by John Townsend, Senior Pastor, Matthew 25:34-40 Ministries
At least as far as our involvement with orphans is concerned wherever we are in the world, there are several key elements:
1. Prayer. We feel it is essential to pray for every orphan under our care and to let them know that there are people besides the ones who are working with them who are also praying for them. We have prayer coordinator(s) who communicate with each orphan personally as well as the orphanage leadership to document and understand the prayer needs, and we have people who ensure that each orphan is prayed for by name each day every day.
2. Education/mentorship. It is important that children are well prepared to enter society when they are of age. If they attend a public school, they must do well in the curriculum, but they must also receive a sound Bible education. If it is a church-led school, we use the International Children's Bible where English is expected to be learned and the prevalent good, full-testament Bible translation for their culture; otherwise, we provide daily devotionals for the children on an age-common basis. We teach a Psalm, a Proverb, a chapter of Deuteronomy, and a chapter of the Gospels each day. Other books are taught in a Sunday school atmosphere. We also provide mentors to ensure that the children are doing their homework from school correctly.
3. Extra-curricular activities. We seek to ensure that children learn sports, arts, crafts, practical life skills (cooking, sewing, knitting), etc. common to their culture/society. Usually, this also means that we need to supply sports equipment to help them out.
We seek to ensure that our volunteers are well-supported spiritually as well as materially. Therefore, we want to make sure our teachers/mentors have the requisite skills for what they are teaching or helping in. We also want to make sure that they are always covered by prayer as well. We make sure that material needs are communicated to our local churches to make sure that needs are met. Materials needs over the capacity of the local church are communicated to our regional and international coordinators to ensure the needs do get met. We also provide prayer networks that cover extraordinary prayer needs. (We have had children with leukemia, other cancers, severe injuries, life-threatening illnesses, etc. who receive prayer across our entire ministry.)
We treat our orphanage volunteers in a manner similar to missionaries being sent to a foreign culture, so we follow a lot of the Emmaus Road International guidance for missionary care in how we implement our volunteer care for orphanage workers.
This may seem simplistic, but it is really quite profound in its impact on the work that we do in orphanages, church planting, care of the poor, etc. Bible principles founded in prayer work every time in every culture. (It's the communications that we all seem to stumble over along the way.)