USA (MNN) — The ministry work now spans Eastern Europe, Latin America, Africa, India, and the United States. But even after a decade of serving orphans and vulnerable children, Orphan Outreach remains focused on one single mission.
“When we founded Orphan Outreach, we really had one goal,” shares Tiffany Taylor Wines, Director of Marketing. “That was to have a ministry that glorified Jesus Christ, a ministry that was rooted in God’s heart for the orphan, a ministry that would live that out in the way we cared for children around the world.”
When Wines looks back at the past decade of ministry, she’s humbled. When the first conversations took place in a single-room office with a card table and folding chairs, the team never thought about the number of children that might be served. What mattered was quality care was being provided.
Wines says, “Right now, we’re serving 5,000 children annually through orphan care, through family preservation programs, through foster care, [and] through funding adoptions. All of our programs are firmly rooted in the Word, they are poised to make a huge impact in these children’s lives.”
Orphan Outreach began its work in 2007 in Guatemala and Russia. Soon, ministry efforts had expanded to Latvia, Kenya, Honduras, and India. In 2016, Ukraine was added to the list of countries supported by the Texas-based ministry. Each year, new opportunities arise to expand support to other countries, yet Orphan Outreach stays focused on slow growth and deep investment.
“The needs are overwhelming, all over the world,” reflects Wines. “One huge role Orphan Outreach is playing in the orphan care movement is lending our voice to advocate for the children and also to come alongside people, to help them with their projects because we can’t be everywhere all the time. So advocacy and sharing our knowledge with other ministries is huge for us.”
The theme for the 10th anniversary year is ‘Firmly Rooted, Growing Deeper’. Wines says, “Our whole goal of reaching out is to make a real difference. And for us, making a real difference is focusing our efforts to be both grateful for the roots we’ve planted over the past 10 years, but also to continue to invest fully in the ministries we partner with, while looking for ways to expand those ministries. And we want to continue to lend our voice to serve the needs of children all over the world, not just in the countries where we are working.”
Ministry partnerships take time to establish, and the roads aren’t always smooth. Orphan Outreach has maintained its focus on what defines quality partnership, and continues to use the same measures it crafted when the ministry began.
“We always want to see people who want to go deeper, who want to improve their practices, always wanting to do really good orphan care, whatever that looks like — if it’s family preservation, or adoption funding, or foster care. Whatever it is, excellence is expected, transparency is expected, and a willingness to work together to solve the problem is expected. This is about ministries like ours working with churches, working with individuals — lots of individuals — to make a difference.”
National ministry partners range from children’s homes and transitional programs to schools and community care efforts.
Making a Real Difference
In the decade Orphan Outreach has been serving orphans and vulnerable children, the ministry has witnessed a wealth of information — and misinformation — shared in books, on websites, and through social media. Foster care and domestic adoptions are increasing in several countries they serve, which is cause for celebration. But efforts to empty orphanages without adequate screening and wraparound care have resulted in many children being returned to unsafe family situations.
“Looking over all the years I’ve been in orphan care — and I was involved even before Orphan Outreach — there are trends that come and go,” reflects Wines. “But I think for Orphan Outreach, it goes back to our mission statement. Everything we do has to be focused on glorifying Jesus Christ while we minister to these children in four different ways: their physical, emotional, spiritual, and educational needs. We have to keep our focus on what our mission statement is and not get off-track, because it’s hard work.
“Part of going deeper is you’ve got to dig, and that digging is hard work sometimes to get deeper in relationships, deeper in Christ. It’s not always easy, but we’ve found by sticking to the hard work, the Lord glorifies that. Like I said, when we started the ministry, we never thought about numbers — and there are huge numbers: 147 million orphans! We know the number is staggering, but what we’re trying to do is, with excellence, work on people’s relationship with Christ by making significant, long-term impact on the lives of children.”
The Need for Partners
As Orphan Outreach celebrates a decade of ministry, Wines is thankful for those who have come alongside in offering up their time, talent, and treasure to ensure quality care is provided around the world. But there is need for more individual and church partners.
“We are looking for people that want to make that same personal commitment of having an impact in a child’s life, so sponsorship is a huge way people can continue to come alongside us. Sponsorship provides the critical funds for us to make a difference in the lives of children. We’re looking for people who want to get involved, go on mission trips, sponsor a child, make a long-term commitment to the programs we have so we can go deeper and make a deeper connection to these children.”
When it comes to the most basic of needs, Wines says nutrition is essential. “You can’t educate and provide programs for a child without them eating, and we feed 1,311 children nutritious meals. In order for them to even function, they have to be fed first. It’s like Christ, meeting their needs first. He would heal them or feed them, and then He would explain why He was there. We do a snack in our program in Chimaltenango, and to feed a healthy snack to 42 children is $450 a month. That money has got to come from somewhere, so we are always in urgent need for money for just the basics like that. The governments are not providing any funds.”
And the need doesn’t stop when an orphan ages out of traditional care. Wines’ voice shakes as she recounts the story of one of the orphan graduates Orphan Outreach supports in Russia.
“I can also think about the girl in Russia who has had to leave the orphanage system because now she’s 18-years-old. She has no family, and she’s facing a living condition which is horrendous, like a dump. And if she doesn’t get the $5,000 to renovate her apartment , she’s most likely going to be the statistic — living on the street and dead within a few years of graduating the orphanage. The needs are dramatic on both ends of the scale.
“Every dollar is precious to us. We do everything to operate with the highest integrity, to make sure those funds are used exactly how the donor has designated. The money is going to ministry programs. Our whole focus is on making a difference for these children, so when we say that’s where the money’s going, that’s where it’s going. We try to do as much as we can with as few people as possible. You know, we really can only do that work because God is there with us.”
In addition to partnering with Orphan Outreach through the use of time, talent, and treasure, Wines says the prayers of faithful friends are Orphan Outreach’s lifeblood. As the ministry moves into its next decade of service, she asks that those prayers be focused on the heart of service.
“Pray that we continue to be rooted in Him, that our faith is strengthened, that we grow deeper in relationship with the children, deeper in the communities we’re working in so we’re making a deeper difference in the lives of these children.”