Cindy and I lived in the Washington, D.C. area in 1992, and I had just “hung out a shingle” to practice law when a young couple came to my office with a question: “Will you help us adopt a child from China?”
Over the next sixteen years, answering that question not only led to that couple adding to their family, but also Cindy and I adopting five beautiful daughters. It also gave us the privilege of helping over 1,000 couples give homes to needy children who formerly lived in developing country orphanages. After visiting a few of those orphanages early on, we determined to empty as many of them as we could.
Answering that question eventually led to the founding of Orphan Voice and our move to Asia.
With that background, when Cindy and I moved to Vietnam, our purpose in coming was a fuzzy idea of “orphan care.” So, when Vietnamese officials asked us to operate a struggling orphanage, we took on the job. Promise House Group Home still operates for selected children – with your help.
But our thinking about orphan care best practices changed over time. Gradually, it became clear that even a “good orphanage,” except in certain cases, wasn’t good at all. Our earlier idea to empty orphanages in developing countries had been the right one!
With expertise provided by Orphan’s Promise in Virginia Beach, Virginia, we determined to help families in crisis before they felt pressured to turn to an orphanage for help. Thus, our Keeping Families Together (KFT) program was born.
Vinh and his wife, Hanh, always fought. Vinh cut his wife off emotionally, and when he did talk to her, it was usually in anger. Chronically sick and unable to hold a regular job, Vinh couldn’t earn the money that his family needed. That added anger and frustration to both their lives.
The children suffered too. They were sometimes hungry. Their oldest son dropped out of school. The girls did poorly in school and did not have tutors (the normal practice), because the family could not afford tutors. At one point, Vinh and Hanh decided to place their daughters in an orphanage.
But village leaders knew of Orphan Voice’s Keeping Families Together program and recommended the family to it. With some reluctance, Vinh and Hanh applied and were accepted.
Orphan Voice Christian workers began to visit, counsel and encourage Vinh and Hanh. They got to know the couple well and Vinh and Hanh shared their deepest feelings. Over several months, the workers shared practical ways for Vinh and Hanh to love one another, to develop a better marriage and to become better parents.
KFT paid for Vinh to go to the hospital. While still not 100%, he’s better today. KFT also helped Vinh and Hanh make more money. The couple knew how to raise chickens, geese and pigs. Building on those skills, the KFT program purchased a pregnant “seed-sow” as well as “seed-ducks and chickens.” Vinh and Hanh were faithful in their care for the animals and soon pigs, chickens and ducks were everywhere! The family ate some, sold some for cash, but still the numbers grew.
With a KFT-provided electric bicycle, Vinh’s 17-year-old son could reach a swampy area several kilometers away and collect snails to sell. In this way, he made 250,000 Vietnam dong ($11) per day for the family – an unheard of amount. In short, the family has prospered as never before.
Through the ministry of Orphan Voice Vinh, Hanh and their children’s lives have changed. Vinh and Hanh smile and laugh more often. Their children are happier. The girls have tutors. Food is always on the table.
Best of all? The idea of sending their two beautiful daughters to an orphanage is gone forever!
Orphan Voice reaches families like Vinh and Hanh’s only because of you. Your gift changes lives. Will you help us today? To sow love and hope into the lives of needy families, donate HERE.
Christ’s Love to the Hurting
Central Vietnam was recently inundated with rain and flooding. Minority people in the Highlands experienced the greatest loss and suffering. The death toll ran to hundreds.
An elderly man walked in the pouring rain looking for shelter. Coming upon a home, he asked to come in. The young husband, his pregnant wife and their young daughter welcomed him. After a meal, they all took their normal afternoon nap. It was a nap from which the elderly man and pregnant mother did not awake.
While they slept, the mountainside gave way and tons of mud covered the house.
A couple of hours later, a neighbor saw smoke rising from the site where the couple’s home had been. He yelled an alarm and neighbors gathered to frantically dig. They rescued the badly hurt husband and his daughter, but the elderly man and the pregnant mom had been crushed.
Jesus comes to the suffering when tragedy strikes and pain is great. A loving hand and a loving touch mean a lot. Orphan Voice staff, in your stead, went to this devastated family and others like them with hope, love, rice, noodles, blankets and other supplies only hours after their loss. Those items seem so paltry in the face of tragedy, but when delivered in the Love of Christ, they make a huge impact.
Thank you for making that impact and for “preparing the way of the Lord” in the lives of the hurting. Because of your love in their time of great need, they can more easily believe that God Is and that He loves them.
While we don’t respond to natural disasters like Typhoon Damrey each day, Orphan Voice staff do reach others with the Love of Christ each day. Can you help us continue? To join us and provide for the hurting, sow your support HERE.
It was a long trip. Pastors Dennis and Deb Smith and the Covenant Life Ministries team flew 18,000 miles to bless the “least of these.”
It was a quick trip. They did it all, including flying time, in nine days.
It was a blessed trip. Can you imagine how a 4 X 8 foot, beautifully painted, multi-colored mural will brighten the lives of children? If so, multiply that by six because the CLM team painted six murals. They will hang at Hope Therapy Center and New Beginnings School for the Deaf. Smilies will come!
Before Dennis, Deb, Blake, Josh, Katherine, Joy, Phillip, Cody, Katie, Lauren, Debra, Gary and Sharon came to Vietnam, 308 junior-high students at the Tay Giang Boarding School were cold. With the temperature dropping to freezing, that matters! To meet their need, the CLM team helped purchase, package and deliver 308 coats. By the time the team left, 308 formerly cold young people were warm.
Other team members ran electric wires, hung lights and built a massive 9-foot-high climbing wall. Seth’s Wall is the dominant feature upon entering Hope Therapy Center. Hundreds will be blessed.
You can come to Vietnam and bless “the least of these” as the CLM team did! Or you can support such teams and our staff as Orphan Voice continues to reach out to “the least of these” in the Love of Christ. Either way, let us hear from you. To sow your donation, give HERE. To inquire about a Friendship Team, email email@example.com
I needed a phone charger, so I rode my bike to a the electronics store to buy one. The sales girl greeted me with a dazzling smile. There was something about that smile….
Astonished, I remembered! I first met “Alice” when she was 12. She had come to my office with her heavily-indebted mother. When I saw her at the store, she must have been 16.
Alice’s story as a 12 year old was tragic. She understood her mom’s debt burden and wanted to help her badly. Indeed, her love for her mom caused her to fall prey to sexual abuse.
A so-called family friend said to Alice:
“I know how we can help your mom. I’ll take you to Hue where Vietnamese men who live in American come to tour the old Imperial City. They’re rich and they’re easy to get money from. Just do what they want.” She then took Alice to Hue and set up evening meetings with men.
As bad as it was, the abuse was only for a night and for that we are thankful. One business man cancelled because a meeting ran late. However, at least one man kept his appointment.
Alice’s mom quickly found out about the abuse and reported it. Social Services asked Orphan Voice to help just days afterwards. We did all we could. While we weren’t able to carry out our complete plan to help her, enough was implemented to see that she wasn’t trafficked or abused again. The abuse was a one time event.
That vaguely familiar smile triggered that flood of memories for me that day. Lots of emotion there.
Alice was gainfully employed and on her own. Her smile that day also told me that all was well.
Orphan Voice staff, through your generosity, is enabled to touch hundreds of children, youth, and government officials each month. We need your support, both in prayer and in finances, to reach out to other “Alices,” to provide for the orphan, and to touch with Everlasting love the lowly and hurting. Will you help us today? Click HERE to help!
Mission accomplished! 103 miles completed. Craig ran 92 of those miles and would have run them all except for severe calf strains incurred from Day 2’s running up and down steep mountain slopes. Colin, Gerald and Ryan teamed up to run the distance in relay fashion. It was Vietnam hot and 103 miles is a long way!
A box truck followed the runners. On top was a speaker looping a recorded anti-trafficking message: “I’m more precious than gold!” – “My body belongs to me.” The 8×15 feet anti-trafficking signs on both sides of the truck read: “For the children’s safety, call (hotline number)” and “Safety is their right.”
The novelty of seeing Westerners running on a hot day coupled with the messages emanating from the loud speaker and the signs served to raise awareness about the trafficking problem. The Enduring Voices runners successfully challenged the attitude that “it doesn’t happen here.”
While Craig and the team were running for three days, Daisy (at the left of the picture below) taught “More Precious Than Gold” anti-trafficking seminars to 4,000 school children! 4,000 in three days! Students, teachers and administrators were informed, challenged, warned and equipped to protect themselves and those under their care. Praise God.
Craig and the team not only raised awareness about human trafficking but they also raised funds for Orphan Voice’s three anti-trafficking programs – nearly $14,000 of it! Many of you gave to encourage the runners and further Orphan Voice’s anti-trafficking work. Thank you!
If you missed your chance to support Craig and the team and would like invest to protect the innocent, donate HERE.