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19 posts categorized "Orphans"

September 11, 2009

An Orphan's Faith

We have a great team in Uganda right now, led by Greg McElheny and Vince Giordano.  I just received an email from one of our team members, Ben Savage, from Cincinnati Ohio. I had to share it with you.  Please join me in prayer for this team as they visit carepoints throughout the Teso Region over the next few days. I hope to update you with more stories as they come to me.

"Today I walked into a world unlike any other that I have experienced.
I arrived two days ago with a team from Children’s HopeChest to visit
orphan communities in the hopes of creating connections between our
world of plenty and their world of want.   As we drove through the
towns, I witnessed a bizarre mixture of beauty, despair and hope.  The
landscape was truly astounding.  There were many imaginative and
hardworking people who had used what little resources that could
muster to create businesses that were showing signs of success.  The
next sight I would see would be a child naked, in a ramshackle mud hut
with no one to care for them.

In this strange stew of images we pulled into Rapha Community School,
a community that is sponsored by a church in Florida through
Children’s HopeChest.  We were greeted by 150 children in white shirts
and orange smocks.  The children were not exactly what I expected.
True, their situation was more dire than any I’ve seen, but the
children shone like the sun.  Their smiles were bright and filled with
pride and dignity.  The children greeted us individually and thanked
us for coming.  I only wish my children acted this respectfully.
After we toured the community, we were escorted to their schoolroom.
The room consisted of a small map of the world, a few old posters and
rough hewn benches.

The children sang a welcome to us.  They danced and recited Gods words
to us.  I was challenged and changed by all of this.   And then there
was Sarah, who read Matthew 6 aloud.  Sarah, who, from all earthly
perspectives should be disabled with despair for her future spoke of
faith.  She is an orphan who has depended on God to deliver food,
shelter and all other earthly needs.  She had suffered loss and pain
that people in my community would have spent countless dollars on
therapy to recover from, but today Sarah spoke to me of faith.  She

HopeChest Uganda Vision Trip Day 2 (2 of 7)

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will

eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more
important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at
the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns,
and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more
valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to
his life?
"And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field
grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon
in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God
clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is
thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of
little faith? So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What
shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all
these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But
seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things
will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow,
for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of
its own.”  Matthew 6:25-34

To hear a lovely child of God with a gleaming face recite those words
to me was the high point and most devastating moment for me.  The
thought that Sarah, who has good reason to worry about tomorrow would
unassumingly speak those challenging words to us fairly contented and
well fed Americans destroyed me.  That we worry more about the news
from Hollywood than the desperation found around the world was nothing
short of life changing.  While our culture is so consumed with anxiety
and fear, here was little Sarah exemplifying faith and courage.  She
read the words but I could see that she felt them too and that she
felt them deeply.

I have always loved that passage and thought about it as a cute
phrasing of my simple faith. But today I heard it as a life mantra
that was spoken from the core of this small framed girl.  It was the
throwing down of the gauntlet.  And the question that confronts me now
as I sit in my Ugandan hotel and Sarah sleeps in her mud hut is “What
will I do to respond?”  I have been blessed - not so much that I am
rich in my own community necessarily, but I am insanely rich in a
global context.  I have also been exposed to enough of the
difficulties that these communities face that I can no longer hide
behind ignorance.    Do I truly believe that these children are more
valuable than my cable television?   I am the “I want my MTV”
generation.  As Africa burns I live in comfort and ease while I CAN
make a difference in the lives of others but will I choose to? What
sacrifice have I been willing to make to help fulfill God’s promise of
care to others?  I will live differently from this day forward.
Have mercy on me God, though I truly don’t deserve it.  I have for too
long ignored your call to love those who are broken and abused.  Help
me capture and hold onto the conviction, sorrow, and joy reflected in
Sarah’s eyes today.  And thank you for showing me a picture of your
heart through these broken but not forgotten children in Rapha.  I am
devastated and changed.  Thank you, sweet Lord."

March 11, 2008

The African Boy in the Picture

Many people have asked me about the little boy I'm holding in the picture you see on the blog. I ran across my journal from the day I met this little boy when the picture was taken. So much has changed in Swaziland since then in a little over a year. Why? Because of people like you who care and are living the words of Jesus in a way that give them flesh, not lip service. This carepoint is now sponsored by Capo Beach Calvary in California. God, help us to do more. Here are my thoughts from that day:

"Today has been like no other. We went to Tembini carepoint – a very rural area outside of Mbani that feeds about 125 children.

They walk, for miles. Three years old and up. Some of them came with sweat dripping down their face. “We saw the vans and came running,” they panted. Some of the little girls arrived with even smaller girls on their backs.

The homesteads in this area were spread out across the mountainous valleys as far as the eye could see. Small mud huts and cinderblock homes littered the hillsides.

These children have experienced everything horrifying that you could imagine. Like watching their mother die of AIDS with absolutely no care and no medicine. But 8 year old Muteme would take care of her mother until the very end. Their father had already died from the virus, and mom was all they had left. Soon the mother gave up her last breath and left 3 vulnerable and innocent children behind. No money, no food, no way to work, they are just there.

So these children show up to the care center for food and some love from people who truly believe they have dignity and are a child of God no matter what their circumstance.

This little boy came up to me an grabbed my hand. He must have been about 4 years of age. Beautiful, amazing, sweet, but I could tell, very sick. His stomach was distended which meant that he lived with a very poor food supply. It wouldn’t surprise me if he only ate a mean a few times a week. He wouldn’t really smile. He just looked up at me with these haunting dark eyes that were so empty. I just picked him up, video camera in one hand, and him in the other. Just praying, just trying to love on him and show him the love of the Father. After fifteen minutes, he fell asleep in my arms sitting straight up, stiff as board. Almost like he couldn’t relax, didn’t no how to relax. I kept trying to put his head on my shoulder so he could rest, even for a few minutes. He didn’t know how to relax in someone’s arms. Maybe he had never been held with any kindness and tenderness, who knows? Finally, the love of God had its way with him and he laid his head on my shoulder as he slept. It totally broke my heart because that’s what this entire nation of Swaziland needs."

February 28, 2008

The Death of Orphan Sergei Adveev

Dear friends,

We have some very sad and tragic news to share with you about Sergei Avdeev. As you probably recall, Sergei is a graduate of Fominki orphanage (that Wave Church used to sponsor) who sustained serious spinal injuries after falling from a 5th-floor window about 2 years ago. Sergei miraculously survived that accident and after surgery and treatment was able to work last summer as a gardener and then recently in waste management.

Today we received a call that last night Sergei was murdered by, as we were told, a group of skinheads in Sobinka where he lived. We have been working with the former manager of the family dorm where Sergei lived to work out details for his funeral. She was very instrumental in helping us make arrangements for Sergei’s treatment 2 years ago. Estimated minimal expenses for the funeral are $300. This sum has been provided by Children's Hopechest, and we as a staff have collected additional money to cover any additional expenses.

Sergei has an older brother, but no one has been able to contact him. In situations where there are no relatives or relatives have no means to pay for a funeral, people are buried by the government without any kind of personal touches, etc. Natasha M and Korvan F (who knew Sergei well) will go along with our driver, Sasha, tomorrow morning to meet this dorm manager to purchase and pay for all the necessary items and services related to Sergei’s funeral and then the burial will take place almost immediately.

Please extend our deep condolences to Bill T and all those from Wave Church who knew Sergei.

Vladimir staff


February 21, 2008

Christmas in India

Thanks to all of your who participated in our 12 Days of Christmas Campaign. We just received this report from our partners in India describing what they did with the money. Enjoy, and thanks for your generousity toward the orphans of India!

"On December 15th, a team of sixteen of us traveled to Haryana and New Delhi, India to bless 193 orphans with a huge Birthday party for Jesus. We celebrated the birth of Christ by having a meal and a party for the children at two different orphanages, and took gifts to a third orphanage. At the parties, the orphans all ate chicken and birthday cake, a huge treat when you consider their daily meal of rice and a watery vegetable sauce. Thanks to Children’s Hope Chest, we were able to purchase a pair of underwear and socks for every child, in addition to a warm winter hat, a pair of gloves, and a stuffed animal or small toy. The children were ecstatic as they opened their gifts-the rooms were filled with laughing, shouting children as many of them received the first gift they had ever received in their lives. Many of the children who were new to the orphanage were hearing about the miracle of Christ for the first time ever, having come from Hindu families. There were about 150 children who were new! What a privilege to be able to share the real meaning of Christmas with God’s precious orphans! We are so grateful to Children’s Hope Chest for stepping in at a time when the orphans were in great need."

September 04, 2007

Amazing Story About a 5 Year Old and Orphans

I received this email last week and the faith of this 5 year old greatly encouraged me. I know it will encourage you too!

Dear Tom,

Last year I was looking for a ministry to give to that worked with orphans. A good friend told me about your group.  After watching a dvd about Russia, I was hooked.  Last summer God then led me to give up preschool in order to give more.  We use some of that money to invest in Children's Hopechest.  You have to know motherhood has not come easy for me so giving up preschool was definitely not my idea.  God clearly had spoken to me.  But, I have found tremendous joy in giving to God's Kingdom and in helping our kids learn about the world. Annie (almost 5) and Mikey (3) know where Russia and Swaziland are. Brooke (1) doesn't quite get it yet.  :) 

Anyway, the point of this email is to tell you about last Tuesday.  It had been a particularly long and lonely day for me.  Preschool had started up and most people I know were off to tennis, lunch and coffee with friends.  Your letter about the matching grant for  50k arrived. I read it, asked God to provide a way for us to give to it, and then put it aside. Annie found the letter a few hours later.  She brought it to me, asking what it was about. (By the way, she has seen your blog about the pizza and bananas.  We still talk about it.)  I told her about the need and then she went to get her piggy bank.  She dumped the whole thing out and said she wanted to give it all away.  It came out to be $5 even.  My husband traded her for a $5 bill.  She then found an envelope and wrote her name on it.  We haven't sent it yet as we are still hoping to participate in it beyond our normal monthly gift.  I explained that 50 children will eat because of her sacrifice. I wish you could have seen her face. 

Thank you so much for serving God and His people the way you do.  I know your road must feel lonely at times too.  Our family has been so blessed to be a part Children's Hopechest.  It's added a great deal to our lives.

May God bless you and your family!

April 22, 2007

Orphanage Sponsorship

The key to how we help orphans and orphanages is to have them sponsored by churches and Christian companies. I'm in Augusta, Georgia, home of The Masters golf tournament speaking and launching their sponsorship program. I'm excited to say that Warren Baptist Church is sponsoring 3 care points and sponsored over 200 orphans in Swaziland, Africa today. Way to go Warren!

March 29, 2007

Run For One

This Labor Day weekend 2007, Children's HopeChest will be hosting our first ever 1/2 marathon to support orphans around the world in Virginia Beach, Virginia. This event is called, Run for One and athletes who run will be running to champion the cause of a better life for one orphan in Africa and Russia. The good news is that you can walk, jog, or run - your choice! To sign up please go to the website at My 10 year old, Hayden, is even running! I am convinced that we can all change the world for one orphan and this is your opportunity to do it. You will be connected with the orphan you are running for, develop a relationship with them, and even visit them if you so choose. Here is a printable file with all the info:Download run_for_one_color.pdf

This event will also host the release of of my new book: Red Letters: Living a Faith that Bleeds.  We will be hosting a book release party at this event and I would love to see you there. Please email me with any questions.

February 27, 2007

AIDS Documentary in Chinese City Wins Oscar

HEFEI, Feb. 26 (Xinhua) -- AIDS prevention officials and activists in the Yingzhou district in Fuyang, east China's Anhui province have expressed hopes that more people will come to care orphans of AIDS victims, after the AIDS-theme "The Blood of the Yingzhou District" won an Oscar at the 79th Academy Awards.

    "I don't know much about movies, but I'm really happy that the documentary won an Oscar," said Zhang Ying, head of the Fuyang AIDS Orphan Salvation Association, a local non-governmental organization.

    "The documentary presented true stories of the Chinese AIDS orphans to the whole world, and I believe more people will care and help them," she said.

    Directors of the documentary followed Zhang and her colleagues from 2004 to 2005, when they went to visit and help the local AIDS orphans.

    Since its establishment in 2003, Zhang's association has helped over 400 AIDS orphans by raising fund to provide each child with 400 yuan (about 51 U.S. dollars) allowance per month, looking for families to adopt them, and organizing AIDS prevention campaigns in the local areas to increase awareness and reduce discrimination. Read the rest HERE.

February 08, 2007

Responsibility to the Poor

In trying to figure out what I can do to provide justice to the weak, here's what I've come up with. My heart is to mobilize others to help the widow, the orphan and the poor. In an attempt to do that, I'm starting a foundation tied in with my book, Red Letters called Five for 50. It's about 5 simple steps any of us can do to stand in solidarity with the 50 million people in the world infected with HIV. Here's how it works:

The steps of Five for 50 are as follows:

  1. Give 5 minutes a day to pray for those suffering from HIV/AIDS.
  2. Give 5 hours a week to fast for those suffering from HIV/AIDS.
  3. Give 5 dollars a month to the Five for 50 Fund and support worthy causes.
  4. Give 5 days a year to travel overseas and help alleviate poverty and suffering.
  5. Give 5 people Childreachingan opportunity to join you on your journey.

More details are given in the book. But this is a way everyone can participate and be part of the solution to a world-crisis. All proceeds will go directly to HIV/AIDS projects around the world. The children are worth it!