Thursday, July 23, 2015

3 Reasons Why Visiting Orphans Needs (and is worthy of) Your Support

by Frank Pass

Over the last few days you have heard a lot about VO, our 10th birthday and supporting our ministry. You might have some questions like… “Why spend all the money to send teams overseas? Why not just send the money instead?” or “Why does VO need my support? Don't people pay for their trips?”

The truth is that while team members do raise funds for their trips, our ministry needs more than just trip fees to survive because our ministry is so much more than just sending teams. Here are 3 things you may not have thought about in regards to VO and why we would humbly ask you to consider supporting this ministry.

Going on a trip allows our team members to advocate for those they visit in a way that they could never do if they stayed home.

In Rwanda there are now 4 sponsorship programs, providing education, nutrition and hope where none existed before because VO team members went, saw the need and came home and told the story. In Haiti over 100 children now go to school because VO team members went and heard how this community lacked proper educational opportunities. In Uganda VO team members walked for hours with children to get water for their families and were heartbroken to see that the water they collected was dirty. Because they came home and shared the story, these communities now have wells. These stories are repeated over and over in all of the countries we visit.

We don't go just to see, we go to serve and more than that we go to walk alongside those we visit. When we experience life as they do, even for a short time, we are better able to come home and share those stories because they become our stories and people respond when we tell our stories.

Everyone knows VO works with children but we also bring encouragement and support to the teachers, workers and staff who serve those children every day.

In Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Out of the Ashes works with families who live in and around the city dump. Our recent team put on VBS for the kids here but we also took the staff to lunch, prayed for them, encouraged them and honored them. Donnie Manis, the leader of that team told us that you could see the difference that made in the faces of the staff.

Just yesterday we received this note from one of our partners in Rwanda, “The results of Visiting Orphans are in my hands!! How could I have met these precious ones if Visiting Orphans had not come? Thank you so much for ushering me to my calling!! I value this!!”

VO comes along side ministries and workers who are serving these children before we come and they are there after our teams go home. These are ministries that we have long-standing relationships with and the trips we send take place in the context of these relationships. It allows us to know them better and serve them well and by serving them well our teams provide encouragement so that they can continue in the work God has called them to.

VO trips bring transformation to the places we go AND to those that we send.

We could tell you about Tara Clapper and the amazing work that No. 41 is doing in Rwanda with former orphans. We could tell you about Ryan and Kara Higgins and the sponsorship program they started for kids at Kimisagara orphanage. We could tell you about Katherine Rowe, Sid and Wendy Harper, Courtney Wolfe and countless others who are serving full time on the mission field. We could tell you about Emilee Owens, Lesley Neeley or Glenn and Daria Leland who all lead others on teams. We could tell you countless stories of those called to adopt and foster and those called to serve in their churches and communities. The stories are too many to list here but they all have one thing in common, all these people and many more went on a VO trip and were forever changed.

Mission trips are never about us. At VO we believe they are about God and His call for us to go. But when we are obedient and answer that call, something happens and we are changed too. We hear those stories everyday.

There are a lot of ministries who do amazing things and they are all worthy of your support. We believe the work God has called us to is pretty amazing too that is why we humbly ask for your support.

In Romans 10 it says that those who go have beautiful feet, we love that imagery, but it also says they cannot go if they are not sent. Would you consider a financial gift to Visiting Orphans that will help us continue to send teams around the world?

Donations can be made here...

Thank you in advance for your support.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

WHY GO? WEDNESDAY: Bolivia Reflections by Chelsea Lee

As I think back on my week in Bolivia it is almost hard to put into words the things I saw and learned, but here goes. To be honest, before I went I didn’t really have a good reason for why I was going. First of all I wanted to see South America and I figured that another Visiting Orphans trip seemed like a good way to go. When asked, “why BOLIVA?!” my response was normally, “that’s a good question!” I didn’t have any connections, any ties, or any specific reason for going to this country…except that it is where God led me.

Before the trip I will admit, I had some doubts. Thoughts like, “this trip is turning out to be a lot of money. It’s only a week. Is it worth it? And why am I going?” all ran through my head at various times. Now looking back, yes, it was only a week, but a week so full and incredibly amazing that by the time I got home it felt like I had been gone much longer. It was truly worth every penny and every second because the things God taught me and relationships built there were invaluable.

Since life is rarely made up of isolated experiences or incidences perhaps it is necessary to be transparent and share a brief synopsis of what was going on in my life pre-trip. The past two years have been HARD. I experienced loss, had moments of feeling overwhelmed with grief and heartbreak, said goodbye to people I cared deeply about, struggled to adjust to a “new normal” as I faced big changes I never saw coming, and probably asked the question, “why God?” more than once. I was in a place where I knew in my head that I could trust God, but in my heart I was struggling to trust him on a deeper level. I wasn’t in a place I thought I wanted to be at this point in my life and in my pride I was struggling to accept that God’s plan truly is better than mine. Weeks passed as I wrestled with thoughts, doubts about decisions I had made, and the unknown of the future. 

Then, I stepped on a plane to Bolivia. Now did getting on that plane solve all the problems, change the circumstances, or answer all the questions? No. But here is what it did do. It brought me alongside one of the most amazing teams of people I have ever had the privilege of serving with, it took me to a new place with beautiful new faces, it gave me a fresh perspective outside of myself, and it changed my heart. 

Our week there was spent getting to know some long term missionaries living there, loving on and playing with BEAUTIFUL children, hiking in the Andes Mountains, painting and doing work projects, and experiencing the culture of Cochabamba. Through this God taught me some pretty amazing things, some of which I am still processing. One of the most important things he taught me during this time was just to simply be present. Although I may not be in a place in life I personally would have chosen, God has been showing me that he has me here for a reason. I need to stop looking back wishing I could change past decisions, and stop striving to figure out the future and make things happen that God doesn’t have for me right now. I need to walk each step in light of his presence, finding my joy and satisfaction in him. God is speaking and working good things right here, right now and I don't want to miss what he’s doing. Before I left I was struggling and praying for a deeper trust in God and his plan. Although I know this will be an area I will continue to struggle in, God really answered that prayer. He has given me a deeper peace and trust in his plan than I have felt in a long time. There are opportunities ahead of me that wouldn't be there had God worked details of my life according to my plans. I'm learning to be thankful for where he has me and excited for where he is going to take me. I love the Visiting Orphans motto: Go. Be. Love. I want to go. To step out in faith, even when I don't understand. I want to be. To be present right where God has me, making the most of each opportunity. And I want to love. To love God deeper and love those around me better.