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Where should you start your ministry?

Posted by on November 13, 2017 in Orphan Care | 6 comments

Start where you can win by paying a price that you can afford and are happy to pay. Start where the conditions are favorable, not where the needs are greatest. If God hasn’t given you a specific place where he wants you to start your ministry, then my advice is to start where the conditions are favorable (where you have the support that will help you thrive), not simply where the needs are the greatest. When a ministry starts, it’s like a seedling. If you put it in a climate where the weather is too harsh, the winds are too strong, there is too much drought, it will die. But if you put it in a place where the weather is favorable, it will grow, put its tap root into the ground and spread its leaves. Later, if the storm comes and the droughts come, it would not die so quickly because it has a tap root and a strong stem. Later, the seeds from this tree can then spread to other tougher places and have a higher chance of succeeding because that one seed has become hundreds, if not thousands of seeds. If a plant is exposed to harsh weather too abruptly, a strong wind could easily break the stem. But if it is subjected to gradually increasing degrees of the wind and harsh weather, the stem develops resistance to the extent that it can bend under the pressure of the wind and not break. The roots become stronger and stronger so that it’s hard for a strong wind to uproot the tree. In the past, many ship building companies used this wisdom to choose the wood to be used on the ship. The wanted wood that wouldn’t break when the waves of the sea pounded hard on it. So what they did was identify young trees on a windy mountainside — trees that are frequently exposed to strong wind. When the trees were mature, they would cut and use them for shipbuilding. Many times, when people are called to start organizations or ministries (orphan care, for example) and they don’t know where to start (God hasn’t called them to a specific place), I advise them to start working in a place where they are most likely to succeed: where you have the most support, not where the need is greatest. As soon as you take root where you have much support and gain strength, then go to the place where there are greater needs, but little support. When I first felt called to start taking care of orphans in 2005, I started in my own country, Cameroon. There were thousands and thousands of orphans there. There still are many orphans in that country that need help today. But is Cameroon the poorest country in the world? No. Do the orphans there suffer more than others in war-torn countries who are being forced into child labor or killed? No. I was only a student, with few connections. If I tried to start an organization that goes to the hardest places, I would have failed. I started where the need was present, AND the conditions were favorable for the ministry to succeed. Now, our organization has grown and has provided support for orphans in Haiti. We are now training...

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The first key principle of effective poverty alleviation is….

Posted by on November 6, 2017 in Orphan Care | 2 comments

My four year old, Joshua, and two year old Caleb are playing as they always do. I hear Caleb crying and pulling away his toy, “I don want it, I don want it.” Joshua is also crying, “I just wanna rescue him, I just wanna rescue.” “Joshua, come.” I intervene. He slowly walks over, in tears. “Do you know you are a man of God?,” I ask. “Yes,” he replies nodding. “Something that men of God do is that they respect other people. Even though you love Caleb, you have to get his permission to rescue him. Men of God don’t force themselves on other people even to help them. They get their permission. Do you understand?” “Yes,” he nods, whipping his eyes. This is not the first time I’ve seen a situation like this and responded in a similar way. Both of them are crying. Joshua thinks he is doing the right thing rescuing his little brother. But the little brother is crying as well. He doesn’t want help. He feels Joshua is intruding. I’m still working with Joshua and hope soon he will learn something else that love does. Love doesn’t only rescue, it respects. It doesn’t force itself on someone and it doesn’t intrude. I think when it comes to helping others, we often act like Joshua. Like Joshua, we often don’t realize this. It’s usually unconsciously done. A key principle of effective poverty alleviation is respect! [Tweet "A key principle of effective poverty alleviation is...

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Emotional First Aid

Posted by on October 30, 2017 in Orphan Care | 0 comments

Many times, we focus too much on physical first aid and health but pay almost no attention to emotional health or first aid. Many of the orphans or vulnerable children you will serve have encountered serious emotional injuries such as depression, abandonment, isolation, etc. Watch this great TED Talk about emotional first...

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Beware of Adoption Scams

Posted by on October 23, 2017 in Orphan Care | 0 comments

It’ terrible to think that people could take something as beautiful as adoption and turn it into something so devious and deceptive. But that is an unfortunate trend that is appearing across the U.S. In this CNN report, hear the story of Mata, a young girl who is adopted by a loving family in Ohio only to have them discover a hidden secret about Mata’s biological family. Whether you’re pursuing adoption, run an orphanage that is open to adoption, or educating yourself on effective orphan care, please beware of these types of scams that are not unique. “The 7-year-old girl, dressed in bright pink and holding one of her favorite stuffed animals, sees her mother for the first time in nearly a year. A brilliant smile spreads across Namata’s face, punctuating her excitement. She and her mother are speaking via Skype more than 7,400 miles apart. Namata, or Mata as she’s known, talks from the home of her adoptive parents in Ohio. Her mother watches via a laptop in Uganda, in a quiet spot away from her village. ‘Hello,’ Mata says. ‘How are you doing?’ Mata beams, as does her adoptive mom, Jessica Davis. As the conversation continues, Mata wants answers. She wants to know why her mother gave her away. By the time the call ends, Mata’s radiant smile has turned to sobs. ‘My mom was tricked,’ she says. ‘My mom was tricked.'” Read...

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People Are Motivated By Vision, Not Need

Posted by on October 16, 2017 in Leadership | 0 comments

Whether you’re trying to encouarage people to join your orphan care ministry, train up and inspire new leaders, or fundraise and appeal for donation, this blog will help set you off in the right direction! Many times, people try to persuade others to do something through inadvertent guilt trips. But this is not the way to go! In this post, Dr. Kenneth Acha talks about how much more effective talking about vision is than talking about needs. “Vision motivates and inspires people. Needs depress and turn off people. A great vision inspires people and moves them to desire to come on board and help accomplish the vision. I advise leaders not to focus on the needs they need help to solve but on the better future that the help will provide. That better future is the vision.” Read...

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Are You Cut Out to Start an Organization?

Posted by on October 9, 2017 in Orphan Care | 21 comments

There is a spiritual gift called the gift of apostleship. Apostles are created from birth (see Jeremiah 1) and called to serve God by starting new churches and new ministries. By apostles, I’m not only referring to the apostles of Christ like Peter or people like Paul. I’m referring to the millions of people before and after them who have been designed by God and gifted to start new institutions whenever God wants to work through an institution such as a church, ministry, etc. In addition to being created or designed and called, apostles are gifted by the Holy Spirit to do what they do. All three go together: Design, Calling, and Gifting. In the United States, we have this very prevalent myth that we can do or become anything we want. It’s our birth right in our wonderful land of the free and home of the brave. If we set our mind to something and work hard, we believe we can achieve our goals. This resounds so much more strongly when our goal is noble and charitable in nature. As mentioned already, this belief is entrenched in our firm belief in our individual rights and freedoms and our belief in our endowments of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness that our Declaration of Independence boldly declares. And there is a strong emotional component that brands this myth on our consciences so strongly that it makes it difficult or even unconscionable to question it. It’s so firmly held that it’s almost indelible. From a biblical perspective, we can’t be and do whatever we choose even if what we desire to do is noble and charitable. Deciding what we do in life is the sole province of God. He decides, we act. More accurately, he decides and he acts by working through us. Slaves don’t choose what they do. They don’t have a mind of their own. They execute their master’s will. Or rather, their master executes his will through them. God is sovereignly in control in such a way that he chose before the foundation of the world the places where each of us must live, the times where we would live and the impact that we would make. None of us gets to chose our continent of birth, race, country, family, sex, height, IQ etc. God has made these choices for us and these choices when looked at and understood have an almost deterministic impact on everything else that we become and do in the future. To ignore the fact that God has designed each of us and has given us certain talents and abilities that enable us to be and to do certain things is one of the most foolish thing any of us can do. Simply by designing us in one specific way, God has decided what we can do and what we can’t do. By giving us some talents and gifts and not others God has predetermined what we can and cannot do. In other words, the level of design God has done in each of us and the resultant limitation that this design imposes on each of us is unchangeable. It basically confines us to certain areas of calling if we are to be maximally effective. It’s like God has put us in a canon and shot us out in a certain...

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Healing, Forgiveness, and Direction

Posted by on October 2, 2017 in Orphan Care | 6 comments

Hi, I’m Stephanie. When I was 21 I went to volunteer overseas in Cameroon, West Africa with Shaping Destiny, an orphan care ministry that makes disciples and serves the poor locally and abroad. I had a heart full of compassion and the desire to serve wherever I was needed, but when I first came to volunteer with the ministry I was very damaged from my past. After wandering from my faith and living a sinful life for a number of years, I finally decided that I wanted to return to the Lord and commit myself to being used by Him. I had the chance to start over and my passion for orphans, paired with my newfound love for God, led me to enroll and begin taking classes at Austin Bible Institute. Now that I have found forgiveness and freedom, I am serving with all my heart! I volunteer with Shaping Destiny each week, mentor jr. high girls through a local teen center in Austin, and continue to take classes as I work towards a degree in Christian Ministry to Orphans and Vulnerable Children. I can’t help but thank God for creating such a school that not only teaches me how to serve orphans with excellence but also how to become confident and mature in my faith. I see God doing a work in my heart and mind through many of the spiritual, biblical, and theological courses offered at the school. I started studying at ABI in their Certificate in Orphan Care program and immediately fell in love with the training! I saw incredible growth in my spiritual life, in my personal relationships, and in my calling. I continued my education beyond the certificate because I couldn’t imagine cutting this training short when I was seeing such amazing benefits from it. I highly recommend this school to anyone who is interested in ministry work, especially focusing in orphan care. You will not only see your heart and soul opened by the Holy Spirit, you will experience mind-altering knowledge that will beneficially shape the way you serve. This school has helped me fall in love with my Father as I learn more about Him and experience Him more than I ever thought possible! I’ve found purpose and direction for the first time in my life and I can’t wait to see where God is going to take me. This is my testimony of forgiveness, healing, and redemption in my first ever spoken word video!   This post is written by Stephanie Eitzen. Stephanie is one of my students who has a huge heart for orphans. Stephanie came to Austin Bible Institute about two years ago. Since then, God has done some amazing work in her life and is using her to bless others in tremendous...

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It’s Hard to Have Faith if You Don’t Do This One Key Thing

Posted by on September 25, 2017 in Orphan Care | 6 comments

After preaching today’s Sunday sermon, our pastor invited people to come to the front and pray for God to give them a burden for lost people in our city. This is something I’ve been seeking for some years now. Ordinarily, I would have gone to the front. But somehow, I didn’t today. Instead, I chose to pray right where I was sitting. As I was praying, I believe God said this to me:   “It’s hard to have faith if you don’t see things as they truly are.” There was a deep joy in my heart when I had that impression. I started praying and asking God, “Lord, teach me to see things as they truly are.” I had a great time praying after I received that word. I think this word applies to many areas of life. True faith is built on knowledge of the truth, it’s not built on sand; it’s not built in the air. When we know the truth of any situation, that opens the doorway for true faith. When it comes to souls, the truth is that God is able to save and wants to save. The truth is that prayer is how God has chosen to save people. The truth is that prayers cause things to happen that would not otherwise happen if we didn’t pray. The truth is also that sinners can’t come to God without God drawing them in response to someone’s prayers. The great man of faith, George Muller, prayed for 52 years for 5 individuals to come to faith. They all did, the last two soon after he died. He believed that if he prayed for souls, God would save them because it was his will to save souls. When it comes to orphan care, it’s also hard to have faith if you don’t see things as they truly are. We all need to pray for God to open our eyes to see the issue of orphans and their care as it truly is. It’s possible to see the situation of orphans and the needs of orphans in a way that doesn’t match reality as God sees it. Father, help me and my brothers and sisters to see things as they truly are. Help us to see things through the eyes of your glory, not our selves and our passions and desires. Work in us and through us to do your will. In the name of Jesus Christ....

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8 Filters for Making Wise Decisions

Posted by on September 18, 2017 in Leadership | 0 comments

Everything you do in life, whether personal decisions, ministry decisions, or interpersonal decisions, can direct — or misdirect — you. This is extremely important when leading a ministry or guiding children in orphan care. Everything we do is based on decisions and the livelihood of many other people can depend on you and the decisions you make. In this post, Dr. Kenneth Acha teaches 8 key filters for making wise decisions. Use these and hopefully they will guide you, and the children you serve, well. “Decisions determine destiny. You are where you are today because of the decisions you’ve made in the past. The decisions you are making today will determine where you will be tomorrow. The world you see around you was created through decisions. To say that learning to make wise decisions is very important is very important would be an understatement. It’s priceless. Your very life, calling, leadership, success, and fulfillment in life all depend on the decisions you make.” Read...

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You Don’t Love Someone Until…

Posted by on September 11, 2017 in Orphan Care | 3 comments

You don’t love someone until you know their weaknesses and still love them the same. We can all love a person when he or she does the kinds of things we love and agree with. But what happens when they don’t do what we want? When working with the poor or orphaned and vulnerable children, odds are they will do things that you don’t like. So, how do we react?  Our reaction to people when they do the things we don’t like tells how much we love them. If we quit or stay away from the friendship because we’ve discovered a wrong belief, habit, or position that the other person holds, it tells us that we really loved what they did but didn’t love the people themselves. Of course, I do not mean that if we are in abusive relationships, we should not leave. I’m not talking about abuse here. As a leader, you will experience what I’m talking about frequently. You influence other people. Sometimes, your weaknesses may impact them in a way that they perceive as negative without you even knowing it. Sometimes, a weakness that isn’t real but only perceived  as a weakness by a subordinate will impact them negatively. Perception is reality to them. Because you are a leader, those under you read into everything you do. They may feel threatened by your weakness and interpret that as an intentional attempt to harm them when it’s simply a weakness that you may not even be aware of. The devil is a master at magnifying these illusions in people’s heads. Sometimes, people will quit on you because of those perceived weaknesses. We must learn to acknowledge that, pray for growth when necessary and  know that we are human and there is nothing we can do to make ourselves perfect and likable by everyone. There is something that we can do that can help the situation. Be open to those around us about your weaknesses. Tell them the bad things others have brought up in us and genuinely show them where we are struggling and ask them to pray for us. We should never fake this. We must be honest and sincere and be serious about growing and improving. We can’t simply acknowledge our weaknesses that annoy, irritate or hurt others without making an effort to grow in those areas. If we don’t grow, the people we are working with will lose hope and feel that they are condemned and consigned to forever suffer the effects of that weakness. The people we work with have weaknesses. We truly love them when we know the worst about them and still love them. Yet, there are weaknesses that a person may have that the rightful and loving response would be to dismiss them lovingly and part ways with them because their weakness is hurting others in very significant ways. Even when we must part ways, we must do that in a true spirit of love. We must remember, no harm can befall us if God doesn’t permit it to. “The LORD is my light and my salvation– whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life– of whom shall I be afraid?” Psalm 27:1...

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