Advocate & Pray: Kyle

KyleTen-year-old Kyle was a recent participant in a Lifeline camp program in the U.S.  He has some eye defects which make it difficult for him to see, but his profile states that he is social, curious, and loves playing the piano.  During his visit to the U.S., Kyle expressed his deep desire to be adopted into a loving family like the ones he stayed with.  He even studied adoption law so he could know how to be adopted!  Join me in praying for this eager, curious boy to find his forever family.

Kyle is listed with No Hands But Ours
China

Kyle is an active and sweet little boy, who enjoys watching cartoons. He is said to love new things and meeting new people. Kyle’s file states that he has good language expression, is able to greet guests well and is very polite. This sweet child is also said to be a helpful and obedient child who cares about others, often giving his seat up for an adult! What manners!

Please read these comments from some of the families and team members who got to spend time with Kyle at Lifeline’s 2 week Camp: “Kyle is very sweet spirited. Even though we could not speak the same language, he was very proactive about using hand motions, etc. to help me understand and was always so patient. He can also play the piano- how special! He loved getting his face painted during the Fall Festival and loved spending time at Camp Shelby. He was so curious to play on the tanks and to explore.”

“Right after he landed in the U.S., he was social enough to have made friends with two other American kids quickly in the airport. He felt these two boys were so nice and friendly, so he wanted to me translate ‘If I could be adopted, I would want to be adopted into one of their families’ to them.”

Read more on Kyle’s profile

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Join the prayer chain for Kyle

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Join me in praying for Kyle to find a forever family.  Click to tweet

Kyle studied law so he could know how to be adopted.  Click to tweet

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Valentine Card Challenge

make one cards, for one child, change one life

Today we’re featuring a guest post from Crista Moriah at Uniquely Fashioned for His Glory. Some of you may already know about her challenge from her blog or her post on The Rebelution. As a commenter on The Rebelution said, this challenge is a brilliant way to turn one’s focus away from self and channel it into service this Valentines day. But, instead of continuing to talk about it myself, I’ll let you read what Crista has to say.

~*~

Jesus broke my heart into so many tiny pieces when I learned of the imprisoned children of Uganda.  I read over my dad’s shoulder the story of how a ministry Sixty Feet was born to serve these orphans and bring them restoration and hope in Jesus’ name.  My life has never been the same since.

He captured me with a love that mirrored His.  It was fearless, bold, dreamed big, and knew no boundaries.  It was willing to do anything to be a voice, to defend these kids, taking the stance of an advocate.

You might say I fell in love with a country, a people even while they stretched oceans apart from me.  Jesus was my Matchmaker, pairing me up with who I needed.  Only He could arrange something so perfect.

A few weeks ago, He leaned in close.  Whispering a whimsical, beautiful idea gently to my heart: Cards.  Bright, hope filled messages that would serve to spread His love to the world.  To orphans.

On my first trip to Uganda, cards brightened the day of many lives in the prisons.  I knew how much they would mean to these orphans.  It made me realize just how tender, how compassionate is the heart of our God.  The Father to the fatherless, Helper of the orphan reaching down with a simple way to tell them “I love you.” My heart thrills at the thought.

That’s what brought about this Valentine Card Challenge: 1,400 Cards by Feb. 14th.

 There are approximately 200 children in each prison and 7 prisons exist in Uganda.  That means in order for every child to receive a card, we need 1,400.

Please be the balm of healing to these broken hearts.  Share God’s love letting it spill out of your hearts and onto the pages of just one card, for one child, to change one life. We are called to do this. God calls anyone who considers the helpless blessed.

This is my Valentine Card Challenge to you.

Will you take it, for one?

Here’s what to do:

1. Make a simple card(s) with the John 3:16 verse written out, and “God loves you” or in Lugandan you could put “Jesu Okwagala”; sign your name. Please have your brothers & sisters make one, your friends, parents, family, people at your church.  Anyone can help participate to meet our goal.

2.Write “Valentine Card Challenge” on the back of the envelope. (If you have a lot of cards, just send it in a large envelope or box. )

Address & send to the ministry SixtyFeet:

Sixty Feet Inc.
2451 Cumberland Parkway
Suite 3526
Atlanta, Georgia 30339

3. In order to keep a tally, please comment on this post or under “Contact Me” telling how many cards you sent in.

Also, please feel free to share this on your own blog, through email, Pinterest, whatever you like.

That’s it!  Three simple steps that can change the world with God’s love.  All it takes is ordinary people willing to do what He asks of them to make an extraordinary difference in the lives around them and across the globe.

~*~

So, what do you think? Will you send a card (or two … or three … or more)? Let me know if you do!

Advocate & Pray: Emmanuel

EmmanuelA few weeks ago, the Watoto African children’s choir performed at my (Monica’s) church, and I knew I wanted to feature their sponsorship program in this week’s Advocate & Pray post.  According to the website, “Watoto is a holistic care programme that was initiated as a response to the overwhelming number of orphaned children and vulnerable women in Uganda.  It is positioned to rescue an individual, raise each one as a leader in their chosen sphere of life so that they in turn will rebuild their nation.  The Watoto model involves physical care, medical intervention including HIV/AIDS treatment, education–formal and technical, trauma counselling and spiritual discipleship.”

Most of the children in the program have lost both of their parents and are living with a few other children and houseparents at the Watoto villages in Uganda.  Emmanuel, this week’s Advocate & Pray child, was kidnapped and abandoned at a very young age, and local authorities were unable to find his family.  Watoto provides a safe home, an education, and a family for children like Emmanuel, who have often gone through horrific life events.

Watoto’s villages, school, and church are funded through donations that enable orphans like Emmanuel to have a home and an education.  So if you’re looking for a way to become involved in orphan care, in addition to praying for these children, you can become a sponsor!  Check out the Watoto sponsorship page to learn more.

Emmanuel is listed with Watoto
Uganda

Emmanuel lives in a Watoto Village, where he has a devoted housemother who nourishes and nurtures him lovingly. Emmanuel has learned to help Mama with the household chores and he does so willingly. At the Watoto School, Emmanuel is receiving a quality education. He especially enjoys Literature and Artwork and has dreams of being a teacher in the future. He likes playing soccer with his many friends after school. Emmanuel attends the Watoto Church on Sundays with his family, where he enjoys singing and dancing in Sunday school. Please pray for him to develop a meaningful relationship with the Lord.

Read more on Emmanuel’s profile (you can find it at the bottom of the page–no direct link)

Take Action

Pray
Join the prayer chain for Emmanuel

Sponsor
Check out the Watoto sponsor page to learn more about sponsoring

Share on social media
Join me in praying for Emmanuel, who is in a Watoto family.  Click to tweet

Share Emmanuel’s story and help him find sponsors to support him!  Click to tweet

Advocate & Pray: Seth

Seth

This four-year-old boy is listed as having a sensitive special need.  Seth is described as shy at first, but outgoing and sweet once you get to know him.  Join me in praying for this sweet boy to find his forever family!

Seth is listed with No Hands But Ours
China

Seth is a handsome little boy with a sweet demeanor. He is described as shy but is also known to be quite extroverted when around those he is familiar with. Seth gets along well with others and his favorite activity is playing with other children. He is fond of playing with toys, especially brightly colored toys. Seth is a sweet boy with a lot of love to give! He is ready and waiting for his forever family to bring him home.

Read more on Seth’s profile

Take Action

Pray
Join the prayer chain for Seth

Share on social media
Join me in praying for Seth to find a forever family.  Click to tweet

Seth is in China, waiting for his family. Share his story!  Click to tweet

Advocate & Pray: Archie

ArchieArchie is a rambunctious nine-year-old, full of energy and enthusiasm.  According to his profile, he was left at the hospital gate at two months old, malnourished and sickly.  Now, almost nine years later, Archie is a healthy, smart, and loving boy who is eager to be adopted and have many brothers and sisters to play with.

Archie is listed with No Hands But Ours
China

Since his finding, Archie has spent his entire life in the orphanage and is closest to his caretakers. Reading through his file, it is quite obvious that this little boy holds the hearts of several members of the orphanage staff. He is a clever young man who attends school, although more often than not, he would rather be playing with his friends than working on his studies! Despite his active nature, he does well in school and is in the second grade. Archie likes to sing songs and can recite several poems. Not surprisingly, his favorite subject is PE! His caretakers feel his development and abilities are both age-appropriate and that he would thrive in the right family. Archie had a minor sensitive special need that was corrected with surgery when he was very young.

View more on Archie’s profile

Take Action

Pray
Join the prayer chain for Archie

Share on social media
Join me in praying for Archie to find a forever family.  Click to tweet

Share Archie’s story and help him find his forever family.  Click to tweet

 

Get Involved: Be A Correspondence Sponsor

Compassion InternationalEarlier this week on the TIO Goodreads group, a reader mentioned the possibility of corresponding with a sponsored child via Compassion International. Here’s what she said.

Do any of you sponsor with Compassion at all? I’ve been a sponsor with them for about 9 years, and I know that a lot of people don’t realize that in addition to financially sponsoring kids, they also have a program for individuals to simply write to kids whose financial sponsors are not able to write for whatever reason. (For example, often companies will sponsor loads of children, but can’t commit to writing.) It’s called being a “correspondent sponsor”. In addition to writing letters, you do have the option of sending money for birthday/Christmas/family gifts, as well. I thought some of you may be interested in it, and thought I’d throw it out there just in case you haven’t heard of it before. It’s not something they advertise. –Rachel

Compassion Letter WritingI’ve heard of this before and always thought it would be something TIO readers would love to learn about. Rachel’s comment gave me the little push I needed to contact Compassion and learn more. If any of you are interested in writing to a sponsored child, here’s what Compassion said.

Thank you for contacting Compassion with this wonderful opportunity and for your heart for children in need. I have provided a lot of information below, hoping that some of it may be useful to you.

 We do offer the opportunity to correspond with a child in our program when his or her sponsor is unable to write. If you become a correspondent, you will receive a welcome packet with the child’s photo and biography and the child will write you about 2 letters a year. You will want to send words of love and encouragement. The requirement would be to write the child we assign you a minimum of three to four times a year, and you may write as often as you’d like.

Sound like something you might be interested in? While the focus of Compassion’s Child Sponsorship program is not orphan care, ministries like this play an important role in preventing children from becoming orphans in the first place. If you’d like to participate in Compassion’s ministry, here’s how you get started!

If you’d like to be a correspondent to encourage a child, just reply by email to ciinfo@us.ci.org or call us with your name, address, telephone and email address. There may be children available now, or you may need to wait for 2-3 months before you receive your child’s packet. You may also contact us at 800-336-7676.  We are available to serve you MondayFriday, 7:00 am to 5:30 pm, Mountain Time. Thank you for wanting to be an encouragement to a child in need!

I’m excited to see if any of you decide to give this a try! This opportunity is perfect for teens who want to sponsor a child but can’t afford it. If you go ahead and start the process, here are the guidelines Compassion sent about corresponding with sponsored children.

Share with your child information about your family, children, siblings, grandchildren, parents and especially pets. Tell them some fun stories about your life, like getting surprised by a big wave when you were swimming in the ocean. Hobbies are also fun to write about and you can send pictures of what you are working on. Let your child know about your likes and dislikes in almost any area – weather, your city/state, favorite food, your favorite bible verse or something special about God.

 The important thing is to write often. Short, frequent notes, cards and web letters are best. Sometimes when sponsors first begin writing they feel they need to write long and newsy letters. However, we’ve learned that it is the “personal touch” of a letter that counts and not its length. It is the frequency of the correspondence that tells your child that you care – far better than any words you can write.

 You cannot sent toys or clothing, but here is a list of items you may send:

  * Postcards

 * Bookmarks

* Small writing tablets

* Cartoon band aids. The children will wear them even if they do not have a cut.

* Stickers (they will stick them on anything and anybody)

* Sports trading cards

* Construction paper

* Wrapping paper (folded to 8.5 x 11)

* Gift Bags (please cut off the handles)

* Calendars (no spiral binding)

* Magazine pages

* Small posters (folded to 8.5″x 11″)

* Cancelled stamps

* Pages from coloring books

* Music/singing or recordable greeting cards

 Especially valued by the children are photographs of their sponsors and their sponsor’s family, including pets! Children can never get enough pictures and will continually ask for more. It’s best to avoid pictures that may reflect a higher lifestyle, so focus on fun outside pictures of your family outings. If you are writing your letter online, it’s very easy to upload your photos and add them to your web letter. The letter writing wizard tool will walk you through the steps. 

I’d love to hear what you all think of this? Do you find it to be an exciting opportunity? Do you have any questions about it?

Advocate & Pray: Louise

louiseLeah brought to my attention this week a couple of girls, including 2-year-old Louise, who are in a sponsorship program called “Sarah’s Covenant Homes.”  Here’s how the website describes SCH:

Children with developmental disabilities and neurological special needs are the most likely to be abandoned and least likely to be adopted children in India. The Lord told me, “Feed My lambs.” I find these overlooked and undernourished (in all senses) lambs languishing in institutional orphanages or hospitals, and bring them home, providing them with love, education, therapy, medical & surgical care, and LIFE in a family-style environment.

SCH provides care for these orphaned or abandoned children in India, and the program is funded completely through donations.  So here’s the good news: If you’re looking for a way to become involved in orphan care, in addition to praying for these children, you can become a sponsor!  Click on the link to Louise’s profile to learn more.

Louise is listed with Sarah’s Covenant Homes
India

Louise is a sweet little girl who has profound deafness and has a cochlear implant. She lives in a foster home with 2 brothers who also have cochlear implants, Nolan and Theo! Louise enjoys riding her trike, going to school, and making funny faces! She is quirky and very funny, and keeps her foster family laughing!

View Louise’s profile

Take Action

Pray
Join the prayer chain for Louise

Sponsor
Check out Louise’s profile to learn more about sponsoring

Share on social media
Join me in praying for Louise to find a forever family.  Click to tweet

Share Louise’s story and help her find sponsors to support her.  Click to tweet

Orphan Care in Times of National Disaster

Orphans & National DisasterOn October 3rd, as the news began to swell with reports on Ebola, I made a post about how Ebola is affecting orphans. I didn’t actually have a lot to say on the subject. I shared the few things I’d learned about the impact of the virus on orphans and reminded you that the yellow journalism that makes up our news can’t be blindly trusted. Despite my unoriginal content, that post has been getting quite a few hits. That’s not really surprising. Everyone is thinking about and therefore Googling Ebola. It’s been interesting to track the search terms that lead people to TIO. Here’s the phrases used today and yesterday:

  • How to adopt an ebola orphan
  • How to adopt african orphans from ebola
  • Children of ebola how to help
  • Ebola orphans adoption
  • Ebola orphans pictures
  • Adopt ebola orphans
  • Ebola orphans
  • Any groups helping ebola orphans

Like I said. The post has been getting quite a few hits. I’m sure that you noticed a trend as you read the search terms listed above. Over the past two weeks, the searches leading to my blogs have increasingly been about adoption. It’s wonderful that people are aware that Ebola orphans need help, but helping during times of upheaval is a delicate process.

If you’ve been following this blog for any length of time, you’ll know that international adoption is near and dear to my heart, but I wrestle with seemingly opposite ethical issues involved in the process. If you follow me elsewhere on social media, you might also know that I’ve been (very) slowly trying to slog my way through The Child Catchers. To be quite frank, I wholeheartedly dislike the book. I disagree with much of what the author has to say and find her manner of presenting her content frequently offensive. However, as I mentioned to my brother this week, she raises some very valid points.

One of the stories shared in that book gave me a lot of food for thought. The author shared how, after the earthquake in Haiti, the US went into a Haitian adoption frenzy. The efforts to airlift orphans out of the country and onto American soil were spearheaded by well-meaning, but often uninformed individuals riding the wave of media attention. Now, sometimes drastic times call for drastic measures. When a situations like the Haitian earthquake or Ebola occur, it’s entirely appropriate to pull out all the stops to save lives and minister to people in need–especially orphans. That wasn’t the part that got me thinking. What did bother me was reading that many children with surviving parents were whisked out of the country without proper documentation. Children whose biological parents still wanted them. Some of those kids were adopted into the US and never returned to the parents who never surrendered them.

My point is, by all means, search for ways to help Ebola orphans. Be persistent about it. Don’t let children suffer and die and go uncared for. But at the same time, learn from the mistakes of the past. When a country is in turmoil, mistakes are easy to make. Mistakes that can permanently sever families and do children more harm than good.

If you’re one of the people coming to this blog after searching, “how to adopt an Ebola orphan,” please keep this in mind. Adoption is a wonderful, beautiful thing. But handled in the wrong way, it can cause a lot of pain and grief. Please, do not grow weary in well doing, but be wise as a serpent and harmless as a dove in your quest to help.

What do you think? Have you found any ways to help Ebola orphans? Does your church support a missionary in a country affected by Ebola? Have you learned anything about this “national” disaster or any other disaster that could guide you in helping orphans in an informed way? How has the Ebola scare affected you personally?

Advocate & Pray: Huo

HuoHuo is a ten year old in China, waiting for his new family.  He has cerebral palsy and epilepsy, but he’s a happy child and a fast learner.  One line in his profile really touched my heart: “When asked if he likes English, he said yes because he wants to go to US to find a mom and dad.”  Pray with me that Huo will find his mom and dad soon!

Huo is listed with Families Thru International Adoption
China

Huo was born in June 2004.  He is very sweet and friendly. His left side is weaker than his right side. He uses his right hand much more than his left hand. He is diagnosed with CP and Epilepsy, though he rarely has seizures. He is a very well-behaved child. He has good manners, frequently smiling. He is very attached to his caregiver. He can communicate well. He speaks clearly and is very organized when he expresses opinions. He can read. He has large vocabulary. He is doing very well in school. He enjoys learning. He is a fast learner. When asked if he likes English, he said yes because he wants to go to US to find a mom and dad. He longs for a family.

See Huo’s profile (scroll down–he is the fourth child on this page)

Take Action

Pray
Join the prayer chain for Huo

Share on social media
Join me in praying for Huo to find a forever family.  Click to tweet

Share Huo’s story and help him find a family to care for him.  Click to tweet

Ebola Orphans: How Can We Help?

Ebola OrphansThis week on the TIO Goodreads group, a topic came up that–surprisingly–hadn’t occurred to me. Ebola orphans. With news about the Ebola outbreak unavoidable, I’m not sure why I never made the obvious connection. A young lady asked if there was any way  she could help children orphaned by Ebola besides praying.

Perhaps you’ve been following this closer than I have and already know the plight of Ebola orphans. But in case you don’t, let me explain what I’ve learned from a cursory study of some news articles. (A simple Google search pulled up TONS of articles!)

CNN claims that Ebola has orphaned 3,700 children in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone according to the UNICEF definition that says an orphan is “a child who has lost one or both parents.”

(SIDE NOTE: Before you get totally overwhelmed, it’s important to note that the news is all about sensational stories, and stories about orphans are often blown out of proportion. I don’t mean to be a pessimist, but it’s true. The same CNN article also says that Ebola has killed more than 3,000 people in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. The UN claims the numbers are vastly under-reported, but a claim of 3,700 children orphaned by of 3,000 deaths seems at least a little unlikely to me. Perhaps I’m too skeptical because I’ve read about situations like this being exploited during past disasters. What do you think?)

Whatever the actual numbers, it’s clear that Ebola has affected and created orphans. And to make matters worse, the rapid spread of the virus is making people afraid to care for newly orphaned children. Many news articles quote UNICEF Regional Director for West and Central Africa, Manuel Fontaine, who said, “Ebola is turning a basic human reaction like comforting a sick child into a potential death sentence.”

So how should we respond? To be honest, beyond praying, I’m not sure. But, to be sure, praying is a very good thing to do. Another member of TIO Goodreads group replied to the original question by saying,

Sometimes, I think God allows us to feel helpless so that we’ll pray harder and truly learn to depend on Him, truly realize that we are powerless and humble ourselves before Him. It’s very easy to get busy DOING and to claim that prayer works but not truly believe it wholeheartedly – because prayer IS doing!

She is so right! It’s not easy to latch onto tangible ways to help when not even the “professionals” know what to do. But we can always, always pray. And in praying, we are doing.

Do you know more about how Ebola is affecting and creating orphans? How do you think Christians as a whole and as individuals should respond to this problem? Do you have any further thoughts, ideas, or suggestions on how to help?