Hidden Treasure

For you formed my inward parts, You covered me in my mother's womb. Psalms 139:13

Sunday, December 7, 2008

World Orphans-A Year-Round Solution

This time of year is notorious for exposing the generous side of people. I always argue that we shouldn't only care about giving food at Thanksgiving and Christmas but year-long. We shouldn't only care about the homeless and orphaned at Christmas, but year-long. I propose that with a generous and open heart, you read the following and purpose that maybe, because this particular problem exists all year, we should be doing something to help-year round.

Recently, Jenna Howard from World Orphans shared with me what World Orphans does world wide, and most importantly, why they do it. She also shared how both individuals and churches can get involved. I am pleased to pass on this information to you.

My dedication and heart stems from a choice I myself could not make- being adopted. Christ, in His mercy and grace, had a plan to place me right in the middle of my brother and sister (also adopted) and into the arms of my God-loving parents. I should have taken that as a hint that abandoned and orphan care would forever be something dear to my heart BUT not until these recent years have I really turned my ear to hear God’s calling for my life. My earnest desire is to serve God while serving His children. I believe my calling, having once been orphaned, is to help as many orphaned and abandoned children as possible to experience, to know as I did, God’s same real and abounding love for them.

How did I find World Orphans?
Once again it was no choice I made. God, in His all knowing power, led World Orphans to find me. My family is dear friends with the Executive Vice President of World Orphans, Mike Vinson and his family. I had begun to volunteer by helping his wife plan an event for World Orphans and finally met Mike. He mentioned that they were looking for help and asked me to pray and consider moving from Texas to Colorado. Long story short, God moved my heart. I moved with faith and assurance and begun my work in this passion filled and God led organization. I now have the opportunity and privilege, as the Director of Public Relations for World Orphans, to open up new windows and swing wide the doors to this able country and cry out for the need of God’s children. Each day I am reminded that that as we have been called to receive a child and by so doing bring him up in the likeness of Christ, we are glorifying God. Not only is it a command it is also a gift and a blessing from God that he uses as instruments to show His love to these children. (Matthew 18:2-6 ESV)

It’s not just about hundreds of homes, in dozens of countries, rescuing thousands of children. We at WORLD ORPHANS are focused on specific outcomes. We look at expected and actual outcomes for three targets – church, child and community – and according to two categories – physical and spiritual.

Outcome goals are individualized and enumerated for each project, but the following are example categories of outcomes that are measured.

Sample: Physical Outcome Indicators

Each Child
Standardized national tests (comparison)
Basic skills assessments
Trade skill assessments
Job placement rate
Hygiene Testing
Domestic Adoption/Foster Care
Number and percentage
Each Church (Internal)
Involvement with children
Increase in member volunteerism (hours)
Giving for children’s program
Numerical increase
Each Community (External)
Criminal activity
Elimination of child incarceration
Attraction to church
Increase in points of contact
Visitation to church
Increase Appreciation of church
Approval rating (Informal surveys)

“Do not follow where the path leads.
Rather, go where there is no path and leave a trail.”

‘And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us,
and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father,
full of grace and truth.’
- John 1:14

World Orphans’ Journey 117 is a movement. A movement of the global church responding to the biblical call to witness the hope and love of the Gospel. A movement of people who,

are learning to do right,
are seeking justice,
encouraging the oppressed,
defending the cause of the orphan,
and pleading the cause of the widow!
adapted from Isaiah 1:17

Journey 117 is not about a trip or an event- it’s about a lifestyle. It’s about a choice. It’s about dying to self and following the risen Christ. Living as he did. Loving as he did. It’s about rescuing orphans and strengthening churches so that all people will know the real and tangible love of the Father!

Praise the LORD, all you nations;
extol him, all you peoples.

For great is his love toward us,
and the faithfulness of the LORD endures forever.
Praise the LORD.
Psalm 117

Journey 117 is your path towards expressing the passions of your heart through the work of your hands. Serve with churches all over the world as they rescue orphans, serve widows, and witness to un-reached communities in word and action.

Life is a Journey, a journey with an eternal destination. Journey with World Orphans and be a part of changing the course of someone else’s destination- forever.

Briefly describe the problem World Orphans addresses and the solutions they offer. What are some of the more pressing issues World Orphans sees?
THE PROBLEM? The number of children in the world that have lost their mother or father, are parentless, or have been abandoned…now exceeds 143 million. This absolutely staggering number is almost equivalent to one-half of the total population of the United States. Can you imagine if one out of every two Americans was a child living on the streets, living in absolute hopelessness and despair?
Chronic disease, bloodshed, horrific natural disasters, severe poverty, famine, unsanitary water sources, restrictive population controls, and societal devaluation of female children, have all contributed to this global tragedy of monumental proportions.

In the Past Hour…

Ø 1,625 children were forced to live on the streets by the death or abuse of an adult
1,667 children under the age of five died from malnutrition and vaccine-preventable diseases
115 children became prostitutes
66 children under 15 were infected with HIV
257 children were orphaned because of HIV/AIDS

Most children are UNDER THE AGE OF FIFTEEN and are…
Sleeping on concrete beds and rancid garbage piles every night – streets, sewers, dumps… Scavenging amongst human waste and excreta for rotting morsels and scraps to eat… Huffing glue and other substances in order to numb the cold, hunger, pain…and shame … Prostituting themselves for basic food and shelter… Trafficked and sold into sexual bondage, even at five years old and younger …Abused and brutalized by sexual predators, local gangs, corrupt police officers, and slum lords… Victimized by HIV/AIDS-infected men who believe that sleeping with young virgins can cure the disease. Recruited into lives of thievery, smuggling and drug dealing…Abducted to serve as child soldiers or the sex slaves of soldiers
Exploited as child laborers or slaves in sweatshops… Executed by local businessmen and officials who view them as a dirty pests interfering with trade and commerce… Sacrificed in occult/witchcraft rituals… Robbed of childhoods; Robbed of self esteem; Robbed of innocence; Robbed of hope

The Solution?
First know this:

1.) There are not enough FOSTER FAMILIES and COMMUNITY NETWORKS to be the solution.

2.) Large INSTITUTIONAL ORPHANAGES are not the solution

CHURCH-BASED HOMES are the best solution.

WORLD ORPHANS partners with indigenous churches, not just to construct buildings, but to create loving family homes that:

-Are smaller-scale group care environments with high care-giver ratios.
-Are owned and run by compassionate believers.
-Are fully integrated into the church and community.
-Are Christ-focused in meeting physical, emotional, educational and spiritual needs.

Let’s Compare:

The United Nation’s thorough publication on orphaned and abandoned children, Children on the Brink (UNICEF, 2004), outlines the major problems with the prevailing model of orphan rescue and care, institutional orphanages…

“Traditional residential institutions usually have too few caregivers and are therefore limited in their capacity to provide children with affection, attention, personal identity, and social connections that families and communities can offer.”- Children on the Brink (UNICEF, 2004)


Smaller-scale settings: Multiple caregiver families live with children placed in smaller groupings. Our homes are typically comprised of 8 to 12 children, not the 100 to 1,000 child capacities seen in most institutional models. For instance, a World Orphans church partner caring for 100 orphans would provide 10 homes with 10 children each with a live-in family.

Higher caregiver ratios: Unlike traditional orphanages, where it is not uncommon to see one caregiver for every seventy-five children, our homes are comprised of “family communities” with healthy caregiver ratios.

Church community: Our homes are an integrated part of the broader church community that cares for the children. The children therefore receive additional love, care and encouragement from a compassionate group of church members and volunteers.

“Institutional care tends to segregate children and adolescents by age and sex and from other young people and adults in their communities. Instead of encouraging independence and creative thinking, institutional life tends to promote dependency and discourage autonomy. For many adolescents, the transition from life in an institution to positive integration and self-support as a young adult in the community is difficult. They lack essential social and cultural skills and a network of connections in the community.”- Children on the Brink (UNICEF, 2004)


Educational integration and connection: In most cases, our children are educated with the children of the surrounding community…their community.

Church integration and connection: Our children are part of the churches that oversee the homes on their properties. They interact and play daily with the children of church members as well as the youth and adults that attend the church. They attend and participate in church services and activities throughout the week.

Transition integration and connection: Our children receive skills and transitional training. Unlike institutional orphanages, they are afforded many more opportunities for transition as church members step in to recommend and offer them employment when they are ready to leave the home.

“Institutionalized orphans who suffer the loss of family identity and sense of community belonging are at greater risk of losing future support networks than orphans in foster homes or other community settings.” Many traditional orphanages are located away from the children’s community of origin, within large buildings constructed on free land donated by the government. They are isolated and alone, sequestered from the rest of society. “It takes a village….” Many developing world social structures have always believed that children don’t just belong to parents but to the community. To remove from the community is to remove them from their identity.- Children on the Brink (UNICEF, 2004)


Community connection: The local church is the community! Our children are placed in church-based homes right in their community. They are not moved away. They stay connected to their peers and neighbors through schooling, church and community activities. They remain and belong.

“For children who slip through the extended family safety net, arrangements preferable to traditional institutional care include foster placements, local adoption, surrogate family groups integrated into communities, and smaller-scale group residential care in homelike settings.”- Children on the Brink (UNICEF, 2004)


Homes: Our children are placed into church-based homes, not orphanages.

Foster Care: Our children are effectively “fostered” by live-in families, supplemented by widows as additional caregivers.

Adoption: Unlike children in institutional orphanages that have little connection to the community, our children are constantly in contact with church families. Families that have never considered adoption and who would have never thought to drive out to see the children in the institutional orphanages, now are constantly immersed in church activities with the orphaned and abandoned children in the church home. These same families can now picture individual children becoming part of their families. In short, World Orphans’ church-based homes actually enhance the exposure, opportunity and probability of child adoptions.

Ø Africa
Ø Southeast Asia
Ø East Asia
Ø Central Asia
Ø Latin America
Ø Eastern Europe
Ø India
Ø Middle East



Whether you are a church, individual, family, bible study group, previous donor, first time donor, business or even a blogger that found our organization prayer is needed. Pray that the Lord continues to work through us to reach the lost, the abandoned, and the fatherless. Pray for the children who are hungry, cold, and scared of what the next minutes of their life will be. Pray for protection against the enemy and say prayer of praise and thanks for the children that have been found and are being taken care of.

SECOND: If you feel God’s calling, give. There are many ways you can do this:


You can give as a one-time donation or you can give on an ongoing basis. I must stop you here and inform you a majority of the employees here at World Orphans are support raised. We DO NOT believe that when a person gives a dollar, for example, that any percentage of that dollar should be used for our office and salary needs! When you give a dollar to World Orphans that dollar goes straight into the building of a home, feeding the children, providing mosquito nets etc. With that said the employees here are also trusting in the Lord’s time and provision to provide for them and their families and if you have a heart for one of our employees and would like to give Bless You and Thank You! Each of our employees have blog in which they discuss their passion and why World Orphans, previous trips, and just little tibbits about themselves

Paul Myhill: President and Adoptive father Paul Myhill

Michael Vinson: Executive Vice President Michael Vinson

Scott Vair: Vice President of Projects and Adoptive father Scott Vair

Rod Vestal: Vice President of Mobilization Rod Vestal

Alan Hunt: Director of Church Relations & Advocacy Alan Hunt

David Ochoa- Director of Children Ministry
David Ochoa

Billy Ray- Regional Director- Middle East Billy Ray

B.J. Murrey- Regional Director- Central America BJ Murray

Jenna Howard- Public Relations Director Jenna Howard

Serve alongside us in our Journey 117

Join us on a short or long term mission team trips. Help serve those in need and aid the abandoned, defenseless, and fatherless. This will radically alter the way you view the world and grow in your faith journey.

Interested in going on a World Orphans Journey 117 Mission trip?

Click the link and it will take you to our 2009 trips coming up.

World Orphans

For more information please call or contact Rod Vestal- Vice President of Mobilization (719) 487-1700 Rodv@worldorphans.org


World Orphans is committed to mobilizing Churches through international Church-to-Church partnerships.

Want to learn more about how your church can engage international orphan ministry in a practical and tangible way?
For more information please call or contact Alan Hunt-Director of Church Relations & Advocacy

at (214) 636-3887 Alanh@worldorphans.org


World Orphans values the power and effectiveness of organizational partnerships and actively works with US and internationally based mission agencies, great-commission, and Para-church organizations to strengthen and plant churches through the gospel witness of caring for orphans in least-reached communities around the world.

Interested in learning more about developing an organizational partnership with World Orphans?

Call or Contact Michael Vinson- Executive Vice President at (719) 487-1700 or mike@worldorphans.org


  • At December 8, 2008 at 8:01 AM , Blogger Jenna Marie Howard said...

    Thank you so much for choosing to take time and writing about us. It is an honor and privilege! God Bless you for your heart and willingness to love and challenge people to take up the fight for the Abandoned and Orphaned.

    Jenna M. Howard
    -Director of Public Relations


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