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It Costs Less to Provide BETTER Orphan Care OUTSIDE Than INSIDE an Orphanage

Several years ago, we discovered a new method of orphan care that has now become our flagship method. We started this new method of Orphan Care in response to what we believe was a revelation from God. Since then, we have seen that child development research from top academic institutions like Harvard and the University of California have supported the method.

One of our orphans lives with this family. Because I grew up in this culture and in these types of conditions, God has given me the grace to see the beauty in this lifestyle than many outsiders can. Some people might think this family is poor and needs help. But this is the average household in this community. They do need help (like we all do) but they don't need any hand outs and can definitely support one or two orphans with daily food, love, and accommodation. They may need mentoring and advise, like we all do, to maximize their efforts and get more done. They are farmers and live by working on the farm five or six days per week.

Photo: One of our orphans lives with this loving family. Because I grew up in this culture and in these types of conditions, God has given me the grace to see the beauty in this lifestyle than many outsiders can see. Some people might think this family is poor and needs help. But this is the average household in this community. They do need help (like we all do) but they don’t need any hand outs and can definitely support one or two orphans with daily food, love, and accommodation. They may need mentoring and advise, like we all do, to maximize their efforts and accomplish more. They are farmers and live by working on the farm five or six days per week.

With this new method, we help put orphans in the homes of local families who are willing to love and care for them as their own children.

 

Partnership with local families and the local church.

These families are all able to provide food, accommodation and love the child. For families who cannot afford the child’s additional needs such as tuition, medical care, books, school uniforms, and clothing–but are able provide food, accommodation, love and family–we help provide these things. The help we provide to the children living with these families is also provided to all the children living in the orphanage. But in addition to them, children living in the orphanage need us to provide food, hire staff, have to build buildings for accommodation, obtain government licenses etc. to keep children in the orphanage.

In essence, we formed a partnership with the local people where we are using local resources to help solve the problem of orphans which is a local problem.

A few families actually offered to provide all of the children’s needs. The excitement from the community for the program amazed us. For years, the community members acted as though they weren’t interested in the orphans in their own community. But when we invited them to participate, they jumped in.

 

This has inspired and galvanized the local church to do more.

Many local Christians are finding new ways to exercise their faith by serving the poor to the extent that they have never done before. As a result,  their faith is growing tremendously. Many are now more active in their local churches and participating in other areas of discipleship and poverty alleviation through the local churches in their communities.

We called this program,  the”Foster Care Program”. However, I think that’s not a good name for it. We should be changing it soon. Why is it not a good name for it? In many local African societies, the word for adoption as we know it in the West doesn’t even exist in their languages. People don’t know the concept. However, they have proverbs and sayings such as this:

“There is only one mother and one father” and “There is only one child”.

What these proverbs mean is that, parents should treat all children as though they were their own. In the same way, children ought to treat all older men and women as though they were their parents.

In this kind of culture, we don’t have to try to teach them adoption or get them to go to the courts to sign adoption papers in order to put children in permanent families. I think the only reason why the courts and constitutions in these developing countries even know adoption (as we in the West do) is because they were fashioned after western documents from their colonial masters.

What we do when we work with them is to appeal to the the Bible, their Christian faith and calling, and local proverbs like, “there is only one child“.

 

Lessons we learned from this new amazing model of serving orphans.

1) It costs about ten times more to keep a child in an orphanage than to put the same child in a local family that loves and cares for them.

2) Local families provide much better care than any orphanage could ever do. In a large orphanage of 85 kids like we used to have, it’s impossible to provide the love, stimulation and time with loving parents that each individual child needs.

3) Children do better inside loving families than in the orphanage.

4) Local families actually love orphans. When we watch TV, listen to radio, log on to the internet or hear about orphan care in any other way, we rarely hear stories of local Christians sacrificing to care for children. What we see celebrated are 18 year olds who go abroad and within weeks there, they start orphanages or adopt dozens of African children to raise like single mothers. I think we need to celebrate these local families, who even though poorer than we are, are also sacrificing for the poor in their communities. Many of us help the poor out of the abundance that we have. Some of the local people help the poor with the little they have to live on.

5) The local church is key to any successful God honoring orphan care.

While God is working through the orphan care movement in many parts of the world (not just in the work we do), there are still millions of orphans that need help. I pray that you would support orphan care through your local church and if possible also through organizations like ours who are working on the ground.

 

Question: I’ve shared with you what I know. Now it’s time to share what you know. What name do you think we should give to our “Foster Care Program” described above? What way is God moving your heart to participate in orphan care and disciple making through your local church? What way is he moving you to participate internationally? Share your comments below and help others learn and grow!

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12 Comments

  1. Hi Sir,
    I am 21 years old and I am living in Malaysia. I have this particular desire to come up with my own orphanage home once i’ve completed my studies. I would like to grow up my orphange and get supported by worlwide sponsorers. I’m even wiling to travel to other countries like Africa to learn their culture and place the child into a loving family. I’m thinking if I should pursue till PhD studies and become a lecturer which would give me a better income.using this income I can serve the orphans better.I want to have my own orphanage home and serve atleast a few with my time, full fill their needs,education and whatever necessary.I really need a proper guide on this.thank you:)

    • Hello Sasy,
      Thank you for sharing with us your desire to care for orphans and your hopes to provide them with a loving home. It is great that you have chosen to continue your studies to become more educated and better prepared to serve the poor. I will suggest to you to continue to seek out as much knowledge in orphan care and learn from others past mistakes. This site along with http://www.startanorphanage.org will be very beneficial to you. Also, Austin Bible College (AustinBibleCollege.com) offers Orphan Care and Management degrees if you are wanting to look more into furthering your education in orphan care.
      Thanks again Sasy for sharing, and best of luck to you as you continue to seek God’s guidance in caring for His children!

  2. I have a question. I would like to find out whether these children really get the love and care that they need. How can you tell that they are being loved and cared for or mistreated by these families? I ask because may be some people would want to use orphans just to get a living or something like that. How sure are you that they are getting the love and care? Are there some supervision of some sort? How is this done?

    • Hello Doris,
      Thanks for your question. You bring up some important points that must be considered when children are put into any home. But these same questions must be addressed when a child is put in an orphanage because there are many orphanages that are exploiting children as well. Children don’t get the love and care they need at these orphanages. Worse, the orphanage owners keep them there so that they can raise money from donors to live well and use very little to care for the kids. This kind of evil is happening.

      There are also many children living in families that are being abused. Sometimes, they are abused by their own parents. Other times they are abused by their relatives. Yes, there are also orphans put with other families that are getting abused.

      I share your concern that some families may take in children because they want the money. That is why we have a strict application process and selection criteria for the foster families. We don’t accept just anyone who applies. We also work with the local churches to try to help them select mature Christians who can live with these children.

      In addition to that, our staff members visit these children on a monthly basis. If needed, the visit more frequently. They spend time with them and interact with the children. Because many of them go to school, we stay in touch with the teachers and ask them to put an eye on the children. Staff routinely visit the school to see the child and teachers there. Foster parents are required to sign legal documents that show that we can remove any child from their home at anytime if we believe that the child is being mistreated. We also reserve the right to sue the foster family if they cause harm to the child in ways that are unacceptable. We take all these steps in addition to prayer and reliance on the Holy Spirit for discernment as we match children with families.

      Having said all of this, there is a role for orphanages. But most children belong in families, not in orphanages.

      • Thank you very much for this enlightenment.

        • You’re welcome!

  3. Thank you for sharing this technique of caring for orphans. When we think of serving orphans we often jump to either starting an orphanage or serving in an orphanage, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but we forget to find out the facts about the orphans we are wanting to serve. I believe if anyone who wanted to participate in orphan care did more research on the ground and learned from the locals and the community itself that they would realize like you have said children growing up in orphanages is not always the best, and most effective way to help.

    • Well said Danielle. Thanks for continuing to share your wonderful ideas.! You are blessing others who read them.

  4. I have a huge heart for foreign missions but have recently been convicted of the lack of heart I have for my own local missions. I want to be a missionary overseas, but have very little practice of doing that within my own country! I agree with you, local problems should be solved by local solutions. There is nothing wrong with getting help or partnering with outside organizations, but we should be careful not to step on others in foreign countries trying to care for their people while ignoring the needs in our own land. I think it’s important to have a role in both places — be active and influential in your community as well as doing what you can to support others in theirs.

    • I agree Stephanie. It’s good to start serving right where we are. The experience that we gain serving in our own local churches and communities will then help prepare us for serving in another culture. It’s not wise to think that it would be easier to serve in another culture when we haven’t even done anything in our own culture. We have from Jerusalem, then Judea, Samaria and to the uttermost parts of the world (Acts 1:8).

  5. his is breath taking, i dont have to worry about funding anymore,ican do this,yes i can do this new model, its great

    • Hello Ruth,
      I thank God that this message was a blessing to you. YES, to serve orphans you don’t have to worry about the money. As long as you seek God and start taking the right steps to serve Children in the right way, you can do a lot. In the end, you may still need money but it is not the determining factor. I think you can do this model. Any one can serve orphans like that.