Tag Archives: Orphans

Journey117 Director Rants About Orphan Care and Orphanages

19 Oct

Are orphanages a good thing or a bad thing? Aren’t there great orphanages out there that are a good option for children? Should churches and organizations invest in orphanages around the world….or is there a better way to care for the fatherless? Lori Resmer, Journey117 director, recently blogged about orphan care and how she believes the Church is doing it all wrong. Check out her thoughts here.

From Spiritual Wilderness to a Life of Compassion

6 Jul

Blog post by Alex E., Team India 2012

The stories of the Old Testament are, unfortunately, sometimes viewed as just that; stories with no relevance for where we find ourselves in the world today. But God’s Word speaks powerful truths into our lives, even through these childhood stories. I have always been fascinated by the story of Moses and the Exodus, a man chosen by God to do the impossible. Little did I know that over the years God would reveal to me that He still does just that.

We’ve all seen the pictures of baby Moses being placed into a basket by his mother and sent down the Nile River. He is brought in by the daughter of Pharaoh and raised as a prince in the splendors of Egypt. But he never forgets his heritage is tied to the Israelites, who are enslaved in Egypt. An unfortunate event sends him from the grand palaces and into the wilderness for 40 years. That, however, is where God meets with him and places an incredible calling on his life. He will return to his former home and deliver God’s people from bondage.

I like to believe that as Moses recounted his life, as he penned the book of Exodus, he stood in awe at the hand of God in his life. I’m praying at this moment that as I recount my own story, I would be amazed at God’s guiding hand in my own life. I don’t know who my birth mother was or why she left me at a hospital in Korea after my birth. But I do know that, by God’s incredible grace, I was rescued and brought into absurd luxury by my adoptive parents. I have been given opportunities to succeed that millions of orphans around the world could never dream of.

But just like Moses, mistakes in my life led me into a spiritual wilderness. I was lost, I thought I knew what I wanted to do, but was never even sure about that. Then, just as Moses had an unexpected encounter with God, I found myself in the same place, and no, I have never seen a burning bush. But about a year ago I read an article about a girl that had also been adopted. In it, she said that she knew she had been rescued for a reason, and that reason was to live her life to rescue others. I don’t know what about that caught my attention, but I started wrestling with deep questions about my life. What was my story? Why was it that story? What did God want me to do? Was I living for the wrong reasons?

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Something to Believe In

5 Jul

Blog post Alyssa G., Team Ethiopia 2012

I joined the Ethiopia team because I love people and knowing that there are kids that have no one to take care of them, love them, or protect them breaks my heart. As Christians, it’s our job to protect and fight for those who can not do it for themselves. I watched a documentary that had a large group of people who were kidnapping children from their homes and would kill the families, leaving the children as orphans. They would use the children for whatever they needed. They used them to make money through human trafficking and made them children soldiers. At one point in the documentary, they were interviewing a boy and he said that he would rather die than keep living. He said there was nothing left to live for and he had lost all hope in a better life. So, it is my heart to go and try to show the kids the love that they are longing for and restore the hope that has been robed from them and give them something to believe in again.

Alyssa resides in Texas and will be serving with Journey117 in July on Team Ethiopia. 

My Friend, Manuel

4 Jul

Blog post by Anna R., Team India 2012

I was around 8 years old when I realized not everyone lived surrounded by a large family and loving parents. I met a little boy around my age who didn’t have a mommy. His dad brought him and his older sister to live with some extended family in the small town in Mexico where we lived at the time. His dad had to work in the city and was not able to care for them so they stayed with family and went to school in town. It was a very foreign concept for me. I could not imagine not having my mom make flour tortillas for me, make large breakfasts of my favorite foods on Saturday mornings, have my clothes laid out for me on a school day, or not being there when I had a nightmare or was feeling sick.

I became very good friends with Manuel all through elementary school. He was a normal kid; we had fun at recess and he integrated to the town with ease but even at that early age I could see in his eyes a somewhat hidden sadness, which I always attributed to that fact that he would never see his mom again. Now that I’m older, I appreciate the many other things parents do and provide to their children: teaching by example, nurture, protection, unconditional love etc. and while preparing for this trip, I dearly remember my good friend Manuel.

I heard about Journey 117 at one of my “Dinner Club” outings. I, along with a group of coworkers, get together around once a month to go to dinner at a new (non-chain) restaurant. We try different and ethnic foods and in conversation, I mentioned that I would love to go on a short-term missionary trip. Diane said her daughter has gone on several trips and she forwarded me some info regarding her daughter’s trip last year with Journey 117.  Once I read about the organization’s mission, the hardest part was deciding which country to serve in.

I’m anxiously waiting for my India trip. I can’t wait to learn and experience a more direct way of serving the orphan and the widow. I have a heart to serve others especially through church programs with children and youth but this will be a whole new level of service. I am exited about what I can do to help some of these children and share the love and care that I am so blessed to have. Most of all, I am ready to learn from them and draw from their strength and courage.

Anna resides in Wisconsin and will be serving with Journey117 in July on Team India. 

We’re All Orphans

3 Jul

Blog post by Bethel W., Team India 2012

Why this trip? Why orphans? Jesus. And I don’t mean just because He told me to, which would be a very valid reason. He has all authority; obeying Him is more than enough reason. But I mean Jesus saved me out of the deepest pit I’ve ever seen, my own sin. I owe Him more than I could ever give. He loved me even when I myself could not find a reason to be loved.

When you see the power of God’s anger, how deserving you are of that anger, and how you are in no way able to escape it, but then are met instead with mercy, grace, and unconditional love, I can do nothing but be utterly blown away by who He is.

We are all rebels against the King and part of what’s so beautiful about the Gospel, is that this is not okay (Psalm 90:11), but that because of Christ, we have been made right in His sight! That is like an axe murder being lovingly accepted into the family of the children he killed, and that family risks their lives to save him. He didn’t just look the other way from our sin, He paid the price. This is what the Gospel is, that God accepts sinners because of Christ alone.

There is nothing that binds God to be merciful to sinners, but the beautiful message of the Gospel is: the God who is angry with sinners is merciful to sinners. Our hope is in God alone.

This hope, this grace, this love has transformed me. He not only forgave me for who I was, but He changed me. He took me out of darkness into the light. I did not deserve the chance to become better, let alone to become like Christ. This is what my Savior has done for me. I stand forgiven, clean, wanted, and loved.

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I Wish I Could Do More

29 Jun

Blog post by Cayley E., Team Ethiopia 2012

I’ve had a heart for children for as long I can remember. Being blessed to grow up in a strong Christian household, I’ve had numerous opportunities to serve and share the love of Christ with children. It was always a joy to work with kids, but my heart was never truly broken for the fatherless until I saw the reality of the situation while working a summer camp.

The camp was set up by a local organization that teams up with Child Protective Services to offer a summer camp experience for the children in the foster care system.  The children that attend are broken, beaten down, and desperate for love.  All campers are under the age of eleven, but the vast majority have experienced more pain in their lives than most of us ever will. It’s heartbreaking to know that I can’t fix their problems. I’m not there to be the solution. If I could, I would gladly open my home to them all! Unfortunately, I can’t. I’m there simply to share the love of Christ and to create positive memories for the children. But, oh how I wish I could do more!

So that is what brings me to Journey117. Several years before attending summer camp, the Lord stirred my heart for Africa. At the time, I didn’t really understand (and I still don’t completely) but He has faithfully opened doors to teach me and prepare my heart for this very trip. I was forever changed by building relationships with the orphans at that summer camp. The Lord gave me a tender heart, which was eager to speak up for those voices that too often go unheard. So why me? Well, why not?

Cayley resides in Texas and will be serving with Journey117 in July on Team Ethiopia.

What Will You Do?

28 Jun

Blog post by Saundra P., Team Ethiopia 2012

Many years ago I sponsored a dear, orphaned child named Adeline who lived in an orphanage in Haiti. Adeline was 15 years old. But she looked to be much younger as she was so small. As a result of the sponsorship, Adeline received food, clothing, shelter, healthcare and went to school. I exchanged letters often with Adeline and I was also allowed to send her a small gift package. One day I received a photo in the mail of Adeline pictured with the gift of a Barbie, shoes, and hygiene items. Adeline had the biggest grin on her face. It touched me to see how much God loved her. That was my first experience with an orphaned child.

Adeline from Haiti

“Happy is the generous man, the one who feeds the poor.” – Proverbs 22:9  

Since that sponsorship, I always wanted to go to Haiti and I never went until last year with Journey 117 Team Haiti. My second experience with orphans was while serving in Haiti with children and families who were living in extreme poverty and in such suffering that no person should ever have to witness. Starving children. Lack of clean drinking water. Poor living conditions. Sickness and death from easily prevented diseases. The lack of concern by a government that does not care about the wellbeing of its citizens. In spite of the terrible conditions in Haiti, orphans flourished when placed in loving homes or orphanages. The children had access to food, clothing, shelter, medical care and received a Christian education. Since returning from Haiti, not a day goes by that I don’t remember the smiles and laughter of those happy kids. The kids that are our future; a future made possible because God opened the heart of someone for the fatherless and the widow. Continue reading

They Are Just Like My Own

27 Jun

Blog post by Gemma C., Team Ethiopia 2012

When I was in grade 6, I had a class assignment in which I had to make a timeline of my life, concluding with what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote that I wanted to be a missionary. I’m sure I didn’t realize at that time all of what that meant, but I knew three things, God loved me, I wanted to help people, and I really wanted to travel.

I don’t really know why these things have always been in my heart, other than I suppose God put them there. I grew up in a very stable, two-parent, Christian home. My parents have always been very generous with what little they had, and I guess that makes an impact on a kid. For years I worked at bible camps in the summer, and got so much life from that, working with the kids, loving them just for the week they were there.  At university, I majored in International Relations, with the intention of going on the mission field after graduation, or working in Aid and Development. This has always been a desire of mine, and the Travel Bug is embedded deep inside me. I always say to my husband that at times it must be hard to love me, because I have a gypsy heart, always wanting to be on the move.

Things have not turned out the way I had planned. Don’t get me wrong, I love my life, it is just different from what I had envisioned! I got married, finished university, and my husband and I went to work as house parents in a group home for teens with mental illnesses. All of these kids were also wards of the state, taken away from their parents for various reasons, abused and neglected.  Maine was not really my idea of world-travelling, but we were working with those who needed help, with orphans. That was such an intense 18 months, but we felt so limited because it was not a Christian organization, so we felt there was so much we could not help with. We also longed for community for ourselves. We moved back to Cape Breton (that is another story in itself), and ended up working at a Christian-run summer camp for teens with addictions. More orphans, from our own neighborhoods. I absolutely loved it. Then Joe got a job as a youth pastor at a church, more kids who need love. It has been an awesome couple of years, God has given us such a love for our youth, and a deep desire to help them. I am loving life here, but that travel bug inside me is eating me up, haha!

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Modern Day Slavery

14 Jun

Blog post by Cathleen Brown, Team Iraq 2012

“And, sir, when we think of eternity, and of the future consequences of all human conduct, what is there in this life that should make any man contradict the dictates of his conscience, the principles of justice, the laws of religion, and of God?” 

William Wilberforce stated these words while fighting for freedom for slaves in 1781, in England in front of the British Parliament.   He believed it was the job of ordinary men, not just political leaders to stop the injustice of slavery.  In 1863, Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing anyone held as a slave.  The end drew near for the African slave trade due to persuasive words, incessant ambition, and continual conviction from God by these God fearing men.  Little did they know, the slave trade would still continue more than 200 years after Wilberforce and 150 years after Lincoln.  It would occur again, and not openly accepted, but just as heinous as before;  hidden, with less acceptance in culture, yet driven by money hungry pedophiles and ordinary men.  These men are not dissimilar to the men of the past.  It is human sex trafficking, the second-largest organized crime in the world.

It is estimated that 1.2 million children are trafficked each year in internationally and between 50 and 60 percent of the children are under the age of 16 (UNICEF).  Human trafficking of orphans internationally and domestically is driven by pornography and greed.  Winfrey defines child sex trafficking:

Sex Trafficking is the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person forced to perform such an act is under the age of 18 years.

Orphans are vulnerable to trafficking as they are emotionally, mentally and physically not able to defend themselves, they have no one to stand up for them them and due to poverty, are often sold by family members so others may have food and shelter.  In order to prevent the trafficking of orphans, there must be a place for the children to go that is an alternative to the deplorable option of trafficking life where they are loved and cared for.  The communities need education, prevention, strict justice for the traffickers, and rehabilitation for the children taken out of the sex trade. Continue reading

Loving His People

22 Oct

Blog post by Amalia K., Team Ethiopia 2011

 

Amalia K. will be serving on the Ethiopia Journey 117 Team leaving in December 2011.