Africa (MNN/BCS) — Orphanages are overflowing with kids who don’t know what the word “permanent” means anymore. Ruth Olsson, a strategic partnership consultant with Bethany Christian Services, says, “Institutionalizing children is not a great plan for their future. We would say God designed the family. Man designed orphanages to respond to a crisis, but God designed a family.”
Bethany has built a successful “foster to adoption” model that’s been replicated in Ethiopia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. “What Empty the Orphanage is doing in Zimbabwe is working through the local church to recruit families to be adoptive parents for the orphans in their community.” This model has proven successful on other continents, as well. What’s the common point? “Through partnership with this local church, we are placing children in loving Christian homes,” explains Olsson.
After seeing the successes with Bethany’s model, another ministry partner implemented two other objectives under “partnerships” after approaching Bethany’s Global Consulting:
- First-world pastors developing relationships with third-world pastors to enlarge their own vision for the world, its needs, and what is possible.
- First-world churches partnering with third-world churches to provide material support, including child and family sponsorship that is key to keeping families together.
Bethany’s Global Consulting is backed by more than 70 years of child welfare experience. Bethany Global is engaged in more than 15 countries developing in-country foster care and foster-to-adopt programs. They also provide child-welfare education, pre-placement training, and post-placement care.
In preparing global partners to continue this work, they also empower local families to care for orphans in their own communities.
Here’s how this works practically: Bethany Christian Services shared how these partnerships became relationships and how God used these things to heal broken hearts. Through Bethany’s blog, Kendall Coffman shares the following story:
“A national pastor from Zimbabwe came to our church and spoke about difficulties in his country, including the plight of orphans there. He said, ‘In my country, children are taking care of children.’ That resonated with my wife and me, and we sat there with heavy hearts. What do we do with this information?”
Today, Kendall Coffman is the executive director of Empty the Orphanage, a nonprofit organization in Bloomington, Illinois, that is committed not just to empty an orphanage but to fill families with children who need loving homes.
“God created families,” he said. “That’s where kids are nurtured.”
Kendall and a small team spent a week at an African orphanage that had fallen on hard times. Its physical, emotional, and spiritual needs were great. He recalled a pivotal encounter just as his team was preparing to leave.
“A boy came over to our car,” he said. “I’d noticed a bit of detachment all week from the kids, but this boy stepped right into the car and hugged me like a son and held on. Eventually he stepped away, and I closed the door. I was with three other men, and as we pulled away, there wasn’t a dry eye in the car. I was thinking, ‘I get to go home to a family, to a home and loving relationships. That boy will walk back into that orphanage.’ That day I made a commitment: I would not leave those kids.”
Pray that God will open hearts and homes for children in Zimbabwe. Pray that He will literally empty the orphanages and give children loving homes.