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!

 

BUILDING A FUTURE AT LSM TECH

 

Working all day in 100 degree + temps outside doing heavy lifting is exhausting! That’s what our construction crew is navigating this summer at our LSM Tech campus. We are preparing to welcome our first round of Home of Hope students in January 2020!

 

 

Six students will be coming this year. Four children have just graduating, and two more graduated last year and attend local universities. They were waiting for the campus to be completed, and a bigger group to transition with. Magda* is one of those early graduates.

 

 

For young adults like Magda, this is a tremendous opportunity! Magda was orphaned at eight. She was very skinny and looked frail. When she came into her Home of Hope family, she had nothing – no joy, no hope and no idea what lay ahead.

 

 

Today, Magda knows what hope is because of the chance she’s been given! She adores her new mom and dad, and has learned a lot from them. She looks forward to attending LSM Tech. She also looks forward to the opportunity to go home, and enjoy sitting on their front steps, braiding her sister’s hair and laughing together.

 

 

Going to LSM Tech is a wonderful opportunity to learn valuable skills and have better work than most in the surrounding cities. Magda recently received some great references from her internship with LSM last summer. She’s attending a local business and technology institute already. She is looking forward to getting additional training, life skills and community at LSM Tech. We can’t wait to see where these opportunities take her!

 

But we’re not quite ready for Magda and the others yet! Our construction team, Education Directors and the entire staff will be working hard to get everything ready for January!

 

 


 

PLEASE PRAY WITH US FOR:

  • Smooth construction schedule and work at the campus before students arrive
  • Peace with the Fondfrede community where LSM Tech is located
  • Magda and the other five students who will be moving to the campus this winter
  • For our Dean of Students, Jean Wesly, and his new bride Valencia, who will be working with administration at LSM Tech

 


 

*name changed for privacy

CELEBRATING FREEDOM

Happy 4th of July! This weekend, as you celebrate the values of freedom, we hope you’ll join us in the fight to bring those basics to vulnerable children. It takes our collective voices to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves. Our passion is to help those who have lost their natural advocates in life. You can provide the help that is desperately needed for children.

 

NEARLY 10 YEARS AGO, A LITTLE GIRL HAD LOST HOPE.  

 

 

She shifted a heavy load of water on her tiny, bony shoulders and took another weary step. Eight year old Velinda* had been carrying water for over a mile. She did this three times a day for the family she lived with. As a restavek (child slave), Velinda worked 12-14 hour days. She was skin and bones and bore the physical and emotional scars of a broken childhood. After her parents died, she had no idea how hard life was going to be without them.

 

On day, as Velinda was walking home from the river, she met someone very special who works for LSM. She heard about this man, and knew that if there was ever hope at freedom, this was her chance. She dropped her heavy bucket, and ran up to him.

 

“I’m tired of carrying water,” she breathlessly said. “Please, help me!”

 

TODAY, VELINDA KNOWS THE BEAUTY OF FREEDOM.

 

 

LSM was able to negotiate with the family that Velinda had been living with. She was rescued out of that horrible situation, and is now thriving in her Home of Hope family! She no longer carries water from the river, working 12-14 hour days. Instead, she is experiencing true freedom and love in a nurturing family. But most importantly, she knows about the true living water, found in Jesus Christ!

 

Because of the opportunities she has today, Velinda can go to college, get a good paying job and provide for her own family someday. These are dreams she never imagined as a child slave ten years ago.

 

 

ARE YOU WILLING TO LISTEN TO A DESPERATE CRY FOR HELP?

 

We long for all vulnerable children like Velinda to have the freedom to grow as a valued child of God. We want them to know their worth, find healing and love, and have the chance to reach their full, God-given potential.

 

Freedom is a gift. And it’s one we can give together.

 

 


GET INVOLVED:

  1. Help rescue children forced into child slavery in Haiti. Order your copy of Ed’s book “A Rose Among Thorns” to learn more about their plight and help rescue children like Velinda.
  2. Become a Prayer Partner and receive bi-monthly updates from LSM on specific ways to intercede.
  3. Spread the Gospel message of FREEDOM in Haiti through the Gospel Project.

 


*name 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!

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.

 

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.

 

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!

 

1 2 3 10