5 Ways to Help TIO

TeamworkA reader recently wrote to me asking if there was a way she could help with TIO. What a nice question! I didn’t have an off-the-bat answer, but as ideas starting coming to mind I figured I’d make a post of them. Hopefully some of you have the same question. 😉

Word of Mouth
Seriously. Word of mouth is one of the most important ways you can help TIO. Getting people talking is more effective than any paid form of advertising. Here’s some ways to share about TIO.

  • Tell your friends. If you care about doing hard things and orphan care, your friends probably know about it. (If they don’t, you really need to get talking!)
  • Share about it at group(s). If you’re part of a youth group, homeschool group, AWANA, etc. find a way to tell other group members about TIO.
  • Share it as a resource. Do you know any adopting families or families considering adopting? Give them the link to the resource page.
  • Use the internet. Write about TIO your own blog, invite me to write a guest post, tweet a recent post, share on pinterest, etc.

Help Generate Content
Coming up with posts all the time isn’t easy! I’d love your help.

  • Share your contacts. Do you know an adopting family or orphan care worker who would be willing to share their experience on the blog? Ask them to contact me or send their info my way.
  • Write a post yourself. Seriously! Share your passion for orphans, doing hard things, or a specific ministry. If you’ve been on a missions trip, participated in orphan related ministries, have an adopted relative, or are adopted yourself, your experiences would be a valued addition to the blog.
  • Contribute to regular posts. Scan the internet for children waiting to be adopted and send them my way to be the next Advocate & Pray child. Or write a poem that can be dedicated to one of the Advocate & Pray kids (this would be a huge blessing to me!).
  • Share resources. If you know of a ministry, adoption agency, blog, book, video, etc. about orphan care, send it my way! Please!

Participate in Existing Efforts
We need more people actively engaging in the opportunities already available here on TIO.

  • Join the prayer chains! This one doesn’t require a lot of work or a big commitment. Every time an Advocate & Pray child is listed, a prayer chain is set up for that child. One young lady faithfully signs up to pray for each new child (thanks TW!). We need more like her. I know praying seems like a let down sometimes when we want to do “big” things, but we need to be faithful in little first. And besides, if we can encircle each child in round the clock prayer for two weeks, that’s a big thing!
  • Join the book club. We need some more people to join the book club so we can start reading books together and learning more about orphans, orphan care, and missionary orphan workers around the world.
  • Become an adoption partner. Volunteer your talents to help adopting families and/or refer adopting families to TIO. So far three volunteers are ready to design adoption blogs for families setting out on adoption journeys.

Help Brainstorm
Get involved in the visionary side of TIO. I’d love to have other young people brainstorm ideas for the future of TIO. Do you have ideas for ways young people could minister to orphans? Thoughts on how we could better advocate for the Advocate & Pray children? Lots of brains working together have a lot more power than my little one working all on its own. It would be wonderful to be able to bounce ideas off other people and get other ideas in return!

Get Creative
If you’re thinking of a great way to help and don’t see it on this list, chances are I didn’t think of it. If you want to help in that way, chances are I really want to know about it! Get creative and get involved. Let’s grow TIO together.

Pray
Yes, I know. This is a sixth way to help. But a bonus item is always good. Please don’t forget to pray for TIO. Thank you!

Can you help in any of the above ways? Can you think of a way to help that I missed?

One of Those People

Girl SilhoutteI’m one of those people. One of those people family, friends, and random strangers worry about because of the big, crazy ideas we talk about. We seem like we want to change the world and we do. Some of us want to impact the whole world or at least our country. Some of us want to change the world for just few people. Some of us tell everyone we meet about our dreams, while some keep quiet, treasuring the hope inside. Either way, people know…we live on the bring of going off the deep end.

I’m one of those people who has a lot of learning to do. It seems like dreamers often need a lot of redirection and training from God before we get to the place He needs us to be. From what I’ve read, it’s often a difficult process. But I also hear it’s worth it.

children-of-ecuador-11I’m one of those people who sometimes gets discouraged. Sometimes it seems like my hopes and dreams can’t possibly be reached. Who knows, maybe they can’t. But it would be nice to get as close as possible.

Right now, I’m one of those people. Someday, I hope I’ll be one of those other people. Those people who went beyond the dreaming and took action. Those people who made it through the trials and reached the place God wanted them. Those people who keep learning. Those people who went despite discouragement and doubt. One of those people making a difference.

What about you? Are you “one of those people”? Do you hope to change the world in some way, but wonder how on earth you can?

Advocate & Pray: Xiao

Fan Xiao ShuiThis little girl’s smile captivated me as I looked throught he waiting children listed with the Jing Yi Program. The Families Through International Adoption website explains the origins of the program’s name.

When we first started this program, we were saddened to learn of the passing of an infant girl whom we had hoped to find a family for. She was a newborn with Hep B and HIV, but wasn’t strong enough to survive. This little girl’s name was Jing Yi, which means calm, joyful, harmony. We decided to name this new program the Jing Yi Program to not only honor her short life but to remind us of how important it is for these children to receive the care they need, even before they are placed with their forever families.

Xiao is listed with Families Through International Adoption
China

Xiao is a beautiful 7 year old girl with knee valgus and incontinence. She appears to have had some type of spinal surgery prior to coming to the orphanage at 10 months of age. She had shown delays in language and mental development, but she has been improving every day.

She can take care of herself, crawls and can walk some by leaning on the railing. She is described as lively and cheerful and likes to sing while her best friend dances. Her caretakers say she is smart, polite and likes to give them a warm hug when they come to work.

Read More about Xiao (Scroll down on the linked page to find her profile.)

Take Action!

Pray
Give Xiao the gift of your prayers over Christmas. Join the prayer chain for Xiao

Advocate
Share about Xiao on social media to help her find a family.

7 year old Xiao Shui needs a family. Click to Tweet

Give orphan Xiao Shui the gift of prayer this Christmas. Click to Tweet

Ideas for Teens

If you’ve never visited Beauty from the Ashes, go take a peek. Or, even better, stay a while once you’re there. I don’t remember how I found Karen’s blog, but it’s a gem. The stories in the blog archives are pure gold. I couldn’t stop reading. What an excitement to have her write a blog post for TIO!

~*~

Karen and little girFor the past 9 years I’ve made Kiev, Ukraine my home. What started out as an 8-month adventure turned into vision and a calling surrounding the orphans of Ukraine.

While in Ukraine I’ve traveled to dozens of orphanages, participated in humanitarian aid distributions, been an advocate for adoption, assisted with the adoption process and have organized summer camps and hosting trips for orphans and at risk kids. Through these experiences God has opened my eyes to deep need throughout Ukraine and burdened my heart for specific children.

Due to my location in Ukraine and my presence in the ‘blogging world’ I often get emails asking for practical ways people can get involved. Sometimes people have a heart for helping and loving orphans, but lack ideas for how to put their desires into action. This is especially true if you are young and perhaps lack the resources to travel and are not at a place in life where you can adopt.

So the question remains: what can we do from home to make a difference?

In order to make this as practical as possible I’ve generated a list of ideas for you to prayerfully consider as you ask the question, what can I do for orphans?

Educate Yourself
Sounds pretty straightforward right? There is an overwhelming amount of information on the Internet today surrounding the number of orphans, the plight of orphans, statistics on orphans, ministries that are helping, and even ministries that are hurting. Honestly, it can be overwhelming! But it is hard to speak with authority and conviction on a topic if we don’t know much about it. So spend time getting to know the reasons behind the number of orphans in various countries, and learn more about ministries that are working around the world. Talk to missionaries and those that work with orphans or who have adopted. Ask lots of questions so you can get a sense of the greatest needs.

Advocate
After you know what you are talking about (see above :)) and you have a better understanding of the needs of children around the world you will be able to share with your friends and help them develop a heart for orphans as well. Find an orphan ministry whose cause you believe in and promote what they are doing. Share their links on Facebook, re-post videos advocating for kids, sometimes it is amazing what we can do with the click of a mouse!

Give Creatively
Think of ways to raise money for a ministry you see making a difference. But don’t just ask for money, think of ways to get other people involved too. Think of giving campaigns you can do as a youth group or in your school. Make things and sell them, bake things and sell them, hold a party or a dinner as a fundraiser, put together Christmas shoeboxes for orphans overseas, adopt a local foster family that needs extra help. Really the ideas are endless! It’s time to get creative!

Pray
Such a simple word, but easier said than done! Prayer is mysterious at times, and yet we know we are instructed to come to the Lord in prayer, and he hears us! I have seen God move mountains countless times for orphans in Ukraine. The first time I went to an orphanage was in 2004, and there I met a little girl named Ira. I committed to praying for her and that she would have a family. 2 years later that prayer was answered and Ira was adopted! It is amazing to see how God hears our hearts when we intercede for his children. There are several websites that feature pictures of children living in orphanages that you can be praying for:

http://doorwaystohope.org/pray
http://reecesrainbow.org/

Remember the needs are closer than you think
You don’t have to travel across the globe to help orphans. Currently the US foster system has about 400,000 children in its registry. This number represents kids in your own community. Find out if there are ways to serve as a lunch buddy or mentor to a foster child in your community.

Do you know any foster or adoptive families in your church or neighborhood? Sometimes people forget that the hardest part of adoption is AFTER the kids come home. Think of ways you can support and serve these families. Offer to make a meal, help with house or yard work or childcare.

As you can see, there are LOTS of ways to get involved in answering the Biblical call to love and care for orphans. Some of them take creativity and others perhaps just leaving your comfort zone! Find a friend and get started!!

~Karen

Do you know any post-adoptive families? Have you educated yourself about any specific countries or orphan care topics?

30 Ways to Care for Orphans

30 Ways in 30 DaysI recently read a book titled Orphan Justice (great book, click the link to read my review of it). Anyway, I found a series of posts on the author’s blog listing 30 ways to help orphans. Many of them aren’t suitable for teens, but it’s always good to be informed in case you get into a conversation with someone older. I’ve marked the opportunities that look possible for teens to get involved in.

  1. Become a Prayer Champion
  2. Start an Adoption Fund at Your Church (Possible for teens.)
  3. Educate Your Local Church (Possible for Teens)
  4. Get Families to Share Stories (Teen Friendly.)
  5. Check out the Heart Gallery (Great teen friendly idea.)
  6. Understanding the Importance of Scripture in Orphan Care (Teen friendly!)
  7. Host a Sponsorship Sunday
  8. Investigate Current Church Mission Work (Very possible for teens.)
  9. Host a Foster Care Prayer Vigil (Another good opportunity for teens.)
  10. Do Something About Human Trafficking
  11. Provide a Regular “Night Out” to Foster/Adoptive Families (Possible for teens to participate in.)
  12. Give to a Microfinance Ministry (Check out number 16 if you have limited funds to donate from.)
  13. Host a Regional Conference
  14. Community Based Care
  15. Balance Your Ministry
  16. Rethink Adoption Funds (If you ever feel discouraged about not being able to donate much monetarily, read this article.)
  17. Start a Special Needs Ministry
  18. Start a Book Club (Teen friendly opportunity.)
  19. Start an HIV/AIDS ministry
  20. Be Nice! (Very possible for teens. :))
  21. Safe Families for Christians
  22. Start a Backpack Ministry (This option is definitely viable for teens.)
  23. Educate Yourself on the Complexity of International Orphan Care
  24. Become a CASA/Guardian ad Litem
  25. Adoptive Parent’s Missions Trips
  26. Become a Mentor (Not sure how old you have to be for this, but it might be available for 18/19 year olds)
  27. Become a Respite Care Provider
  28. Start a Support Group for Safe/Foster/Adoptive Families
  29. Become Certified as a Foster Parent
  30. Adopt!

This is just a great list both for personal use and to share with others. Each link goes to a blog post giving an overview of the opportunity and linking to more resources.

Which of these opportunities most excites you? Which choice would be most practical for you to act upon?

Loving Katia (part 1)

Katia with McKennaughI found part of McKennaugh’s story on The Rebelution blog. She’s a perfect example of what a huge impact teenagers can have in orphan care. I cried reading the story she sent about Katia. (Yes, there’s a theme here. I cry over everything related to this subject.) What really amazed me were the pictures of Katia. I’d never seen before and after picture like this. They are stunning, visual proof of the redemptive power of adoption. And now, please welcome McKennaugh.

~*~

I lean forward on the red-brown couch trying to get a glimpse of the next room. The workers were busy for a moment and the children, like always, were so quiet. As empty as it seemed, I knew that Davit, Vanya, Miroslav, and Katia were in there. Miroslav with his angel smile, Davit with the sad, longing eyes, Vanya with the giggle that made you just have to laugh along and Katia…Katia. Oh, how she needed someone. A mama, a papa…anyone. I stood slowly and walked to the door. Katia’s crib was in the corner. I crept over to it. A tiny little girl with huge blue eyes stared blankly up at me. I touched her stiff hands. “Pryvet, Katia,” I whispered. She flinched ever so slightly, but remained staring straight ahead. She was blind. I reached down, moving my hand along her legs. I cringed at the feel of them. They were bent at strange angles. And they didn’t bend. Not at all. She was fifteen pounds. She was six years old. Orphanage life is not kind.

Katia2Tears stung my eyes as I slipped my large hand over her baby fingers. Her medical needs were terribly severe. She had not received the care she needed here. It was a miracle that she had survived this long already. Time was not in her favor. I stood, fourteen years old and face to face with the unfairness of the world. If Katia had been born in the US she would have been a completely different child. She wouldn’t have been malnourished and still in a crib. Someone needed to help this little girl; help all the children here who were underfed and had no stimulation. They lived in cribs at the ages most kids should be going to school and spent each day hoping for love that never comes. But who would help? Almost no one outside of Ukraine knew of Katia’s existence. Then I realized that no one would advocate for Katia to get out of this place, no one would reveal her plight to the world. No one, unless I listened to God and did it myself. She was six. I was hardly over twice her age and, yet, she had to depended on me to do something. Our Lord can use the most unlikely people to make change.

Every time that I could, I would go to her and whisper some words before I was sent away. Sometimes I wondered if she really heard me and knew that I was there. One day she was crying and crying. It was the only sound in the place. I listened to the lonely echo of her wails, my heart hurting. I walked into her room and hurried to her crib before anyone could tell me not to. “Don’t cry, Katia,” I said gently. She instantly stopped. I was told to go out of the room. How I wished I could stay by her side! As I stepped away from her crib, she knew I was leaving. She started to whimper again. I had to try with all my might to stop my own tears, but now I knew that she heard me. She knew that I was there. “Someday, Katia,” I thought, “perhaps there will be someone who will hold you every time you cry and not have to leave.”

I spent seven weeks in that orphanage and each day made me wonder why my childhood had been full of love and siblings and laughter when these children had nothing and no one. When I came home to America, I knew that Katia needed an adoptive family immediately. I started by contacting magazines and e-zines, calling organizations and begging God not to let this child of His die before she heard the words, “You are loved.”

Katia with her mom

Come back tomorrow for the rest of the story.

Welcome to TIO

children-of-ecuador-11Hi there! I’m so grateful to everyone who has already checked Teens Interceding for Orphans (TIO) out. I hope you’ll all come back many times. My name is Leah Good. I’m an eighteen year old homeschool graduate with a passion for writing and the fatherless. But this blog isn’t about me.

If you’re reading this, you probably share in the desire to help the fatherless children around the world. My hope is that this website and blog will become a gathering place for teens who share this desire–a place for young people to become educated about needs, equipped with practical ways to help, and inspired by each other’s efforts.

This vision can’t become a reality without help. To start with, people need to know TIO exists. You can help by telling your friends about TIO and mentioning it on your blogs and social media accounts. If you’ve been involved in orphan care ministries, missions trips, or adoptions, it would be fantastic if team_2147870you would consider guest posting here on the blog. Or you can check out the various teams available to get involved in. Have ideas for something I should add to the site? Contact me and share them. And, most importantly, pray that this site would bring glory to God and fulfil his commandment to visit the fatherless in their distress.

How did you find TIO? What excites you the most about it? How do you think you might get involved?