Culture shock of orphan hosting

By June 22, 2016

USA (MNN) – Culture shock. Anyone who has traveled knows what this phrase means and how it can turn worlds upside down.

And, Force for Christ is entering another season of orphan hosting, addressing the questions about culture shock for Malawi orphans coming to the United States for the first time.

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.”


(Photo Courtesy Force for Christ)

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

(Photo/Caption Courtesy Force for Christ via Facebook) Memories of Malawi... Where hundreds of people assembled to greet us and where hundreds of orphan children came looking for hope. We met with the District Commissioner and he gave our hosting program his blessing- believing it will change the lives of the children visiting the US which will in turn change a family; a village; a community! Of the hundreds of children we met, 10 are identified for this first hosting session

(Photo/Caption Courtesy Force for Christ via Facebook) Malawi: Hundreds of people assembled to greet us and where hundreds of orphan children came looking for hope. We met with the District Commissioner and he gave our hosting program his blessing- believing it will change the lives of the children visiting the US which will in turn change a family; a village; a community!

“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 or search Force for Christ on Facebook too!


  • Kim Goor says:

    We live in Canada. London, ONtario. about an hour from port Huron,Michigan,
    i have had two of my three girls travel on a mission trip to Malawi. all my girls thought it would be great to host of these children… or more.
    They almost squealed in delight.
    I realize now when researching further that they are coming to the States and not to Canada.
    Please know that if possible we would LOVE to host 2 girls if needed. so that they would have each other. I have three girls aged almost 18, almost 21, and in september 23. they all live at home. All will be in a nearby university in the fall. I”m a stay home mom that is a photographer on the side. WE are all fully involved in the church with, sunday school, youth band, sound board, power point, etc.
    We also live in the country where we have chickens, 1 cat and 2 dogs. We live about 10 minutes from the city. but have open fields all around with the closest neighbour 800 ft away.
    My oldest daughter will be co-president of “power to change” at University of Western Ontario in september. My middle daughter will be in charge of “social” at Power to Change. And my youngest will be attending for the first time this fall.
    Let me know if we can somehow host. If not, i totally understand as we are in canada but if there is a host close to Port Huron, let us know as my girls would love to go visit them. They would love to talk to them about their trip to malawi and things they have in common.

  • SJ Wayman says:

    I know those who host orphans for a “vacation” in the U.S. Have good intentions but the fact is these kids come hoping the family will keep them. They are taken wonderful places and basically it is “Disneyland” for a few weeks. Then they are sent back to their “old world” broken hearted. It is just another abandonment. Having worked for over 15 years with Russian orphans I have spent hours trying to mend broken hearts! Sometimes the anger is so great it is impossible to deal with them. Please read then ppm When Helping Hurts.”

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