IN BROKENNESS AND BEAUTY, IT IS WELL

Reflection from CAFO Summit 2019

 

 

Last week, we gathered with over 2,000 believers around the world to encourage and grow our passion for the orphan at CAFO Summit 2019. Jedd Medefind, President of CAFO, introduced the theme, IN BEAUTY & BROKENESS, IT IS WELL. He said, “If you open yourself up to the orphan, you are opening yourself up to this brokenness. You will be required to carry some of it with them.”

 

It is precisely in our weakness that God’s strength and power are displayed. The Apostle Paul talks about this in Philippians 3:8-14:

 

“But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith – that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.”

 

 

In light of this, Medefind and others at CAFO encourage us to consider this thought, “What if we have our vision of success wrong?” In Hebrews 11, great heroes of our faith are highlighted for their mighty victories – and also for those who were faithful despite unrealized expectations, desires and dreams.

 

God REDEFINES our success. Our success as orphan advocates, adoptive families – or whatever ministry role you find yourself in – is not successful based on amazing outcomes or accomplishments. God is far more pleased with our willingness to be FAITHFUL to Him and the ministry He has called us to than He is concerned with our ability to achieve a certain set of outcomes through it.

 

This thought from an article at the conference resonated with me: “Faithfulness is our success. Everything after that is the mercy of God doing what only He can do.”

 

“But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 3:13-14

 

May you be encouraged and challenged as you reflect on where God is calling YOU to be faithful in His kingdom work.

 


GET INVOVLED:

  1. Subscribe to our blog (see above!) to keep in touch with our weekly stories and updates.
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FROM A MOTHER’S ARMS

 

By Becky Browning, LSM Staff

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!


Early one morning, I went for a walk through a small Haitian village. I heard singing. I looked over to see a mamma sitting on the front steps of her home, her daughter snug between her knees as she combed her hair. I smiled and waved. She smiled back and nodded her head. Her hands were obviously busy.

 

On another day, I passed by a little fruit and vegetable stand where a young mamma was selling mangos, coconuts, bananas, peppers and beans. Her little one was sound asleep on a shelf that was low to the ground. She smiled sweetly as our eyes met – a mutual acknowledgement of our mother-love.

 

 

Then I saw an elderly woman walking with her grown daughter, with a chair carefully balanced on her head. She looked tired from a lifetime of providing for others. Her weathered face looked like she had many stories to tell.

 

I watched as these mammas as they were going about their day to day work. I wished I could sit down and talk motherhood with each one.

 

 

But there was one young mom that I did get a chance to talk to, and I will never forget it. I met her on the dirt road. She was walking toward me, holding her baby girl. I stopped to tell her how beautiful her baby was. Her little one smiled a big toothless grin and reached her arms out to me. As I held her, she wrapped her baby arms around my neck for a big squishy hug. I couldn’t help but laugh as she tried to touch my hair, my nose and my face. She was adorably curious.

 

When I tried to hand her back to her mamma, she did not immediately take her. Instead she said, “Do you love babies?” I told her that I loved babies very much. She asked me if I had any children. I said, “I have five, but they are grown now.” Then she said something that made my heart race. “Do you want her?”

 

Since I only had a few lessons in Creole, I figured I must have misunderstood her.  I repeated the question. She nodded her head and pointed to her daughter, “Baby has no dad. I have no dad and mom. Do you want her?” I got very nervous and handed her smiling baby back. I told her she was a good mom. She said something else, but I couldn’t understand. That was the end of my Creole.

 

 

We each walked away in separate directions. My heart was so heavy. I turned back over my shoulder a few times until she disappeared. I cried for that mamma. Can you imagine feeling so hopeless that you would be willing to give your baby to a complete stranger that you just met on a dirt road? The heartbreaking reality is that this story is not uncommon. That evening, several missionary ladies told me that they too have been asked to take babies.

 

Many of the 240 children in LSM’s Homes of Hope lost their mommas before they could remember them – whether from death, extreme poverty or violence. Each of these precious children has suffered loss and lack of attachment. But today, through the powerful work in these godly families, they have a mom and dad who call them theirs. And we believe that’s the very essence of what it means to be His hands and feet in this world. To pull a child close and tell them that despite all the darkness they’ve known, they are seen and they are loved.

 

David Livingstone once said, “Sympathy is no substitute for action.”


THIS MOTHER’S DAY, YOU CAN:

  1. Pray for desperate mothers around the world who are forced to make difficult choices for the survival of their children.

 

  1. Pray for our Home of Hope moms by name. They are caring for children who have come to their family through tragedies. Pray for their strength and love as they raise their children and help provide healing.

 

  1. Give a gift in honor of your Mother to help mommas in Haiti and Ethiopia care for vulnerable children in their communities.

 

HOPE IN THE MIDDLE OF A STORM

excerpt from page 67, Glimpses of Hope, a collection of devotionals

by Claudin Idoxis, LSM Education Director, Haiti

 


 

Haiti is counted among the poorest countries on the planet. Living in Haiti is like living in a storm. We are threatened by an insecurity that comes in various forms: economic, food, physical, social. Life in Haiti really looks like a storm.

 

I am the eldest of a family of six children. My parents hardly know how to read. My father is a carpenter and my mother used to do embroidery. Poverty seemed to obviously be our future. My three brothers, my two sisters and I were darker than most Haitians which further damaged our chances for success. It seemed really unlikely that we would be able to be someone in life. However, we had two great assets: our faith in God and my mother who believed in the value of education.

 

 

Today, four of us have a university education, another is currently in their second year of civil engineering and another is an electrical and plumbing technician. My two sisters and I are married and have children. I am on staff with Loving Shepherd Ministries as director of Education and Child Development.

 

Jeremiah 29:11 tells us, “For I know the plans which I have made for you, saith the Lord, for peace, and not for evil, to give you a future and hope.”

 

 

Those who live in Haiti and place their faith in God have hope, knowing that God has plans for them. Through this storm of misery and insecurity, God provides for the needs of those who fear Him and who seem Him with all their heart.

 

God has the capacity, in a country like Haiti, to use a very poor family and make its members useful to their community. Today, God is carrying out his projects in the lives of 235 children in Haiti through Loving Shepherd Ministries. These children who were once completely desperate are now housed, fed, clothed, educated, cared for and trained because the hand of God acts through LSM.

 

 

The tempest can’t prevent the designs of God from being fulfilled in our lives. Often it is in the midst of a storm that the love of God manifests itself most clearly in our favor. (Matthew 14:22-32). With God there is always hope. The hope that He will take care of us even in the midst of the storm. Just keep faith. Do not focus on the storm, but on God who has the ability to accomplish projects even in the storm. Let us be among those whom God uses to bring hope and to help those whose future is threatened by the storm.

 


GET INVOLVED:

  1. Meet our staff and join us in prayer for their work here!
  2. Learn more about Child Development in Haiti here.
  3. Order your copy of Glimpses of Hope here.

 

A YOUNG BOY’S HEALING JOURNEY

Riderson* drew his bony knees up to his chin and huddled beside an abandoned cart. Darkness was falling, and he was hungry. He stared at his dusty fingers and longed for his momma. But she didn’t come. She couldn’t come. Slowly, he picked himself up and thought about going back to his grandmother. He was exhausted and hopeless. He hadn’t found any food for them tonight.

 

It would be months before Riderson had a full belly. In those long days, Riderson remembered the pain of losing his mother, the rejection he felt from a father he’d never known, and the deep heartache as he watched his sickly grandmother fading away. What was he going to do?

 

 

SADLY, RIDERSON’S STORY IS NOT UNCOMMON. SCIENCE HAS PROVEN THAT TRAUMATIC EXPERIENCES LIKE THIS HAVE LONG-TERM AFFECTS ON HEALTH.

 

Watch this TedTalk to learn more about how Childhood Trauma Affects Health Across a Lifetime

 

Thankfully, Riderson was able to come to an LSM Home of Hope at the age of 9. Although we can’t take away the pain of his early childhood, we can help him find healing today.

 

Through our Trauma Healing Program, Riderson is learning how to regulate and express his emotions in healthy ways.  Our LSM Child Development Program is helping create personalized education plans so he can have the support of tutors and additional programs. Riderson is no longer hungry and is now safe in a loving Home of Hope family. His mom and dad love him as their own son. His life has completely changed!

 

 

Through these gifts of love, education and healing, we have great hope for Riderson’s future. It’s not without struggles, and we can’t reverse what happened to him before. But we believe in the healing power of God and the love of family! And we believe that can make all the difference for his future.

 

There are so many more children like Riderson, still waiting in the darkness.  Will you help us reach them with the love of Jesus?

 


GET INVOLVED:

  1. Learn more about what our Homes of Hope are able to provide for kids like Riderson.
  2. Become a Family Sponsor and help kids like Riderson find healing and thrive in their family.
  3. Consider joining us at CAFO SUMMIT 2019 to learn more about best practices in caring for vulnerable children and see how you can get involved! May 8-10 in Louisville, KY https://cafo.org/summit/


*name changed for privacy

 

Johnny & Mekdes – A Staff Testimony

Johnny and Mekdes are part of our Ethiopian Team. They are passionate about empowering families through their ministry with LSM and with the valuable support of many volunteers from the local church. Together, we are empowering over 30 single mothers and their children in a local village with education, counseling, small business training and physical support. Johnny and Mekdes also have their own ministry- strengthening marriages and counseling families.

 

There’s a reason why this couple is so passionate about seeing families thrive.

 

 

Both Johnny and Mekdes grew up in an orphanage and didn’t receive the nurture and love they know is so vital for children to experience in a family. Johnny was five years old when he went to the orphanage. Mekdes was eight. After their fathers died, their mothers felt that they had no choice but to send them somewhere else with the hopes they could survive and maybe receive an education. The huge government orphanage they found themselves in was a necessary reality.

 

Growing up in an orphanage was better than many children received in the poverty – striken country, but it wasn’t perfect. This massive institution was home to 5,000 – 7,000 children at any given time. There was only one caregiver for every 50+ children. Not surprisingly, this led to many hardships for the children growing up without parental guidance or support.

 

They say, “Our passion for nurturing healthy families began with our own experience of growing up without ‘divine family love.’” 

 

Mekdes talking to women in our family today

 

Mekdes shares about their life there, “The government orphanage gave us a lifestyle that was so much better than the rest of society, but we didn’t know that the people around us were in deep poverty.”  Because of their opportunity to live in the orphanage, they received up to a high school education and were able to experience things that many in their home villages never could have.

 

 

However, after graduating high school, they had to leave the orphanage, totally unprepared. Except for brief summer trips to visit their mothers, both young adults had lived most of their lives within the walls of the orphanage and had little interaction with the outside world. They didn’t know what poverty and real-life experiences were like. It was a shocking reality when they walked out those doors. Around the same time, the ruling government that had been supportive of their orphanage was ousted. Now, they felt vulnerable without the powerful figure who they always thought would protect them and their country.  Johnny said, “We felt like we were unwanted, resource-wasting and no-good children of the former regime.”

 

Johnny working with vulnerable children today

 

But there was hope! After leaving the orphanage and finding work near their biological families, they discovered a faith in Jesus that changed everything! Although Johnny was abandoned by his family after becoming a Christian, he still says it was the best decision he ever made.

 

“The Holy Spirit touched my heart and brought joy to my soul like I had never experienced before… I raised my heart and hands to Him and He welcomed me with open arms. I felt a very warm love for the first time, and my eyes poured out tears of joy. I had experienced a long journey of orphan life at an orphanage and now I had a chance to say, “’My Father!’ It is still very sweet to my heart!”

 

Later, Johnny and Mekdes reconnected after all those years in the orphanage and got married. They were passionate about serving the Lord together, and felt a call to serve families first.

 

Mekdes recounts,Despite all the blessings we received in the orphanage, our souls missed the natural love of divine family love. Our caregivers are like “professional paid caregivers” but natural parents are like the “loving shepherd” who sacrifices their own life for their sheep. In light of this truth, the vision has grown in our hearts to keep and maintain natural and divine love. Today, we get to provide awareness, training, counseling and empowerment that can save marriages and families for generations to come.”

 

Johnny and Mekdes passing out Christmas supplies to vulnerable families in rural Ethiopia

 

We are so grateful for the passion and experiences that God allowed Johnny and Mekdes to live through that brought them where they are today. Like them, we can look at our life’s tragedies and let them define us for good or for ill. We are so grateful that this couple has chosen to rise above their past, and let it be their legacy for the Kingdom of God!

 


GET INVOLVED:

  1. Learn more about LSM’s vision and FAMILY MODEL that gives every child we serve the love and stability of a family.
  2. Learn more about our work to keep families together in Ethiopia.

 

Adoption in 2019

“Adoption is a journey of faith, from beginning to end.” – Johnny Carr

 

Every year, our adoption staff updates the ever-changing resources and information about agencies, countries and types of adoption so we can best serve the hundreds of people who come to LSM to learn about their options in adoption or foster care.

 

 

A QUICK LOOK AT ADOPTION IN 2019

 

Whether you are interested in adopting or not, please pray for families considering these realities and the children effected by these statistics.

 

INTERNATIONAL ADOPTION

 

International adoption continues to trend down. In 2018, only 4,059 children were adopted. That’s a 13% decrease from the year before, and a 82% decrease since 2004! (source) LSM will help you find the country(ies) your family is eligible to adopt from, and provide a list of reputable organizations working in those countries.

 

If you’re considering an international adoption, it’s best to be prepared for a 2+ year wait, spending between $30,000 – $45,000 and bringing home a child at least 2 years old with some level of special needs.

 

 

DOMESTIC ADOPTION

 

If you’re considering an infant domestic adoption, expect a wait of 1-2 years and expenses to be around $43,000 when all the fees are done. (source) The more open you are to gender, race, special needs or drug exposure, the more likely you are to find a match. You should also expect some level of an “open” adoption – meaning that the birth mother will have some kind of involvement in the child’s life. Costs and details vary depending on the agency you choose.

 

FOSTER CARE

 

Reunification is always the first priority in the Foster Care system, so if you walk into this process looking to adopt, you will need to keep an open mind. Children coming into your home often have trauma exposure, attachment issues, have suffered abuse or been exposed to alcohol or drugs.

 

There is a huge need for Foster families who are willing to open their homes and hearts to vulnerable children in the States. What a beautiful opportunity to share the Gospel with these children AND their bio families!

 

IS YOUR FAMILY CONSIDERING ADOPTION OR FOSTER CARE? WE CAN HELP.  

 

We know the road can be daunting! Our knowledgeable staff is here to help you navigate the many decisions ahead. We provide FREE, personalized information and support as you consider the best options for your family. You start with a simple online assessment form. From there, the process looks like this:

 

 

It’s our prayer that many families like yours will answer the call to care for vulnerable children. Through the difficult scenarios, we have seen countless stories of God’s goodness as He knits families together!

 


GET INVOLVED:

 

  1. Interested in learning more about how LSM can help you walk through the adoption process all FREE of charge? Start here.

 

  1. Pray for a family you know who might be considering adoption! The task ahead of them is great, both financially, emotionally and spiritually as they raise a child who has come from hard places. Consider how you can support a family you know who is fostering or adopting in your church or community!

 

  1. Support our Home of Hope families in Haiti where a Haitian couple has brought 12 vulnerable children into their family! Learn more here.

 


 

SHARING THE GOSPEL IN HAITI

Our faith guides everything we do at LSM. It has fueled our hearts for the vulnerable and caused us to go deep with the children we serve to provide holistic healing and growth. We continue to provide new opportunities so each child can reach their full, God-given potential.

 

 

Last year, we introduced The Gospel Project to help teach our kids in Haiti more about sharing their faith and modeling the compassion of Jesus. Gospel kits are packaged in the States by volunteers and sent to Haiti where our families are able to reach out in their communities and share God’s love.

 

The love and support of many of you through LSM has allowed these children to find personal relationships with Jesus. Now, it’s something they are excited to share with others! The gospel kits allow them to build relationships and pray for their neighbors. As a result, individuals are learning about Jesus and giving their hearts to Him!

 

 

This month, as one family shared kits in their community, they were able to pray with a neighbor who accepted Christ!

 

 

What an extra blessing to see the ripple effects of our work with individual children! Imagine what God can do as this grows and 240 children who are passionate about Jesus are reaching out in their communities!

 


GET INVOLVED:

  1. Learn more about opportunities your group can bring to The Gospel Project.
  2. Schedule a tour of the Haiti Education Wing at the LSM Offices.
  3. Pray for those receiving Gospel kits and for our children as they grow in their faith and boldness with evangelism!

 

THREADS OF HOPE

A baby boy was born in a rural village in Ethiopia. Baby Meleke* curled his tiny fingers around his mother’s pinky. A difficult life was ahead of this little one. Just a few months earlier, his mom Shali* went to Arat Kilo, a slum area of Ethiopia’s capital in search of new opportunities. It was only temporary until she could find work. Everything changed when she got a boyfriend and soon found out she was pregnant. But he wanted nothing to do with baby Meleke. He walked out—never to be heard from again. Alone and scared, this young mom was left to fend for herself and the life growing inside her womb.

 

 

With no income, no support, and a child to care for, how would they survive?

 

For the next few years, life became more and more desperate. Shali did whatever she could to feed her son, but there was never enough. School was out of the question for Mekele. They were just trying to survive. There was very little chance that they would ever be able to break out of this cycle of poverty. Despair and hopelessness began to settle in.

 

 

But this is not a story of despair. God used LSM to bring hope to this precious family!

 

One day, Shali and Mekele were introduced to LSM. Our staff shared the love of Jesus with them. Today, they are thriving in the LSM trauma healing program. Through LSM, Shali learned how to weave. She is a talented artisan and runs her own business. Because they now have an income, Mekele can attend school. They are surrounded by women and children who love and care for them. A mother’s life was redeemed, and the fruits of this transformation have been passed on to her child. What once appeared to be bleak strands of pain and hopelessness have been woven together with threads of hope and love. A beautiful tapestry created for the glory of God!

 

 

Right now, there are countless moms and children suffering like Shali and Mekele once did. Will you help us reach them with the hope and love of Jesus?

 


GET INVOLVED:

  1. Purchase a Moriya Ethiopian Accessory purse where 100% of the profits go back into our Ethiopia programs.
  2. Give a one-time gift to help families like Shali and Mekele’s thrive.
  3. Pray that God would continue to open doors for our ministry expansion in Ethiopia.

 

*name changed for privacy

BEHIND THE PICTURE

With a curious smirk, sporting a vest and tie, you smile and think, “What a cute little boy!”  What isn’t captured is how powerful this moment really is. You see, Obie* had just joined his new Home of Hope family on the very day this photo was taken.

 

 

It was his first day in a new home. His first time ever eating three full meals. His first night sleeping in his very own bed.  It was the first of many new things that he never had before. Pictures can speak a thousand words, but sometimes they miss the powerful significance behind the moment.

 

In one single day, Obie found a family to love him.  He entered a life surrounded by a loving family and a community of people who will champion him and make sure he has every opportunity to become all that God has for him.

 

 

The first picture was taken in 2012 when Obie was seven years old. Over the next seven years, Obie excelled in school, learned about leadership and how to help others. Most importantly, he’s experienced the love and safety of his Heavenly Father through his parents and LSM staff. Obie has big dreams. He wants to be a doctor and help the hurting in his country. We think that’s a noble goal – and wherever this life takes him, we hope that passion for serving others continues to be a driving force in his life.

 


GET INVOLVED:

  1. Become a family sponsor and give this kind of hope to children like Obie.
  2. Learn more about LSM Tech and the future opportunities for Obie.

*name changed for privacy

YOU DON’T HAVE TO WALK THIS ROAD ALONE

The monthly Ethiopia Program updates was looking pretty standard. It was full of positive conversations and new things the team wanted to accomplish. Over 40 families in Ethiopia have access to some incredible programs that are helping single mothers provide for their kids.

 

And then my eyes caught on one word… CANCER.

 

 

Two moms were diagnosed with cancer in the last month. Another young mom lost partial vision in both eyes. I wish I could take away those words and the weight they carry for their sweet families, but I can’t.

 

These precious mommas have faced some terrible things in their life already. They’ve had to make the heartbreaking choice between feeding their child and sending them to school. It’s unbearable to think about life as a single mom in one of the hardest places in the world, deeply entrenched in generational poverty with a stigma around their shoulders. I place myself in their shoes for a moment and imagine  what this diagnosis would feel like and what this means for their children.

 

BUT THEN I’M REMINDED… THEY AREN’T WALKING THIS ROAD ALONE!

 

 

In the last three years, these families have all entered the LSM program in their village. It’s enabled their children to go to school. It’s given them food stipends so they don’t have to worry about whether or not they can feed their children. LSM has helped them start their own businesses and walked alongside them so they can succeed. We have watched these families make huge progress. Beyond all of that though, they’ve connected to a local church and are mentored by volunteers in their community on a regular basis. They have support groups that they’ve started in their own communities. Their fear and stigma have faded and they’ve gained confidence in themselves.

 

 

Cancer, blindness and the pain they’ve faced isn’t fair, but they know we will walk alongside them in this season of their journey just like we have in the last season. Despite the ravages of sickness, poverty and sin in this world, there is a big God who is above it all!

 

And in the middle of our mess, we can point each other to Jesus, take each other’s hand and say simply, “You don’t have to walk this road alone.”

 


GET INVOLVED:

  1. Help us support families like this in Ethiopia as a family sponsor.
  2. Pray for these three moms who are suffering from cancer and blindness.
  3. Learn more about our work in Ethiopia here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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