Wednesday, February 9, 2011

everything changes.

Orphans are easier to ignore before you know their names. They are easier to ignore before you see their faces. It is easier to pretend they're not real before you hold them in your arms. But once you do, everything changes.” 

As I have said many many times in the past several months, going to Ethiopia was life-changing. Not only because we fell in love with N and M, but also because of a million other reasons. Ok, 6 MILLION other reasons to be more precise. We were changed because God not only gave us His heart for the orphan, but because we now had names and faces and experiences that we shared with so many of them. For us, that quote above from David Platt's book Radical became more than just a quote. It is the truth and everything has changed.

There are an estimated 6 million orphans in Ethiopia alone. And while there are a few thousand who are able to be adopted into families each year, that hardly puts a dent in the orphan crisis. The goal isn't even necessarily adoption, but reaching the poor, the orphan, the widow, and the destitute with the Gospel. (I guess if you put it that way- the goal is ADOPTION- by our Heavenly Father that is. :) We are not all called to adopt.
Let me say that again: WE ARE NOT ALL CALLED TO ADOPT.

BUT, as followers of Christ we ARE all called to LIVE OUT God's Word. Loving the least of these is a pretty big part of that and I am quite certain that orphans and widows are included in that category. And this is where it gets really exciting and practical!

While I know that not everyone is able to adopt, I wanted to let you know about a wonderful opportunity that gives you the unique chance to provide for a child in need. You can bring HOPE to a child in Ethiopia by being a sponsor family to him or her. Our friends at Starved 4 Hope have partnered with Children's HopeChest to oversee and coordinate sponsorship at the Tullo care point in Awassa, Ethiopia. We spent a week in Ethiopia with these 4 amazing godly men who are on the board of directors for this organization and are so excited about what the Lord is doing in each of their lives. Their current mission is to find committed sponsors around the world that are devoted to feeding the 160+ children of this care point both physically & spiritually.

Because of our shared experience and passion for orphan care in Ethiopia, we have recently partnered with the Starved 4 Hope team to help find sponsors for some of the children at the Tullo Kebele Care Point in Awassa, Ethiopia. 

These children are often orphans, but may still have a distant relative that, while unable to provide for them, is unwilling to relinquish parental rights. Therefore, these children are not adoptable. Instead, these children are trapped in a seemingly hopeless situation, but that is where you can make a difference.

By sponsoring a child, you can provide that child with not only food for his/her belly, but nourishment for the soul. Through your sponsorship, these children will be taught God’s love. They will receive biblical teachings and discipleship, and they will experience first-hand God’s love through your act of compassion.

We have been here to this very location and seen the need first hand. Although they are looking for sponsors for 168 of the children, the day we were there I think there were close to 400! Kids just kept coming from everywhere. And this was one of those places you just could never ever forget. Despite so many desperate circumstances, there was so much joy and singing and laughter that you couldn't help but join in and clap and dance right along! It was incredible! I have many many pictures from our time spent there. Here are just a few of them.

While we recognize the importance of food for those that are hungry, the Bible tells us “…man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.” (Deut. 8:3).

Therefore, our goal is to provide these children and their community with the sustenance that their body needs while also providing them with the Word of the Lord. Jesus tells us that through Him, our hunger will be satiated and our thirst quenched (John 6:35).

 Sponsorship of the children is only the beginning. The Starved for Hope team would also like to raise money to provide the care point with a well for access to clean water, additional classrooms to school more children, and an education to end the cycle of poverty all while ministering to them and equipping them with God’s word which will provide them with hope.

The Christian-based program is different from so many others that we hear about because you aren't just sending your money off, you are actually being provided with an opportunity to correspond with your child, send packages, receive pictures, and possibly even visit your child is you should choose to! This is the same organization that we sponsor our sweet N through and we know first hand how very important and meaningful that correspondence is!

So before I share a few profiles with you, here are some answers to some FAQ's.

What is the Children’s HopeChest Orphan Sponsorship Program?

The Orphan Sponsorship Program is a ministry that provides the opportunity for an orphan to know God, experience the blessing of family, and acquire the skills necessary for independent life. Specific benefits include the opportunity for orphans to meet and overcome many of the challenges they face. A child who feels abandoned is given special attention from a sponsor who truly cares.

What does it mean to sponsor one of these children?

A HopeChest sponsor is a caring person who wishes to commit monthly support and ongoing encouragement to one child for the duration of his or her time in an orphanage/CarePoint. (In some cases, sponsorship can extend through a child's time in vocational school or college.) Sponsors not only offer monthly support, but encouragement through prayer, letter writing, and relationship.

How much does the sponsorship cost?

Sponsoring a child costs $34 a month. We ask that our sponsors make at least a one year commitment to the child(ren) they sponsor. Payments can be made monthly, bi-annually, or annually (for a total of $408).

What benefits go to a sponsored Children’s HopeChest orphan?

Your sponsorship provides four benefits including:

 Direct assistance for emotional, environmental, educational and medical needs.
 Letter writing between child and sponsor. This includes translation and delivery.
 Discipleship classes providing opportunities for a national believer to share Christ through word and deed.
 Birthday and Christmas gifts and parties.

Perhaps you would like to even visit the child(ren) you sponsor??!!

The Starved 4 Hope team travels at least once annually (sometimes twice), and they encourage sponsors to travel with them to see in person the difference you are making. (Beware- if you do decide to go, it will be amazing- BUT you could end up doing something really crazy like us! Don't say I didn't warn you!)

Here are just three of the precious children in need of a sponsor family. Are you the ones who will make a difference in their lives?

This is Zeritu. She is 7 years old and her birthday is May 23, 2003. Just looking at her sweet face makes me think that she would love to get a letter from a family who cares for her and commits to praying for her.
Is that family yours?

 This precious boy is Elias. His birthday is in 2 weeks! On February 22, he will be 8 years old.

This precious girl is Mebrat. Her birthday is Valentine's Day! February 14, 2004. I can think of no better Valentine's gift for your loved one than to give them the gift of sponsoring this sweet girl in their name. She's even wearing red :)

*** If you are interested in sponsoring one of these children or others or if you have any other questions, please contact me at and I will get you the information needed to complete the process.

So WHO'S name will you choose to know? WHO's face will you choose to look at and pray for and write to and maybe even one day visit and love on? WHO will you allow God to use to change you?
The choice is up to YOU.

And once you do, EVERYTHING CHANGES.


The Bestul Family said...

Well written Candice! Thank you for your passion for orphans and vulnerable children in Ethiopia!

Bingham Family said...

Candice, Thank you so much for your words that had to come straight from God through you. We are all "fired up" to see each and everyone of these children sponsored.

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