Africa (MNN) — Kids in Africa are getting a voice and a helping hand — from their neighbors.
In Ethiopia, local officials told Bethany Christian Services their “Foster to Adopt” program would never work. Africans won’t take in a child who isn’t a relative, they told Bethany.
But that didn’t stop Bethany. Working alongside Ethiopian churches and other Christian organizations, they began educating families about adoption. The concept is so foreign in Ethiopia that there isn’t even a word for it.
“Once the Christian community realized that adoption was a biblical term and that we are all adopted by God, it’s like they’re on fire to care for these children,” says Bethany’s President and CEO, Bill Blacquiere.
Bethany’s work in Ethiopia resembles a pilot program for expansion into other African nations.
“As other countries have heard about the success in Ethiopia, they’re inviting Bethany in, and so now we have things going in Ghana and Uganda, South Africa; we’ve started in Zambia, and we have more countries asking,” Blacquiere states.
He meets with officials in Ethiopia, Uganda and South Africa next week to discuss national child welfare services. As they gain more partners, Bethany can spread the Gospel and the love of Christ for His children throughout Africa.
The HIV/AIDS epidemic runs rampant in many African nations. Millions of AIDS orphans roam the streets, and poverty makes it hard for families to care for their own children, let alone an orphan.
That’s why Bethany wants to offer family preservation services and provide job skills training. The aim of family preservation services is to keep families together, even when times get tough. A myriad of services include counseling, short-term financial assistance and training workshops for parents.
Another Bethany program, Safe Families for Children (SFFC), is being modeled in South Africa.
A network of families helps parents who need to temporarily place their children in a stable home because unmanageable or emergency situations arise. In essence, Christ-followers come alongside vulnerable families and help them in the name of Jesus.
As Bethany’s work in Africa grows, your prayers are needed. Pray “that the Christian community in these countries would rise up and become foster and adoptive parents,” Blacquiere suggests.
Pray also for the protection of this movement. Blacquiere points to the reality of spiritual warfare, and resistance their staff, children and partners will encounter from the Prince of Darkness and his minions.
“They want to see children in orphanages, they want to see families broken apart, and this is just the opposite,” Blacquiere notes. “We’re saying we want to keep families together.”