TIMMY

Timmy* is now 8 years old and is excelling in 2nd grade! He still remembers clearly his very first day of school. He was so excited. He got his little uniform on, lovingly took his new notebook and pencils out of his backpack, just to gaze at them for a moment, before tucking them securely back inside and hoisting the bag onto his back.

 

 

Every day in class, Timmy eagerly soaked up the lessons he was taught. And every day after school, his mom, Tabitha, was there to pick him up and listen to the new fidel (Ethiopian Amharic script) he had learned. Timmy wondered why his mom would sometimes cry while he recited his fidel to her.

 

“Why is mom sad I’m learning so many wonderful new things?”

 

 

His mother’s tears were not of sadness. They were tears of great joy and thankfulness!

 

Tabitha birthed Timmy in one of the slums of Addis Ababa. They were both desperately hungry, and Timmy almost starved to death in his first few precious weeks. Life had been filled with poverty and hardships for Timmy’s mother…until she came to LSM.

 

 

Because of your love, prayers, financial support and advocacy, Timmy and his mother’s story has changed. Your actions showed that their lives were worth more!

 

Tabitha began working for Moriya Ethiopian Accessories, a business we helped start for a group of impoverished moms. Using the skills she learned as part of the Moriya team, she has since branched out on her own. Today, Tabitha owns a successful sewing business. She is providing for her son with a dignified, stable job. She is remarried and expecting a baby.

 

 

Timmy is no longer hungry and hopeless. He has continued to excel in school and dreams about his future with excitement! He loves his new dad, and is anxiously awaiting his new sibling.

 

Timmy and his mother are a living example for those in their community. Their lives display hard work ethic, leadership and an overflowing love of Christ!

 

Most importantly, little Timmy knows the hope of a life filled with the love of Jesus, because people like you believed he and his mother were worth it! Thank you for making a difference!


GET INVOLVED: 


*names changed for privacy

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.

 


 

HAITI’S FLAG DAY 2019

Haiti celebrates FLAG DAY on May 18. It’s an important day of celebration for the country as they remember their hard-won independence!

 

 

 

The Haitian flag features a full coat of arms with weapons representing their nation’s history defending their freedom. The royal palm at the center symbolizes their independence. They are the first nation of Africans to ever rise up and win freedom for their country.

 

 

 

Our Home of Hope families celebrated in their communities too. We love that our kids are learning about their rich cultural heritage from a young age. While Haiti still has a lot to overcome, we hope they always feel freedom to celebrate their flag and the good of what that represents. Though there are dark and painful pieces to their cultural history as well, knowing the good and bad helps the next generation learn from their country’s experiences.

 

We hope days like this (and our staff, parents and mentors) will empower our children to become the next generation of leaders who will help transform their culture for Christ! 

 

 

 

If you’re not familiar with Haiti’s difficult history, you’re not alone. In fact, LSM’s Founder, Ed Schwartz wrote a historical novel depicting the rise of Haiti for just that reason! The Trade Winds was written to help us understand the complexity and history of Haiti and where it is today. It also gives us a passion to help vulnerable children (like the ones we serve!) who have been trapped in ongoing slavery (restavek system) to this day.

 

 

Learn more and order your copy of THE TRADE WINDS today!

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.
  2. Join our prayer team and receive bi-monthly prayer emails.

 

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.

 


 

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