THE BEST ON THE BLOG IN 2019

In case you’ve missed some of the incredible stories from this year on the blog, we wanted to share a few of our favorites. There are many testimonies praising God’s faithful work here at LSM – from volunteers in the States to staff in Ethiopia and an orphaned child in Haiti. Their stories are a beacon of hope. Each life touched is precious and each life is connected to you. It takes money, sacrifice, love and prayer to make this ministry possible. That has come from all of you!

 

The beauty of this ministry is seeing lives changed, as well as watching the Body of Christ come together with genuine love on behalf of the vulnerable children and families we serve. You are the life blood of LSM – and we hope that you’ll be deeply encouraged by these stories today. And if you’re not feeling connected, we’d love to bring you closer into the LSM family this coming year so you can witness these miraculous stories first hand.

 


 

USA 

 

BEHIND THE SCENES AT THE AUCTION – A VOLUNTEER TESTIMONY

EVENTS THAT ARE INSPIRING AND CHANGING LIVES

LEARNING TO LISTEN –  A FOSTER DAD’S JOURNEY

 


 

ETHIOPIA

 

FROM ORPHANS TO ADVOCATES – A STAFF TESTIMONY

TIMMY – A BOY’S TRANSFORMATION

ABANDONED BUT NOT FORGOTTEN – A SINGLE MOM’S JOURNEY

 


 

HAITI

 

DIO – ONE JOB SECURE’S A FAMILY’S SURVIVAL

THE GOSPEL IS SPREADING IN HAITI

THE POWER OF ONE – ROSELINE

 


 

Thank you for following along! If you haven’t yet, please subscribe to the blog to hear these amazing stories all year round.

 


 

THE PERFECT GIFT

As the sun rose upon her, she put her worn and broken feet on the ground. The life she lives is one of hardship. She did not always know where her next meal would come from or where she would lay her head down at night. The pressure on her young mother was to keep her children alive and take the next step. She could not see much further than that.

 

 

When Loving Shepherd Ministries entered in, the struggle to stay alive was removed. This little girl was surrounded by people who loved and cared for her. Her mom was given tools to help provide food and stability.

 

Where did those gifts come from? They came from you.

 

Our ministry in reaching vulnerable children would not exist without your loving support. We understand that there is sacrifice involved each time you give. Your gifts are changing lives, empowering mothers and leading souls to the Greatest Gift ever given! The beauty of gift giving is waiting for that joyful smile when it is is unwrapped.

 

 

Thank you for the gifts that you give to vulnerable children around the world every single day. From all of us at Loving Shepherd Ministries, we want to wish you a Merry Christmas!

 

 

May you find peace and true joy this Christmas in knowing that the perfect gift has been wrapped in swaddling clothes and already given! His name is Jesus.

 

 


Get Involved:

Give the gift of a Mother’s love and change the life of a child. Become a Family Sponsor in Ethiopia and connect to many families just like the one you read about here.

Give the gift of counseling to a troubled teen through the LSM BrickHouse Program.

Give a gift in a loved one’s name for Christmas. GIVE HERE.


 

CHRISTMAS AROUND THE WORLD

All around the world Christmas is one of the most important and highly anticipated holidays of the year. But the way Christmas is celebrated often varies from country to country. Here are some holiday traditions from Haiti and Ethiopia, where LSM operates.

 

WORSHIP AND FAMILY TOGETHERNESS IN HAITI

 

Haitian families celebrate the birth of Jesus by decorating their homes with candle-lit paper lanterns called “fanals” and candles called “petas.” On Christmas Eve, Haitians traditionally attend church and sing songs like “Minuit Chretien,” their version of “O Holy Night.” After church, families return home to celebrate Christmas together. Children enjoy playing “wosle,” a game similar to jacks. Popular food items at these gatherings include pumpkin soup and “kremas” or eggnog. Haitians rarely exchange gifts for Christmas. Time spent with family and worshipping God are activities Haitians tend to value most.

 

 

Last year, the staff at our grocery store in Les Cayes played an important part in the seasonal landscape. More than a place to find fresh produce, vegetables, and dry goods, our store serves as a source of hope and community for locals. To further this mission and shine a light on the reason for the season, our staff got in the holiday spirit by holding a raffle and decorating the store, inside and out. Check out this video of their work. Didn’t they do a fantastic job?

 

 

GAMES AND FAMILY FESTIVITIES IN ETHIOPIA

 

Ethiopians follow the Julian calendar, which means they celebrate Christmas a bit later than we do. On January 7, they observe their version of Christmas called, “Gena,” meaning “the birthday of Jesus.” They attend church services on Christmas Eve and Christmas day, and then return home. Children often play games like “Ye-Gena Chewata” which is a combination of hockey and soccer. Families also gather to enjoy their favorite Ethiopian dishes, such as “wot,” a spicy Ethiopian Christmas stew. Like Haitians, Ethiopian families do not usually exchange gifts. Instead, they dedicate their time to family togetherness and thanking God for sending his Son to earth!

 

 

In years past, our Ethiopian staff has marked the Christmas holiday with parties for the children, including crafts, lessons, food, singing, and giveaways of clothes and school supplies. One year, we celebrated by sharing the Gospel with locals and by handing out food and aid.

 

 

REMEMBERING THE REASON FOR THE SEASON

 

It’s fun to learn how Christmas is celebrated around the world, as well as the different traditions and values that are emphasized by various cultures. But no matter how we celebrate the season outwardly, what’s more important – and universal – is the celebration that takes place in our hearts. Merry Christmas from our LSM families around the world. As we celebrate, let’s keep Jesus first!

 


 

WHAT CAN I DO?

 

  1. You can learn more facts and statistics about how Christmas is celebrated around the world at WhyChristmas.com. And while learning about the countries and peoples of the world, perhaps use the site as an opportunity to pray for them. Ask God to move in their lives.
  2. You can follow all of our other Christmas coverage on Facebook and Instagram, including the story of a young lady here in the United States who took action to raise money and help vulnerable children and orphans through our family assistance program in Ethiopia.
  3. Finally, open your Bible to Luke 2 for a great reminder of what the season is truly all about. How does God sending his precious son to earth inspire and compel us to live differently? Perhaps in 2020, you have a new idea for how you would like to partner with LSM as we spread the hope of Christmas to all by serving the world’s most vulnerable. Tell us your idea, and let’s work together to shine the light of Christmas around the world in 2020, starting in the darkest places!

 


 

GOD’S WORK IN 2019

What a year! We are so grateful for the amazing things God has allowed us to be a part of in 2019. Here are just a few of the highlights:

 

LSM TECH WILL WELCOME OUR FIRST STUDENTS IN EARLY 2020! It’s been quite the road getting to this point, but this incredible initiative will provide vocational training, work skills and biblical discipleship for our Home of Hope kids. What an incredible opportunity for these future students!

 

 

WE’RE EXPANDING IN ETHIOPIA! The Seeds of Hope Program in Addis Ababa just launched this Fall. Our programs in Ethiopia now serve one of the poorest slum areas in the capital. Today, 60 children and their single moms are being cared for. For the first time, they are being given the tools and discipleship they need to become a thriving, stable family.

 

 

BRICKHOUSE FAMILY MINISTRIES MERGED WITH LSM IN AUGUST and we’re so thankful for the open doors this provides to expand our local reach. We are re-imagining what this program can look like and have many conversations with those in foster care and the state. As those details get worked out, we are so happy to be able to offer FREE counseling for foster and adoptive families. What a blessing this has already been for dozens of children and their families.

 

 

THE GOSPEL PROJECT provides incredible opportunities for our Home of Hope families to share the Gospel with their neighbors in tangible ways. You can read how volunteers here in the States are serving and how it’s empowering our young people in Haiti at the same time.

 

 

READ THE FULL LIST FROM OUR YEAR END APPEAL HERE.

 

Beyond that, when we think about the last decade at LSM, it’s almost unbelievable to think about how much we’ve grown. Thanks to you – and the direction of the Holy Spirit – we’re serving hundreds more vulnerable children in a complete Continuum of Care from childhood through adulthood. It’s not a quick fix. It’s the stuff that brings generational change. You can read more about LSM’s journey since 2002 here.

 

Thank you for partnering with us in 2019 and for the 17 years of our ministry. We praise Him for the hundreds of lives touched through the Body of Christ working together here at LSM. We look forward with great anticipation to what He will continue to do in the coming years. May your 2020 be blessed with your daily bread and much more as you continue to serve in His Kingdom!

 


GET INVOLVED:

  1. View our highlights from 2019 and watch our year end video here. 
  2. Consider giving a special year end gift that will help us reach more vulnerable children in the year to come.

 

HOW DO WE SAY THANK YOU?

We can say “thank you” with our mouths and type it out here so you can read it on your screen, but a true heart of thankfulness comes from within.

 

From the bottom of our hearts, we want to say, “Thank you.”  You have given to LSM through the years, and your gifts have transformed the lives of many desperately vulnerable children in Haiti and Ethiopia. This year, we’re also expanding that reach to right here in the U.S. as we open our arms to care for vulnerable teens through the BrickHouse Program.

 


THANKS FROM A VULNERABLE TEEN IN FOSTER CARE

“Thank you” from the young boy whose addictions cost him everything. He lost it all and thought there was no one left to care for him. He is waking up today free from bondage and with more blessings than he can count.

 

 


MESI FROM HAITI

“Mèsi” (thank you in Haitian Creole) from the Home of Hope children who were once abandoned, lonely, hungry and afraid but now have a mom and dad who love them and care for them. They are happy. They are safe.

 

 

“Mèsi” from the Home of Hope parents whose once empty arms are now full of children to love. They are joyfully making memories together and praising God for the gift of family.

 

 

“Mèsi” from our Haitian staff who have stable jobs and can provide for their families, too.  They  are pursuing their own God given talents as they daily serve on behalf of our Home of Hope families.

 

 

“Mèsi” from the communities who are benefitting from the Gospel Kits that our Home of Hope families are giving out. They are hearing about the Good News of Jesus!

 


አመሰግናለሁ FROM ETHIOPIA

 

“ አመሰግናለሁ” (thank you in Amharic) from single moms in Ethiopia who are off the streets and  are now running their own small businesses. They have the ability to provide food, education and a home for their children that they desperately love.

 

 

“ አመሰግናለሁ” (thank you in Amharic) from the vulnerable children in Addis Ababa who are going to school for the first time and have enough to eat every day. They know that without you, they wouldn’t survive, much less thrive as they grow into adults. Because of your support for them and their moms, today they are dreaming of big things for their future!

 

 

These smiles are because of you!

 

With all our hearts, we want to say, “Thank you!” Your giving has changed entire lives, families and communities. We feel truly blessed to partner with you in this ministry that is so close to the heart of God!  May you all have a very Happy Thanksgiving!

 


Get Involved:

Give the gift of family. Sponsor one of our Homes of Hope in Haiti.

Give the gift of security. Sponsor a single Ethiopian mom.

Give the gift of loving support. Sponsor our BrickHouse Program.

Give the gift of Jesus. Help pack a Gospel Kit or Donate so we can send them to Haiti.


 

GOD’S HEART FOR THE ORPHAN

 

November 10 is Orphan Sunday, a global day that churches and individuals set aside to pray and advocate on behalf of the orphan. We hope your church or family takes a moment this weekend to learn more and to get involved as well!

 

John 14:18 teaches that all believers are former spiritual orphans who have been adopted by God. This means that God’s special affection for the orphans in our world is the same love that prompted Him to send His son to die for us. For this reason, helping and advocating on behalf of orphans is a cause that should resonate with each us personally.

 

 

Christian Alliance for Orphans estimates that there are 140 million orphans worldwide. Here in the U.S., 112,000 foster children are waiting to be adopted, some of whom are classified as “hard to place. ” The term “hard to place” can be due to several factors. Some children have experienced trauma, neglect and abuse, leaving them with PTSD and detachment disorder. Trust is difficult for them. Sibling groups and children with special needs are also difficult to place.

 

In developing countries, the plight of an orphan can be even more dire. Twenty percent of the world’s young people never attend school, and eight percent of the world lives on less than two dollars a day. These realities disproportionately affect those living in developing countries, especially the most vulnerable. A child’s nation of origin may even determine their chances of living past 5 years old. Tragically, about 15,000 children in the world die daily from preventable causes, especially in developing countries.

 

 

But the wonderful news is that since 1990, that number has been cut in half! Global poverty has also been reduced by more than half in the last 20 years, due largely to the united efforts of governments, nonprofits, and advocates like you.

 

Among other examples, international and domestic adoption have provided a tremendous benefit to the world. CAFO reports that over the last decade, more than 112,000 domestic and 103,000 international adoptions have occurred here in the U.S. And many vulnerable children who haven’t been adopted are being reached in their home countries through ministries like LSM.

 

 

Not all orphans and vulnerable children will be adopted. This is especially true with some governments closing their borders to international adoption in recent years. It’s crucial that we provide comprehensive, in-country support in the parts of the world where we see the greatest needs. Here at LSM, we’re working hard to create generational change through Family Sponsorship, Child Development, Trauma Healing, Vocational Training, and much more.

 

Thank you for partnering with LSM to help ensure that every child is given an opportunity to achieve their God-given potential!

 

 


 

WHAT CAN I DO?

 

  1. Learn more details about the realities facing vulnerable children around the world by viewing research compiled at un.org, brookings.edu, and cafo.org. Talk to your church or family about ways you can do more to help orphans and vulnerable kids around the world.
  2. Join churches around the world on Orphan Sunday (Nov 10) in praying for the vulnerable. And ask God how he’s calling you to help.
  3. If you believe God may be calling you to meet these needs by considering adoption or foster care, we’d love to help you start gathering information. Please visit our free Adoption Resources page.

 


 

CARING FOR FOSTER & ADOPTIVE FAMILIES

We are thrilled to be expanding our care for local foster and adoptive families through the LSM BrickHouse program. This summer, LSM gained a new arm to our domestic work with the merge of BrickHouse Family Ministries. (Read more about it here.) As we reimagine this program, we’ve considered how we can best support foster youth in our community – and the families that welcome them home.

 

FREE CHRISTIAN COUNSELING FOR FOSTER & ADOPTIVE FAMILIES

 

It’s clear that foster and adoptive families often face unique challenges as they bring healing to children from hard places. Even if a child has been in the family’s care since they were very young, there are often attachment issues that they bring with them since before birth! Add on the complexities of racial integrations, neglect or abuse a child might have faced, and there’s a myriad of difficult scenarios to navigate through. We want to offer help!

 

 

Adam Carroll, LMFT-A, is our first Christian counselor on staff – and he’s excited to be able to provide free counseling for local foster and adoptive families as he has availability. We’d love to offer this critical support for families in the Bluffton, IN area. If you know of a local family who is currently or who is considering adoption or fostering, please share this with them! To learn more, please email Adam at adam@loving-shepherd.org

 

ADOPTION RESOURCES

 

In addition, we continue to serve hundreds of families each year through our free adoption resources program. The road to adoption is complicated and sometimes eligibility within certain countries is not clear. Our staff can help answer those questions for you, break down the costs and coach you on the right questions to ask – all free of charge. It’s our prayer that these tools will empower you as you seek to care for the vulnerable child God has for you!

 

 

LEARN MORE AND START YOUR ADOPTION RESOURCES FORM TODAY!

 

Whether God has called you to be a foster or adoptive parent, or you’re best suited to financially support others raising vulnerable children, we believe everyone has a place in His work! As we serve together, we want to thank you because none of this is possible without your prayerful support. You are enabling us to help care for these families – and the vulnerable children they love.

 


GET INVOLVED

  1. Pray for foster and adoptive families – and the children they are raising! We pray their stories can be testimonies of His goodness despite the brokenness of this world.

 

  1. Help us provide free counseling and adoption resources for families answering His call. We can’t provide these resources without your help! GIVE HERE.

 

REMEMBERING HURRICANE MATTHEW

“In all of my 65 years in Haiti, I have never seen anything like this.” – Pastor Wilfrid, LSM Home of Hope Director, after Hurricane Matthew, October 2016

 

On October 4, 2016, a massive Category 5 hurricane struck southwest Haiti. Hurricane Matthew’s destructive path hit near several of our Homes of Hope and the surrounding communities. Thankfully, because of good construction, our Home of Hope families were safe. But the wide-spread damage was devastating in surrounding areas. Read our blog from right after the hurricane here and here.

 

 

BBC ESTIMATED THAT DURING HURRICANE MATTHEW:

  • Nearly 900 people died
  • Up to 90% of some areas in SW Haiti were destroyed
  • Getting aid, clean water and clearing off roads took several days and even weeks
  • Some areas in southern Haiti faced “complete destruction”

 

As our Haitian staff and families observed the horrifying destruction, they quickly went to work helping neighbors and friends. Many people lost loved ones. This hurricane had changed them forever. The love and support you showed during this difficult time was a reflection of Christ! YOU responded with tremendous generosity, and we were able to show love and support to the local communities as well as provide new roofs for many homes!

 

 

Long after the storm has passed, and the roofs are replaced, we are still seeing the effects.  Many of our young kids suffered PTSD after the hurricane. Water flooded several homes. The sights and sounds were horrific, and they knew people who did die in the natural disaster. For others, it reminded them of the 2010 earthquake that took hundreds of thousands of Haitian’s lives. That natural disaster stole many of their mothers, fathers and loved ones. It is the reason several of them are orphans today.

 

Through these devastating natural disasters, we are incredibly grateful for our amazing staff and programs that we have to help our children process these difficult experiences. The emotions are immense and sometimes the children don’t know how to verbalize all that is going on inside. Our Trauma Healing Program is there for them and are a safe place for them to process through their emotions. They have learned to discuss what’s troubling them in order to find hope and healing going forward.

 

As we reflect  on Hurricane Matthew, will you join us in praying for those who have suffered much over the last three years?  Some of our children have lost loved ones, and this week is a reminder of that pain. But there is always hope in Jesus and healing from the traumatic circumstances they have faced. It is our desire to point them to our One true Healer!

 


GET INVOLVED:

  1. PRAY FOR HAITI.
  2. DONATE TO THE TRAUMA HEALING PROGRAM AND SUPPORT.
  3. STAY IN TOUCH. We’d love keep you updated as major events like this and new things happen at LSM and in the countries we serve!

 

THE POWER OF ONE

WHAT IF YOU HAD THE POWER TO CHANGE A CHILD’S FUTURE?

 

Roseline* lived in a remote village up in the mountains of Southern Haiti. She barely remembers her father, who died when she was very young.  He left behind seven small children. Her mother desperately tried to provide for them, but there was never enough. Hunger and hopelessness became part of their day to day lives.

 

 

When her mother died tragically, Roseline watched in horror as two of her siblings were taken to distant neighbor’s homes to become restaveks (child slaves.) One by one, her siblings were scattered across the countryside. Who would protect her?

 

THAT’S WHEN THE BODY OF CHRIST STEPPED IN

 

LSM’s Haitian staff learned of this orphan girl and brought her into the Isabel Home of Hope family, which means “God’s promise” and “I am God’s Daughter.” That name has become a beautiful testimony for Roseline. As part of the Isabel family, she not only has a loving home, she also receives three healthy meals a day, goes to school and attends lots of additional LSM activities. She no longer worries about what she will eat or who will take her away. She is cared for and protected. Most importantly, Roseline once again has the love of a dad and mom who treat her as their own precious daughter.

 

 

YOU CAN CHANGE A LIFE LIKE ROSELINE’S

 

Roseline’s story isn’t unique. 240 children in our care have been rescued from child slavery, starvation and abandonment. But today, they are thriving in a loving family through LSM!

 


GET INVOLVED:

 

  1. Prayerfully consider becoming a Haiti Family Sponsor and joining the family! You’ll impact the lives of 12 children like Roseline in a powerful way!
  2. Learn more about helpful tools so you can stay connected to your Home of Hope.
  3. Pray for our Home of Hope families who are helping 12 formerly orphaned, at-risk or exploited children find hope and healing.

 


 

WHEN THERE SIMPLY ISN’T ROOM

by Becky Browning, LSM Staff

 

This week, my daughter hobbled into the kitchen, “Mom, my foot hurts. I think I have something stuck in there.” I examined it and then picked up the phone to call the doctor, “We can see her today. Can you come at 3:45?” And just like that, we had an appointment. Normally, a phone call like that would not have stopped me in my tracks. But today it did.

 

 

My life was changed by a 2-year-old little girl in Haiti. When I first met her, she was laying on a dirt floor. There was piles of trash and clothes around her. Chickens were roaming in and out of the room. Her eyes were closed. Her young mom told me that her head was getting bigger. She had a medical condition called, hydrocephalus. The veins deep inside were filling with fluid, causing intense pressure on her tiny brain. The family had no money to pay for surgery. They desperately tried to get her medical help, but every time they showed up at the hospital, they were ignored or turned away. A few weeks later, my friend and I went to visit the family.  They explained to us that once again no doctor would operate on their baby. As I held her, prayed and sang, she made kissing noises and smiled at me. I looked into her big brown eyes. What will happen if she doesn’t get surgery?

 

Then we heard some exciting news! A surgeon from the United States was coming to Haiti for 2 weeks. This little girl’s mom and grandmother gathered enough money and took her on a 5-hour bus ride to the hospital in Port-Au-Prince. When they arrived, there were 48 cases of children with hydrocephalus in the waiting room. They too had heard the surgeon was coming. Sadly, our sweet 2-year-old little friend was once again turned away. There was simply not enough time to help her.

 

Today, she still waits.

 

She’s not alone. Haiti only has 25 trained doctors for every 100,000 people! This reality means that many, many people never get access to the medical care they desperately need.

 

 

 

The children that God has placed in our Homes of Hope have a variety of medical needs – from being HIV+ to coming into our care severely malnourished.  They, like many Haitians, lacked access to clean drinking water and proper nutrition. Some of our children had broken bones and have been through significant trauma. Others did not have access to life-giving drugs that would keep their disease under control.

 

Today, as a child in a Home of Hope, they no longer have to suffer and wait. Their mom or dad can pick up the phone just like I did, and know the funds are there (because of you!) to get them to a hospital when they need it. And beyond that, we’re raising up a generation of nurses, doctors and professionals who will be able to impact those staggering statistics so more little girls like the one I met in that dirt hut can get the surgery they desperately need too.

 

But it starts one small step at a time. If you would like to know more about providing care to one of our Homes of Hope, learn more here.

 


GET INVOLVED

 

  1. Pray for the millions of children around the world who lack access to basic medical care in the world. Ask Him how you can be His hands and feet to a hurting world.
  2. Become a Family Sponsor where your donations help cover the basic needs of 12 children and much more!
  3. Give to our Homes of Hope with a one-time gift.

 


 

 

 

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