the church. You may see that video by clicking here.

So this Orphan Sunday week, consider a sacrifice of your time to give voice to those kids who have none. Consider how God wants to use your Church for loving orphans and waiting children.

Blessings
Paul

Read Full Post »

Next Saturday will be a great day for orphan advocates across the country. On October 1st & 2nd, there are THREE great conferences that we want to introduce you too.  Whether you live on the east coast, central, or west coast, a phenomenal conference is right around the corner.

On the east coast, in Southern NJ, Chris Padbury will be delivering the key note address which aims to awaken the local church to all aspects of “defending the cause of the fatherless.”

In Austin, TX, the Together For Adoption conference will be addressing over 1000 attendees. The theme of the conference is “The Gospel, the Church, and the Global Orphan Crisis.”  If you live anywhere near this event, you will not want to miss this conference.

On the west coast, in Los Angeles, CA, Hope for Orphans’ John Moore will be the key note speaker. There will be several sessions covering the Biblical foundation for orphan care, as well as numerous break-out sessions that will give you substantial and tangible ways to engage in the orphan crisis.

To learn more information about these conferences, please visit the Hope for Orphans website: www.hopefororphans.org

Read Full Post »

Next week, Monday through Friday, FamilyLife Today will host Steven and Mary Beth Chapman.  The Chapmans have been tireless champions for the fatherless for years and have continued to speak up on their behalf, while helping mobilize the church to care for them in many ways, through their ministry, now called Show Hope.

In the first three days of interviews, the Chapmans will talk about, among other things, how they met, Mary Beth’s new book, entitled Choosing to SEE: A Journey of Struggle and Hope, and some of the darker times in their lives, including the tragic accident that took the life of their precious daughter, Maria Sue, and the way God has demonstrated His grace in the midst of those times.

On the final two days of interviews, the Chapmans will talk about Maria’s Big House of Hope — the latest initiative from Show Hope — a six-story, 60,000 square foot orphanage that houses and provides medical care for special needs orphans in China.  They will also share music from and talk about Steven’s latest CD, Beauty Will Rise.

Please be sure to tune in to the broadcasts next week, August 30th through September 3rd by clicking here.  Also, take this opportunity to share this link with family and friends who may not be aware of what God is doing through the Chapmans and others on behalf of orphans all over the world.  You and those in your circles will be richly blessed by these programs.

Read Full Post »

This post was written by Missy Leventhal – wife of HFO Ops guy David Leventhal.  Missy & David have four children and are in the process of adopting their second child from China (a three year old little boy).  Missy recently reflected on what she’s learned through the waiting process.  Missy does her blogging at www.theleventhals.com & her Twittering at @missyleventhal.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

I’ve had several people ask me recently how I’m doing with the wait.  So far I think I’m doing pretty good.  We’ve had enough to distract us with buying a new house and preparing to move, along with the normal hustle and bustle of keeping up with the other four, that I haven’t had much time to sit and think about the wait.  Don’t get me wrong, I think about my boy often!  I’ve just done a better job this time around not letting the wait control me.

I’ll explain…

As we got to this point with Abigail’s adoption I was consumed by blogs and yahoo groups.  I would check them multiple times throughout the day to see if any of the families ahead of us in the process had gotten word of travel approval.  I would get caught up in this cyberworld and WASTE hours upon hours glued to my computer. Daily.

It was not good.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with blogs or yahoo groups…I obviously have a blog and I still participate in a yahoo group.  They are great outlets and great sources for support.  However, when you are so consumed by them that you can’t even step away to play with the children already in your home, or when they stir up anxiety and anxiousness it’s just not good.

Also, the first time around I feel I fantasized about Abigail quite a bit.  What she’d be like, how she’d act, what we’d do together, how the other kids would play with her…it was dreamy!  She was perfect!  I fell in love with a picture and a perfect, made-up child.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with being excited and anticipating how things are going to change.  But at some point the expectations formed through this anticipation are going to meet up with reality and some adjustments are going to have to be made.

For me the depths of my expectations did not help me with our transition, and it took me months to figure out that the disconnection I was feeling with her was due, in a large part, to my unmet and unrealistic expectations.  As I’ve come to understand my own heart more through much prayer, educated myself with some great books like The Connected Child, and surrounded myself with other godly adoptive families through our church’s adoption ministry (Watermark Tapestry), I’ve learned that I must evaluate and adjust my expectations so that they are more realistic.  I must love my daughter for who she is and for how our God has created her, rather than try to make her into something she’s not.  This is not a new concept to me, but it is one that took me being very intentional to really change my heart.

So, I guess you can say, I learned my lesson the first time around!  I do get excited about meeting Joshua and discovering his personality.  I can’t wait to have him home to love on him, play with him, and cuddle him.  I can’t wait to see how his little life is going to impact the lives of our other children.  But I’m trying to be more realistic and almost hold my emotions an arm’s length away so that I can fall in love with him, and not what I imagine to be him!  Does that even make any sense?

Do I like waiting? No.  I’d have him home today if I could.  But I know waiting is part of the process.  I know that my Lord loves him even more than I do, and I know that He can take care of Chang Shun just fine without me.  I know that He has invited me into this process and is giving me the privilege of being this little boy’s mommy for a time.  I know that all of my kids are HIS before they are mine, and so I must hold them with an open hand and trust in His loving care…much easier said than done!  But I’m working on it!

Read Full Post »

As I write this I am on an plane approaching Port-au-Prince, Haiti. As you may already know, Hope for Orphans is locking arms with a group of other organizations to come alongside Haitian churches as they seek to love and care for children who were orphaned by the earthquake. The HORT initiative (Haiti Orphan Relief Team) sent its first team last month to connect with Haitian churches with a heart for caring for orphans in their communities (you can read David Leventhal’s blog posts from that first HORT trip by clicking HERE). On our current trip, we will take the next step with 10 of these churches and will continue to meet with others as well. On Wednesday, we will be meeting with the pastors of these 10 Haitian churches for the day to discuss more of the details of what it will look like to partner together. During part of that time I will be team teaching with Dan Cruver (Together for Adoption) on a biblical framework for adoption.

I am really excited about this particular initiative and the potential impact it can have. Each church’s program will identify up to 20 children to place into homes within the church. Each church will identify a team to oversee the program and will help to ensure that each of these children gets food, medical care, education, and is developed spiritually. With 10 churches starting the program initially, that means 200 kids are getting care right out of the gate –- and in Christian families.

As you know, it’s important to always be asking the question, “what can we do better together than we could ever do alone?” The HORT initiative is another encouraging example of organizations coming together and putting their collective shoulder behind something that will really help kids.

I would like to ask you to pray with us for this time and for the program. Here are few things you can pray for:

  1. That we would make good connections with more strong churches
  2. That we would be active learners and great listeners
  3. That we would be able to truly identify ways to help Haitian Christians care for
    Haitian orphans.
  4. That churches would see many changed lives in the children they help.

Read Full Post »

I don’t know about you, but so many thoughts have raced through my mind since first hearing about the seven-year old boy who was adopted and then returned to Russia…How could someone put a 7 year-old child on an 18+ hour plane ride by himself? How could someone disrupt their adoption without seeking professional help? How could someone pursue another adoption while simultaneously being at wits’ end? How did the boy feel, being rejected again? Will he recover? Will his life be consistent with the statistics of Russian children exiting their orphanages? All of these questions strike me at my core.  Still, one question lingers…and the answer seems so simple.

What, if anything, could have been done to avoid this tragedy? Professional psychiatric help, adoption agency assistance, and respite care through the state of Tennessee have all been addressed by the media. All are viable options, but there is still one more option that is missing. To me, this option is simple – THE CHURCH.  What if the adoptive mom knew about an Orphan Ministry in her church or in her community? Adoption circles run close and tight, we all know that. What if a church, that was active in adoption and foster care, had a real presence in Shelbyville? Is it unrealistic for adoptive families to be advocates and voices of reason for people going through the various stages of adoption?  Could this instance with this seven year-old boy have been totally avoided – maybe?  To bring it to a personal level, can I do a better job of reaching out in my community, to show 2 Corinthians 5:17? Yes.  Am I vocal enough, in my day to day life, to reach out to others considering adoption or going through an adoption?  Perhaps not, but I need to be.

It has been reported that the adoptive mom made no attempts to gain help, even though she is in the medical field and holds a Masters Degree.  Even though her adoption agency checked in with her just weeks prior to the incident, is it possible she might not have felt safe disclosing her extreme issues with them, as she alleges she was lied to? The Church is a safe place; we are a safe haven for people going through life issues, additions, and illnesses.  Wrap around families are vital to the adoption process, not just for foster care. If you have adopted, you know the feeling of isolation, and that you need someone to come alongside you. The simple act of engaging someone and walking next to them can make all the difference in the world.  I am not minimizing the need for professional counseling and other assistance, but I am suggesting that the church might have been the place that this mom and her family could have begun the road to recovery and perhaps avoided what became a tragedy and international incident.

Let me encourage you to not forget this story. With thousands of Russian children adopted every year, and tens of thousands of child adopted domestically and internationally, let us be more proactive and engaging in our community.  A vibrant mobilized Church adoption ministry is the answer.  If you want more information on creating an orphan ministry, adoption support group, or foster care ministry in your church, please visit http://www.HopeForOrphans.org. We are here to help.

Read Full Post »

David Leventhal is still in Haiti.  He wrote the following after addressing 100 Haitian pastors:

“This morning Paul Myhill (President of World Orphans) & I had the opportunity to speak before 100 Haitian pastors at a Campus Crusade for Christ training conference in Port Au Prince.  The training was being led by Esperandieu Pierre.

Esperandieu asked us to cast vision & encourage these pastors in their love & service for the orphans in their community.  We didn’t have much time & because Esperandieu had to translate for us the time we had was cut in half.

When I woke up this morning I began asking the Lord what He wanted me to communicate to these men.  It had to be short, easy to remember & useful.  As I worked through my thoughts & reflected on a couple of passages I realize the best place to start & finish was at the very cornerstone of all we believe.  I distilled it down into two main points:

  • The gospel is the basis for WHY we care for orphans
    • The gospel frees us to love others – we love because He first loved us (1 John 4:19).
    • The gospel frees us to look outside ourselves towards the needs of others – we look at Christ who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped (Philippians 2:5ff).
    • The gospel provides the power by which we can love sacrificially when it doesn’t make sense for us to (Romans 6:11ff).
  • The gospel is the model for HOW we care for orphans.
    • The gospel is offered free of charge – we are to care for orphans without expectation of receiving anything from them (John 3:16).
    • The gospel is not dependent upon our abilities – we are to care for orphans irrespective of their physical, mental or emotional capacity (Ephesians 2:8-9).
    • The gospel addresses the whole person – we are to care for the spiritual, physical & emotional needs of vulnerable children.  This is more than just basic food, clothing & shelter (James 1:27, 2 Corinthians 4:16ff).
    • The gospel cost Christ his life – we are to spend ourselves for the cause of the orphan, the vulnerable & the defenseless (Romans 8:32, Romans 5:8)

At the end of the day orphan care should tie back to the grace of God made fully known in the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ.”

Read Full Post »

David Leventhal sent this update from Haiti:

Today was a good laying the groundwork day.  Our team met with CMBH (Southern Baptist Group in Haiti) & World Relief.  The net result of our time is that we will be able to meet with 46 churches in the coming week.  Definitely a great start to the church to church partnerships we are hoping to create to care for Haiti’s orphans.

Our time with World Relief was especially sweet as we got to hear about all the great things they are doing to care for orphans & vulnerable children.  Their headquarters in Port Au Prince was destroyed so they are working out of one of their hospital / orphanage facilities called King’s Hospital.  After our meeting we were able to spend some time with the children in their orphanage.  There is nothing, absolutely nothing like getting eyeball to eyeball with a child that has lost everything.  It brings a renewed perspective that you simply cannot get from a book, a sermon or a meeting over coffee. It will wreck you in the best possible way.

Read Full Post »

Hope for Orphans is proud to be a part of the Haiti Orphan Relief Team (HORT).  HORT is a cooperative effort of disaster response experts and U.S. based ministries that have joined together to respond to the orphan crisis in Haiti.

The first deployment, which I will be a part of, departs on February 14th with the specific mission of supporting the churches of Haiti to care for the orphaned children in their communities. HORT will collaborate with and train Haitian ministries to sustain this effort beyond the deployment period.

The primary goal of this first initiative is to better enable Haitian churches to reunite children with their families or to keep children within extended family structures. For children that have no other options, HORT will help Haitian churches to provide direct care in home environments, as opposed to institutional orphanages.  The focus is on long-term, sustainable orphan care through the local church.

U.S. churches are also part of the solution and are being recruited by HORT to come alongside these Haitian churches in church-to-church partnerships to initiate, strengthen and grow their outreach to orphans in their immediate communities. These partnerships will also work towards the self-sustainability of the orphan rescue and care efforts in Haiti.

A couple of things you can do:

  • Pray like crazy that this team would:
    • Exalt Christ as we look for long-term orphan relief strategies
    • Remain unified & focused on the goal – we want to set aside logos & egos for the purpose of glorifying God as we care for the least of these
    • Be protected physically & spiritually while in Haiti.  We deploy on 2/14.  Some will be returning on 2/24 & others on 2/28.
    • Be able to identify churches on the ground in Haiti & in the U.S. that will be able to partner with us and one another.
  • Advocate: Spread the word via
  • Support the HORT effort financially through the website below
  • Educate: Learn more at www.haitiorphanrelief.com

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »