HOUSE OF WONDERFUL, GREAT LOVE

By Becky Browning, LSM Staff in Haiti

 

When I was a little girl, every picture that I drew of our house had a happy smiling sun above it. I used my red crayon and made big smiles on my dad, my mom and us four little girls. We were lined up next to our little dog. He too had a smile drawn on his fluffy face. I drew colorful flowers around my pretty house, and warm smoke coming out of the chimney. Inside the smoky clouds, written in my best handwriting were these words: “House of Wonderful Great Love.” It was a picture of my childhood. I felt loved, happy and secure tucked away in my safe home with my family all around me.

 

 

 

35 years later, my husband and I walked through a village in Haiti. There was a much different picture. Crying toddlers with distended bellies, sitting in front of a crooked hut, diaper-less babies covered in itching scabies and skinny stray dogs digging in piles of trash. Food and water was scarce. And hope seemed even more scarce. I did not see many smiling faces. What words would be written over their homes?

Hungry? Sad? Despair? Hopelesness?

 

 

It caused me to think, “What if our lives were switched? What would I want?” I would want food and clothing. I would want someone to love and care about me. I would want someone to take me to the doctors when I am sick. I would want to feel safe. And most importantly, I would want someone to care beyond this earthly life and introduce me to Jesus.

 

 

This is what Loving Shepherd Ministries does. There are many vulnerable children who need homes of “wonderful great love.” We call them “Homes of Hope.” We would love to have you partner with us and support one of our Homes.

 

 


GET INVOLVED:

 

  1. Learn more about our unique model that provides a complete Continuum of Care for vulnerable children from childhood through adulthood – within the love and stability of a FAMILY.

 

  1. Become a Family Sponsor (min $35/month) and partner directly with vulnerable children you can get to know!

 

LEARNING TO LISTEN

excerpt from page 159, Glimpses of Hope, a collection of devotionals

by Gabriel Walder


 

When my wife Lindsay and I decided to become foster parents, I was excited, nervous, skeptical, and afraid. She came to me with the idea out of nowhere one day. I knew very little about foster care and even less about what it was like to become a foster parent. I mainly had negative images in mind when it came to the “system.” Kids in and out of care, parents who don’t care, or do care but cannot overcome their problems, under-resourced agencies, a faceless governmental structure that at the end of the day just wanted to do what was easiest, not what was best. So needless to say, when she approached me about whether we should become foster parents by initial gut reaction was “no.”

 

 

At the time, I worked for Loving Shepherd Ministries and I care about vulnerable kids, but to invite them into my home to live with me, eat my food, mess up my living room and sleep schedule was a next level calling.

 

Nevertheless, I agreed to go to the training sessions just to see what it was like. After hearing about the intensity of the need in my own backyard and the lack of good homes, the weight of the problem began to lay on my shoulders. I knew I was being called to stand up. I knew we had a God who cared about the afflicted and fatherless and He was calling me to care alongside Him.

 

Psalm 10:14 – “But you, God, see the trouble of the afflicted; you consider their grief and take it in hand. The victims commit themselves to you; you are the helper of the fatherless.”

 

 

After a whirlwind of training sessions, physicals, home studies, and background checks we received a call for our first placement before we had even received our license in the mail. On the other end of the line they said there was a little boy named Isaiah who was four months old at the hospital that needed a home. We had 30 minutes to decide. Lindsay drove to pick him up. When she arrived, she was surprised to find a little boy named Martell who was only two months old. It brings tears to my eyes to say that this little boy is almost three years old now and has been my officially adopted son for the last six months. He is one of the biggest joys of my life and I don’t want to imagine my life without him in it.

 

The moral of the story is that if God (and your wife) are calling you to something, you would be wise to listen.

 


 

GET INVOLVED:

  1. Learn more about foster care and adoption here.
  2. Pray for the families considering adoption and foster care in your church and community.
  3. Order your copy of Glimpses of Hope here.

 


 

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.

 

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

BEHIND THE SCENES AT THE AUCTION

Saturday evening, the air was lit with excitement at the LSM Benefit Auction in Indiana. We were overwhelmed by the joyful generosity shared throughout the evening! In fact, this auction turned out to be one of our most successful yet!

 

The night went off without a hitch. To the general viewer, it would be easy to miss the dozens of amazing people behind the scenes that make things run so smoothly. Without the countless hours of time and resources that they put into the day, this auction wouldn’t have the impact it does!

 

 

Here’s just a few of the key roles people fill:

 

Our Volunteer Auction Coordinator, Rachel Gerber, pours countless hours into making sure everyone is on track and things are where they need to be. She’s the organizer and key person behind the auction. We couldn’t say enough good about her work and her generous gift of time and skills. As a young mom, she’s got her hands full, but has taken this ministry on with a calm joy. We love that her kids get to be a part of this, too. They are watching their parents give back with their time and talents!

 

“Organizing and planning are things I really enjoy, so getting to do it for a ministry like LSM has been a neat opportunity these last few years. One of my favorite parts is the conversations it has brought about with my kids. They love when they get to go to the LSM building with me and I love the talks we have about children all over the world and what LSM is doing for those children.” – Rachel Gerber, Volunteer Auction Coordinator

 

 

Ben Dailey is a tech guru who developed an auction software for ministries just like ours. He generously gives of his time and talents to help each person’s giving experience run smoothly.

 

 

Our Auctioneers arrive the night of the auction, and help spread excitement and a deep sense of purpose. Isaac Stoller, a young auctioneer who did a phenomenal job on Saturday, shares a little of what that means to him:

 

“Having the opportunity to be an Auctioneer at the LSM Benefit Auction is an honor and a very rewarding experience. Watching the community come together to raise funds to support the care of vulnerable children is truly amazing! I feel blessed to be a small part of a great event that I care so much about. I look forward to helping this great cause again in the future.” Isaac Stoller, Auctioneer

 

 

Many served in the kitchen and fed hundreds of people in 2 hours. Dozens of others made pies, soup and served food to guests during the event.

 

“What a privilege to help organize and then stand back and watch so many people working together to Glorify God by helping the children of Haiti.” – Jill Fiechter, Volunteer Kitchen Coordinator

 

 

We wanted to say a heartfelt THANK YOU to all who came, gave, worked and served! This auction would not have been possible without your help! These are just a few of the voices behind the scenes that make events like this possible. We hope it’s a reminder to you too that we all have a part to play in God’s work to care for the vulnerable. Maybe you’re really organized and can join a coordinating team, or perhaps you really enjoy putting together gift baskets for donations. Or maybe you’ve been extra blessed financially and can make a generous matching grant opportunity that encourages others to give just a little bit more (which we were so blessed with this year!)

 

Whatever God has gifted you with, we hope you’re encouraged to find ways to maximize your talents for His Glory!

 

 


GET INVOLVED:

  1. Didn’t get a chance to be at the Auction? You can make a donation here instead!
  2. Check out our GET INVOLVED page, and let us know how you’d like to serve with LSM.

 

RIOTING IN HAITI: THE CURRENT SITUATION

“Finally, the country has received some calm Monday, but we want to hear the final decisions of the heads of state of the country. The traffic was painful, then every 500 meters the protesters burned tires, totally preventing the way. Fear was everywhere. We rely a lot on the help of your prayers and hope that everything will be better in the coming days.” – Abdias, LSM Haitian Staff Member

 

 

Abdias’ words sum up much of the feelings from our Haitian staff. Over the last 12 days, mass rioting and road blocks across the country have left people with no choice but to stay indoors, unable to work, go to school or buy food. We thank God that today, things seem to be getting back to normal in Les Cayes.

 

Our staff is back to the office and markets are re-opening. Rioting continues in Port au Prince. Fuel is not able to be transported to Les Cayes, creating a shortage. The calm in Les Cayes is a temporary reprieve since the bigger problems in the country remain unsolved.

 

 

Becky Browning and her family have been in Haiti with LSM for the last several weeks and shared this, “While it is quiet in this house, it is not quiet outside. Roadblocks have been set up. Cars and tires are burning all over the country. Businesses, banks, gas stations and schools are closed. We’ve heard gun shots and yelling. Haiti is in crisis. The people are hurting and want answers from their government. We are praying for sustaining peace and a resolution for this country that is so dear to our hearts.”

 

WHAT HAVE THE RIOTS BEEN ABOUT?

 

“A riot is the language of the unheard.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

As is often the case in societies where people feel unheard and have few options for reform, Haiti has a long history of manifestations, or protesting, like the kind we’ve seen recently. There are few other viable ways for Haitians to voice their frustration with the government.

 

Over the last couple of years, Haitians have been navigating cost of living increases by as much as 50%. This increase puts a strain on many already living in desperate poverty. It has a downstream effect on our Homes of Hope and ministry costs in country, as well as the personal lives of our Haitian staff and their families.

 

The recent riots over the last several days are protesting this and how the government is handling the situation, particularly President Moise who came to power after a failed electoral process and shaky election, is handling the situation. Read more here: Haiti On Edge from IPA Institute for Public Accuracy

 

Protests have been off and on since July but escalated to another level on February 7. You can read more about this from a post we shared in July 2018.

 

AN UPDATE ON OUR STAFF AND FAMILIES

 

Our Home of Hope families have been safe with plenty of supplies at their homes. Our staff returned to the office today, and it seems like things are calming down in Les Cayes. We are grateful that everyone has been well, although scared for the past several days.

 

 

HOW YOU CAN PRAY

  • Please keep praying for safety and peace for our Home of Hope families and staff.
  • Pray that the country can find resolutions to the rising food and cost of living expenses.
  • Pray for the many people suffering during these riots.
  • Pray that believers in Haiti would reach out with the love of Jesus to their neighbors and be beacons of hope in the darkness.

 

Bringing Healing from Trauma

In 2018, LSM launched an exciting new program in Haiti – and now Ethiopia too! The Trauma Healing Program is equipping LSM’s children with the tools they need to heal from their difficult pasts. Ultimately, we hope each child can become emotionally and socially competent adults who will help others find healing too!

 

WHY IS ADDRESSING TRAUMA SO IMPORTANT?

 

Our children come from difficult stories. Every child in our care has suffered loss, pain and heartache, whether from the death of a parent, crushing poverty or abuse. Many have suffered significant traumas. Although a loving family, education and physical needs are provided, we also see the deep need for emotional and spiritual healing. This new program is already having incredible results, for both parents and children.

 

 

Jean Wesly, LSM’s Haiti Trauma Healing Coordinator, says, “When I hear the word ‘change’ some people think it needs to be big. But to me, having simple conversations with the kids, listening to them and praying for them is making a difference in their lives. Protecting our kids is a huge responsibility. We need to make sure our kids feel safe. I will always listen to the kids. Now, we can see day by day change in their lives!”

 

WITHIN THE LAST YEAR, THE TRAUMA HEALING PROGRAM HAS:

 

  1. LAUNCHED QUARTERLY PARENT SEMINARS where parents learn about trauma and its developmental effects. These seminars provide practical tools for parents so they are able to help their children regulate difficult emotions. Our parents are feeling more equipped to handle difficulties at home with their 12 children. It is important that they feel supported in this journey.

 

 

  1. BEGUN MONTHLY SEMINARS FOR THE KIDS IN THE HOMES where the kids are learning how to name and regulate their emotions. Teaching our children healthy ways to express themselves is an important life skill that will aid them in all their relationships. We’ve utilized a variety of biblical training modules to craft lessons that foster communication with staff, parents and children.

 

 

  1. STARTED A PILOT TRAUMA HEALING PROGRAM IN ETHIOPIA where a small group of children in our programs are going through the same curriculum on regular Saturday programs (stay tuned to hear more about this in the future!) This gives us the opportunity to learn and adapt the materials for a different culture.

 

 

We are grateful for the many powerful resources and ministries who have done trainings and shared a wealth of information at the start of this new venture. We are already seeing God’s healing hand through intentional support for each of our families.

 


GET INVOLVED:

  1. Pray specifically for the growth of our Trauma Healing Program in both Haiti and Ethiopia this year! As we implement seminars, lessons and practical tools, pray that God would continue to work through our staff and parents to help bring healing in our children’s lives.
  2.  Give a financial gift to LSM so we can continue to support these life-changing resources for our parents and children to thrive.

 


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