USA (MNN) – Culture shock. Anyone who has traveled knows what this phrase means and how it can turn worlds upside down.
The Challenges and Preparations
Chad LaForce, with Force for Christ, readily acknowledges the cultural challenges facing orphans during hosting and explains, “There’s a lot of prayer that goes into this, and we have a lot of resources and training in place, not only here in America, but also the children in Malawi will be briefed and trained and exposed to a certain amount of American culture before they come over, to prepare them for it.”
In the past Force for Christ hosted orphans traveling from Ukraine. The kids who traveled to the US have said how they were able to transition fairly well to the culture.
Though Ukraine is a European country, it is war torn, leaving parts of it barely functional where infrastructures are unusable and resources can be scarce.
Furthermore, the families are trained to be very well aware of what these kids need, especially as they adjust to a drastically different culture and both the kids and the families work through language barriers.
Also, the families aren’t left on their own during the visit. Instead, they’re connected to a network of other host families, where they can talk to each other and help each other. Plus, as part of this network, the families can also talk to and receive help from Force for Christ.
But often times, when these kids come to the United States, they’re in pretty high spirits and filled with a good attitude. For them, culture shock doesn’t seem to be the first thing on their minds. Instead, many of the children see coming to America as a grand adventure. It’s exciting for them and it’s exciting for them to finally know what it means to live with a real family.
The Difference of Hosting
“They’re going to be with loving families and they’re going to have the support of our organization. They’re going to have a translator and a chaperone they know from their own country, an adult who… will be in the region with them. So they’re going to have all the support they need to take however much time they need to assimilate into our culture and have a good time with it,” LaForce says.
“We’ve found in the past that it’s always been a really positive experience.”
Yet, the question remains about what happens to the kids after the culture shock is over and it is soon time to return home. After all, what is the long term benefit for the kids? Often times when these kids leave a family physically, they take the family home in their hearts.
“Through this very connected world that we have, they don’t lose us. There’s a distance that comes between our host families and the children they host when they send them back. But the whole idea of hosting, really, is that it’s a temporary physical mission. But it’s a long-term spiritual mission,” LaForce explains.
Hosting Has Long-Term Benefits
Thanks to social media and other forms of electronic communication, these kids and their host families never really lose touch. In fact, some families who have hosted previously report talking nearly daily to the kids they hosted through email or social media.
There’s a supernatural bond that develops between the host families and the kids they welcome into their homes, and that bond doesn’t disappear with the physical distance. It’s a love and bond that LaForce says is in no doubt supported by God
“Our host families talk to them and say, ‘Hey, you’re going back but we love you and we’re going to stay in touch with you. You’re going to get letters from us. You’re going to get correspondence from us. We’re going to send you a care package,” LaForce says.
Through Force for Christ, families are given the opportunity to send the kids they hosted a follow-up care package, which is hand delivered by Force for Christ.
But more so, these kids are also receiving the many prayers their host families say for them. And prior to hosting, it’s possible these kids didn’t really have people praying for them specifically, if at all.
“It really is a life-long term benefit for these children, and the reports we hear from them is they’re so grateful for it. They’re so encouraged by it and it’s a game changer for them. It elevates their quality of life considerably,” LaForce explains.
In the end, orphan hosting seems to be an opportunity to share the love of Christ. A love which is all powerful and life changing. Not only because the Gospel is the Good News, but also because love covers many things. Even culture shock and the thousands of miles of physical separation.
How to Help
Please pray for the children, the families, and Force for Christ as they all prepare for a summer of hosting. Pray for God to change lives, change hearts, and for these children to come to know Christ and the incredible love He has for them.
Considering orphan hosting yourself? At the moment, Force for Christ still has some kids from Malawi who need host families. To apply to host a child, click here!
For questions about orphan hosting, visit forceforchrist.org or search Force for Christ on Facebook too!