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.
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?
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.
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!
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!
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?
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.
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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!
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.
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.
Help us provide free counseling and adoption resources for families answering His call. We can’t provide these resources without your help! GIVE HERE.
“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.
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!
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
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.
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.
Become a Prayer Partnerand receive bi-monthly updates from LSM on specific ways to intercede.
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.
Learn more about our unique modelthat provides a complete Continuum of Care for vulnerable children from childhood through adulthood – within the love and stability of a FAMILY.
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.