USA (MNN) – On September 14th Bethany Global, a program under Bethany Christian Services, held its first ever fundraiser called, “Impacting Lives Across the Globe.”
Jen Hatmaker Speaks at Fundraiser
The fundraiser, held in an auditorium in downtown Grand Rapids, MI, brought in Christian blogger, Jen Hatmaker, as the keynote speaker. The auditorium was filled with both Bethany fans and Jen Hatmaker fans.
However, this fundraiser had a couple of goals. First, to tell the world about Bethany Global, what it does, and to tell others that there is a way to solve the orphan crisis—through family preservation.
“So Bethany Global is the international arm of Bethany Christian Services. So, what you know about Bethany Christian Services is very similar to what we do at Bethany Global– family preservation, counseling, foster care, adoption,” Bethany Global’s Vice President of Global Programs, Kristi Gleason, explains.
“We do all of that just like Bethany Christian Services, we just do it in 17* countries around the world.”
Often times, families have been ripped apart because of poverty, war, and mental health issues. These families don’t have a safety net or government programs to help them get back on their feet when life knocks them down. Because of this, parents are sometimes forced to give their children up to orphanages just so that their children can survive.
Needless to say, children who are made into orphans suffer unspeakable pain. And it’s this pain that brought Jen Hatmaker to the Bethany Global stage. Hatmaker, who has two adopted children, has watched her kids struggle with this pain.
As Hatmaker shared her son’s story about coming to an orphanage at the age of five, not an eye in the room was dry. Hatmaker’s son’s biological mother sent her son to an orphanage not because she didn’t love him or didn’t want him. Instead, after fleeing an abusive and alcoholic husband, this woman was left with nothing.
Just before giving her son up, Hatmaker’s son’s mother was left with two options. Watch her son starve to death or leave him at an orphanage.
“Our great joy was on the heels of her great sorrow,” Hatmaker says. Does she love her son? Yes. Does he love her? Yes. But there is a trauma, a void, a piece of themselves that has been taken away from both Hatmaker’s son and her son’s biological mother.
But, through a beautiful twist of fate, Hatmaker and her husband were able to get in contact with their son’s biological mother. After visiting her on their own, they went back with their son because to Hatmaker, both he and his biological mother had a right to be reunited.
Still, kids who are orphaned don’t just suffer the loss of a family. They suffer the loss of extended relatives, their home, their friends, and even at times their language, culture, and country.
“If we can help keep families together, if we can help keep kids be raised in their families of origin and not grow up on the streets, or not grow up in an orphanage where there’s no one to protect them, that’s what we’re really trying to avoid,” Gleason shares.
“And that’s why we really are focusing on this family preservation idea and project. And that it really is impactful, and it helps stop a whole lot of other problems that come sort of down the road if your family breaks apart.”
Bethany Global works on family preservation through the help and support of normal people who have a heart for the hurting. Through family sponsorships by Bethany Global, families who are at risk are provided with their basic needs.
Then, they’re provided with skills and economic empowerment training which includes job skills, financial management, parenting skills, decision-making for a better life, and human rights awareness and action. In other words, these families are given the tools they need to thrive.
The family sponsorship takes five families donating $30 a month to sponsor one family across the world. Essentially, it’s families supporting families.
“I want to see a whole lot of energy around family preservation. I want people to get involved and learn and read about the awesome things that are happening with families overseas,” Gleason shares.
“So, I’d love it if we could get 150 sponsorships just tonight alone. And that will help us serve more families. It will help us go into new areas. It will help us open up programs in other countries.”
However, the number of families needing sponsorship far exceeds the 150 goal. But, Bethany Global can’t start helping more families and bringing them into the family sponsorship program until others are taken care of first.
Still, meeting that 150 goal brings Bethany Global one step closer to helping more families in the future.
Will You Help?
So please remember, regardless of where a family is from, most if not all want the best for their children. And as Jen Hatmaker put it, if it’s not good enough for you, then it’s not good enough for your neighbor. Will you help?
And if sponsoring a family isn’t a possibility, you can still pray. Gleason says that Bethany Global needs prayer warriors. Pray for Bethany Global and families overseas who are struggling. Pray for peace and reconciliation in families, and for these families to get the sponsorship they need.
*Bethany works towards helping children and keeping families together in the countries of Albania, Cambodia, China, Ethiopia, Ghana, Haiti, South Africa, Zambia, and much more with in-country child welfare services.